Introduction to the NAB

The NAB Trade Show officially kicks off on April 16 with sessions and seminars, and April 18 for the exhibits.

bythom nabshow logo

April 13th
When I realized how important this year (2016) was going to be to the imaging industry, I looked again at my plans for the year and whether I could produce more significant news-type coverage for you. Two big shows stood out as I looked at the schedule: NAB and Photokina. There were other significant shows, too, but CES and CP+ didn’t quite fit into my already tight schedule, and PhotoPlus Expo is still a long way off. 

First up is the NAB convention. National Association of Broadcasters. It’s the place where networks, TV and radio stations, filmmakers shooting video, videographers, and basically the entire visual moving media industry comes together, and they come together in a massive 100,000+ swarm of attendees and an array of exhibitors that basically fills all the regular convention space and spills over into a lot of the secondary space. 

As DSLRs—and now virtually every still camera—embraced video features, there’s been a strong sub-component that’s cropped up at NAB that caters to the type of video we’re doing with those cameras. It’s my intention to try to cover that topic as best as I can, along with some looks at and commentary on what would be the next step up from DSLR video, so that you can put things in perspective. NAB also has a strong collection of other things that are relevant to you, too. For example: storage. I have meetings in place with a number of storage makers in the USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt space, from straight drives to RAID arrays.  

This isn’t my first NAB. Indeed, my first was in Dallas in the 70’s, where I found myself being escorted off a grassy knoll by two burly Secret Service agents (true story; it seems that the President was giving the keynote and I was sitting directly across from where he was going to enter the convention hall’s back entrance). 

But I haven’t attended an NAB recently, and certainly not as credentialed press. 

I had forgotten the zoo that the NAB unleashes. For weeks now I’ve been bombarded with press releases from companies I’ve never heard of with titles such as “ITE protocols on GZE channels for TSD transmission” and worse. SMPTE press releases (more on them in a bit).  I guess you should expect that a convention that is in itself an acronym would speak mostly in acronyms.

In between all those mind-numbing press releases have been little missives about things that fit into what I’d like to try to cover for you during the week. Sony, Panasonic, RED press conferences. Lens makers. Storage companies. Microphones and out-board recorders for DSLRs. Background talks on things like data recovery (which I know well for still images, but am less current on for video). Things that might prove more useful to my audience. 

So I’ve got a fairly full schedule of appointments booked. Some will pan out with useful information and perhaps insights. Others maybe not. That’s the thing about trade shows: you’re never completely certain what you’re going to find until you get there. Especially a convention so big that I can guarantee you that I won’t manage to see every booth.

I mentioned SMPTE. That would be Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. Organizations like this do interesting things at the NAB. They’ve rented a theatre on Friday just before the show starts and will be screening two recent major blockbusters for free to attendees and press (good thing I haven’t seen the latest Star Wars film yet). 

But it’s the other things SMPTE do around that showing that are really interesting: real cinematographers and videographers showing samples from real capture and discussing the issues they faced in getting clean footage that would survive theatrical release, and how they solved those problems. If you look closely enough, you can find bits and pieces of that everywhere, just not on the trade floor. There’s a side show at a nearby hotel that covers Final Cut Pro X for two days, for example, and it has dozens more sessions similar to the SMPTE one. 

So I’m going to be really stretched trying to cover all this by myself.

Here’s how it’s going to work. I’ve got my camera and laptop with me and I’m going to try to be as contemporaneous as possible from Sunday through Wednesday. Walk the floor or go to an appointment or a press conference and find something interesting, write about it, post it, move on. That’s assuming, of course, my Karma can keep me connected in the show halls. Otherwise there might be some delays in things getting posted because I’ll have to go back to the media center. 

Eat sleep repeat. 

On occasion I’ll drop in commentary triggered from an observation or a press release, as I’ll do later today.

This updating blog-page will probably be the only thing I’m posting next week on my sites, by the way. I’m basically non-stop NAB for the duration. But don’t worry, things will return more to normal the following week. I’ve been working on a lot of other articles and reviews that will get posted then, once I’ve had the chance to do some proofing and final touches.

In the meantime, enjoy the show.

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