Turnkey Video Editing System: MacroSystem Casablanca Appliance

An editing appliance focused on real time HD and SD editing  - targeting any editor than needs to put out very high quality content frequently or in tight time tables. Workflows, Stability, Green-Screening, HD rendering, Format com-patibility, realtime editing while viewing the content on monitors or TV’s, and speed are the big advantages here.

CasaAppliance

 
What it isn’t
A PC based system or a high end image altering package. You don’t get the baggage of a PC or MAC - but you also don’t get the frills of a high end image altering package that some feature film-makers may “want” or need.

Basic overview
MacroSystem (www.macrosystem.us) has had a solid history of producing dedicated Video Editing Appliances - Turnkey Video Editors. MacroSystem has been a company at the forefront of many new technologies and trends - being one of the first to have a successful and efficient Non-Linear editing solution, offer both storyboard AND time-line modes, offer True HD editing, and offering Blue Ray Authoring. 
 
MacroSystem recently announced a new OS for the appliance, and this overview includes new features included in this OS. MacroSystem also sells the software modularly so you buy the functionality (at low cost) you need. This helps keep costs down as most manufacturers will sell the same package to people who will typically use 10% of the functionality.

Getting Started
There is nothing to install, nothing to load, no configuration to do.  As a matter of fact - it’s much more like hooking up a DVD player than a computer. We opted to hook up 2 monitors (a 55” HD TV and a 22” LCD flatscreen) , a Keyboard and Mouse, and our Canon Camera XL H1A.

The biggest strength of the Casablanca is it’s simplicity. Options are so clear and presented so well, it’s impossible to get lost. Enter a project name and you are ready to go - no need to pick a drive, disc, or folder location. Once you name your project you have immediate control over your camera - allowing you to capture video and immediately edit.

The Casablanca automatically, and accurately, recognizes scenes and reflects this in the editing screen and menu. Editing is possible in both storyboard and timeline modes. While editing, there’s no fear of losing scenes of clips as in other software.

Manually trimming and splitting clips is easy - and the included trackball mouse is a much better tool than the tradi-tional computer mouse. Transitions require no rendering and were performed in real time. Special Effects are avail-able in a separate bin are are also easy to use and apply, although realtime editing was not available for Special Effect.

DVD Authoring was also a breeze. HD burn time was impressive and Blue-Ray Burning is on par with the best drives on the market. Encoding? Issues?

Noteable Features
Some of the more notable features we ran across are listed below
• Not just dual monitor support - but the ability to use TV’s or any display device to watch the video being editing on the type of display you’ll anticipate the final product being played on.
• Blue Ray Authoring
• LOTS of SD and HD options - including 1920x1080
• Work From External Hard Drives or on Native Drive
• Several Backup Options - Project, Storyboard, and Timeline Based
• Auto Sync for up to 4 Cameras
• VERY Quiet Operation (important for many scenarios like churches and schools)
• Auto Scene Creation
• StoryBoard AND Timeline Editing Options (flip flop between the 2)
• Excellent Green-Screening Work
• Realtime HD Editing
• Excellent Transition and Filtering Options and Speed
• Excellent Network Capabilities
• Display, Input, and Format Compatibility Nearly Universal

To Note
MacroSystem has been in the game since 1984... but mostly in the European Market. They’ve made inroads here in the US a couple of times - but it looks like they are taking the US market much more seriously now. They’ve been growing operations here in the US and you’ll be seeing them much more int he near future.
MacroSystem has many units in use that are 10+ years old - hows that for reliability and longevity? Something even crazier in this day of churn and burn? MacroSystem offers high trade in value on even it’s oldest units. What other manufacturer can do that?

A Dedicated Editing Appliance? -
One could easily argue that this dollar amount would purchase a well appointed PC  or MAC solution. While a person could argue for the purchase of an installed software piece on a PC they would be missing the point of a dedicated editing appliance. MacroSystem’s Linux Based Operating System is written by the MacroSystem team from the ground up to be dedicated to Video Editing Functionality. This allows for increased resource efficiency, workflow speed, and interface effectiveness.

Cost Comparison to PC or MAC solutions is very competitive, especially considering you are getting purpose build hardware that runs more efficiently (faster) than your Mac or PC. With the average hardware costs for other software editing packages well over $2,500 - it’s easy to see that the Casablanca series is a competitive price point.

CasaMatrix


Training
While MacroSystem’s Casablanca systems don’t require much education to get some impressive results - any profes-sional knows they need to invest in training and education to maximize the full potential of any tool in their kit. It helps them to remove hurdles in process and leverage their full creativity 100% of the time.
MacroSystem offers many different DVD options - covering general film-making subjects like Movie Making and Editing Tips and Tricks to Product Specific Info like short video’s focused on specific features to all encompassing coverage like it’s Foolproof series.

MacroSystem also has a series of Education Content Providers. Chet Davis is known as the Casablanca Expert and is the official education provider of MacroSystem Education Content.  His services are available through all MacroSys-tem Dealers, MacroSystem directly, and www.casablancaexpert.com
Customer education is regularly produced for schools, churches, and event videographer groups. Many times this content included content for educational curriculums and hands on how to’s.

Conclusion
The Casablanca line of Editing Appliances is one of the most solid, reliable, and elegant editing solutions available to the consumer. There are a few editing appliances available to professionals (read: 10x as much money) that may offer more options to  the high end production house or studio, but this product sits right in line with the Education Community, the Worship Community, and the Professional Wedding and Event Videographer. The product really is easy enough for very young students to operate immediately (there are THOUSANDS of Casablanca’s in use at School Districts across the country) - it is also widely used by professionals who have time crunches and need to turn out high quality product very quickly. The Casablanca has many high end tools that high end users demand, and most function in real-time.

The Casablanca really does focus on allowing users to focus on the art of editing and turn out higher quantities of finished product than the competition. That makes it perfect for school, churches, and event videographers - or any-one who is professionally dependent upon putting out high quality product frequently. If you are looking for a solution with robust image manipulation integrated into your editing software (many professionals are doing this outside  their edit package), this may not be the right solution for you.

MacroSystem Website - www.macrosystem.us
MacroSystem Blog - www.macrosystemus.blogspot.com