Your connection to the Video Section of the NSS

December  1997  Vol. 3  No 4

From the Editor

This is the last issue for 1997.  It was close, but I got all four issues out in 1997.  You may notice that this issue is a little slim.  Well, the reasons should be obvious - I am not getting any material for publishing, and December is a very busy time of the year.  I just didn't have the time to think of and write a bunch of articles.  I didn't even have time to paraphrase video articles from the web, and from video magazines.

What I did have time to do, though, was to jot down some quick notes on my most recent purchase.  It may look as if this issue is a big advertisement of Draco and the Casablanca, but it isn't.  I believe the Casablanca NLE editor is worth consideration if you are interested in getting into non-liner editing.  Also I was able to shorten up the turn-around time for this issue by using the product description from Draco's web site.

Either way you look at it, please jot a few words down and send it to me.  This newsletter has the potential to be great reading for the caver videographer, but to be good, we need more support from the membership.  Enough griping.  Enjoy the holidays and have a Happy New Year.

Dave Socky
Editor - Cavideo Newsletter

'97-'98 Dues past Due

I had to drop a number of our members from the distribution list for the Cavideo Newsletter because they did not pay their dues.  If you know any past members who have not paid up, please remind them that they are missing out on one of the better features of belonging to the NSS Video Section.  Let them know that they only need to send five dollars to the Video Section.  Just send  a check to the following address.  Make the check payable to "NSS Video Section" and send to:

NSS Video Section
c/o Dave Socky
6572 Woodbrook Dr. SW
Roanoke, VA 24018-5402

Non Linear Editing with the Casablanca

By Dave Socky

Ever since they became affordable, I have been lusting after a computer based video editing system. A system where you didn't have to juggle two or three sources VCR's around and through a plethora of hardware (Time Base correctors, mixers, controllers, titlers, video processors, and on and on..) and finally to a record VCR. Fine tuning controllers, getting the right timing and mix on transitions, shuttling tapes back and forth... it just seemed like it was more work and effort just to get things working right, let alone put together a creative show.

But affordable non linear systems were not perfect either. I had heard enough horror stories about computer crashes, device address conflicts, hardware video boards not working at all, software which worked sometimes, and was complicated, etc, etc, etc. All of these stories kept me out of the market for non linear video editing.

Earlier this year, I had subscribed to the Videonics list server, which is similar to the Cavers Digest, except it is on the subject of video production. This list is mostly aimed at the prosumer and low end professional. All this summer I kept reading about how great the Casablanca by DraCo was. It was billed as a turnkey non-linear editor. Open the box up, hook it to your TV, and feed it source video from your camcorder, and you are ready to edit to your hearts content. It sounded too good to be true. I read of a few problems here and there, but 95 percent of the messages were songs of praise. (I also got on a manual list server run by Carroll Lam which is for Casablanca users. Just send a request to be on the list to:

This fall I couldn’t take it any more. I was able to get a hold of a unit from our local video store for test purposes. I wanted to check it out before committing to buy the thing, since it’s cost is not small change.

Within one evening, I had it set up and running (on my dining room table) and was editing video footage I had just gotten from Burns Cave #2.

My primary test was for output quality. First I made a copy from the Hi8 original to SVHS using a Panasonic 1960 record deck. I then put the same Hi8 source tape onto the hard drive of the Casablanca unit. I used the highest quality setting available for the Casablanca, which is supposed to be as good as Beta SP. I then made a SVHS copy from the Casablanca unit using the Panasonic 1960 record deck.

Now with two Panasonic 1960 decks and two identical video monitors (Panasonic ct-1382y), I was able to compare the two systems side by side. The result? I couldn’t tell the difference between the two tapes! This was good! One more test, and I would be happy. I compared the original Hi8 tape to the SVHS tape made from the Casablanca with the two monitors side by side. Well, as could be expected, I could tell the difference, but it was relatively minor.

What this means, of course, is that I can make distribution copies of videos which are the equivalent of only 2nd generation video. Compared to what I was used to with 3rd and 4th generation, this was a vast improvement. As you can guess, I bit the bullet and purchased the unit. So far I am really happy with it. My first project is a short video on Burns Cave #2 (more wet caving through near siphons, big trunk passage, and some pretty formations.)

For more information see the description of the Casablanca on the DraCo’s web site or contact them directly at:

DraCo Systems, Inc.
3380 Mitchell Lane, Suite 102
Boulder, CO 80301
Phone: 303.440.5311
Fax: 303.440.5322