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Ask The Expert: Is it the Right Time to Upgrade my Casablanca Editor?

I have been receiving email inquiries and had a couple folks at the Mid-Atlantic Casablanca Expert Workshop this past week ask me '"Chet, is it time to upgrade to one of the new Casablanca editors?"

There are a couple of considerations I would share to fully answer this question.  First, let me say that the S4100 and the S2000 - the two new (and the only contemporary) Casablanca editors now made, coupled with the Bogart SE Operating System V3 (released in PAL, coming soon to NTSC) presents itself as a great tool that benefits from several OS versions since the release of the initial Bogart SE OS.  

The two strong benefits the newer Casablanca editors (the S2000 & S4100) afford you over the previous Smart Edit models (AVIO, Kron, Prestige, Renommee, Solitaire, etc) is in

1. Processor power/speed & HD work flow: The much faster processor in the new Bogart OS units allow for near real-time ingest (import) of HDV and AVCHD video signals and rapid rendering of rich transitions, titling & effects.  The re-design of the HD work flow is greatly improved between the Smart Edit and Bogart OS versions (you don't have to wait for the editor to down-convert HDV in Bogart, whereas you had to in Smart Edit). You may wish to read my previous blog post on the Down-convert issue/question here, which remains accurate at this time.

Now, I should also point out that the hardware assisted rendering (C-Cube) present in Smart Edit models is non existent in the Bogart models, which means there is no real-time 2-D transitions and DVD compiling/rendering can take awhile. 

2. Ability to import many contemporary video file formats & export a variety of codecs: this is particularly valid in the new Bogart V3 OS where even more camcorder formats can be imported into the Casablanca.  In addition to Analog and DV video; and HDV - that you can also work with in the faster Smart Edit units like the Renommee & Solitaire you can now edit AVCHD (which many of the newer camcorders produced record) along with several file formats from computer & other camcorders, like the AVI files from Flip video cameras.  We have been having to import some of these files via the Media Manager and then use the 'Archives' buttons to move to our editing projects, but with Bogart V3 you can record more file formats directly in via the Record Menu!

And exporting... with the Media Manager you can export your finished videos to one of a number of computer/internet friendly formats as well as formats fully compatible with portable media devices like iPod, iPhone, Blackberry, etc.

Additionally, here are two more questions I get asked a lot:

Are the new Casablanca editors still intuitive to operate or is going to take some getting used to?

If you are comfortable already with your Casablanca editor, and you are running one of the later Smart Edit Operating System versions - I would suggest that there will be very little difficulty for you. There is a mis-conception in the Casablanca community on this issue. The software _has_ been redesigned but that is behind the scenes... yes, there are some new features but in the 'regular' editing menus there is a high degree of transferability (where you can take what you know already and be successful right away).  

Having said that - I should hasten to point out that the Casablanca Media Manager is a whole new set of menus, and that does/will take 'some getting used to'.  That's why I produced a 2-disk set of Tutorial DVDs on the topic: Casablanca Foolproof Volume 3:Understanding the Media Manager

Is there another model coming down the pike that will make the S-4100 obsolete by comparison?

In the world of consumer electronics - you can count on that!  Actually I do not know of any particular model that is set to replace or render the S4100 obsolete.  Even if there is a new model a year or two from now, hopefully you got enough use out of your current model (if you purchased one in the coming weeks/months) to warrant your expenditure.

So Chet -- summarize your upgrade opinion for me please?

Alright - but let me say this first... the only person who should determine whether you upgrade now (or in the future) is yourself.  Review your business model (for those who use Casablanca in their business), does it fit your budget and your needs? 

If you are editing SD (Standard Definition) videos, mostly for your family and are not planning on upgrading to a new camcorder soon and are happy with the speed of your Prestige (or other Smart Edit model) then you are not a likely candidate for a hardware upgrade.

Issues to be aware of:

If you absolutely love the add-on software, and feel like you need to have all your software to live another day, carefully check out this list of compatible Casablanca software - there are still software products which have not yet been re-engineered and are not ready for the Bogart OS.

Some customers are experiencing technical difficulties, but I believe the instance and severity of major technical malfunction are diminished on the newest units running the latter versions of the Bogart OS.

On the new units, with the optional Blu-ray DVD burners installed you can produce disks with stunning looking high-definition quality.  But there remain player compatibility limitations and a lack of full menu capabilities.

If you edit video for a living (or 2nd job), if you are planning on using HDV or AVCHD, if you shoot lots of High Def video, if you would like or need to import different camcorder formats, if you would like to or need to export files ready for portable media devices/internet... then you are a likely candidate for a Casablanca hardware upgrade.

For specifics on the hardware credit (discount) check out the current Casablanca Trade In Promotion (for NTSC customers only)

Tips & Tutorials by the Casablanca Expert, Chet Davis