Saturday, April 16, 2011

NAB 2011: Exhibit floor

Even though my main objective at the NAB show was to take the Post Production World classes, I still managed to spend a decent amount of time wandering the massive exhibit halls.  This was my first trip to the NAB Show, but I had heard stories about the size of the show floor.  I won't even try to recap all the booths we visited and all the gear we played with, but here's some highlights from the week.

I attended the InfoComm show a couple of years ago, so coming into NAB this year I knew the importance of putting together an exhibit hall plan before I stepped in the Las Vegas Convention Center.  I had my list of exhibitors I needed to see, had my floor map all circled and marked up, yet stepped on the floor as was totally overwhelmed by the size of this show.  I spent the first half of day one wandering aimlessly in the south hall, but I was still able to hit many of the booths on my list.  Plus, the upside to just wandering is that you discover some of the smaller booths that you would never think to put on your list.

Image:  if you're agoraphobic, NAB isn't the show for you
My "best demo" of the show goes to Don Ballance at the TriCaster booth.  Not only is the TriCaster a very cool portable production studio, but Don did a great job demoing the system.  I swear that man talked for four straight days.

Image:  Don Ballance giving a TriCaster demo
The Adobe booth was a close second, with a large demo theater and a packed schedule of popular instructors.  I was able to catch Richard Harrington teaching some of the new Production Premium CS5.5 features.  He's a great trainer.  I was also able to watch an Adobe demo/class taught by another one of my favorites:  Jason Levine.

Image:  Richard Harrington demoing at the Adobe booth theater
My "craziest booth" award would have to go to the RED camera people.  They had a tattoo parlor there with people getting tattooed all week, all while shooting it on multiple RED cameras.  I guess that's their way of setting themselves apart from all the other traditional camera companies.

Image:  the live tattoo parlor at the RED booth
Sticking with the camera theme, I had lots of fun over in the ARRI booth playing with a fully loaded Alexa.

Image:  Most likely the only time I'll get my hands on the ARRI Alexa
The award for "sexiest product" has to go to the Grass Valley Kayenne video switcher.  I guess I'm a sucker for buttons and pretty colors.

Image:  flashy Grass Valley Kayenne switcher
My "camera that I most want to play with" award goes to the Phantom v641 high speed camera.  2,560 FPS at 1080!  I could easily make my own home version of Mythbusters with that toy.

Image:  Phantom v461 high speed camera
I was glad to see a few companies jumping on the Thunderbolt bandwagon.  Promise Technology has some nice looking four and six drive RAIDs coming out this summer that use a Thunderbolt connection, as does G-Technology.

Image:  Thunderbolt is coming to G-Technology drives
My coworker and I were keeping an eye open for any camera mounted recording devices.  We really liked the AJA Ki Pro and Ki Pro Mini.  SDI and HDMI inputs, balanced audio inputs and records to Apple ProRes for our workflow.  On the higher end of things is the impressive Cinedeck Extreme.  With a nice built-in preview monitor, it will record to ProRes, Avid DNxHD or CineForm.  Too much for what we're looking for, but fun to play with.

Image:  Cinedeck Extreme
Since we work closely with the IT department, who handles storage, encoding and streaming of the lecture video we acquire, we also visited many booths peddling ingest, encoding, shared storage, and streaming services.  Two companies that caught our eye were building4media and Edit Share.

Image:  Edit Share's shared storage solutions
Since we work for a university that has hundreds of classrooms, we also were interested in remote camera control for installed cameras.  We spent a good deal of time at the Telemetrics booth getting a feel for their camera control units and pan/tilt heads that might integrate with our existing Crestron control systems.

Image:  Telemetrics RCP control panel
We spent most of our time in the south hall, where post production and distribution & delivery were housed.  The central hall (video acquisition & production) was also a popular spot to find us.  We really didn't spend much time in the north hall (management & systems), since we really deal with the video acquisition and post end of things.  We ended up making the most of our show floor time, almost closing the place down on Thursday afternoon.

All in all, the exhibit floor was exhausting, but it was great checking out all the new gear and services.  Looking at the increased attendance this year (92,708 people, up 4,600 compared to last year), I would say the video production industry is a pretty healthy one right now.

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