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FS-100 Captures Penguins on Thin Ice at the United Nations

Sharon Abreu and Michael Hurwicz, the creators of the musical revue Penguins on Thin Ice, hold fast to the idea that everyone has the potential to curb the effects of climate change. Through music, Penguins on Thin Ice shares scientific information about climate change and inspires us to take actions, both large and small, to bring about change today. The Penguins on Thin Ice team had the opportunity to bring their music and message to the United Nations. And on May 4, 2007, students from the High School for Environmental Studies (HSES) in New York performed the musical at the United Nations for the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD).

Capturing this groundbreaking performance at the UN was critical to furthering Abreu and Hurwicz‘s message and encouraging groups in the U.S. and around the world to produce the show. They purchased three Panasonic HD AG-HVX200 cameras. “The HVX200s turned out to be the best HD solution for our price range,” explained Hurwicz. “But after purchasing three, we had stretched our budget and still had to deal with the storage requirements for the camera.”

Hurwicz calculated how many P2 cards would be needed to record the performance. “We figured if we shot at 720P/24PN HD, we could store 20 minutes on a card. Since the show is about 35 minutes long, we could possibly get by with two cards per camera,” he said.

However, this solution would not leave the team with much leeway for recording before and after the show. And moving to three P2 cards per camera would stretch their budget even more — not to mention the added burden of switching cards in the middle of the show. “Essentially, we have just one operator per camera and it‘s better for them to focus on getting the right shot than trying to manage P2 cards,” Hurwicz explained. And so, the team started looking for more cost-effective alternatives that could enable them to capture all the footage they‘d need without the high price tag.


When Hurwicz ran across Focus Enhancements‘ Direct To Edit® technology and the FS-100, he soon realized these 100 GB recorders would offer more value than the P2 cards. Designed to work with the Panasonic AG-HVX200, the FS-100 DTE recorder lets videographers record DVCPRO HD, DVCPRO 50, and DVCPRO/DV streams directly from the HVX200 camera to disk via FireWire. The FS-100 comes standard with a 100 GB hard drive that provides 1.5 hours of DVCPRO HD recording time — at a price point far less than a couple of P2 cards.

“It made a lot more sense for us to purchase an FS-100, instead of three 8 GB cards, for each camera,” said Hurwicz. “Not only did the FS-100 offer a lower price tag than three cards, but with 100 GB, we wouldn‘t be limited by space and had the flexibility to capture as much extra footage as we wanted.”

The Penguins on Thin Ice team initially thought they‘d assign an FS-100 to each of their two stationary cameras and stick with P2 cards for their mobile camera. The camera operator for the third camera was constantly on the move — looking for the best shots on stage and in the audience. Hurwicz wondered if the FireWire connection between the FS-100 and the camera would be able to endure such mobility. When they received their first two FS-100 units, Hurwicz and the team experimented with various configurations. “We discovered we could attach the FS-100 to the operator with the belt clip, and the connection was perfectly secure — with no worries about the FireWire connection coming loose,” said Hurwicz. With this added confidence, the team decided to use a third FS-100 for the mobile camera.

The group ended up shooting a total of five different performances for the UN production — two rehearsals, two shows at the High School for Environmental Studies, and the final performance at the UN. At each show, they recorded close to 200 GB across the three cameras.

When a shoot was over, the team headed back to the hotel where they‘d offload the files from each FS-100 to a 1 Terabyte hard disk. Files were copied overnight and the team would pick the units up in the morning for the next shoot. “The whole process of copying files went as quickly as could be expected for 200 GB of data,” said Hurwicz. “And reformatting the FS-100 for the next shoot was virtually instantaneous. Almost as soon as the files were copied, the FS-100 would be ready to go — which was really critical given our hectic schedule.”


“The FS-100s performed flawlessly,” concluded Hurwicz. “As expected, we had a couple of things go wrong here and there and it was such a relief to not have to worry about the FS-100 units. We just plugged them in and they worked.”

With 100 GB of storage, the camera operators were free to focus on capturing the shots they needed, without worrying about switching cards or offloading data. Even Abreu noticed the improvements. “I‘m more involved in the musical and production side than the technical end, but I really appreciated how great the FS-100s performed,” she explained. “They made everything flow more smoothly and enabled us to capture everything that happened at the UN.”

Beyond the additional storage capacity, the FS-100s allowed the team to substantially increase their video quality. Hurwicz originally intended to shoot the performance in 1280/720 DVCPRO HD at 24 frames per second, as that was the most they could handle given the limited storage on P2 cards. Now with 100 GB capacity per camera, the team could consider better quality, higher resolution video. Ultimately, they shot in 1920/1080i at 60 frames per second — the most demanding HD format supported on the HVX-200.

“With the FS-100s, we didn‘t need to compromise video quality for storage space,” explained Hurwicz. “Considering there is a fair amount of movement involved in Penguins on Thin Ice, we really preferred to shoot at 60 frames/second instead of 24 frames. And having all our raw footage in 1080 HD gives us a huge advantage. Our final product looks more professional and there‘s also the possibility of going to big screen in the future. The FS-100s were really the last piece that needed to be put in place to make this high quality output a practical undertaking.”


The creators of Penguins on Thin Ice, Michael Hurwicz and Sharon Abreu, relied on FS-100 DTE recorders to capture their historic performance at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). The FS-100‘s 100 GB storage space gave the team the flexibility to record as much footage as needed in the highest quality HD format.

“The FS-100s performed flawlessly. As expected, we had a couple of things go wrong here and there and it was such a relief to not have to worry about the FS-100 units. We just plugged them in and they worked.”

– Michael Hurwicz, Penguins on Thin Ice

About Penguins on Thin Ice

Penguins on Thin Ice uses music to share both inspiration and scientific information about global climate change. The 35-minute musical revue offers a solution-oriented approach to climate change — bringing focus to what people can do today to help curb its effects. The show makes the connection between energy, climate change, and human potential. Music is central to the show, because it helps audiences get in touch with questions of the heart and spirit. The show‘s message is that everybody has the power to make change happen — and that we are all in this together.

FS Family

The FS family of video production products takes users from acquisition to editing with unparalleled speed, efficiency, and reliability. Compatible with most DV and HDV camcorders and editing software, FS products feature Direct To Edit (DTE) video recording technology that converts the output from your DV or HDV camcorder or VTR to a nonlinear editing (NLE) format and records it on FireWire disk drives. By combining DTE Technology® with advanced caching and redundant tape and disk recording, FS products ensure that you never miss an important shot or lose critical footage. And best of all, your footage is ready to edit instantly.


Weighing about one pound and only 1.5 inches thick, the FS-100 is an HD recorder designed to work with the new Panasonic AG-HVX200 P2 camera, supporting DVCPRO HD, DVCPRO 50, and DVCPRO/DV recording formats. The FS-100 provides long recording times and improves workflow with Direct To Edit® technology. It can also be used with other Panasonic DVCPRO/DVCPRO 50 and DVCPRO HD devices that have a FireWire port.

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.