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FS-4 helps students review lecture material at Dartmouth Challenge

Tucked in New Hampshire‘s Upper Valley, Dartmouth has been a leader in higher education since 1769. And while the school‘s founders may not necessarily have envisioned a world of podcasts, blogs, and on-demand video, today‘s leaders embrace the role of technology in the classroom. Recently, the Physics and Astronomy department set out to expand their audiovisual capabilities to enhance the learning experience.

The department‘s primary goal was to make class lectures available online–giving Physics students the freedom to review lecture material back at the dorm, on the way to a sporting event, in the library, or wherever college life takes them. Previously, the department recorded its classes to VHS and students needed to physically check out and watch videos at the library. They hoped that online availability would make videos more accessible to students.

Lab Manager, John Largent, was tasked with researching the best tools for this application. “The Canon GL2 camcorder was highly recommended from other AV groups on campus,” Largent explained. “However, its MiniDV tape limited us to only one hour recording time–and lectures all last over an hour. We needed to find a way to extend the recording time to accommodate both class and special event lectures.”


Largent selected the FS-4 portable DTE recorder from Focus Enhancements. With its standard 40 GB hard drive, the FS-4 provides three hours recording time, while an 80 GB model extends recording to six hours. This extended recording time ensures that Largent can record an entire lecture or colloquium event without worrying about when to change tape or missing valuable content.

And with Direct To Edit technology, the FS-4 lets videographers record directly in edit-ready QuickTime, Avid DV-OMF, and other native NLE formats in timeline–no capturing, no file transfer, no conversion. By eliminating the digitizing process, footage can be ready for edit almost as soon as it‘s been shot.

After recording a class, Largent now connects the FS-4 to his computer like any standard FireWire hard disk drive and simply drags and drops files straight into Final Cut Pro‘s timeline. Largent edits the class, then compresses it into a QuickTime file that can be easily downloaded and viewed on students‘ laptops. The final video files are placed on the department‘s Blackboard system where students can log in and download their selected classes.

Weighing only one pound, the FS-4 can be easily mounted to the camera or belt. Largent appreciates the recorder‘s portability on those days when work follows him home. “I like to post a class online by the very next day,” he explained. “So, sometimes that means I need to work on the editing and compression at home. With the FS-4‘s small size, I can easily tuck it inside my briefcase and take it with me.”


“Direct To Edit technology has been a huge time saver for us,” explained Largent. “It‘s so nice to have the footage in digital format from the start, and not have to tie up my equipment capturing tape to my computer. The FS-4 has proven to be very reliable, and extremely easy to use. We‘re really pleased with our investment.”

Since purchasing the equipment, the Physics Department has begun recording class lectures, colloquium speakers, and public lectures. And students have begun to take advantage of the new study tools–Largent notes that approximately 15% of students log into the system to download the recordings. “We haven‘t noticed any decrease in class attendance,” he said. “The videos are augmenting, not replacing the classroom. If students miss a class to attend an athletic event, now they can easily keep up with the missing material. Or before final exams, students can refresh themselves on content from the early classes. Overall, reception has been very positive.”

Summary The FS-4 extends recording time and eliminates capture time, helping the Physics Department at Dartmouth provide an online library of recorded class lectures. “Direct To Edit technology has been a huge time saver for us. It‘s so nice to have the footage in digital format from the start, and not have to tie up my equipment capturing tape to my computer. The FS-4 has proven to be very reliable, and extremely easy to use. We‘re really pleased with our investment.”

– John Largent, Laboratory Manager, Dartmouth College About Dartmouth

A member of the Ivy League, Dartmouth has been at the forefront of American higher education since 1769. Dartmouth is committed to providing the best undergraduate liberal arts experience and to providing outstanding graduate programs in the Dartmouth Medical School (founded 1797), the Thayer School of Engineering (1867), the Tuck School of Business (1900), and the graduate programs in the Arts and Sciences.

FS-4 Portable DTE Recorder The FS-4 brings Direct To Edit technology to DV and HDV handheld camcorders. It‘s the most complete tapeless acquisition solution for digital videographers in the broadcast, sports, wedding and event, and education industries. There‘s no capturing, no file transfer, no file conversion–just shoot and edit. Weighing just one pound and only 1.5 inches thick, the FS-4 is designed to excel in the field. Available in four configurations, the FS-4 comes standard with a 40 GB hard drive for three hours recording time and is available with an 80 GB hard drive for six hours recording time. FS-4 supports all the major DV nonlinear editing (NLE) systems, recording files to disk as RawDV, AVI Type 1, AVI Type 2, AVI Type 2 24p, Matrox AVI, Canopus AVI, QuickTime, or QuickTime 24p. FS-4Pro models also include Pinnacle AVI and Avid DV-OMF. In addition to DV file formats, the HD models also support 1080i and 720p MPEG-2 (.m2t) files. About Focus Enhancements, Inc. Innovation, efficiency, and superior quality are the foundation upon which Focus Enhancements builds its products. A world leader in advanced video production, digital asset management, and digital signage solutions, Focus delivers products that perform superbly day in and day out and backs them with unparalleled service and support.