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My Not-So-Secret Diary: NAB 2013

I'm not sure how many times you have to go to NAB before the old(er) people stop pinching your cheeks, but it turns out two isn't the number of times. Not that it bothers me in the least because I'll be the first to tell you I know nothing. I really don't. There are a lot of ways to experience an event of this magnitude, and in many ways this year was just like number one all over again. This was the first year I had an exhibitor badge, and the first year I had a press badge. These both unlock whole new sections of NAB, like leveling up in an awesome video game. know..some of this stuff seems sacred. Like maybe not just anyone should know about it. Just the few thousand people each year that exhibit and/or cover the show. So forgive me, but I've kept the gritty details to myself, between me and the pages of my private diary.

It'd be an awful shame if those pages ever got out and plastered all over the Internet...


Saturday, April 6th - 8 AM EST

Dear Diary,

Next time I go to NAB, for the love of god, remind me to start packing earlier. I can't believe I have to spend 4 hours in Texas with less sleep than that.

XOXO - me

Saturday, April 6th - 11:30 PM PST

Dear Diary

The flight was lovely. Thanks for asking. Did you know there's a buffet in Caesar's where you can get unlimited piles of crab legs? It's perverse.

Another thing that's perverse is how often it's discussed that my room at the Riviera last year smelled like balls. And it's rarely ever ME that brings it up. This time, it was our (meaning me and my husband) good friend and fellow hotel-dweller Ben Barden that made the observation over late drinks in the Tempo Bar. He said that he found it very funny that the origin of our friendship was a tweet about a smell. He tweeted back about his room's misgivings, we ended up meeting at Post Production World, and then we hung out the rest of the week. Paraphrasing him here: "If your room hadn't smelled like balls, we probably wouldn't know each other!"

Ponder that one, diary. I've got sleep to catch up on.

Hugs-n-cuddles, me

Monday, April 8th - 12:35 AM PST

My dear diary,

Today was one of those days that feels like 5 days.

You see, this year I have two badges. One is a news media badge, and the other is an exhibitor badge. You can guess where the news media badge is from, but the exhibitor I'll tell you more about. I'll be spending Tuesday and Wednesday inside the Small Tree Communications booth talking about Ethernet shared storage as a creative individual rather than an engineer. I'm very much looking forward to this. But one day at a time here, let's recount what happened today.

Diary, I know you aren't sentient (I don't think..) but remember how I declared the lower south hall to be Disneyland last year? Well, turns out with an exhibitor badge, I can enter the south hall before the show opens. Duh, right? How else does all the stuff get set up? How, indeed. Small Tree told me to stop by the booth if I had time and check it out, so I did. You know what it's like to go in the south hall on Sunday morning?


Which isn't as traumatic as it sounds. Every kid (hopefully) goes through the rite of passage where they jump from one side to the other and then have the opportunity to share in the fun of keeping the mystery alive. It's like the circle of life, except not like the Lion King version where Mufasa dies because that SUCKS.

If you haven't seen the south hall in progress, let me describe it (at least for 2013): very hot, a lot of men swearing at each other, plastic tarps, fork lifts with no regard for my safety, plywood, boxes of stuff, and general chaos. Other than the heat, really not entirely unpleasant at all. You can tell that a lot of (if not most of) these people know each other, and this has become part of the yearly ritual of NAB for them. As many competitors share the floor, there remains a sense of community. Except for the dudes that hate each other no matter what. Awkward.

Walking from LVH to the south hall and back, stopping for a quick lunch, we ran into no less than ten people I knew. Already! This doesn't happen to me in Indiana.

Back to the news media badge, I met up with my friend and fellow news media badge-holder Jason Konoza and dashed to the Mirage for Sony's press event. Unsurprisingly, it was all about 4K this and that. As beautiful as the new TVs and other things they had were, I was distracted by the large mass of suit-adorned business men (some on phones) who had stationed themselves at the back of the room when there were loads of perfectly good seats available for them.

I guess I should probably mention that I've never actually been to a press conference before, so I may not be very good at reporting things that were actually said (and to my defense, I'm not sure anything of value was really said anyway). No, it was WAY more interesting to watch these guys. For every new item pushed on the stage, a surge rose in the flood of business-dudes rushing the side of the stage. Thirty seconds of taking photos with any device available to them, then they receded to the back until the next thing. By the end, the guys could barely contain themselves, launching onto the stage at a bunch of unexplained cameras and camera related items.

I like to think that at least one of them is responsible for all Sony news in the entire country of Kazakstan or something. Then I can understand the dire responsibility. If he doesn't get that blurry overhead shot of that thing, nobody in the whole country will know about it!

I wonder what happens when Sony has groundbreaking stuff to announce. Complete pandemonium, I'm sure.

So what traditionally happens next, I'm told, is that Avid ushers the press off on a bus to wherever they're displaying all their new things. And to their credit, it IS what happened. But not without a great amount of confusion. Following Jason and a bunch of guys who look like they've been around the block a few dozen times, we found that Avid seemed to have forgotten about us. After bonding with some of these lovely press guys over our apparent abandonment, a young lady in a red dress and heels carrying an Avid sign rushed at us like a flustered Bo Peep who just found her sheep. Because I totally felt like sheep. We got to the press event at the Aria a bit late, but didn't miss anything, not that there was much to miss. Some nice Media Composer 7 updates, but what's really worth mentioning is the food: it was awesome. Well done, Avid. Four stars at NAB 2013. NLE makers, I don't care about waveform caching. I just want snacks. I met Dylan Reeve here, who was also all about the snacks. We may be from opposite ends of the Earth, but snacks can unite us.

Hey, did you know Vince Neal has a Mexican restaurant in LVH? Yeah, me neither.

From Motley Crue to KISS, we went on to the second annual KISS Monster Mini Golf sponsored by Independent Filmmakers of the Inland Empire.

I was a little worried about this event. I knew Eric Harnden would do a fabulous job putting it on, but I've seriously talked this thing up to people for basically an entire year and wasn't sure it could ever live up to expectations. What a silly concern. I mean, look at this place. It blasts KISS all day every day. It has black lights and neons and lasers. It has the fake band and smoke and a wedding chapel. Time stands still inside it. How can anyone who isn't dead inside step in here and say "nah, this isn't for me"??

Diary, I still really suck at mini-golf.

There are few things weirder than playing mini-golf with a bunch of friends you see every day as avatars while disembodied KISS band member heads float tauntingly around you.

Sweet dreams, me

Monday, April 8th - 11:45 PM PST

Dear Diary,

Remember how I said yesterday was like 5 days? Today was like 5 months.

OH! I met Bob Zelin! No wait, chronological order or this is all gonna go bananas. Okay, first thing's first. It was raining and HELLA WINDY today. My hair is supposed to be fabulous in Vegas! Not wind blown!

Donning a shirt promoting my podcast (duh, my chest is prime ad space) I meandered to the convention center a little earlier than recommended. My news media badge got me into a special magical realm called the "news room" which is a room with slightly fewer people in it than most, and slightly more coffee. Also WIFI and - gasp -- places to sit.

I heard they serve food, but I never saw any of that. That's fine with me, because I had Origin India inside the lower south hall which served better lamb than I get at my favorite Indian place in Indiana. Yeah, for real, convention center food that beats "real food." Vegas, you crazy.

I wasn't around for the first hour of the south hall being open last year on account of learnin', but I poked my head in this year at about ten after nine and it was much less crowded than I had always heard. I guess once all the weirdos crowding at the gate spread out, it's not that many people as it seems. Got a good look at Blackmagic's adorable new camera and headed upstairs to Avid's booth for maniacal interview by the #postchat team (consisting of Jesse Averna, Gordon Burkell, and Tej Babra). I legitimately don't remember a single question they asked me (and believe me, I've tried to remember so I can brace myself for when this thing is posted online) but they told me it was okay. So..okay.

I saw a lot of stuff on the show floor, some of which I mentioned when I did my daily bloggin' but most of which was mentioned in other recaps about stuff. But you know what stuck with me the most? The live models in Blackmagic's booth. They just sit there all day with 20 cameras pointed in their faces while sweaty nerds zoom as far into their pores as they possibly can, removing and replacing their eyewear to get a better look at the little screens and viewfinders on these devices, taking blurry iPhone shots of what they discover to share with their 12 Twitter followers. This guy and girl just sit there and pretend to enjoy each others' company in a fake yard, reading fake books, swinging on a fake swing. For four days! What are they reading? What do they talk about? Do you think they'll recede into each others' company and forge the greatest love story never told? Will they get married on Thursday at 2:01PM in the KISS mini golf chapel and flee to Europe together?

Plot twist: or are they brother and sister?!

Ok, THEN I met the legendary Bob Zelin, one of the nicest people I think I've ever met. Seriously, if he shames you on a COW forum, you should print it out and frame that sh-t because you're not worthy.

Later on, a brief #postchat meet up happened in the elusive social media lounge. It was fun to see loads of familiar faces, and loads of new ones too. This is where having your actual face as your avatar is a helpful ice breaker. Diary, I wish I could tell those new to meet ups to make sure everyone knows who they are. I saw people tweeting they were there, but I had no idea who they were. Bizarre.

Yes, Diary, we're still on Monday. Stay with me.

To almost conclude the day was the Media Motion Ball. Besides the giant plate of real food and bottles of wine (thanks Maxon! C4D forevs!), the true high point of the MMB is to have a couple hundred people you probably want to talk to all in one room for a couple hours instead of scattered all over Vegas. Of course, the downside to this is a higher level of frustration when you miss the same people yet again KNOWING they were in that very room with you (I'll get you next year, Chris and Trish Meyer, if it's the last thing I do). I did end up meeting quite a few nice people I wasn't previously aware of, which was really nice. You know what's weird though? I was on camera for like the third time today (thanks to Walter's #wallycam), which is about three more times than I ever have been on camera. Unless you count that short film in college where I had to play a rich old cat lady. Pft, I was typecast so early.

Know what else is weird? Cab strikes during NAB. Makes it hard to find a cab. Say, to the Hard Rock. For festivities. Meh. I try to give people on strike the benefit of the doubt, and I sorta did while I grumbled back to the monorail.

Another thing I learned today, Diary: a lot of the cards in Cards Against Humanity have to be explained to non-Americans.

Nighty-night Diary, me.

Tuesday, April 9th - 7:30 AM PST

Heading off to be a booth worker, Diary. I wonder if anyone will notice my Small Tree green nails?

Tuesday, April 9th - 9:10 AM PST

Surreptitiously googling Cat6.

Tuesday, April 9th - 11:30 PM PST

Hold Me, Diary, I've had a day.

A few people did notice my Small Tree green nails.

I headed to the convention center too early, so I swapped my exhibitor badge for my news media badge and got coffee from the news room. I don't actually know if that's…allowed..or if I should be documenting it. But I suppose if it's just a secret between you and me, Diary, what's the harm? Besides, I'm reporting about reporting about exhibiting. Crossing the streams a little, but it makes for fresh content. And also, I really wanted coffee.

The vibe on the show floor before it's open is similar to the vibe on Sunday, but with less yelling and fewer sweaty men. I shared booth duties with Walter Biscardi, who quickly whisked me away to Flanders Scientific for one of the best donuts I've ever had. It was allegedly vegan, but I don't see how that's possible. I think I missed the air quotes. Maybe it's a running gag.

Alright, so, Small Tree. I know shared storage. I mean, I know how it works. I know how ethernet storage works. When I say I know how it works, I mean I know when I plug my stuff in, it works awesome. And that's all I was meant to really know. It turns out that a lot of people that come to a booth to ask about shared storage want to know some pretty intense technical details.

So I learned a lot about ethernet storage today. Specifically, how to talk about ethernet storage.

The first way I learned was to eavesdrop on Walter's interaction with his first visitor. He claims not to know much of anything about this stuff, but don't listen to him because he knows more than enough -- certainly enough to make me look bad! The second way I learned was to eavesdrop on the guys who engineer the stuff. The trick here is to know when to stop listening. Diminishing returns. You know how it be. Once latency starts getting brought up, I'm out.

The booth got busy in the afternoon, and I found my place somewhere in between directing traffic and answering ease of use questions. There was also some discussion of hair care, but it was rather blurry. The Small Tree guys were great with visitors, and extremely helpful to me as I learned the finer points of…what people wanted me to know. I met so many people, and I was kind of amazed at how many of them came to say hi specifically to me. It was great to put so many names to faces, and learn brand new names altogether.

I also met the COW's Debra Kaufman!

While many headed to the Supermeet, we met up with more Internet friends for dinner. It's nice to be able to put out an instant beacon to let people know where to find you. The downside is that they know where you are, and you end up with 8 people smashed around a table meant for 5. I love them all, but less so when they're in my bubble.

Still preferable to most of my family. But you know alllll about that, Diary.

A problem with NAB in general that I discerned last year: there's too much damn stuff to do. I killed myself trying to do it all before, but this year? Time to be choosy. Real food, actual conversation, an alcoholic milkshake, and off into the night somewhere away from the strip for a Pinball Party.

That somewhere is the Pinball Hall of Fame, and they aren't messing around on that one. Machines from every era of gaming and not just pinball. Which is awesome because like mini-golf, I also suck at pinball. In a tremendous display of knowing exactly what I want out of any party, Red Giant and Maxon provided an open bar and ice cream truck.

This should be the part where I recount shenanigans from the famous AJA Party but as you can tell from the timestamp, laying in bed sounded way better than pounding club music. I gave my wristbands away and crawled to our room.

How boring. This is not what diaries were meant to record. I'll try to do better tomorrow.

XOXO <3 - me

Wednesday, April 10th - 7 PM PST

Dearest of Diaries,

I'm heading off shortly to drink wine with people from the Internet, so I thought it would be wise to tell you about my day before that.

I was back in the Small Tree Communications booth today, but my voice was not. I didn't lose it, but it definitely decided to show up a little late. Maybe it went to the AJA Party? Booth traffic was much lighter today so I ended up talking with a lot more people about a lot more things. Even more old friends and new friends showed up to say hello, and it was exciting to meet them all.

It seemed that people started trying to use Small Tree as a point of reference within the lower south hall (or maybe I just start noticing them), because a lot of confused people ended up staring at a map in front of the booth. Look at map, look at Small Tree's giant sign, look at map, sign, map, sign, repeat until I ask them if I can help them out. Oddly enough, about 95% of these confused NAB attendees were looking for RED's booth. Not sure what that says about any of us, and I don't really care to think about it further.

Looking at other booths with a critical eye yesterday (hey, I earned the right dammit), I declare that there's a lack of positive body language up in there. Ya'll need to SMILE MORE. Not just the people you hire to stand around and look pretty, either. Engineers, designers, editors -- smile! Act like you want to be there. A little enthusiasm goes a long way, especially if the booth is small. What became entertaining to me was standing on the edge of the booth wishing people a good afternoon. Some people enjoyed the interaction while a few, desperate not to be sold to, avoided eye contact and scuttled away. I wonder what would have happened if I'd made a FREE HUGS* sign? (*With purchase of Titanium Z storage system).

I'll tell you who doesn't need anymore enthusiasm: Steve Modica. If this dude had anymore enthusiasm, they could harness it as fuel and use it in the first manned mission to Mars -- and get there tomorrow. The ability to be excited about highly technical products while articulating them clearly is not widespread enough throughout the convention center, so it became a learning experience in itself.

You know what else? There really aren't many women in the booths. I mean, there are women, if you know what I mean. But man, I know there are women working in this industry. I've worked with them. I'm friends with a lot of them. This may come as a shock, but I am one. Not that there HAS to be a woman for every so many dudes. It's just an observation. It's likely that all the ladies are back home working on gigs. SOMEbody's got to.

Also, my feet hurt. A lot. I should trade you for a foot bath, Diary.

Oh, I would never.

Maybe for a pedicure.

Hugs-N-Kisses, me

Thursday, April 11th - 2:30 AM PST

Yeah, definitely a good idea to recount the day before wine.

I just realized I didn't tell you about the wine. I know you're jealous of Twitter, Diary -- I would be too if I were you, it getting all my short sweet nothings instead of you -- but this is a good social media story. I have to record it for posterity.

A few months ago, I had a conversation on Twitter between some editing friends -- some I met at NAB in 2012, some I knew before then. From that conversation, we made a sort of standing promise that we'd each bring a bottle of wine from our homeland to Vegas for tasting.

That promise came to fruition, and last night I sat around a coffee table in an empty bar where the Star Trek Experience used to be as a half dozen people drank a half dozen bottles of wine that had a half dozen thousand miles on them, and talked about editing and everything but until the wee hours. Or whatever 2AM is considered. Not that wee in Vegas, but I do what I can.

They say Twitter is what you make of it. They're pretty much right on that one.

Must sleep, me

Thursday, April 11th - 9:30 AM PST


Thursday, April 11th - 10:30 PM PST

Mi Diario,

Last full day in Vegas, last day of NAB. As enriching, educational, and experiential NAB is, the end becomes a necessity if you want to live to see another year.

While Monday was spent mainly looking around the back half of the lower south hall, I spent this morning in the bigger booths in the front half. Adobe and Autodesk, which have been crammed all week, actually had seating for the last few presentations. I relished in sitting. I don't think it's any secret that the show floor is much easier to navigate on Wednesday and Thursday, though I almost don't understand why more people don't opt for these days over Monday and Tuesday.

I guess I wouldn't really want to either. It's like going to a parade after the floats have already passed.

Against my better judgement, I did end up in the central hall briefly. I just don't get camera people. So heavy, so expensive. All that money and hard labor, just so I can mock them in my edit suite for missing a shot. It's really too bad.

Later, the remaining NAB survivors headed to the nearest IN-N-Out Burger for an animal style book-end to the week. We decompressed, drank milkshakes, and I forced everyone to record a segment for my podcast. Ryan Salazar even found the time to show up. I told him I scooped him -- I had already blogged about being there. HA. However, the photo is borrowed from his Twitter feed.

Upon the suggestion of someone much smarter than I regarding food in Vegas, Nathan and I went to a small french restaurant called Pamplemousse for dessert - a soufflé. This is inconsequential other than the fact it elevated us both to a new plane of dessert-eating-existence, so I mention it to you cruelly Diary, as you can never taste what I taste, for you have no taste buds on your naive pages.

After a short excursion to Fremont Street, we were in for the evening like old women. To my defense, I think I'm starting to get sick. I have a disgusting cough and general sense of malaise, but NAB'll do that, it seems. Only time will tell how badly the NAB Plague has got me this year.

I think I'll take a couple extra hits off the ol' inhaler tonight just to be safe.

G'night, bedbugs, etc - me

Friday, April 12th - 3:30 PM PST

Yo Diary,

Yep, I'm sick. I'm not sure if the massive pile of starch I ate at the Peppermill this morning helped, but I'm kind of concerned I ate a world wonder by accident.

All afternoon, I've been getting texts from my various friends, old and new, as they get ready to depart from Vegas. Flight times, well-wishes for safe journeys, thanks for another great week of memories, those sorts of things. Most of us talk every week, if not every day, in some form online. Sometimes we happen to be in each other's cities. For a week, we're all in one overwhelming place at the same time. Between all the friends I saw at night and all the people I met on the show floor all day, I can't imagine attending NAB without these conversations. This is where I really learn what I come to learn from NAB: between friends. Including those I haven't met yet.

And I guess the new and innovative products and junk are the catalyst or whatever, yeah yeah.

Diary, if you had told me that friends who originated online would not only not be weirdos (mostly), but would end up enriching my life in many ways and teaching me so many things, I would have called you crazy. In fact, I'll still call you crazy. Are you crazy? Those people are from the INTERNET. I've seen what goes on there!

Being around these friends and having the perspective of news media AND exhibitor? Well...keep this really secret, Diary, but I wondered how it would ever be possible to top my first year at NAB. This year just obliterated it into tiny pieces.

Yep, definitely sick. Wearing it as a badge of honor. I was at NAB, I shook a bunch of hands that were attached to a lot of great people, and now I'm ill and wouldn't have it any other way!

I wonder if the fake couple from the fake yard in the Blackmagic booth have fled the border in lust together yet? Hm. I hope so, Diary. I hope so.

It's been real Diary. Oh, do you think it's normal I'm having a recurring nightmare that I can't escape the Avid booth? I'll keep you posted. Might be the cough syrup.

Please let it be the cough syrup.

XXOO - me

(Photo stolen from Matt Penn)

Posted by: Kylee Peña on Apr 16, 2013 at 9:14:12 pmComments (7) nab show 2013

Focusing on post-production, from editing and motion graphics to personal experiences and the psychology of being an editor.


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