My first time attending the NAB Show (the National Association of Broadcasters, the largest trade show our industry has all year) I stayed in Las Vegas for a week and came away feeling connected
. All the people I’d met through the internet ended up being real people with interesting stories and useful advice. My network expanded, my knowledge base increased, and my self-confidence grew. It was a turning point early in my career — a next step from being a young staff editor in central Indiana to getting where I wanted to go. And it was subsidized by my full-time job. Otherwise, I never could have made it. Who knows where I’d be now.
There are a lot of young people (or mid-level career changing people) out there right now in the situation I found myself in. I had a job and experience, but I didn’t have the income to support making a move for myself, whether it was going to a large trade show, investing in an educational workshop, or traveling to a conference.
At my first NAB Show looking young and fresh.
I managed to talk my employer into sending me to NAB, but a lot of people can’t make that happen. Instead of being able to take the next step that will make them more valuable and visible to employers, they might get stuck trying to find another way. And these financial barriers tend to affect young people, women and people of color the most — the exact kinds of people a trade show like NAB NEEDS in attendance not only to push innovation and long-term sustainability in our industry, but because it's the right thing to do.
That’s why Blue Collar Post Collective
— a nonprofit organization that supports emerging talent in post production — created the Professional Development Accessibility Program
which funds attendance to events like NAB Show for low-income post professionals. Donations throughout the year from the BCPC community
get funneled into a fund which sends applicants to professional programs for free. Right now they’re taking applications through the end of the month for people who would like to attend NAB.
PDAP applicants must be residing in the US, working full-time primarily in post production (including freelancers and interns who don’t have another source of income outside the industry, but not students), and making less than or equal to the median income for their city. The application can be found on the BCPC website.
A program like this almost seems too good to be true (or too impossible to really work) so I asked BCPC board member and previous co-president Katie Hinsen to tell me more. And if you think you aren’t experienced enough or important enough to be considered to attend NAB, read this blog post twice.
Katie Hinsen, Blue Collar Post Collective
What is PDAP? How does this work?
: The Professional Development Accessibility Program is a program that we run through the Blue Collar Post Collective to help our lower-income colleagues in the post industry have equal access to important trade shows, conferences, events and professional development opportunities.
The idea came after a member of our community had a paper accepted into a major industry conference. However, as he was working at the time as an intern at a major post house in New York, he couldn't afford to attend the conference to which he had been invited to speak. With travel, accommodation and conference passes, many people who don't have the support of their employer, aren't seen as "decision makers" or don't have the money to spend, are excluded from opportunities that could be incredibly
valuable to them.
For the young man who wasn't able to present his paper, he might have missed out on a huge break in his career. Furthermore, the conference attendees missed out on seeing more of the true diversity that exists in our industry. I was so upset that this happened, I vowed to find a way to make sure it never happens again, so I started the PDAP program.
Katie at NAB Show in 2016.
What’s the catch though? Where do these funds come from and what does someone have to do in return?
The BCPC is unique in that it is a community run entirely by volunteers who work full-time in the post industry, and are focused solely on supporting each other. We raise funds by "passing the hat around" the community throughout the year. We also have "friends and family" of the BCPC throughout our industry's vendors. These are companies who share our core values and want to support us with donations. Everything we do, we try to do for free or for very little so that we can commit almost every cent we get to providing as many opportunities as possible to those who need them the most.
We don't ask for anything in return from PDAP recipients. Those of us who have ever attended a big industry event will know that everyone has their own journey and you have to go for yourself if you want to really get something out of it. We have a committee of people who select both the recipients and the events worth supporting people to attend, and both are chosen based on how much of an impact that
person will get out of that opportunity.
BCPC NAB Meet-Up in 2016
Why is it important for someone to attend a trade show like NAB?
Every time I go to a big industry event like NAB, I feel like my brain is going to explode from everything I learn. I get to see and play with a wide range of toys, experience a broadening of my horizons, and be part of the wider industry community. What's more, I get to meet the vendors face to face. I get to see who they are, and they get to see who I am, as someone who uses their products every day. I feel like I got more out of the experience the earlier I was in my career.
But even more importantly, PDAP brings more diversity to these events. Too often, representation of our profession at major events is limited to those who are seen as being in positions of influence, those who are considered more "valuable". That tends to tip the demographics of attendees older, and toward management and senior level. When I look across the show floor I don't feel like there's a true representation of our industry there because I see far too few Assistants, PAs, Machine Room, Sound Editors and VFX Artists.
What does giving away funds accomplish for BCPC? What’s the point of making sure one more person attends NAB?
Sending a handful of people who fall below the median income for our industry to NAB in 2017 isn't going to change the world, but it might change their worlds. And it might change the perception of users to a few vendors. It might give a voice to a few more people.
I hope that this program will grow and inspire other organizations, workplaces and even the event organizers themselves to be more inclusive and consider the value of attendance to a wider range of people. I hope that it empowers more people to even consider that they could attend a major industry event, and to submit papers or volunteer to speak on a panel. By putting it out there that the barrier of cost can be overcome by the support of the community, I hope that major industry events are perceived as something that can and should be for everyone who contributes to the work we do.
Women in post production meeting after BCPC in Vegas.
Today was an uncharacteristically windy day in Vegas. The wind created a dusty, almost foggy late afternoon that sent everyone running to the nearest cab or shuttle as they left the convention center for the day. Which is an oddly appropriate metaphor for the way product development seems to be happening for the end user.
As I walked around the south hall today and talked with different companies, it's hard not to be overwhelmed by the number of choices pelting you in the face like tiny granules of dirt. It's hard to say which product (or combination of products) is going to work, so you just kind of have to put your head down and go for it, hoping you don't accidentally walk off a cliff.
The amount of choice available today in who you want to do business with is unprecedented. And it's got ups and downs. I saw a number of people that seemed paralyzed by the choices available to them. I think the real challenge to come for companies is going to be finding a way to really stand out -- not just with the work itself, but the overall company image. I haven't seen that so much this year, especially between companies that seem to have identical services from the outside.
Tomorrow marks the third day of the show, and hopefully the floor will be less crowded. It is at this point that I begin to get hella sick of dodging people who are snail crawling the main aisles while texting. Get out the way!
Yesterday was the first day of the 2015 NAB Show, and appropriately enough I got too busy to write a blog. In fact, I fell asleep in front of my laptop. That pretty much sums up NAB for most people. Especially if they're me. (To my credit, it was well after midnight, and I'm from the east coast. I'm not THAT lame.)
Part of the reason yesterday was so crazy is because my panel "Working Together to Close the Gender Gap in Post Production" happened. It was a crazy success because we filled the room and had a passionate conversation that was clearly needed. But I'm going to recap that in another blog because ya know what? I need to decompress. I've been thinking of the panel content since last November!
Instead, I want to talk about a woman I met again after the panel. I'll keep her nameless for now (but she can totally comment if she wants), but she's a really cool lady working in a technical post job that clearly identifies with all we were saying. I'd forgotten about this, but she approached me last night to tell me I had made a difference to her last year. At a meet-up of editors the night before the show, she didn't know anybody. She said I grabbed her (I don't like when people are by themselves at meet-ups!) while she was standing solo, we talked, and I introduced her to people. And that made a difference in her experience in the show, and in getting connected to other editors online for the rest of the year.
I think there are two things to learn from this story. One: what a huge difference you can make to someone just by being nice to them once. Think about that if you're at the show, or if you're following along at home. And two: imagine if all of post production were so inclusive. If we took the time to seek out people on the fringes who don't have the connections because of gender or race or a number of other factors and give them opportunities to join in. Not handing it to them -- this woman still had to take the initiative to keep talking and follow up -- but open the door so things might be different.
Not the kind of daily NAB recap you might hope for, but the theme I've heard this year even more is that the people are what matter when you come to NAB. You see the tech, but the connections you make with peers and company representatives (that you talk the tech with, or not) are what serve you year round.
I spent half of my day at the convention center and the other half aggressively socializing with the entirety of the online post production community. Because of this, I have some observations to make on this NAB Eve.
1. Blackmagic Design has some interesting stuff to announce, and we know this because there are like 9 different signs and banners all over the convention center exterior. It's pretty awesome that Blackmagic is taking the opportunity to paint up Vegas with visions of Ursa Mini and Blackmagic Cinema Camera Mini. And no, I'm not giving specifics until I hear them from Grant Petty himself tomorrow. Instead, accept this photo as a tease.
2. Cameras are top priority for everyone. Even those of us that don't shoot. Cameras and codecs drive the media we get, so everyone is anxious to see what new thing could be coming.
3. The theme of this year for me has definitely been collaboration, but mostly in the sense of vendor to vendor. Third party development is something I've heard from every company so far in one way or another. I bet there's a lot more to come, although it may not be as high profile. I don't remember hearing so much about making propriety systems accessible or agnostic before.
4. People are very much looking forward to our panel on closing the gender gap in post tomorrow at the convention center. If a recording is available after the panel, I'll be sharing it soon after the show ends.
Those are my expert observations. I have to go put out milk and cookies so the NAB Fairy will leave an Ursa under my pillow. (Ow.)
Fresh off a week of some of the craziest night shift hours I've ever worked, I'm desperately trying to gather myself together (with Bloody Marys applied liberally and responsibly) for an even crazier week ahead in Vegas where I'll again be covering the NAB Show with lots of blogs and articles. (Woo.) I'll be talking to all the top companies and individuals working in video today, gaining insight into where the industry stands and where it's going.
I'm scrolling through my social media feeds while I wait in ATL airport, and so far I'm getting a distinctly cynical feel about the show. Another codec? A fixed lens? Only those Premiere updates? I hope this is just an annual pre-show lowering of expectations because this level of meh-ness doesn't reflect some of the cool new infrastructure and camera technology I've seen lately. But we'll get to that eventually.
I'm looking forward to starting my Monday with back to back press conferences from AJA and Blackmagic Design -- the latter of which has to be accessed from a secret entry since the show floor opens later this year, which makes me strangely happy. I'll end the day with our panel Working Together to Close the Gender Gap in Post, happening at 5PM in N252, open to all. I between I'll share lots of stuff here and on Twitter (@kyl33t).
And if you see me around, say hi! We're all a bunch of weirdos anyway. May as well be weird in larger groups.
(Or any trade show, for that matter.)
Trade shows in all industries are notorious for being a spectacle with every vendor competing with the other to be the loudest, shiniest and sexiest. I'm writing to you -- any of you involved in the design, staffing or operation of a booth at the upcoming NAB Show in Las Vegas -- to ask you to consider how your conduct can help make the exhibit hall a more inviting and inclusive experience for everyone.
Casual sexism is a huge problem in our industry. Trade shows are merely a symptom of a larger issue (and I invite you to a panel on gender equality on April 13th
to learn more about how to begin to change these patterns at the source) but they're a highly visible symptom. Trade shows are maybe the most face to face interactions your company will have with customers and potential customers all year, and your booth and its workers are a symbol for your company.
We all know that sex sells. You didn't invent this concept, and at first glance it's hard to blame a company for using what is proven, especially in a city known for debauchery and sleaze. It's just a bit of fun, right? Except it isn't so much fun to feel like the only way I'm being represented in my industry at a trade show is for decoration. To clarify, I have no problem with so-called "booth babes" themselves. I have a problem with a company feeling that the best way to represent their products is with a bikini show. I urge you to think beyond easy, lowest-common-denominator kinds of marketing and strive for something better. Lots of vendors have figured out how to make their booths engaging without sacrificing inclusiveness.
When you're deciding who will staff your booth, I strongly urge you to place women and minorities in these positions too. The maleness and whiteness of NAB (and trade shows in general) is so common, it's almost its own joke. I've spoken to people about how they staff their booths, and they've told me they didn't think women would want to work in these positions because
trade shows are so male-dominated and Vegas is so icky. This is generally an incorrect assumption. You should find women in your organization and ask or encourage
them to represent your company at NAB. Just like the way you market your products stands as a symbol for your company, the diversity of your booth can represent what you want your company to be. By putting women and minorities in your booth -- on stage running demos, on the floor talking about products -- you send a strong message about equality to your customers, other companies, and NAB's attendees in general. When seeing women on the show floor is more common, casual sexism takes a hit.
And if you're working inside a booth at NAB this year, I urge you to work extra hard to put your internalized sexism aside. Since women are somewhat rare in the sea of guys (both on the show floor and in the industry), there is a tendency for booth workers to make assumptions when they interaction with a woman: that she's a journalist, an assistant, someone's significant other. There are plenty of journalists, assistants, and dragged-along-spouses of all genders on the show floor and it's great to have so many perspectives, but when your first assumption is that every woman inside your booth is anything BUT a working professional in some area of post production who is currently seeking to learn more about your products to potentially implement them within her organization, we have a problem.
Nearly every woman I've spoken to about attending NAB has experienced a booth worker -- a both worker of any gender-- making assumptions about them and treating them differently than if they were a man. Some have been malicious, and most have been oblivious internalized sexism taking over in that person's mind. So I urge you to try very hard to look at your interactions with people objectively. Is there a gender bias that is making your approach different? It should
go without saying that jokes at the expense of a person's gender or appearance have no place in a booth or on a stage, but in a male-dominated Las Vegas environment, good judgement sometimes goes out the window.
Solving sexism at trade shows like NAB is not the solution to sexism in the industry, as I've documented before
. But with the show coming up and on everyone's mind, it's worth this reminder: you're representing your company on an international stage. Do you want people leaving your booth feeling like they don't belong in this industry? Or do you want to lead by example by making gender parity a priority for your company?
There’s a whole big world out there in post-production-land, and most of it is pretty awesome.
When I headed to the NAB Show last week(ish), part of my (personal) mission was to learn a little more about companies I didn’t know much about. Not just ask someone or read some Wikipedia stuff, but actually get to know what their missions are in post-production right now. I found that if I just went up to an industry peer and asked about Grass Valley, they’d give me a bit of “oh, they’re still around?” I mentioned to someone that I had just been to a Quantel press conference and they quipped something about how the six people that use their stuff will be happy to see the updates.
Clearly this isn’t the case. At NAB, these two companies have two of the biggest, most prominent booths. They’re doing big business at the show but more importantly for the world of post overall, one way or another. And there are others too, like Vizrt and NewTek (who are working together on some pretty cool graphics stuff that you’ve probably seen in use) — prominently standing out on the exhibit floor that is entirely dedicated to post-production. But beyond the NAB bubble, these kinds of companies are the ones that run the backbone of post-production facilities and broadcast and live production and all sorts of other unsexy-on-the-surface stuff.
Beyond the surface, they’re doing some awesome stuff and they have been for a while. I know a lot of us don’t deal with these areas of post because we’re editors and cinematographers and freelancers. But it’s all in the same universe, and that means that these technologies can trickle down into our neck of the woods someday and solve some of our problems. And having a broader scope of the world is only a good thing for all of us.
Covering a lot of ground at NAB requires maximum comfort: dresses and sneakers.
For example, most of us are looking at NLEs and some cameras — 2K, UHD, HDR, 4K, all that stuff. We’ve been introduced to the idea of collaborative timelines in Resolve, cloud-based editing in Avid, 4K GPU debayering in Premiere. This is some of the top-billed stuff in these releases, and rightfully so. It’s freakin’ awesome stuff and it’s exciting for us to get our hands on it. It changes our every day right now.
But look a little further and see what’s already been happening. Grass Valley is providing Japan’s KTV with a full 4K editing system right now (with support for 8K later, 8 flipping K.) That means the news station is using EDIUS for real time 4K editing with Grass Valley's HQX codec, which allows for super high resolution video with dramatically improved editing response time. And if you didn't hear, Japan plans to actually be broadcasting 4K this summer, two years earlier than expected. And 8K broadcast is even being pushed forward, with NHK demonstrating their 8K playout at NAB and other trade shows. So while we're discussing the validity of having 4K in the home at all, Japan is doing its thing -- its thing being trying really hard to beat South Korea at technological advancements.
Maybe we need a "friendly" rival again.
Grass Valley also had an interesting booth at NAB. If you're gonna have live models on display, may as well make 'em fight.
Quantel’s Genetic Engineering 2 allows editors to open any project in any room (or multiple rooms) to work. And that’s a “2" meaning it’s the second version because Genetic Engineering was first introduced in 2007. With GE2, a bunch of Pablo, eQ and/or iQ stations share a "GenePool" -- shared storage -- and that allows real time sharing of projects and guaranteed playback of multiple high resolution media streams, as well as other non-creative tasks at the same time. I don't mean project sharing so much as having multiple editors working on the same clip in different rooms. The first version supported stereoscopic 3D and 4K, and did I mention this was in 2007? I was still editing mostly standard definition stuff in 2007. The updates at NAB added some new stuff, including 6K playback from disk to 4K outputs. Light Iron has finished at least 4 6K DI sessions with this stuff. That is bananas to me.
Post-production and technology consulting companies like Digital Film Tree are building their own proprietary cloud-based editing systems that are in use on television and film today, and not in an experimental way. Five years ago (yeah, in 2009), they partnered with Rackspace to work toward realistic cloud-based collaboration and sharing because the old Hollywood ways of looking at dailies were getting super inefficient and way costly, especially when you consider a show might be shooting 50TB of stuff a day. Instead of pushing around a bajillion terabytes of content through a bigger, more expensive pipe or grabbing more storage, they're designing private clouds for studios powered by OpenStack to manage content sharing and collaboration. "Cloud" was a buzzword at NAB this year and lots of people are adding it to their products (or at least their product marketing), but Digital Film Tree has already been improving their own actual clouds all this time.
And I mentioned how NewTek and Vizrt are working together on some cool stuff. Vizrt makes tools to create the real-time 3D graphics and maps you see on CNN, CBS, NBC, pretty much all major US broadcasters -- you probably watch football, yeah? The graphics are from Vizrt tools. Not football? How about the last presidential election? NewTek's TriCaster (for live multicamera productions) can now integrate with Vizrt, meaning all those complex graphics can now be managed by one person and used on mobile production trucks, along with NewTek's replay system (3Play). This means a lot more scalability for different live productions. Like, your next college football game might have a significant jump in production value.
From A to B, all the way to V..izrt.
Even though I’m not going to be using Pablo anytime soon and I’m not managing dailies on a 6K studio feature (yet), these are all fascinating updates. These are global workflows that are touching a lot of people in some way, and as they get to be old news, my NLE seems to inherit them. Some stuff changes my every day right now, but the bigger picture gives a glimpse of what my future looks like — either my current NLE or maybe a jump into something new.
I think this is especially important to mix up the usual conversation about post. So much of the discussion is dominated with regurgitating old debates or evaluating a product based on the old, trusted ways. The trusted is becoming obsolete, if it isn’t already. While some are going in circles, looking for anything in a press release to confirm their bias, the rest of the world of post has moved on to bigger and better things.
I found a lot of cool stuff at NAB this year, but I think the most important discovery wasn’t an anecdote about 8K broadcast, but rather the world beyond the companies that start with A (or B). It doesn’t change what I do in my edit room tomorrow, but it makes me optimistic for the future of my career: longevity, security, and a whole bunch of flippin’ sweet technology to play with.
With the show wrapping up and my body shutting down, I've been thinking about the stuff I've seen and people I've talked to at this year's show. This is the first year I've been covering the show in a full on press capacity (meaning sitting down with a number of vendors to get the story straight from them) and it's been great fun. It's also offered another perspective to me as a show attendee, maybe the clearest one about the industry overall I've had so far.
This is my third NAB. My first year was a learning experience where I did educational classes. Last year I blogged a bit and worked as an exhibitor. This year's press interviews meant I was covering a lot of ground and talking to a lot of people about a lot of things. And I'll be posting a lot more about what I've found over the next couple of weeks, by the way.
A common theme I found this year was that everyone was excited but not really about anything in particular. When I spoke to companies one on one, I asked if they had heard about anything cool I should check out. They are admittedly focused on their own products and business and are obviously excited about those things, but besides the camera offerings from Blackmagic and AJA, there wasn't much else to the conversation.
Same with attendees. No big news beyond the few Monday announcements. A lot of people I talked to felt that traffic in general was light in general. I have no idea if that's true, but it didn't seem quite so crowded on Monday morning to me either. By Wednesday, however, I couldn't tell if the south hall was friggin' hot or if I had a fever. Who thinks to pack a thermometer in their bag to Vegas?
One small company I spoke to said he realized that having a booth presence at NAB meant he was investing a lot of time and money into a week where he got limited exposure to a lot of people who didn't really need his service. Instead of wrapping the year around the artificial deadline of releasing new stuff for NAB, he's invested in web advertising and releases new stuff whenever he feels like it or whenever his customers ask for it -- and he claims many other small companies are starting to follow the lead.
On the other side, I talked with another vendor who probably won't be ditching their booth presence anytime soon. They also mentioned they've seen the value in not letting NAB dictate their product releases. The industry calls for changes to be made and updates to be sent out on a flexible basis and the Internet makes all that easier all the time. There is a far greater value in delivering things throughout the year than making a smash at NAB because responsiveness is valued over showmanship.
Judging by the booth traffic in the major vendor booths near the front of the south hall -- Grass Valley, Adobe, Blackmagic -- NAB certainly isn't dying off. This is not a sky is falling NAB is dying article. That's not my jam. There's still relevance to a trade show. People like to shake hands, one on one training is valuable, and plenty of business is done in Vegas this week. But companies of all sizes are seeing the value of letting their product cycles be flexible instead of fighting the other thousand press releases hitting this week, or the other hundred booths around them for attention.
I learned a lot this week, but most of what I learned came from bigger companies in the front half of the south hall. There's a lot going on besides cameras and NLEs, a whole side of post and production technology that barely touches my world. The deeper infrastructure that makes the world go 'round seems mostly unaffected by anything other than a push to be smaller and more efficient, which has been the main goal of technology for only about a hundred years or so.
So here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna go home, determine if I've been afflicted with the rhinovirus or something that needs heavy artillery, get my $&%^ together, and tell you more about the awesome stuff I found and talked about -- collaboration near and far, stories of people I met, and yeah, I found some ladies at NAB I'd like to tell you about.
The running gag on the show floor yesterday was a punchline to the effect of "AND we're releasing a camera!" If that kind of humor isn't your thing, then I can't really recommend you come to NAB for real.
But even with all all the hooplah about new cameras and such, a couple things that stuck out to me today are throwbacks. The last few years in particular, I feel like there's been a push toward the nontraditional -- NLEs doing weird stuff that grumpy dudes hate, cameras turning into little boxes you can't actually handle, that kind of stuff. And today we saw AJA's new camera (WTF, what a weird phrase) and Blackmagic Design's new cameras both with more classic camera design features. Of course the camera
companies have always had a mix because they have so many cameras to choose from. But companies that aren't traditionally linked to cameras experimenting with designs in their limited product pool is an interesting way to see what's happening in the industry. DSLRs started some kind of trend a few years ago, and it seems like maybe camera designs are coming back around.
Then again, I'm an editor.
Speaking of throwbacks, I think Blackmagic Design's new Cintel Film Scanner is awesome. In all the innovations within the show moving digital media forward, it's nice to see that film has a place front and center.
Interestingly, most of the excitement on the floor has been in discussing the future and what's possible very soon rather than specific products, large or small. It's kind of nice to see people thinking more about the big picture, a kind of joy for the industry that was sort of lacking last year. To me, at least.
Oh, and to update you on the superficial aspects of the show: it's loud, crowded, and hot. Everything is too far apart. Lines are long, food's expensive, and actually I'm having a great week thanks for asking.
I've also decided to put together a new art exhibit of images I'm collecting this week. It's called Human Props Sitting Sadly in Booths.
So yeah, if you haven't guessed by the articles you might have seen with my name on them or the NAB show guide and all that, I'm here in Vegas for my third NAB. My brain hasn't really caught up to the idea yet, so I've spent much of the weekend walking around in a daze. I think it's starting to settle in though, and just in time. No matter what tomorrow brings, I'll be on my feet a lot -- my poor feet that already have a blister. Damn you, shoes.
I was at the convention center and other press events all day, and some social events like #postchat all night, so I made sure I asked mostly everyone I saw what they're interested in seeing this year. Is there a product? A company? A general idea of a thing? A problem that needs solved? Some kind of something?
The response I got was mostly a half-hearted shrug. A canned answer, if I'm lucky.
My last two shows, I didn't ask quite so many people about what they were interested in seeing, but I've never really had so many people give me a blank stare. It seems like there's not a lot of buzz over any one thing, people are 4K'd out before the week begins, and many of the rumored items so far haven't done much to excite my circles -- not even the giant Resolve 11 screenshot plastered over the south hall. Maybe it's just the people I asked, but my sample size was large: random press, friends and acquaintances, a stranger I shared a cab with. I'm just sayin'.
So this year, rather than going into the show with unbridled anticipation, the real enthusiasm will have to start around 9AM tomorrow morning. Maybe. Guess we'll find out, eh?
I'll tell you this, though: I used a cupcake ATM today and it was everything I ever dreamed it could be. If you're looking for an excuse to come to NAB, let it be that.
The NAB Show again approaches and the various survival guides are being recycled into the Internet. I wasn't going to post one this year just because there are so many other completely comprehensive fully illustrated and hypertext marked up guides out there a Google search away. But I've gotten a number of requests to share my experience with newcomers again so I thought about it a bit, and I guess I do have something more to add to the conversation beyond just comfortable shoes and protein bars.
Sure, it's obviously important to be physically prepared for the show. If you showed up to the convention center without ever having been briefed on what to expect, you'd burn out quickly and miss the good stuff anyway. So go and find those NAB survival guides and have a plan of attack. Consider that the 101 class. When you're ready, this is the 200 level: being mentally prepared for this mob of video geeks. Basic etiquette, humility, and coming away from the whole mess with maybe a friend or two.
Ronn (@rovino) knows me from Twitter and found me in the south hall!
1. Don't be intimidated.
Okay, try not to be intimidated. Okay, don't let any intimidation get in the way of your enjoyment. Last year, there were over 93,000 registrants from 156 countries, all packed into one of the weirdest cities in the United States. That's a lot of people. Some people are intimidated by crowds, some by the idea of having to talk to so many people, some by the sheer number of bright blinking lights. Remember that a lot of those people are probably feeling just like you are about the whole thing. Ain't nobody judging you. If anything, you might find some common ground on your newfound appreciation for sardines. Plus, you won't even see a lot of them unless you're into some heavy duty radio or broadcasting stuff. If you're in a class, say hello to people around you. Sitting down for lunch, say hello to people around you. See a pattern? I know it sucks and it's difficult to talk to strangers, but try it once and see how it goes.
2. Aim to meet people.
Unless you're going to NAB specifically to buy things for your company and come home, I don't see the point in attending without aiming to meet people. You're in Vegas with perhaps thousands of the most like-minded people you'll ever find. It's like OKCupid, but instead of searching for your soul mate you're looking for that person who will debate the pros and cons of various archival systems until the wee hours...who may also be your soul mate, but hey, take it slow okay?
How d'ya meet people? Find people you know online or people whose blogs or articles or books you've read, and introduce yourself. Go to some of the evening events like my Cards Against Humanity casual hangout fun (Monday, 9, LVH!) or the #postchat meetup (Sunday, 8, O'Sheas!) You'll find all kinds of tweet-ups, parties, hang-outs, events, and get-togethers listed online.
3. That said, plan your evenings wisely.
Once you see all the stuff that's going on at night
, you'll be tempted to stretch yourself thin. Remember that Vegas is big. You can't go everywhere and do everything. If you do, you might not be able to scrape yourself off your dirty casino hotel bathroom floor the next morning to go back out to your classes or exhibit hall for more education and scavenging. Pick the things that seem like they'll have the best reward -- somewhere you know some friends will be, or where you know you'll be able to network with the right people. If it doesn't work out, you can always move on, but trying to get to 5 parties in one night? Well, just remember how all those Redbulls are going to feel tomorrow.
4. It's okay to be alone.
Bright lights, tons of people. It's okay to be alone for a while if you've had your share of the whole thing. If you can find the careful balance between too many people and being a lone wolf, you should feel pretty capable of pulling this whole thing off and getting home in one piece, only lightly traumatized. A couple hours in your hotel room or even a solo walk along the strip is often a sufficient reset button for short bursts of social interaction.
5. Don't be a jerkface.
I spent this post reminding you to put yourself out there and be kind to your brain and body and meet people and be alone. Now I'm reminding you: don't be a frigging' jerkface to anyone. If you're a little tentative on social interaction and meeting new people, you should treat everyone else how YOU would like to be treated. Someone introduce themselves? Be kind and courteous and make an effort to get to know them a bit. If they're a weirdo obviously you can bail, but in a NICE WAY. If you're at NAB, a large part of your experience should be spent networking because you don't have the opportunity to meet so many people from so many different aspects of video life at any other event all year. If you're arrogant or dismissive, you've blown it.
There are so many guides and stuff about the NAB show, you'd think it were some kind of grand adventure to the moon. But in a way it kind of is, isn't it? But that doesn't mean you need to overthink the whole thing. NAB is crazy, but it's still just a bunch of broadcast geekery filled with awkward humans like you and me. So get your comfy shoes and socks, meet some people, learn some new things, and have fun. And if you see me around, please stop me and say hello. I don't usually
Kes (@nle_ninja) & I "met" on Twitter, met at NAB 2012, and spent 2013's show dressed alike to promote our podcast!
When I was in Vegas a couple weeks ago for the NAB Show, I went to the Hofbräuhaus, the traditionally crazy German restaurant based on the brewery of the same name in Munich which is loaded up with a menu of Deutschland beers and meats.
The south lower hall at the convention center had more sausage than this place.
And that's my crude and unladylike way of asking: where all the women at?
Video post-production has been male-dominated for a long time. I don't need to be reminded of the big time Hollywood editors that have made their mark on the industry: Sally Menke, Thelma Schoonmaker, plenty of ladies in television doing great stuff. Or that there are a lot more women coming about now than there have been in the last few decades. I also don't need to be reminded that editing started with women. None of us do. It's common knowledge. They're out there, working and being really good and probably being better than you.
So where ARE all of these women hiding at NAB? I spent a day walking around the lower south hall. The ONLY time a female spoke to me was to scan my badge. If I had questions, I talked to a guy. I didn't participate in Post Production World this year, but I glanced at their speaker list: three ladies, two of which talked about social media and producing/directing. Christine Steele is the only one on the roster actually talking about post production. Really?
I spent another couple days working in a booth. I remember seeing a few women workers, but they were mostly around for the performance side of things. Or to scan badges and collect forms. Hell, even IN the booth, I talked to very few women.
But I'm going to be honest here and say that part of me sees the distinct abundance of Y chromosomes on the show floor, while the other part of me says "yeah, so?" Big deal, right? We're all equal, so if there's mostly guys, that's just the way it shook out and maybe there will be more girls next year. No reason to force it if there's just no girls available, to work at NAB or to send from your company to attend.
But then I go back to the part of me swimming in dudes, and I wonder if I should
be asking "why" a little louder. I doubt intentional malice here. I don't think most guys are overtly sexist about including knowledgable women on their NAB teams, and I REALLY don't think the organizers of Post Production World are smoking in a back room, laughing maniacally over their old boy's club, plotting on how they can get rid of Christine once and for all. I can't speak for employers choosing to send male employees to NAB over women because I can totally see that happening, though I hope it doesn't…much.
I just wonder if I should be asking "why" a little louder in case nobody really thought about it.
Correct me if I'm wrong (really), but I've heard the NAB Show of maybe 10+ years ago described as a very male-dominated and bigwig-only type experience. Decision-makers were the most plentiful attendees, so lower ranked employees weren't around so much and certainly weren't so included in anything of importance. And most decision-makers were guys because that's just how the industry is or was then. That's how a lot of industries are, in fact, so it's not like I'm accusing the video industry of being some crazy backwards place. There have been several gigantic companies only recently naming their first female CEO. So you know, whatevs. But what if the lack of gals on the show floor is just a remnant of that time? Just invite back the same people, send the guys because they'll get more out of it, do the usual thing we do every year, just go about our business as we always have.
Or you could try some fresh meat, you guys. Not just women, but in general. If the best choice for your business is to bring an 18-35 year old white male to man your booth or teach your class or represent your company, then I'm not going to argue with you or say you're a male chauvinist pig and burn my bra in protest. I'm just asking: why?
Have you thought about it?
Day Four, but really day six. Day six of four. Whatever. Last day of NAB. Day negative one seems like a week and a half ago at least.
DEEP THOUGHT: SMS.
When I read NAB suggestions and tips and wrap-ups from people who have been coming to the show a long time, I rarely hear anything about communication. This is mind-boggling. How did you meet people? Did you just know where they are? Randomly bump into people and become life-long friends? Call on the PHONE? NAB is such a frenzy, how did you really take advantage of all these great people being in town without being able to communicate instantly?
I'm really asking you guys, if you care to enlighten me.
Twitter is amazing. I've met a lot of great friends through chatting on Twitter. But you know what really made this NAB great? SMS. Yeah, THAT old junk!
A couple of weeks ago, Liam (@editorliam) suggested that some of us download an app called GroupMe, which serves as a group messaging service. His thought was that we could communicate with each other as needed without having to rely on Twitter for finding people. It clogs the feed, and it's hard to keep tagging everyone because you can run out of characters. So a handful of us downloaded GroupMe.
I found that you could forward GroupMe messages to text instead of using the battery-burning app, so I did that. And it works phenomenally well, especially when my LTE connection was struggling. Over the course of the week, we kept adding people to the thread. We could quickly send a text to ask if anyone was in the south hall, or if people wanted to find lunch. The app (and SMS service) also allows for picture messaging, so it devolved into silliness at times, seeing who could get closest to whom and snap a picture without them realizing.
It's made finding friends during the show much easier than last year. It's allowed all of us to spend a lot more time together instead of trying to coordinate and keep missing each other. Yesterday, part of the group decided at the last minute to take off into the desert to shoot the sunset -- something that couldn't happen in an event of this scale without coordination ahead of time unless you can text 20 people at once. And those 20 people bring along new people they've met and introduce them into the group.
Right now, my phone is buzzing as plans are set to go to In-N-Out Burger as a bookend to NAB before the last of us leave. When we tried to coordinate this last year, it was difficult to tell everyone where and when things were happening. This year, if my text messages are any indication, we'll have a group of something like 10 or 15 editors. Might make seating a little difficult, eh?
I suppose that's a good last deep thought from the heart of Vegas: SMS and burgers. The staples of life. As you can see, one leads directly to the other.
AND NOW? Double double animal style with an extra toasted bun, with well done cheese fries thankyouverymuch
. Ah, I love the west.
Hooray for borrowed wifi. The gift that keeps on giving, whether it wants to or not.
DEEP THOUGHT: cave dwellers.
Working in the fabulous Small Tree Communications booth again today, I had more opportunity to ask booth visitors what they were looking for and what they saw in the lower south hall. Other than the cute widdle Bwack Magic itty bitty camera, most people were talking less about things and more about ideas for new workflows.
The commonly mentioned things were collaboration tools like Adobe Anywhere, Axle Video, and Digital Rebellion's Kollaborate. Everyone was trying to get a handle on "that whole cloud thing." I watched an Adobe demo where screens were shared and media was swapped and traded during a Skype call a state away. Of course it worked pretty flawlessly with one end rooted at Adobe's headquarters, but still – pretty nifty.
Like I've mentioned, I'm editing an indie. Over the last 6 months, I think I've seen the director three times. We live an hour apart, so I send cuts on Screenlight (which is awesome) and have dropped DVD screeners but otherwise I'm on my own. I get a lot of feedback on Facebook chat. So this cloud stuff? I'm kind of wondering if maybe it would be a little better for my workflow. Less searching Facebook chat logs and cross referencing Excel worksheets, more uh, editing. Habits to break, for certain.
On the other side of this, I wonder if we'll hit a point where we don't really ever see each other in post. Not because we don't have to – I think we all know a project needs some face to face time – but because actually being in a room together will become an unnecessary expense to the powers that be. So after a while, the dark "edit cave" will literally become a fortress of solitude. Stalagmites and stalagtites and bats and drippy water and everything. We'll all look like the things in The Descent, and instead of coming to NAB and meeting each other, we'll form complex underground colonies and eat producers that enter our sacred space.
Quote of the day from a stranger behind me as I walked from the north hall to LVH: "AUGH! SUNLIGHT!"
See? IT HAS ALREADY BEGUN.
Had loads of fun meeting loads of people today as well. Nice to meet and be silly:
Blah blah written on day two posted on day three because INTERNETS SUCK.
DEEP THOUGHT: "saving steps".
In high school and college, I worked as a waitress. In the world of serving tables, we have a concept called "saving steps." That is, you're on your feet every shift, so you try your best to think about each trip around the dining room. You address the needs of multiple tables at once so you don't end up running back and forth and wearing yourself out unnecessarily. Servers who don't save their steps are referred to as noobs, and thusly looked down upon.
I half-liked and half-hated serving tables, but like many irrelevant jobs I had along the way, it taught me a lot of stuff with practical application into professional life. I kind of resent that, but it's ingrained now so I can't do anything about it. I think those of us who had hospitality jobs where we were on our feet for 8-12 hours at a time really benefit from this probably-kinda-traumatic experience at events like NAB.
Today was my first day ever working in a booth for NAB. I was in Small Tree Communications' booth (more about that another time), which was positioned right beside the walkway to the central hall. Everyone tells you the cliche advice to wear comfortable shoes, and informs you just how hugemongous each hall is, right? Other people tell you to have a plan. That stuff is so very correct. Watching people entering the lower south hall in between helping interested NAB attendees with their storage needs, you can place the repeat attendees -- or ex-servers in the crowd. Walking with purpose, and not back and forth in front of me over and over!
Save steps, walk strategically, see more stuff! Advice for all areas of life, really.
And those ladies in heels? They're either professionals, or they're insane. Ain't NO savin' steps in heels.
Day one is two days and mumblemumble
dollars short. Vegas, man. What can I say? I DID write it on day one.
DEEP THOUGHT: connections.
Wandering around the south hall today shortly after it opened, I found myself bouncing from person to person, many I knew and some I didn't. This has become somewhat expected by now -- you're in one room with a couple hundred people from a relatively small community (of which the Internet sub-community is even smaller), of course you're going to run into each other. That's part of the fun. However, today I had a bit of a different experience with making connections.
I've blogged a bit about working on an independent film called The Impersonators
. At the end of May, we'll be doing a significant chunk of pick-ups to enhance some story points. Because of reasons, I won't be around for the shoot much so I've been looking for a DIT to manage the on set media and make sure I get what I need. I was fretting a bit about this: twelve days of shooting, unpaid, prefer if you have any idea what you're doing.
I asked a friend of mine who works for Ball State University if he could pass on my needs to the telecommunications department the day before I left for Vegas. This morning, Monday, I got an email back: there's a student who is very interested in the gig. He's worked with RED material as a DIT before. He even developed the workflow.
And the student saw on my blog that I'm at NAB this week. He is too.
I called him from the show floor and we met up in the lobby of the lower south hall and talked for a while about the film and his experience. Don't tell anyone, but I think he knows more about this than I do. Kids these days.
It's funny, I expect to go to NAB and meet creatives from all over the world. And I do. But I also found and hired the DIT I never thought I'd find.
Today's deep thought is brought to you by free wifi a day late. It's hard to post a daily blog from a wifi-only iPad.
ANYWAY. Today's actual
deep thought is about what lies behind the curtain. The man back there we're not supposed to pay attention to until the little dog comes and bittes his leg.
Vegas is all about the facade. It makes you feel loved, desired, wanted. Vegas lusts for you. Come here, give us a hug. It's okay to spend your paycheck. We'll make sure you don't know how many hours you've spent wandering around with your head in the clouds. There there, Vegas says. Here are some pretty girls who care about you!
In this way, it's the perfect venue for NAB.
Literally looking behind the curtain today, I walked the lower south hall as an exhibitor for the first time. Last year I saw the shiny show floor. My first impression this year? Shambles. Fork lifts, tarps, people yelling at each other. I wondered how the hell they'll get it together for the next day. Like I said on Twitter, it's like learning the truth about Santa. A big fat man doesn't
break into my house? These booths don't
just appear in the night?
Then looking behind the curtain even more, I attended my first press conferences with Sony and Avid. They're very slick, and very polished. But I noticed when I looked around the room and focused on what was behind me instead of on the stage (in 4K, of course), it was nothing but men in suits looking very
Preparing for what new items might be released today, I noticed again how secretive some companies are about their products. So much so that when it appears this secret has been breached, it obviously becomes the talk of the dinner table. Tweets retweeted, blurry pictures shared on iPhone screens in Vegas dives. You start to wonder if this is a glitch behind the curtain, or a strategic move leveraging the instant nature of Twitter. As a professional conspiracy theorist, I almost always assume the latter.
And of course, behind the curtain of products themselves. Companies adding a lot of features that aren't new and haven't been new in a million years. And being revered
for it. Don't get me wrong, I'm always happy to see updates and feature requests fulfilled. But thinking as a person from the other side of things, more critically than accepting, I can't help but see how this isn't the same as those frilly Vegas showgirls. We love you, give us your money and we'll dance around a little bit and make you feel good.
It's very interesting at NAB this time around. Last year was all about bright lights and loud noises. Now you start to pay attention a little closer and see some things you don't normally see, and you can start to see the seams.
Off to day one! I'm going to go bite some legs and see what kind of trouble I can get in to.
South Lower Hall, 6005. Find Orad from the main aisle and turn left. It's looking pretty freakin' sweet right now. Lots of great stuff to show you...or just stay for the huge circular screen.
I'll be there Tuesday and Wednesday. Walter Biscardi will be there Monday and Tuesday. No matter when you come, you'll see some COW friends.
Not gonna lie. This is pretty fun already.
Yeah, so, NAB, am I right?
Alright, look. This is my first year seeing NAB from the other side in many ways. I'm very much an observer. I will tweet a lot of strange pictures and probably a lot of nonsensical thoughts over the next week, but I felt like I should at least attempt to contribute something worthwhile during this thing.
There's a deluge of coverage from the show floor. People who have been around a lot longer and actually have strong opinions will be covering everything anyone could possibly want to know about new products. That's not really my calling anyway.
So I present to you: Deep Thoughts from Vegas.
I call today day negative one. Day 1 has to be Monday and Day Negative Two sounds stupid so today is negative one, tomorrow is zero. Though it seems that stuff starts to get interesting tomorrow, which gives today a sort of Christmas Eve vibe. Soon all the post pros will be nestled snug in their expensive suite king sized beds while thoughts of Resolve 10 dance in their heads. In between the less savory things; it is Vegas after all.
"Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray to Adobe my soul to keep."
Which leads me to today's deep thought: absurdity.
If you take a half step back, this is all just a little bit incredibly absurd. People furiously tweeting, speculation and rumors out the wazoo, press releases practically being tossed out into the streets like ticker tape. It's absurd that I'm writing this on my iPad while crammed in a middle seat between two dudes I don't know while my husband is in another middle seat crammed between two ladies he doesn't know.
It's just barely skating the surface of sanity, this week. The frenzy, the freebies, the things we do to our bodies. And that's perfectly fine. This is what we do for a living. The NAB Show defines the rest of the year for a lot of us.
But come on, I'm right, right? It's all rather lavish. Over the top. Decadent. Absurd.
This isn't a thing that says we're going overboard and need to reign it in, because I think it's pretty much amazing. Because what's not absurd in the least are the relationships forged or renewed at this thing. Friends, contacts, employers, employees. Listening and learning is the take-away, along with the free t-shirts.
If you're here, count yourself lucky. You shined up your comfy shoes, snapped your badge onto a fresh lanyard, and you're heading out into the night to drink with like-minded nerds and talk about 4K. If you aren't here, count yourself lucky too: you aren't crammed into a middle seat.
I'm just saying an ounce of gratitude this week will do your body good.
Also, probably 20 ounces of water before bed each night.
That's my thought. Absurdity and gratitude. I promise some of these may even be funny and not at all preachy.