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Setting the World on FireStore? Not Quite.

Great Concept, Marred by Minor Flaws By Charlie White
FireStore from Focus EnhacementsLet's take a look at FireStore from Focus Enhancements, a unique 1394 disk recorder that could make your life easier when shooting and editing DV footage. It lets you shoot DV while capturing the data directly to an attached 1394 disk, capture DV without a computer, and uses a hard disk like a tape in a conventional VTR. In theory its a terrific idea, but its execution leaves something to be desired -- there are just a few details that dont quite work right yet.

FireStore, priced on the street at about $880, works with either Mac or PC. We tested it on Windows 2000 along with a $289 LaCie 20GB portable 1394 disk that's about the size of a deck of cards. With this $1169 configuration we got about 1.5 hours worth of DV recording. The FireStore itself is about the size of a box of Girl Scout cookies, so the two together could be taken out in the field for shooting with relative ease.

Why would you want to do that? Think of the FireStore as a portable disk-based recorder and the little LaCie drive as its tape. Are you following us now? You can either record the footage normally on DV tape while FireStore records it on its disk as well while slaving to your start/stop button, or forego tape altogether and record all-digital. That's theoretically way cool, but it is a bit distracting to have the "no tape" icon in your viewfinder all the time, which is what happens with a Canon XL-1S or another test camcorder we have here, a consumer-grade Sony TVR-8. But if you hook up an external monitor to the camcorder, you won't see that distracting "no tape" indicator.

If you did want to record direct-to-disk in the field, you'd also need a battery to power the FireStore system, a feat that is shown in the demo clip from Focus where they have the whole shebang in a small PortaBrace-like pack slung over the shooters shoulder. It reminds me of the old days of separate camera-and-deck. Anyway, theres something I like very much about completely eliminating tape from the proceedings. But if you dont eliminate tape and record on disk and tape at the same time, theyll both have identical time code, so you could use and edit the footage off the disk, considering the tape-based footage your backup. That really makes a lot of sense.

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Related Keywords:DVFormat, Charlie White, review, FireStore, 1394, disk recorder, computer, editing, shooting


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