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My First Time: A Look at NAB

Large doesn't begin to describe the phenomenon know as NAB; the Nation Association of Broadcasters. This is a yearly event (conference, tech show, massive gathering) of many of the largest, and smallest, vendors in the Audio - Visual industry. From those who sell functions to those who sell ideas everyone descends on Las Vegas for about 5 days to learn, network and buy their way to a better AV experience whether it be for consumer or business. The are a massive amount of vendors placed in three different halls (one with 2 levels) in the Las Vegas convention center. The largest show I had ever attended was the Auto Show at the Jacob Javits Center in NYC. It seems as if you could fit 2 Auto Shows in the same space as NAB; it's that large!

The largest booths were owned by Canon (which has a massive line of products including, but not limited to, still cameras, video cameras, a slew of lenses, broadcast cameras and equipment, printers, projectors and much more), Sony (who has about the same list plus consumer products like DVD players, Televisions and gaming systems), Panasonic (featuring a strong line of video switchers and video equipment), and BlackMagic Design (with their tilt on video cameras, switchers and signal converters, processors and monitors). Atomos and a few others followed closely behind in terms of booth sizes.

Drone manufacturers were most plentiful at NAB2016. Undetered by FAA regulations, from medium to large to Imperial Death Star size drones that can carry Red Scarlet cameras they were all available and on display. Prices varied as much as sizes and I even found a company that will teach you how to fly them and get certification. The company was out in Montana. Imagine the picturesque shots you could get out there.... Big Sky Country indeed.

Green Screen and Virtual Set companies were all over the North Hall and I walked away impressed at what they could do. Gone are the days of static shots and flickering backgrounds. One Virtual Set vendor had the ability to pan the angle and background while the talent stood still. Another manufacturer used about 20 Canon 5D Mark II to do slow motion 3D capturing of a subject on a green screen and make him appear as if he were playing soccer in a stadium. I've often said, "Never believe what you see on TV" and that belief has been reinforced after my tour of the NAB floor.

Friends of mine who had been to previous shows thought that this year lacked any show stopping products though BlackMagic had a few upgrades that sparked interest. 4K is already being replaced by 5k & 6k cameras from RED and 8K projectors, printers and monitors from Sony and Canon (among others). 360 deg cameras and Virtual Reality glasses where found at many booth. [If you think we have an obesity problem now wait until VR programming becomes available.] Personally I don't get the rave reviews about 360 deg video. Everything is so distorted that you cannot get a real sense of space so the video looks like you took it through a Warp Effect in Premiere Pro. I don't see the usefulness in it.

If you have any interest in AV, Broadcasting or Production you have to, at least one time in your life, go to an NAB show. The experience is quite different than any other event I have ever attended. And the swag is an extra bonus to bring home to the children. Just remember to set aside quite a bit of money for food; Vegas can be an expensive place even if you don't gamble!

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