The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show, held April 6-11 in Las Vegas, claims to be the world’s largest electronic media show covering entertainment production and delivery across all mediums. This was my first visit to this media-culture Mecca, along with more than 90,000 attendees from 151 countries.
The NAB Show totally fills the Las Vegas convention center. It’s not as big as COMDEX was back in the dot-com boom era, nor as totally city engulfing as SXSW is of Austin, but with over 1,600 exhibitors, it is visually and educationally overwhelming.
The thousands of exhibits were, according to more experienced attendees with whom I spoke, much better organized than in previous years. Walking among the miles of exhibits I saw cameras, microphones, speakers, storage systems, distribution systems, editing software and plug-ins, virtual sets, online video systems, video and audio libraries, camera accessories, computer cards and a parking lot full of remote broadcast vehicles and satellite dishes. This was survivable because there was a beer garden, too. Thank you, Hewlett-Packard.
Here are some of the things that will stick with me:
The Startup Loft contained exhibits by new companies with cutting edge products. Perhaps more so than anywhere else, this small corner of one of one of the massive exhibit halls epitomized the theme of the show — “Metamorphosis – The Changing Face of Media and Entertainment.” A few years ago, large studio cameras and 35MM/70MM film was how professional programming was recorded. The large format studio cameras have gotten smaller, film is gone and many movies and TV shows are being created with the Red Camera, BlackMagic Cameras, and Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras. But, the tool of choice in the Startup Loft was the Tablet Computer.
The easySCOTT system connects iPads to the output of a camera so that all the critical information from the production team (for instance, the Script Supervisor, Camera Assistant, Assistant Director) and front office are wirelessly linked to the respective video clips. This information becomes instantly available to the entire team, viewable on their iPads, speeding both production and post-production processes.
Another vendor in the Startup Loft, The Padcaster, is a hardware and software combo that converts your iPad into a mobile film studio. The iPad is loaded into the Padcaster frame. This allows you to mount the iPad on a tripod, add lights, microphones and custom lenses. The software allows you to edit on the fly and upload your video. As a bonus, you can also use the iPad as a film slate or a teleprompter. And, for you old-fashioned types, you can use the Padcaster to mount your DSLR instead.
Best give-away: GoPro ( http://gopro.com/ ), makers of the Hero go-anywhere cameras that can be attached to helmets, snow boards, balloons or anything else dangerous, gave away all of their products and they did it several times. By Wednesday, their booth looked like The Price is Right, with people doing cheers and wearing cardboard box versions of GoPro cameras on their heads.
Video camera demos: If you’re looking to buy a video camera, this is the place to come see them in action. Manufactures, such as Canon (whose exhibits covered a football size section of the convention center), JVC and Sony, built sets populated with actors. You could view the actors and sets with a variety of lighting through different cameras, side-by-side, and in some cases, see the image transmitted to different monitors. Cameras included everything from prosumer models to broadcast studio grade.
The best backup system: Cleversafe takes your data and breaks it into 16 slices (only eight of which are required to recover your data) and saves it on 16 different disks located in four geographically dispersed locations. You could, for example, lose two disks in one location and have another location entirely blown away by a tornado, and still recover your data. That’s clever and safe.
The worst name for a media company: WOWZA. Nothing against their streaming media servers, which may be very good, but that name? I think I’ll start a bank and call it “Cha’Ching”.
Best conversation overheard on the shuttle bus: A lady from China struggling to explain where Houston was to a gentleman from Kiev. I’m not making fun of them. I admire their guts in traveling to the other side of the world and communicating in a foreign language.
Best comment heard in the exhibit hall: “We’re buying one of those for the chopper.” (The gentleman liked the wine barrel size camera that mounts to the front of a helicopter.)
Best booth game: Angry Moose, where you shot a stuffed moose from a slingshot at soda can targets to qualify to win, of course, an iPad.
Tons of media coverage and more info on the vendors and products can be viewed at the NABShow site.