NAB 2006: Welcome to Las Vegas

I went to NAB for the first time. A rather whirlwind tour of both Las Vegas and NAB. I flew in on Wednesday morning at 9:00 am, spent the night at Circus Circus, checked out Thursday morning, spent the day at NAB and flew home at 7:00 on Thursday arriving in San Jose at 11:30. And I have to go to my first day of work on Friday. Busy half a week.

Circus Circus Sign
NAB is a huge convention and exhibition held in Las Vegas every year. There are always lots of new product announcements. New video cameras, post-production software, lenses, and other motion picture and radio production equipment announcements. Lots of really cool toys to look at, play with, drool over and lust after.

helo camThis unmanned aerial vehicle camera was one of the coolest things I saw. It is a radio controlled helicopter with a camera pod attached to it. One person flies the helo, another controls the camera. It can take still pictures, 35 mm film, and video. Very cool.

The exhibits were spread across three buildings, one of which had two floors. I spent most of my time in the audio and radio exhibits since I am planning to purchase a bunch of audio equipment very soon. I had the chance to look at and play with the items on my wishlist. I talked with the sales, marketing and technical folks about the products I’m planning to buy. Verified my thoughts and plans. Jeff Alexander of Sennheiser was a great help in understanding the value of good microphones. Of course, he also worked very hard at convincing me that Sennheiser (and Neumann, which is owned by Sennheiser) makes the best microphones on the market. Is some cases, I agree with him.

I got to talk with Fred H. Horne at Arri. My lighting kit is conprised entirely of Arri lights. Mr. Horne and I had an interesting conversation about the value of video podcasting. Like many, he didn’t quite understand what all the fuss is about. After all, video podcasting is all about video-phones, digi-cams, iMovie and putting your home movies on the web for grandma to see, right? In the course of our conversation Mr. Horne one of those epiphonic moments.

Camera makers were again this year banging the high definition drum. Everyone was touting their HD offerings. Grass Valley unveiled their Infinity product line of high definition products. Cool cameras, to be sure. However, the really interesting news for video podcast and webcast producers really slid under the radar. Panasonic reduced the price of their AJ-SDX900 camera which could easier be the workhorse of this emerging market.

I think I had the most fun at the Sound Devices booth. Unfortunately I did not get a card from the guy I talked to but, wow, these guys have some really cool products. Their knock out punch is the 744T digital recorder inconjunction with the 422 Field Mixer. Why is this so cool? The 422 mixer is able to pass the channels straight through to the four channel digital recorder while at the same time sending the source channels mixed down into two channels to the camera. This is awesome duplication of audio capture.

NAB was a lot of fun. I really hope that Tako Productions is still sufficiently in the video podcast/webcast production game to justify my going again next year.


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