NAB 2012 is in the books, final thoughts...
COW Library : NAB Show : Walter Biscardi : NAB 2012 is in the books, final thoughts...
So, my original idea was to document each of the first three days at NAB. I got Day One taken care of, but then I discovered I just can't quite stay up as late every single day anymore. Seems my days were starting with 6:00am breakfasts and ending after 2am. Left little time for writing and in fact, very little time to walk the floor when I finally had a full day on Wednesday. Maybe next year I'll just file video blogs as the day goes on, that'll be easier.
Now, some of my personal observations and thoughts on the NAB 2012 that was…some of this pertinent to our profession, some of it just thoughts on friends.
Ben Affleck turned out to quite stiff and boring.....
EDITING / POST PRODUCTION
There's no doubt that there's a lot of excitement back in the post production world. Last year was a funeral of sorts as many of us watched 12 years of investment and development of our businesses around one product get upended.
This year Avid fired the opening salvo by dropping their flagship Symphony product below $1000 for those cross grading from Final Cut Pro or an earlier version of Avid.
Adobe finally revealed the long awaited Creative Suite 6 with re-designed interfaces and new features galore. Then Autodesk put the exclamation point on 2012 with Smoke 2013. The booths for all three of these tools were definitely hopping with a lot of smiling faces. Collectively, the post production world, particularly those still running Final Cut Pro 7, celebrated -- the party was back on! A year had passed and they were definitely ready to move on to the next NLE. Yet many of those I spoke to remain confused, not only on the NLE but on the hardware.
Brian Mulligan, Scott Simmons and I take in the Autodesk Smoke 2013 release.
See, folks were used to Final Cut Studio being an end-to-end solution, and now they're still looking for that perfect replacement -- the one tool that can solve all their needs. We also got used to just about everyone in the Post world using FCP, so we were all in step with one another. As the NLE market fragments, a certain population wants to remain in step with the majority of the market.
So the biggest question I kept getting all week was, "which tool would you recommend?" Well the era of a single tool to meet all needs is gone in my opinion. As one person said on the show floor, you wouldn't use a saw to hammer in a nail. With NAB 2012, the tools are truly more accessible than every before from price to user operability. All of the tools have strengths and weaknesses, so use each tool for their strength. Anyone in Post who limits themselves to just one tool moving forward will be limiting themselves in business I believe.
Dave Bittner and I meet on the show floor. Which NLE should we buy Dave?
So my advice is to stop thinking about "which single tool should I buy" to treating your computer like a toolbox and loading yourself up. What I told everyone at the show is all editors should at the very least have both Avid and Adobe on their systems, particularly with the price of Avid Symphony. Especially if you are a freelancer today, you should know both Premiere Pro and Avid as they seem to be really be taking hold in post production facilities. You don't need to be completely fluent, but you should be familiar with both.
When the Autodesk Smoke 2013 beta begins, try that out and see if it adds anything to your workflow. For some, that tool might be the end to end solution you've been looking for. If you like where Apple is going, then add X as well. After a discussion with a few folks, it sounds like the multi-cam feature alone is worth having X in the toolbox.
But X was definitely very low on the totem pole for the majority of people I interacted with as I noted in my "Day One" musings and it didn't get any better as the week went on. I know X was on display in the AJA Booth and I heard it was in another booth, but I did not personally see it anywhere else. It's clear Apple did not realize the depths to which the product would fall in the minds of many post production professionals. They might not have cared when it first came out, but their recent actions seem to show that they are trying to reach back into the Post community. Fixing the distrust of the company will take FAR more work than adding features back into the software.
So Nick, what'd you think of Evan's Final Cut Pro to Smoke workflow? Pretty slick, eh?
It was amusing to watch and listen to the "WTF is Evan Schectman doing?" chorus from the FCP X supporters because there he was all over the Smoke 2013 announcements, promotional videos, and up on the Autodesk stage though out the show. This just emphasizes what I mean when I say "load your toolbox with tools, don't just put one tool in there." Evan has an FCP X to Smoke workflow that he spoke about at the show that has been very successful for him and is featured on the Autodesk website.
On the hardware side of things, iMacs ruled the show floor with nary a Mac Pro to be found. On the Windows side, for those considering Avid / Adobe, HP and ProMax seemed to be impressing folks who stopped by to chat about it. I never got to either booth quite honestly, though I really wanted to see the ProMax One. That looks like a beast of a machine and I'll be testing one of those shortly. Now I DID get a sneak peek at the new Dell Workstation that definitely looks bad-ass and has some design features I've never seen on another workstation. They should be announced on Monday and Dell is going to get a test system for us as soon as they are ready.
Oh, a reminder… that Symphony cross-grade price definitely ENDS on June 15th, so don't think about it too long. I purchased my 5 copies of Symphony on Friday when I got back from NAB.
That's right Prince, the Avid deal DOES end on June 15th, even for you.
Throughout the run of the entire show, I heard more folks discussing the BMD Cinema Camera than any other. Not only in terms of the concept of the camera itself, but what it will do to the camera market in general. As Grant Petty clearly stated, his goal was to release a good quality camera, at a reasonable price and get the camera companies to take notice and start bringing the price of their cameras down to a more reasonable price. He also did it without creating yet another confusing codec that those of us in Post would have to deal with. It will be interesting to see if the camera serves notice on the other camera manufacturers or falls on deaf ears.
The "Temple of RED" is always amusing to me. This year with the big red logo glowing in the back, it generated a lot of fun talk. They definitely want to be different and they always achieve that. Reaction to their new REDray projection system was decidedly mixed. Folks loved it while others complained there was too much milkiness in the shadows. I never saw it personally as it's not something I'm concerned about in my company, plus I really didn't have the need to wait in line to see it. Love them or hate them, no denying RED has influenced digital cinema like no other manufacturer.
Flanders Scientific's Bram Desmet preparing to jump the RED booth.
GoPro really had a much larger booth this year showcasing their new Hero2 camera along with the Technicolor CineStyle partnership giving higher quality and more options for professional users. With the GoPro ProTune mode, you now have 24fps options and 35mbps data rate increasing the quality of the image making it even better for broadcast and independent film applications. It was interesting to see them expanding their reach with more professional tools -- with a product that anyone can go to down their local electronics store and pick up.
Several very cool airborne solutions from remote helicopters or octo-rotor devices to get aerials throughout the Central Hall. Nice to see there are so many options coming out now that make low flying aerial photography more accessible to all. Of course I would highly recommend you practice a LOT before you go strapping your 5D or C300 onto that thing.....
Grant Petty and I after our annual chat. One of my favorite things at every NAB.
This is the first year I didn't get a chance to visit the "mainstream" camera manufacturers like ARRI, Panasonic and Canon, but I did get a chance to see the Canon C300 at our Atlanta Cutters event prior to NAB. I flat out love that camera, though not the price tag so much.... From all accounts, it sounded like that camera and the new EOS 1D were crowd favorites.
I am amused by the ever increasing "K" on the cameras though. 2k, 4k, 6k, and now promising 28k. It's getting silly, quite honestly, and I have no idea how all the camera guys keep up with it. These are MAJOR investments costing thousands upon thousands of dollars and it seems like the manufacturers are looking at them as disposable devices. In Post Production, we're out $1000 or so for software per seat each year. With cameras, it's like they expect you to spend $15,000 - $65,000 each year to get the highest "K" possible. Again, it's going to be interesting to see if / how the Blackmagic Cinema camera influences the discussion moving forward.
Atlanta Cutters at Bellagio y'all! Ready to go trout fishin in the pond....
BUSINESS AND "THE CLOUD"
Xytech really impressed us with their facility management software. Easy to use, visually driven and I loved the scaleability of the features. Pricing will depend on what exactly you need the software to do rather than paying a premium to get tons of features you'll never use. Yeah, this is not exactly "sexy software," but having easy to use project management software makes running your company a lot easier.
For remote collaboration, I did find Aframe, which is a new start up Cloud Collaboration company that seems to have both a great pricing model and a VERY simple interface. Actually ran into the folks at the Adobe party and then did a few follow up visits to their booth. I think we're going to start using them straight away for client reviews because the clients can enter their notes, timecode stamped, right into the videos instead of via email like they do now with Vimeo. Then we'll look to expand that to full collaboration with complete projects using all original media.
And this is just Monday morning.....
I heard multiple excuses after the event, but whatever happened, the SuperMeet was plagued with so many technical problems, it was embarrassing. I felt really bad for Michael and Dan who put so many hours into this event each year only to have incredibly faulty projection and sound equipment really mess it up. Evan Schechtman's presentation was screwed up, Autodesk had to stop and then attempt to restart their presentation, microphones were cutting in and out, Grant Petty's slide presentation didn't work, Morgan Spurlock's trailer was shown with no audio, forcing him to pantomime the thing. Not to mention, some of the worst audio feedback I've ever experienced -- and I wasn't even in the main seating area. In the back room, there was a projector set up with an image so dim you couldn't see it and even when we could, it was only showing half an image. Folks left the event early (yours truly included) and sponsors were rightfully furious that evening and the next day. Not sure if it was the Tropicana A/V department or some Union crew, but they should be completely and utterly ashamed for allowing such a technical fiasco in front of several thousand video and audio professionals.
I DID run into Marianna Montague at the SuperMeet which was a huge thrill for me. We go way back to Media 100 testing back in the early and late 90's when she was a tech adviser for that company. She's now with Avid and it was great to reconnect.
Marianna Montague and I at the SuperMeet. Media 100 buddies forever!
I also learned that the Flanders Scientific guys really like a certain piano bar on the strip, and they were absolutely correct about how much fun it is. I would never have thought to go to a piano bar at night, but it's hilarious. From the folks I talked to, the KISS Mini Golf event was the quite the hit the first night, the photos make it look awesome.
CNN colleagues forever. With Jeff Stewart and Renard Jenkins, two awesome guys.
The main reason I go to NAB is for the "family reunion" aspect. Shane Ross, Jerry Hofmann, Richard Harrington, Robbie Carman, Nick Rashby, Alexis Van Hurkman, Scott Simmons, Grant Petty, the entire Small Tree Communications gang, the Adobe / Avid / Autodesk gang and more. NAB is literally the only time I get to be in the same place with all of these guys and it's fun to hang. This year, Evan Schechtman and I had a blast, both at the Smoke 2013 launch and at a last minute Autodesk stage event. Folks are surprised we like each other because he is out there supporting Final Cut Pro X and I'm not a huge fan of the product. He's also a hilariously funny guy who runs an incredibly successful business that all of us can learn from. What's not to like.
Pedro Peraza, one of the best editors I've ever known and one hell of a nice guy.
Of course, the best part is meeting so many of you I only know through the Creative COW, Twitter, Facebook and everywhere else in the social media circles. Y'all know my face, so it's just awesome when you guys walk up, shake our hands and let us know just how much the advice and feedback really has helped you through the years. It's those handshakes and kind words that really makes all the hours spent by myself and all my Cowleagues worthwhile.
Alexis Van Hurkman, Robbie Carman and Pat Inhofer at a wonderful dinner hosted by Flanders Scientific.
Can't let this article go without at least mentioning that this was definitely the worst experience I've ever had at NAB in terms of the shuttle busses to / from the event. The best was Tuesday evening when trying to get to the Tropicana for the SuperMeet. Had to take the NAB bus to MGM and then walk over… only the bus driver had no idea where to stop. He actually asked us over the PA system, and finally dropped us off in front of the Employee entrance! Inside, a very nice security guard ended up calling another guard to escort us up and to the casino level, where the second guard politely pointed the way out to the Tropicana. Ended up being a very funny end to what could have been a frustrating start to the evening.
Is Andrew Kramer really THAT tall or am I really that short? I'm going with Andrew being that tall.
Each year, I say I really don't want to go to the show because it kind of gets boring year after year after year, and Vegas just seems like it gets dirtier each year, and I wish the show would move around the country a bit…but then you start seeing the faces, hearing the big news of the day, you remember why you come out each year. It's the only time every 12 months I'll get to hang with so many friends and meet with so many of you in one place.
I really need to thank Small Tree Communications for inviting me out to hang with them and for already inviting me back for 2013. Had a blast hanging in their booth and seeing so many of you come by.
And we all, those of us in Post Production, owe a huge thanks to Avid, Adobe and Autodesk for giving us a a reason to celebrate again. The party was definitely back. We'll see you next year Vegas!
Atlanta Airport never looked so good........