The Casablanca Reviewed


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Macrosystem US

By Hal Landen

Not long ago a friend called and asked if I could edit some Hi-8 home movies he had just shot on a business trip in Chicago. I told him I didn’t own Hi-8 editing gear and was about to refer him to someone else. But then I thought about the Casablanca I had just received from DraCo (now Macrosystem US) and told him I might be able to edit his footage if he was willing to take a chance on me using a new system.

First I watched the instructional video that came with the Casablanca and then called my friend and said I’d give it a shot if he would. He brought his camera over and before long we were importing clips into the Cassie. So far so good. The video he wanted was simply to document a water purification technique that he was planning to use in his waterfront reclamation business. On my monitor the clips we imported looked identical to his tape, but I knew the real test would come after we brought these digital clips back to tape.

We spent some time trimming and rearranging the clips into a rough story. In about 40 minutes we had cut his 1 hour video down to about 8 minutes. He had to leave, but said he’d be back in a month with more footage. After he left, I wanted to save the edited version to tape and see what it really looked like. My first attempt was not that impressive so I called DraCo and discovered that the Panasonic 7500 deck I was using had an unusual termination circuit. The DraCo guy told me exactly what to do and his solution worked perfectly.

I saved the program to SVHS and this time I was impressed. I couldn’t tell the difference between this and the original tape. But I knew the real test would be to make a VHS dub from this tape and watch it on my living room TV. This time I was really amazed. The resolution was fantastic and in one shot which had deep shadows in the background, the black showed no noise at all!

Take 2

A week later another friend called. His name is Jack O’Brien and he’s been doing weddings and events since the days of half inch reel-to-reel. Jack shoots in Hi-8 and edits to M2 on a very impressive editing system, but he wanted to get into non-linear editing. Like many of us Jack owns several computers, but Jack wanted no part of the tortuous configuration and steep learning curve many computer-based editing systems require. He wanted to try the Casablanca. So I loaned it to him for a week.

Jack loved it and as a result just bought his own Cassie. He tells me that he didn’t intend it to replace his editing system, but to augment it. He finds it’s quite handy to be able to import an entire edited section of video into the Casablanca when a client needs a few changes. He can make the changes on the Cassie and bring them back to tape with virtually no loss! This strategy is a great time saver. Jack has also used his Casablanca to edit an entire 90-minute wedding.

If you have an existing editing system, you’ll find that after you learn your Casablanca, it’s important to think through your editing strategy. This way you’ll gain all the benefits of non-linear editing and greatly improve your efficiency not to mention pleasing your clients.

My Conclusion

Anytime you buy equipment in the video business, you’re buying a lot more than another box. For better or worse you’re also buying the company behind the box. Here are some of the things you’ll want to know about this company: How well they support their machine, how closely they listen to what their customers want, and how quickly they impliment those customer wants into the next version of their product

In my opinion the DraCo company scores 100% on these issues. Their customer support is terrific. They listen carefully to what their customers want and quickly impliment these changes in the Casablanca. They designed the Casablanca so that upgrades are as simple as putting a floppy disk in the drive and watching the machine upgrade itself.

DraCo has been in the computer video business since the earliest days of the desktop video revolution. The Casablanca is truly a milestone in the video evolution, but this product is not a static milestone. It keeps getting better.

The best way to learn more about this stand-alone editing machine is to schedule a one-on-one demo with a Casablanca dealer. Take some video you’ve shot and put the Cassie through all its paces. This kind of hands-on experience is the best way to decide if the Casablanca is for you. Also bring a blank tape so you can save the edited video. Take that tape home and watch it on your living room TV. As they say The proof is in the puddin’.

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2 thoughts on “The Casablanca Reviewed

  1. Brian B.Warren

    This is an enquiry about Casablanca.

    A friend on mine in the UK has had one for a number of years and his latest one is used for HD video editing. I’ve seen some of the results and am very impressed with them.

    Have you a model which had sufficient RAM memory and hard disc storage to be easily capable of dealing with the AVCHD HD video format and, capable of burning direct to an internal Blu-Ray burner?

    Up to now I’ve used SD video for a number of years and edited it via iMovie with my older G4 Mac computer – but this won’t cope with HD. And the latest Mac computers, even though you can edit HD, have no Blu-Ray burners. So, at present I’m relying on downloading my HD videos to Blu-Ray via a Panasonic Blu-Ray recorder, which gives good results — but isn’t capable of any editing. So I’m stuck!

    Are Casablanca video processors available in the UK or is it necessary for them to be ordered direct from the USA?

    Best wishes,

    Brian Warren

  2. Ninan Kovoor

    I have a casablanca Kron and it has some problems. I called the company many times. first of all there is not live person to answer your phone. Next, you leave a message, he does not answer you. I don’t know what type of service they run. I think they are running a scam.


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