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Focus Enhancements FS-5For those still using tape-based cameras, this unit is perfect for you
The FS-5 Portable HD/SD DTE Recorder once again proves that Focus Enhancements is a leader in external, live-capture hard drives. Hook the FS-5 to your camera, and you'll have video files that are easily accessible and editable. Plus, there are a few more tricks up the FS-5's sleeve, including WiFi capability to log clips on devices such as the iPod Touch.
Hardware, Set-Up and Shooting
The FS-5 features a backlit screen to monitor timecodes, information, etc., and comes with either a 60GB or 100GB hard drive; plenty of space to record DV (AVI types 1 and 2 / 2 24p, Canopus AVI, and Matrox AVI) and HDV (720p24, 25, 30,50, 60; 1080i50/60.m2t, MXF, and QuickTime). If you're recording in HDV 1080i 24p, the camera uses a pulldown to package the 24p signal into a 60i stream, so it records to the FS-5 as 1080i60. You remove the pulldown in your nonlinear editor (NLE).
According to Focus Enhancements, editing can be done in Final Cut Pro (QuickTime files), Avid (Media Composer, News Cutter and Xpress Pro, native MXF files), Adobe Premiere Pro, and other programs, without any capturing, which is fantastic. For this review, I used the latest version of Final Cut Pro 6. Working with the FS-5 was a breeze, but it did take a little setting up.
I hooked the FS-5 Camera Mount Cradle to a Sony V1u (in HDV 1080i60 mode), then I connected the FS-5 into the camera, and set the drive into the Cradle. I was ready to work. When I'd start and stop recording on the camera, it would trigger the FS-5, which would also start and stop recording. I recommend recording to tape in addition to the FS-5, and consider that you're back-up/archive option.
Using a WiFi USB stick plugged into the FS-5, you can send data to an iPhone, iPod Touch, or any similar devices, including timecodes, metadata and more. This is great for script supervisors (or an assistant) needing to log the timecodes while shooting. This is a valuable feature, and I was able to take advantage of it during a recent shoot. Especially since I was a "one man band." Logging footage later on is very time consuming.
With the iPod Touch, it was easy to log the clip (name it, add a scene and take number, etc., just like in an NLE log-and-capture/digitize window), which was saved as metadata. In Final Cut Pro, these notes show up without a problem. You can also use other wireless devices, including a Mac or PC laptop or desktop. You use Safari or Internet Explorer to get the data.
I hooked the FS-5 to my MacBook, and was able to import the video files and metadata (XML) onto my external FireWire drive without a problem. In Final Cut Pro 6, editing was a cinch. With footage shot from an HDV or DV camera, it takes much less time to transfer the footage to the drive and import into Final Cut then if I captured from the tape. Plus, the logging notes showed up, which told me which clips I wanted to use to edit.
Even as more pro-level tapeless cameras become available and their popularity continues to rise, the FS-5 is an incredible asset to any production shooting with or without tape. For those still using tape-based cameras, this unit is perfect for you.
Many production houses and TV news stations are shooting on HD and HDV tape, but they're also using the FireStore as their primary recording device, with tape as a back-up. It's also great for smaller crews or one man bands that can't easily log timecodes in the field. I recommend taking a good look at adding the FS-5 to your production and post-production needs. Prices at reputable resellers start at around $1,600 for the 60GB option, around $2,000 for the 100GB option. Visit www.focusinfo.com for more information.
Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.
Related Keywords:DTE recorder, live capture hard drive,