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FS-4 Pro captures the spirit of Culver Academies


Culver Academies, Summer Schools and Camps are situated on a sprawling 1,800-acre campus bordering an 1,800-acre lake, complete with more than 100 buildings, including an Equestrian Center and two Ice Arenas. This independent college preparatory school in north-central Indiana is now celebrating its 113th year and easily could be mistaken for a small college or university. Culver alumnus and current Webmaster and videographer, Lew Kopp, is tasked with capturing all the extraordinary school events and student activities on video. And at Culver, videography needs take many forms — from recording graduation ceremonies and theatre performances to the 21-gun salute on Veterans’ Day and the school’s renowned Black Horse Troop. Video plays a prominent role on the school’s website, and DVDs of graduation and other events are sold to students, parents, and alumni for fundraising efforts, as well as placed in the school library. “It’s a constant challenge to keep up with all the events,” explained Kopp. “I’m essentially a one-man shop for video, and it only comprises about 1/3 of my job requirements. I’ve got the website to manage, as well as computer programming needs. And for that reason, I’ve got to find ways to speed up my workflow wherever I can.”


To eliminate the inefficiencies associated with recording to tape, Kopp selected the FS-4 Pro portable DTE recorder from Focus Enhancements. With the FS-4, footage is available for editing as soon as it has been shot — taking users from acquisition to editing with unparalleled speed and efficiency.

With the FS-4‘s Direct To Edit technology, Kopp can record DV and HDV streams directly to disk via FireWire. Once shooting is done, he simply connects the FS-4 to his MacBook Pro like any standard FireWire hard disk drive and drags and drops files straight into Final Cut Pro’s timeline — bypassing the time-consuming steps of capturing tape and converting footage.

The FS-4 can record footage in the native file format of most major NLEs including Avid Express, Final Cut Pro, Canopus, Pinnacle, and Matrox, although Kopp typically records in QuickTime‘s HDV and DV formats.


“Before the FS-4, I’d have to play back footage to my computer in real time,” explained Kopp. “So, a three-hour theatre production would require three hours of capture time. Or, when I videotaped more than 10 hours for graduation events, I’d need to spend 10 extra hours capturing before I could even begin editing. And that’s time I just didn’t have. Now I just record to the FS-4, take it over to my computer, and copy the files across. It saves me all that time.” Kopp finds he’s able to post videos on the website and produce DVDs faster than ever with the FS-4. For example, he finished videotaping a one-hour matriculation ceremony at 6 p.m. and was able to post the video online by 10 a.m. the following morning. And Kopp has found additional benefits beyond the time saving. By eliminating the need to play back tape, the FS-4 helps extend the life of his camera. “The FS-4 basically halves the amount of wear and tear on my camera,” he explained. “And cameras aren’t cheap, so I really appreciate the extra mileage.”

The FS-4 also has help address the logistical challenges of storing tape, as Kopp found himself cluttered with rows and rows of tape. Now he simply copies files to his computer and stores everything on external serial ATA drives, eliminating the need for physical tape archives. Equipped with an 80 GB hard drive, the FS-4 gives Kopp six hours of recording time – enabling him to record long formats without worrying about running out of storage space or having to change tapes. As he explained, “With tape, you’re limited to 63 minutes period. For theatre productions, I’d constantly be running into problems, since any given act may last from 45 to 75 minutes. I‘d have to change tapes, but what would I miss? The FS-4 has completely eliminated that problem.”

This extended recording time will prove particularly valuable when Kopp records training on the school‘s new theatre lighting system. “The training will probably last close to six hours, not counting any breaks,” said Kopp. “I can just let the FS-4 run and be free to concentrate on the training — and not having to run back and change tapes. All in all, the FS-4 helps me wear a lot of hats.”


The FS-4 eliminates capture time, helping Culver Academies videographer Lew Kopp keep up with his busy schedule. “Before the FS-4, I’d have to play back footage to my computer in real time. So, when I videotaped more than 10 hours for graduation events, I’d need to spend 10 extra hours capturing before I could even begin editing. And that’s time I just didn’t have. Now I just record to the FS-4, take it over to my computer, and copy the files across. It saves me all that time.” – Lew Kopp, Culver Academies

About Culver Academies

The Culver Academies are independent college preparatory boarding schools comprised of Culver Military Academy founded in 1894 and Culver Girls Academy founded in 1971. With a focus on leadership training, Culver prepares its students for college and the greater world beyond by encouraging them to develop their own unique interests and talents. Extensive academic, athletic, and extracurricular offerings allow students to explore options and advance according to their individual achievement and attitude, as well as find additional support in challenging areas.

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.