The present and future of post production business and technology

What about NAB?

NAB 2009 is now finished, gone and done. The annual meet-up in the desert is over for another year, and this year, I’m over it. Well, Las Vegas for sure. Driving out I was not in a happy place and, for the first time, I was a little jaded by NAB. But I think that’s just me.

For the first time since I moved to the US in 2001, I wasn’t speaking in any part of the official conferences. That was a change for me. In fact, I was heading to Las Vegas and NAB 2009 with no official role(s) at all, apart from an offer to “help” Larry Jordan, Cerina and Debbie, and their amazing crew, with the NAB Show BuZZ. This year the Digital Production BuZZ was the official podcast of NAB and I couldn’t have been more proud. How the show has grown under Larry’s guidance!

Greg, my long term partner, had a much more clearly defined role as streaming engineer – basically fixing anything podcasting, internet or web page that needed fixing. He was pretty busy all week. Ultimately I did some special reports and contributed to the regular news feed while everyone’s attention was focused on putting out 37 shows in six days.

My first impression of NAB was that it was quieter. That was on Saturday before the show opened, but the show floor was cleverly hiding a distinct drop in floor space – more aisles, three carpet aisles and lots of comfortable seating areas each one representing a no-show to the show.

Attendance was officially down – about 17-18% in pre-registrations for a start. Tuesday turned out to be the busiest day of the show floor as many people planned their trip to avoid the Monday crush! So many that Monday felt like a regular Thursday it was so quiet.

As well as registrations being down, I got the feeling that people came for fewer days. I heard of a number of people who caught early flights into the show and a late flight out that same day, and people staying two days, instead of three or four. But the quality of attendee was very good.

It seems that the economic conditions weeded out students and tire kickers. Exhibitors report good sales leads and quality attendees, which is good.

Socially (well, that’s the main reason I go to NAB now) the week went well. The highlight had to be the AJA party at JET in the Mirage. They booked out the nightclub and invited a couple of hundred of their dearest friends. A great night was had by all and the AJA guys should be very proud of the Ki Pro, Io Express and Kona LHi announcements. I hear they had a good year last year and this year’s shaping up to be even better.

Monday night’s MediaMotion Cafe was a less formal version of the regular MediaMotion Ball, set in what felt like deep suburban Las Vegas, even though it was really only a couple of blocks past The Palms. A lot of great friends, although the night was a little dampened by the loss of Mik Vitti but brightened by Blackmagic Design’s sponsorship. A good time was had by all because by the end of the night the sponsors had more free drink tickets than takers!.

Monday was also both the formal and informal Avid Events, which I had planned to attend as well as the MediaMotion Cafe but logistics – the Cafe was further from the Strip than I expected) made that a little difficult. I hear it was a good night as well.

Tuesday night’s Supermeet was the other highlight of the week for me, since I’ve been part of that community since it’s inception and worked with Mike Horton on the BuZZ and count Dan Berube among my friends. (Real friends, not just Facebook.) 

It was also the formal, if that could be said, launch of my new book The New Now: how to grow your production or post-production business in changed and changing circumstances. A little bit of a departure for me, this being more a business than technical book, but I think the content is great. More of that in a subsequent post but the digital download is live now, with paperback coming shortly.

The only presentation I did all week was on the subject of Growing your business in a recession at the ProMax Digital Lounge. It seems to have been well received – both the talk and the new format from the new ProMax. Over three nights, instead of the one big event, they packed the program with informative talks and presentations, great food (best of the show from our experience) and good quality surroundings.

Then it was off to the RED User party to get the only mind boggling information of the week. Graham Nattress has managed to develop a distribution codec for RED that puts full 4K of pixels down a 10 Mbit/sec pipe. That’s pretty amazing, well incredible.  I could see no difference in quality between this year’s show reel, played out uncompressed, and last year’s show reel at 10 Mbits/sec. That’s within the bandwidth I get from my cable service here in Burbank, so they could be streaming me 4K! 

Well, not soon as it needs hardware assisted playback afaik, but I think it’s an amazing piece of technology.

Our own technology face-off caught me off guard. First, the dates got all confused and they were busy reshuffling the Superbooth schedule to get us back into it. I had a nasty piece of bad health all morning (Unfortunately NOT caused by over-indulgence) and was delighted when Jim Mathers from the Digital Cinema Society had already selected two booth pieces and had them on the show floor. Saved the day because I was running very late thanks to the health problem. 

Then it turns out my editor didn’t turn up. Again due to the confusion and that he was setting up over at the Supermeet, so I had to step in and used a borrowed laptop and play the editor role, and try and MC. I can’t do both, so I fear the presentation was a little dull for the audience, for which I apologize. It wasn’t supposed to be that way.

As it turns out Finisher had a useful result faster. More on that later.

We also had some nice business leads. Not from anything planned, which pretty much takes me full circle to my post on why I was still going to NAB. The serendipity. The person who introduces you to someone else; the casual meeting in a line; or visiting a booth you didn’t know about. That’s NAB and that’s why I’ll probably be back for the 13th year in 2010.

More on the Finisher/Editor Faceoff shortly.






One response to “What about NAB?”

  1. It was really nice seeing you Philip and meeting your partner! Thanks again for doing the Digital Lounge and I look forward to seeing you around the Final Cut Pro User Group in LA!