Product Review: Page (1) of 2 - 05/10/05 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

FireStore FS-4

Tapeless Acquisition in the Palm of Your Hand By Stephen Schleicher

My biggest gripe when taping a long format production is the tape always wants to run out at a dramatic moment.  The second biggest gripe is waiting an eternity while the tape is digitized into my NLE system.  Imagine how happy I was when my complaints disappeared thanks to the FireStore FS-4 DTE recorder from Focus Enhancements.

The FireStore FS-4 is a fairly small system that is about the size of a thick paperback book (1.5 inches), and weighs less than a pound.  Dont let the weight fool you; inside the FS-4 is a 40GB hard drive that allows you to record up to three hours of video using Direct to Edit (DTE) technology.  DTE allows you to record DV25 video to a hard drive and when connected to your NLE, the files are ready to edit, eliminating the need to wait for hours while the tape is digitized.

The FireStore FS-4 utilizes a FAT32 drive which allows it to be used in both the Mac and PC environment.  Because the FS-4 can be used in virtually any editing environment, it has the ability to record in most of the popular formats including QuickTime, QuickTime 24P RawDV, AVI Type 1 and 2, 24P AVI Type 2, Matrox AVI, and Canopus AVI.  The FS-4 Pro can also record in the Avid OMF and Pinnacle AVI formats, although the Pinnacle format may not be a necessity in the future.  If your ears perked when you read 24P recording, dont get too worked up unless you have a camera that supports 24P recording.

Currently the FireStore FS-4 and FS-4Pro units do not support the HDV or HD MPEG formats, but a software update is in the making and can be purchased from the FireStore site for those who buy now.

To use the FS-4, connect the supplied FireWire cable from the DTE unit to your DV camera.  The FS-4 allows you to record in one of two modes; Syncro Slave or Manual. In the Syncro Slave mode you can go tapeless if your camera will trigger without a tape inside (Canon XL series).  Otherwise, you will need to have a tape in the camera.  While having a tape recording the same information as the FS-4 may seem like something from the Department of Redundancy Department, it is actually a good backup plan as Ill explain in a moment.

In Manual Mode you can use the Record/Stop buttons to capture video clips.  Interestingly, there is no Pause button on the FS-4.  If you want to pause, you must press the Stop button once, and if you want a complete stop, you must press the Stop button twice.

As the video is recorded to the DTE, the FS-4 automatically names the files using the Year/Month/Date format along with the Timecode and clip number.  For example, your first shot, synced with the camera might yield a clip named  This is a great way to keep track of your clips and during a shoot, you can have your PA keep note of the clip number instead of frantically writing down every Timecode number.

If you have been paying close attention, it may have triggered in your head that FAT32 drives only have a 2GB limit.  What happens if you need to record a clip that is longer than 9 minutes?  Fortunately, the FS-4 will create a new file when it reaches the Gig limit without dropping a frame, resulting in a brand new clip.

I found this very useful when recording a group of clouds rolling lazily through the sky.  Those shooting a long format event like a wedding or talkative speaker will find the same joy in this feature.


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Related Keywords:firestore, fs-4, dte, direct to tape, nle, schleicher, focus enhancements

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