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Introducing: Stand-Alone NLEs

As the Genre Grows, Feature Sets and Real Time Capabilities Abound By Charlie White

Are you sick and tired of tinkering with a computer when you want to edit video? Maybe a stand-alone editing system is for you. The concept started in 1997, when a company then called Draco (now known as MacroSystem US Inc.) released Casablanca, a self-contained set-top box that could edit your video and spit it back out to videotape. The concept proved so popular that according to MacroSystem's Rick Barron, over 100,000 Casablanca editing systems have been sold since then. Casablanca is no longer available, but in its place are a variety of "black box" editors that will satisfy video enthusiasts from the low end to the high part of midrange.

There are two hotly competitive companies selling these stand-alone editing systems. MacroSystem offers the Casablanca Avio, a higher-end system called Kron, and coming soon is the Bahia, an even higher-end system intended for broadcasters. Also strongly in the running in this hotly competitive market is Applied Magic, with two entries in this field, with its lower-end Sequel and its more capable sibling, ScreenPlay. All have a few user-friendly traits in common: They are completely standalone systems, requiring only a video monitor (or in the case of the Kron, a video monitor and optional computer monitor), all offer some real time effects, all are easy to set up, turn on and use; and none require a computer.


AvioMacroSystem Avio, $1,295: Here's the bare-bones of the crowd of stand-alone editors. For this price, you get plenty of real time effects, but are limited in the speed of the processor and the amount of footage you can store in its hard disk. But if you want to edit DV footage, you'll have to spring for an upgrade to the Avio DV, and that'll cost you $500.

MacroSystem Avio DV, $1,795: For DV users, this is the basic unit that sports the ability to bring in your DV shots without any digital-to-analog conversion, or vice versa. It gives you a choice of storing the video as MPEG-II (the standard internal format for the AVIO) or as Native DV.

Applied Magic SequelApplied Magic Sequel, $1,995: No DV input here, but there is a CD-ROM drive and SCSI port, both of which aren't included in the Avio. The CD ROM Drive lets you to import audio direct from a music CD, read images (like GIF & BMP), and TrueType fonts. And, the advantage of the SCSI port is the ability to attach additional storage, or to use SCSI disks you already have for extra storage.

MacroSystem Avio Pro, $2,295: The Avio Pro is the Avio DV with the following added: Scrub audio, 10 projects (DV & Basic allow 3 projects), 6 stereo audio tracks (DV & Basic have 3 stereo audio tracks), auto split with DV input, Clipboard for sharing scenes within projects (the DV & Basic AVIO can't share clips), adjustable record time, and a Scene button for multi-layering.

Applied Magic ScreenplayApplied Magic Screenplay, $3,995: The ScreenPlay has everything the Basic Sequel has, plus a larger hard drive (60 GB), DV input, Merge capabilities for multi-layering of both audio and video, Envelope Controls (for manipulation of Transitions, Audio, & Titles), Additional Special Effects, Additional Transitions, and Additional Color Effects. ScreenPlay also allows for 2 additional higher quality video capture settings when recording video.

Macrosystem KronMacroSystem Kron, $5,495: Here's the top of the line, with the ability to work in either MPEG-2 or native DV, the ability to swap out or add more disks, and a faster processor -- an AMD K6 500 MHz -- which doesn't sound that fast, but in this Windows- and Mac- OS-free environment, this will give you lots more rendering power for complex composites. The unit also offers lower compression ratios for the highest quality of the group. Add an extra $1000 and you can burn a DVD of your work.



Signal Input
MacroSystem Avio MacroSystem Kron Applied Magic Sequel Applied Magic Screenplay
Price $1295, Avio ST (DV) $1795 $5,495 $1,995 $3,995
Video connections 1 S-video (Y/C), 1 composite, 1 selectable S/Composite, 1 IEEE 1394 (optional) 1 S-video (Y/C), 1 composite, 1 selectable S/Composite, 1 IEEE 1394 2 S-video (Y/C), 2 composite, optional Digital I/O upgrade (DV-1394) 2 S-video (Y/C), 2 composite, Digital (DV-1394)
Audio connections 1 RCA Stereo pair 3 RCA Stereo Pairs RCA: VCR L/R, camcorder L/R, Aux audio L/R, microphone RCA: VCR L/R, camcorder L/R, Aux audio L/R, microphone
Data Rate 0,3 - 1,8 MByte/s 0,3 - 1,8 MByte/s, 2,1 MByte/s (YUV-422), 3,6 MByte/s (DV-native) 2.6+ MB/sec 4+ MB/sec
Timecode format -- -- VITC VITC and DV Timecode
Signal Output
Video connections 1 SCART (RGB or composite), 1 SCART (composite or S-video) 1 SCART (RGB or composite), 1 SCART (composite or S-video) 2 S-video, 2 composite, VGA, optional Digital I/O upgrade (DV-1394) 2 S-video, 2 composite, VGA, SCART (RGB), Digital (DV-1394)
Audio connections via SCART via SCART RCA: VCR L/R, monitor L/R, stereo headphone 1/4" connection RCA: VCR L/R, monitor L/R, stereo headphone 1/4" connection
Internal Processing
Compression technology MPEG 2 dual stream IBP, DV-1394 option MPEG 2 dual stream IBP, DV-1394 Wavelet (hardware CODEC) Wavelet (hardware CODEC), DV-1394 (hardware CODEC)
System formats NTSC (USA, Japan), PAL (Europe), PAL-M (Brazil), and PAL-N (Argentina) NTSC (USA, Japan), PAL (Europe), PAL-M (Brazil), and PAL-N (Argentina) NTSC (USA, Japan), PAL (Europe), PAL-M (Brazil), and PAL-N (Argentina) NTSC (USA, Japan), PAL (Europe), PAL-M (Brazil), and PAL-N (Argentina)
Processor Pentium 233 MMX AMD-K6-IIIE+ 500 MHz Processor PowerPC PowerPC
Other
Hard drive 20 GB internal drive 40 GB internal drive, expandable and removable 20 GB internal drive 60 GB internal drive
Media entry/access SmartMedia for software SmartMedia for software 40X CD-ROM drive for importing ScreenPlay video, True Type fonts, images, third-party effects and CD audio. 40X CD-ROM drive for importing ScreenPlay video, True Type fonts, images, third-party effects and CD audio.

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Related Keywords:DV Format, Digital Media Net, edit video, stand-alone editong system, casablanca, Draco, MacroSystem, Avio, ScreenPlay

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