The Court Technology and Trial Presentation Blawg features articles, reviews and news of interest to lawyers and other legal professionals. This blog is published by Ted Brooks, a Trial Presentation and Legal Technology Consultant, Author and Speaker. Ted's trial experience includes the Los Angeles Dodgers divorce trial, People v. Robert Blake murder trial, and a hundreds of high profile, high value and complex civil matters.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Deposition Video (MPEG-2) DVDs and Windows 8

Congratulations! You've just upgraded your laptop with the latest from Redmond (as in Redmond, Washington, home of Microsoft), and have finally figured out how to bypass most of the “purple charms” screen stuff. You’ll still need it to open apps, but other than that, unless you’re running a tablet, it’s cute, but not so functional – at least for lawyers, legal professionals, and other business-minded people. Everything is peachy, up until you try to play a deposition video or video DVD.

Now I consider myself fairly knowledgeable on things regarding the intersection of law and technology. When I informed one of my clients that we had a whole bunch of MPEG audio files (which were supposed to be deposition videos), the panic alarm began to wail. What a horrible discovery, as we scrambled to prepare for the next trial-of-the-century. When I tried to play the files using the default Windows Media Player, I could hear the audio, but there was no picture.

My client was able to “view” the video files using Windows 7. I assumed he was running some crazy rare CODECS (coder-decoders are used to play various audio and video files), and that these videos had been produced by someone with no clue as to standard video file formats.

I decided it was time to do a little research (I had apparently missed the Microsoft Developer Network bulletin) to see if others were having similar issues. After reading a few posts on the Microsoft site, I came upon an article that spells it out pretty well, How to Play DVDs in Windows 8. Bottom line – unless you either upgrade to the Pro Pack ($99 from Microsoft) or download another media player, you cannot play MPEG-2 video in Windows 8.

Fortunately, there are some decent alternatives, since at $99 per Windows 8.1 laptop, I wasn’t too excited about the Pro Pack. I went with the free (as in, “you’re not scraping another $100 per computer out of me this time”) AVS Media Player, since I have used some of their video software for several years. It works great, runs your MPEG-2 files just fine in TrialDirector, and disables the panic alarm. Another option, mentioned in the article is VLC media player. I haven’t tried it, but have found many positive comments about it.

If you’d prefer to stick with the Windows Media Player, you will find instructions here:

Hopefully, some will read this article before making their own horrific discovery…


  1. You have a professional machine and you want to run professional software but you don't have the professional version of the OS? Really you should have 8.1 Pro for a lot of reasons not just for the ability to play DVD videos

    1. I believe that even 8.1 Pro requires a $10 upgrade to Windows Media Center. My newest laptops came with 8.1, and for a small business or law firm, working out of the office frequently (when in trial), I can't really see much to justify the upgrade. Maybe I'm missing something?

  2. I have been using VLC for everything for years. You NEVER know how these MPEG's were created. The VLC player has worked on anything I played, thank goodness. This is just a reminder NOT to upgrade to 8.

  3. Since the topic recently came up again, I will update that I eventually set the GOM player as my default media player. After thorough testing, I believe it is the best available option. Link:

  4. Since the topic recently came up again, I will update that I eventually set the GOM player as my default media player. After thorough testing, I believe it is the best available option. Link:

  5. Ted, I ran into this exact issue (MPEG-2 video with a blank screen instead of the actual video) when we upgraded to Windows 10. Ugh. So now I have a player for MPEG-2 video, but I am wondering if it is the best format for video depositions? I thought about MP4 video, but apparently TrialDirector doesn't play well with MP4s (can't use the visual Segment Editor in TD). Thoughts?

    1. Kevin -
      For now, the best bet remains MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 for use with video depositions in TrialDirector. It will play other formats, including MP4, but as you've noted, the "waveform" clip-editing tool doesn't work with it. Of course you can still edit, but it's not as easy. I will look into that with inData, since MP4 seems to be the next step forward in universally compatible video formats, given its high quality and relatively small file size.

      On a related note, there has been an issue for some time with the video display when editing clips, causing it to freeze or distort, often adding an interesting green overlay. Sometimes you want to start or end a clip at point that "looks" good, and if you can't see it, you can't do it. Resizing the video display would often help, at least temporarily. There is a fix for that now, although I'm not sure it has been released to the public in an update yet.

    2. An update from inData:

      The MPEG playback issue in Presentation Mode has not been added to a released version of TrialDirector, however, we are distributing it on an as needed basis if the client either gives us a call (866-419-4298), or emails us at

      The support for MPEG-4 in the waveform editor has been sent to the development team, but at this time, it has not been added to the software.

  6. Thanks! Very informative and helpful.