First Impressions From NAB 2011
...As I Get Ready To Leave
By Bruce A Johnson | April 13, 2011
It's amazing how much I both look forward to - and simultaneously dread - coming to NAB.
On the plus side, it is a great opportunity to see the newest gear, see folks I rarely see anywhere else (shout-out to Adam Wilt and Art Adams!) and to rather re-calibrate my mind as to where the industry is going. On the other hand, the dread sets in once I realize I'll be walking about 20 miles (no, I'm not exaggerating) around a thousand booths, many of which have little to nothing to do with my particular end of the production pool. In a change of operation mode for me, I have been shooting video with the Sony NX5U this year, and since my anemic Lenovo netbook is not even nearly powerful enough to edit the NXCam fotage, the videos will be out sometime in the coming weekend. In the meantime, here is a modest conpendium of my impressions after several laps of the multi-mile track that is NAB 2011:
1) The NAB has announced that this convention set some kind of attendance record. Sorry, but I just don't see it. Sure, my observations are anecdotal, but there just doesn't seem to be the crush of bodies I have experienced in years past.
2) The number and size of booths continues to drop. The South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center is an enormous, two-level affair, with well over 225,000 square feet of space on each floor. As recently as several years ago both floors were filled from front to back, but in an ongoing trend, the back wall keeps creeping forward. Booths now end about 200 feet from the back wall. And the outdoor area between the Central and South Halls continues to dwindle in population as well.
3) Despite the "B" in NAB standing for "Broadcasting," it is plainly obvious that this convention is less and less about broadcasting every year. Case in point: When Apple took over the SuperMeet (which was originally a meeting of Final Cut Pro users, but has expanded in recent years,) they totally wiped away the schedule of speakers and demos for the evening. The originally featured speaker was director Kevin Smith of "Clerks" fame. When that podium got taken away, Avid quickly snapped him up for an appearance in their booth. When I accidentally wandered into this event, there were easily 500 howling acolytes at the Avid booth. It is safe to assume that they weren't all TV station managers.
4) The good folks at NewTek made their reputation by building amazing sub-$5000 video switchers with capabilities you couldn't touch for five to ten times that amount. Now that their product line is all HD and starts in the $18K area, they seem to have ceded the low-end of the switcher market. In come Telestream, with their Wirecast software solution (look for a review of that soon right here) and Blackmagic Designs, with a one-rack-high, six-channel I/O device that comes with basic switching software for $1K. Amazing stuff at a really low price.
5) I know that Red is the darling of the indy community, but in a blatant attempt to enhance their bad-boy image, their booth featured a tattoo artist plying his trade on a redheaded model. Gee, that really demonstrates the latitude of the camera, huh? Please. I can dig a little tastelessness, but this was really over the edge.
There you have it. Watch this space in the next few days for videos from the smaller booths, including LED lights, LCD monitors, really slick backpacks that double as tripods and still qualify as a carry-on, and much more.
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