NAB 2011: Tech In The City
As Featured on HollywoodToday.net
By Chandra Lynn, Glow Marketing
Las Vegas (Hollywood Today) 4/17/11 – Every year technology vendors make their way across the Nevada dessert to the glimmering mirage that is Las Vegas. They come to show their wares to the gear-lusting throngs. My trek, however, wasn’t in search of new gadgets, it was to stay connected and on top of trends as an industry marketing consultant.
Historically, I’d spend hours on the show floor going booth-to-booth to make contacts and see what’s new. This year I had a totally different experience that included power lunches ala Shark Tank as the sole female at the table; exclusive cocktail parties with executives of some of the biggest exhibitors; client dinners that resulted in signed contracts and checks written at the table; and late night parties hosted by those that still have budgets to produce private events in excess of $100 per person.
Spending time with NAB mucky-mucks turned out to be an excellent strategy for getting insider views on trends in technology and high-level messaging from guest filmmakers James Cameron and Kevin Smith.
Some of the areas that seemed to be trending at this years show were technology solutions that reduce 3D production costs and enable 3D television production; the democratization of filmmaking tools as they become better and cheaper; and the immediacy of delivering content via the internet through portable streaming technology. The last two were made evident by the prevalence of people shooting everywhere with DSLRs attached to various camera rigs and accessories, and shooters deploying mobile streaming technology from their heavy backpacks.
3D Grows Up
Oscar-winning director James Cameron and 3D innovator Vince Pace presented a keynote about the latest developments in 3D for film and TV. They announced Cameron-Pace Group (CPG), a new 3D company in Burbank, California, which aims to accelerate worldwide growth of 3D for entertainment and reduce 3D production costs for television budgets.
“I believe that [passive 3D sets} will become widely adopted,” Cameron said. “The next threshold beyond that, which is two to three years or as much as four to five years out, is high-quality, full HD-resolution large screens that have multiple viewing angles that don’t have glasses at all. That is the point where the curve will go ballistic. Broadcasters need to be ready for that.”
Aimed at reducing the cost of 3D production, Sony announced a collection of new technologies including a shoulder-mount 3D camcorder. Numerous companies made other technology announcements that promised to reduce the number of operators needed thus dramatically reducing production costs. This is great news for independent filmmakers that never thought 3D was within their reach.
Leveling the Playing Field
Software vendors announced better workflows for dealing with file-based media. Apple’s approach was to give a sneak peak of Final Cut X off the show floor at the Final Cut User Group’s Supermeet. Built from the ground up with 64-bit architecture and completely new user interface, Final Cut X will be a downloadable app at the significantly lower price point of $299US. Slated to change the paradigm of video editing through its new features, the professional market is waiting to see what this down market positioning means for them when it ships in June.
Avid’s focus was on releasing tools for the professional storyteller like Phrase Find which allows you to phonetically find words in your videos. They also gave a preview of new stereoscopic technology. They got the buzz going by hosting filmmaker Kevin Smith in their booth. NAB was one stop on his bus tour promoting his new film Red State. The tour has proven to be a successful and unorthodox way of engaging fans. His talk inspired other storytellers and encouraged them to believe in themselves and not worry about what people think. Also on the show floor was Jason Mews who Smith partners with to podcast on http://www.smodcast.com/.
Speaking of tour buses, the John Lennon tour bus was on site with an open door for attendees to check out. This amazing piece of rolling technology travels the country stopping at schools to expose youths to the art of video and sound acquisition and editing. Outfitted with a complete Media Composer editing suite and Pro Tools|HD recording studio, students are given the opportunity to create videos from start-to-finish. The Black Eyed Peas, Natasha Bedingfield, bus sponsor Yoko Ono and other A-listers have all recorded on the bus.
It’s a Wrap
NAB attendance seemed to have picked up from last year, leaving exhibitors optimistic about this an indication of better times ahead. This may be due to a shift in technology towards lower cost, higher quality products that enable efficient workflows for professionals and independent content producers. Having more accessible and advanced tools is half the battle. The other half is having the talent that makes the tools relevant. Luckily, there is no shortage of genuinely talented creators out there who will benefit from the availability of so much great innovation.