NAB From the Inside

Both Apple and Avid bailed on NAB this year, leaving a bitter taste in some people's mouths, and leaving others wondering if the film and video expo has finally outlived its usefulness. With over 105,000 attendees at the expo it seems there are still plenty of people interested in what goes on at the Vegas event, but it certainly changes the vibe when the two big names aren't around.

After chatting with people in the Central and Lower South halls on Monday and Tuesday, I came away with the impression that there were more people feeling positive than negative about the event, and I said so in one of my articles about the expo. Later on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, however, I ran into more people that exuded less, um "positive energy" about the event.

One comment to my article asked "Upbeat??? Where are you reporting from?" That would be the Central hall, Lower South hall, and around the areas where classes and other sessions were happening. My later ventures to get a feel for attendee attitudes left me with a feeling that more people were disappointed than happy. Since I didn't talk with people that were clearly attending sessions, I can only speculate that people attending sessions tended to be more pleased with the event than people that were sticking to the expo floor.

Scientific? Not in the slightest, but interesting none the less.

Without Apple on site to steal everyone else's thunder it was clear to me that Red had the must-see booth this year. Good cameras, great prices, and native Final Cut Pro support. What more could the budding film maker want?


Red had to limit how may people were in their booth.

Even though some exhibitors were experiencing less traffic than last year, Red seemed to be doing just fine. So many people wanted to see the company's cameras that they had to gate off their booth and let people in only a few at a time.


Want to know why Office 2008 costs so much? Check out Microsoft's booth.

Microsoft's booth was really popular, and Silverlight seemed to be playing at least some part in the booth's traffic. While Adobe's booth was popular, too, I was surprised to see almost no traffic at the Adobe Media Player stations. Bad timing on my part, or was there really no interest? Hard to say.

I was really glad to see the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus at NAB. It's a great resource filling the unacceptable omission of music from so many school curriculums. The work they are doing is absolutely fantastic, and the state of the art recording studio they bring to kids is above and beyond what some pros get access to.


I've heard people complain that attendance is down this year, and considering that there were over 111,000 people here last year, there are definitely fewer people around. Based on my adventures on the expo floor, however, it doesn't feel like a ghost town. Most booths I venture past have a few attendees in them and very few are filled only exhibitor staff.

Several people that aren't at NAB have asked me if there are "booth babes," meaning scantily clad women that are strategically placed in an exhibitor's booth solely to draw in more foot traffic and potentially more sales dollars. I haven't really seen any, but I did come across something that is far more interesting from a technical standpoint: Mocap, or motion capture, girls. One booth was filming two women dancing in mocap suits and displaying animations of their movements in real time.


Mocap in action: The dots glow only in the picture, so my camera must see something I can't.

The real time conversion process was cool enough on its own, but it became even cooler when I tok a couple of pictures. It turns out the little dots on their outfits glow in my pictures, but not to the naked eye (No flash used for those pictures in case you where wondering).

Apple and Avid are gone, and attendance is down a little from last year. I hear people suggesting that NAB has jumped the shark, but I just don't see it. This feels to me like just another transition phase, and that transition feels like it is being driven by the move from SD to HD.

Sure, change can be creepy and uncomfortable, but it's going to happen. I have a feeling that as long as NAB stays nimble and on top of the current trends there will always be people lining up to see what's on the expo floor.

Finally, I have one more picture I want to share, but I don't have a good segue to lead into it. Instead, I offer this picture with an appropriate caption:


Because every car should look like the Millennium Falcon