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Tips for Attending NAB From A Convention Veteran

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CreativeCOW presents Tips for Attending NAB From A Convention Veteran -- NAB Expo Editorial


Biscardi Creative Media
Buford Georgia USA
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Ceasars Palace, home of my newly recommend buffet featuring High Road Craft Ice Cream!


Getting to and from the show.

NAB does a great job providing free shuttle transportation to and from the show via many of the hotels along The Strip. Whether you stay in one of these hotels or not, as an attendee, you have access to these busses. So look at the NAB Bus Schedule and pick a hotel nearby to pick up the shuttle, be sure to have your convention badge on you as you generally have to show it to the bus driver to get on.

I tend to take the shuttle busses to the show and then the Las Vegas Monorail from the show depending on what time I'm leaving. Busses can get swamped at the end of the day and while the Monorail costs money, it tends to move more people faster out of the event. I just hop off at the hotel the closest to mine on the way back.


Dress for comfort, especially your feet!

NAB is a big show. Let me rephrase that. NAB is a HUGE SHOW. As in thousands upon thousands of square feet of exhibition space. Let me say that again. NAB IS A MASSIVE SHOW! You may have been to big shows before,but imagine walking through and around 4 football stadiums (US or European) to see everything and that kind of gives you a sense of how large this thing is. In other words, you're going to be walking..... a lot...... forwards, backwards, up, down and all around.

It cannot be said enough that comfortable shoes are a MUST at this show. I wear running shoes that have fabric that breathes. Women.... how in the heck do you wear heels? I have no idea, yet I see them walking the show floor every year like it's something they have to do. No, you honestly don't. Same with the men wearing wingtip business shoes. Why? They are simply not comfortable to walk around 4 football fields or to even stand still for hours at a time. The NAB show floor is not really the place to make a fashion statement so just relax. Remember your feet will swell up standing and walking all day long, keep the shoes comfortable!

For dress, I tend to go with comfortable jeans and t-shirts or short sleeved button down shirts. South Lower, where most of Post Production is housed, can get a little warm on Monday / Tuesday just because of the thousands of bodies in the hall. Check the weather forecasts before you come for nighttime temps, as oftentimes a light sweater or jacket is good at night when the temps drop. While 60 degrees might sound nice and warm with just a T-Shirt, with no sun and a 10-15 mph wind, that light jacket you brought along will feel much better.

Beyond the jeans, the only event I know of that really requires any sort of "dress code" is the annual AJA Party which is held in an exclusive nightclub usually. Other than that, just "come as you are."


Grant Petty showing me the Cinema Camera last year. My yearly sit down chat with Grant is one of my yearly highlights of the show.


Plan Ahead, Use Reference Points.

A big key is to plan ahead and then prioritize your plan. There is so much to see that it's easy to get overwhelmed at the show, it's literally the biggest toy box for all of to play in with everything we'd ever need to make great shows. All the stuff you read about on the internet and in magazines is on display. It's easy to get caught up spending way too much time on some really super cool toy that you don't need, can't afford, would never use, but it's just so freakin' cool and before you know it, two hours are gone.

So pick the toys you REALLY want to see, then prioritize them in order of what's the most important thing you need all the way down to those that would be fun to see, but it wouldn't matter if you missed them. You will accomplish much more and see those things that will make a difference for you in the next 12 months.

The show floor oftentimes makes no logical sense. Booth numbers that go smoothly from number to number suddenly veer off into nonsense and you stand around saying "Well it should be right here, it's the next number in sequence." Fortunately "there's an app for that."

If you have a smartphone or tablet download the fabulous NAB Mobile App. I used this for the past few years and it's awesome. My favorite feature is that you can highlight all the folks you want to visit ahead of time. During the show, the app will show me where I am and where my target destinations are, makes for easy navigation around the show. Well, easier navigation, you're still going to have those "WTF?" moments when the booth numbers make no logical sense....

Another great way to help with navigation on the show floor and to find your way back to location is to use reference points. Pick a banner, a booth, whatever that has a high sign that you can clearly see to use as a reference point to find your way around. I often use the AJA Video Systems booth and one of the music libraries in South Lower as my reference points for example. I can visually see that point and if I know a booth I'm looking for is in the general area, I can use that to find it.

In particular, use these reference points to find the bathrooms. Small thing I know, but at least in South Hall, they are along the far left and right walls and finding these easily is a good thing. :)


Dinner with a trio of incredible colorists and all around nice guys at Sinatra's in the Wynn Hotel.


Stay tuned for the Sunday announcements.

Many companies presenting at NAB will either have press events or issue press releases on Sunday announcing their latest toys that will be on display in the exhibition halls. Websites such as CreativeCow.net have great news feeds that help you follow along with the almost dizzying array of releases.

Make notes of the releases that are of special interest to you so you'll know what that company is debuting, locate their booth number, and prepare some questions. Yeah, write your questions down or put them in your phone / tablet because you'll definitely forget what you were going to ask when you get to the booth. EVERYTHING sounds incredible in the press release, seeing it on the show floor and asking the right questions can get you a better picture of what the toy can and cannot do.

Most of the manufacturers on the show floor are very frank about what their products CAN'T do. They want to make sure the right information gets out and they want you to be a satisfied customer. So don't just take everything at face value, ask questions!


Monday Morning

You do not have to start lining up at 8:30am to be the very first one into the convention hall. Things do not start disappearing at 9:01am. Every single year, there's a huge mob of people just lining up outside South Hall waiting to sprint into the convention. You don't win points for being first. Just relax, grab a cup of coffee or tea at the Starbucks and when the gates open, there will be plenty of room for everyone. The place holds something like 100,000 people, so relax.....


Super cool custom DSLR camera rig we saw at last year's Media Motion Ball.


Limited time to visit? Come later in the week.

If you've already made your plans, it might be too late for this, but if you really want to get hands on with equipment and software in the booths and ask questions, Wednesday and Thursday are the best days. Monday and Tuesday the crowds are the largest. Especially Thursday the crowds are always much smaller giving you much better access to the booths.

If you are going to be there all week, my advice is to avoid the "big booths" Monday and make discoveries in the outlying smaller booths in all the halls. Especially lighting and audio always seem to have the smaller crowds and they make great areas to visit, especially Monday all day.

Also take in the outdoor exhibits between South and Central Hall where there are remote production trucks, satellite uplinks and other very cool displays. While you may never have the need for a remote production truck, just walking through one and seeing how they have managed to configure an entire production facility in a very small footprint can certainly give you some ideas for designing your own production space.

In Central Hall I always go in to check out what's the latest in microphones and field recording because when a show idea comes up, for whatever reason I start thinking about the microphones I saw and how we can use them.

I've also found some really cool widgets, software and tools for my work that I never would have found without just strolling "off the beaten path" as it were, such as my incredibly awesome Anthro edit consoles. Not sure where all the aerial platforms are going to be, but there are multiple remote controlled helicopter and multi-rotor companies out there now that provide outstanding platforms to shoot from the air.



Look! Nice comfortable chairs! Sit a while and take in a presentation. Your feet will thank you!


Pace Yourself, stay hydrated.

Unless you are only in Vegas for one day (because your cheap boss wouldn't spring for at least two days) pace yourself, nothing is going anywhere for four days. It's not like those stupid 4am day after Thanksgiving sales, there's nothing that's going to disappear except maybe some of the free swag that you'll probably throw away when you get home anyway.

Many of the booths have chairs, small theaters with presentations throughout the day which are great to just sit and take a break for a few minutes. Sit in on some of the presentations that are about the toys you are considering. Sure these are well planned 15 - 30 minute presentations, but watching them can give you a good sense of whether the toy is what you expected it to be. In addition, the presentations allow you to form questions to pose to the folks working these toys in the booth. And there's that sitting down for 15 - 30 minutes part that's a good thing for your feet.

And above all stay hydrated, drink lots of water. The air is very dry in Las Vegas and it's easy to get dehydrated with all the walking around you're going to be doing. Not just at the convention, walking around the streets of Vegas will wear you out if you don't stay hydrated. One of my first stops every year is to CVS pharmacy or small shop on the street to pick up a 6 pack of bottled water that I can refill as the week goes on.

Remember that Vegas also uses a lot of forced perspective, so things that appear to be right down the block are actually 1/2 mile or more away. For example what looks like a short walk from New York, New York Casino to Treasure Island is more like a 30 to 45 minute walk up the street.


Places are farther than they appear......


Evening Events.

Many manufacturers and groups have evening and after hours events. These are as simple as meet and greets to the world-renowed AJA VIP party. Some are free and some cost to attend. For the most part they're fun and these are generally the best place to simply hang and meet up with your peers. You'll find many of the bloggers, the writers, and folks who post on the various forums and tweet away all year long. And don't be shy at these events, just walk up and say hello.

Now the same suggestions for the main show, also apply to the evening events. Primarily, pace yourself. There are a LOT of evening events, pick and choose a few, if you don't make them all, so what? It's ok. And manage your intake of alcohol. Yes everyone likes to party and have a beer or two, but I'm amazed at the number of folks revert back to frat college days and get completely wasted to the point where you really don't even want to be around them. As many of the beer companies remind us, "Drink Responsibly." And at most of these you're going to do a lot of standing, so again, wear comfortable shoes!


Media 100 buddies from waaaaay back in the early 90's. Avid's Marianna Montague. One of the nicest people in the industry.

My absolute favorite event each year is the Media Motion Ball. It's a smaller gathering, costs a bit more money because they serve a very nice buffet sit down dinner and is more low key than some of the other larger gatherings. It's quieter so we can all chat and it's a very friendly atmosphere. The sponsor tables are also usually in the same room and are very approachable. Often you'll find the folks from the "big booths" like Blackmagic Design where you can meet more one on one with the product folks than out on the floor.

The biggest event for the Post Production industry is always the SuperMeet. Part carnival, part demonstration, always entertaining. Home of the one of the largest raffles in all of NAB. It's also a great place to find out if there are any Post Production User Groups in your area as they do a parade of user groups as part of the event. Personally I go for about the first 1/4 to 1/2 of the event spending more time out in the sponsor area as it's a great place for me to catch up with a lot of my friends and to meet many of you from the CreativeCow, my blog and Twitter.

I got reminded of the Red Giant / Maxon Pinball Party this year and am definitely going to make it there this year. 150 pinball machines with an ice cream truck just sounds like way too much fun to pass up.

Most manufacturers and groups will have events posted on their websites or at the booths so check them out and decide if anything works for you. And if you don't want to go out and party, then don't, there are so many great restaurants and food joints all over town, go enjoy yourself at one of those.


I forgot my hard drive, power cord, etc...

The Fashion Show Mall (weird name I know) located near Treasure Island and the Wynn hotel has an Apple Store and other electronics stores that should have whatever you left behind or lost on your way to Las Vegas. Other good stores and a great food court in there as well.

By the way, bring a small power tap or power strip so you can recharge all that electronic gear you need at night.

Beyond the Show, my suggestions for food and fun.

You're in Las Vegas, there are literally tons of things to do besides gambling. Quite honestly gambling bores me, I used to work in the largest casino in the world and slot machines and such never interested me. I do place one bet each year on the weekend NASCAR race, but beyond that, not much else. So here's some thoughts beyond the obvious gambling and drinking.

I can't over emphasize how good the restaurants are both on and off the Strip. Buca de Beppo is wonderful off the strip. Our favorite buffet has been the Spice Market Buffett in Planet Hollywood but this year we're going to try out the Bacchanal Buffet in Ceasars Palace because it features ice cream from our good friends at High Road Craft.

The best grouping of restaurants in one hotel is the Venetian with Wolfgang Puck's Postrio being the standout, but there are a lot of great choices in that one hotel including the Grand Lux and an awesome Mexican Cantina. If you go downstairs in the Shoppes at Palazzos you'll find an absolutely killer Espressamente Illy coffee house / gelato shop. My favorite coffee in Vegas.

One fun thing that presents tons of photo opportunities is the Madam Tussaud's Wax Museum in the Venetian Hotel. What makes it so fun is that nothing is behind glass, it's all out so you can stand and pose with the wax people. It's silly fun with something like 54 celebrities or so to get your picture with in a walk at your own pace style.

Of the "big shows" in I've seen in Vegas, "O" at the Bellagio simply takes the cake for spectacle. I spent as much time enjoying the show as I did marveling at the staging and just trying to figure out what sort of a warped mind can actually create some of this. Simply stunning both creatively and technically.


My 'brother from another mother' Evan Schechtman. Awesome person to bounce ideas with.


The Show is what You Make It.

Simply put, NAB Show is what you make it. You're around somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 people for a few days. The way you make connections and the way you network is to walk up and say "hello." That's how I got to know so many people over the years. I've read their blogs, their articles, watched their companies grow, etc.... and when I saw them on the show floor, I just walked over and said "hello" and gave them my card.

Some folks I never heard from again. But those that did reach out have turned into some of the most valuable resources and best friends I could possibly ask for. Networking and meeting new people is the main reason I attend most years. Yeah, Vegas itself gets to be boring when you go every single year, but what keeps me coming back is simply getting the chance to see everyone in one place each year.

So don't be shy, don't be rude either, but if you want to say hello to folks, say hello.

There you go, some tips and tricks from a veteran of the Las Vegas NAB Scene. Most importantly have fun. Bring lots and lots of business cards, shake a lot hands and make yourself some new friends you can call upon when need advice. We'll see you there!







Comments

@Tips for Attending NAB 2013 From A Convention Veteran
by Neil Sadwelkar
I've attended the show only about 6 times in the past 9 years. But always flown in from India.

For those in India, and the Far East, planning on attending NAB, here are some additional tips...
1. Jet lag. Factor this in. The flight from India to Vegas is 27 hours, in 2 or 3 hops. And the time difference is 12.5 hours. That's brutal.
2. Aim to fly from India to Vegas via Europe/UK. Flights are cheaper and appear shorter down this route. Via Hongkong/KL/Sing flights are longer and costlier.
3. Aim to reach on the Saturday before the show. It will cost you an additional night in the hotel, but you will get two nights to recover the jet lag.
4. Book a hotel near the Convention centre. Travel to and from the show at show open/close timings is just one long queue. Even hotels have a taxi queue in the morning.
5. Reach NAB at 10am, and aim to leave at 5pm. Plan all your engagements around this schedule so you get easy transport both ways. On Day 1 don't get there till noon, and on Day 4 leave at noon.
6. Don't drink and sleep late. Do either, else you'll get extra tired the next day.
7. If you aren't a regular walker, walk at least 3 kms per day for the week before NAB.
8. Carry warm clothes. Vegas in April is warm, but the occasional cold day is possible. Particularly coming from India, Vegas will feel cooler.
9. Rent a car. At the airport preferably. Apart from the strip, driving around Vegas is quite fun. If you drive to/from the show, park some distance away so you walk to your car and get out fast.

-----------------------------------
Neil Sadwelkar
neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com
twitter: fcpguru
FCP Editor, Edit systems consultant
Mumbai India
@Neil Sadwelkar
by walter biscardi
Thanks so much for adding some additional tips from a completely different perspective.

As for the hotel, I always book a hotel on the Strip with NAB shuttle busses. Easy and free trip to the show in the morning, then in the evening I can hop the Monorail. Even at its worse, the Monorail still gets me back to the hotel within 30 minutes. Being right on the Strip makes for easy travel to and from evening events where we generally walk to most of them.

But your post was awesome, thanks again!

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
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Re: Article: Tips for Attending NAB 2013 From A Convention Veteran
by David McGavran
Comfy shoes go a long way! Thanks for the tips Walter...

Also don't forget to come find the Premiere team. A bunch of us will be wondering!

Cheers

Dave

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
David McGavran, Adobe Systems Incorporated
Senior Engineering Manager Adobe Premiere Pro
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Re: Article: Tips for Attending NAB 2013 From A Convention Veteran
by walter biscardi
I'll come find you guys David. I'll be in the Small Tree Booth Monday / Tuesday on the other side of South Lower. I'll see you at some point....

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

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Re: Article: Tips for Attending NAB 2013 From A Convention Veteran
by Joseph Owens
Also worth looking for is a relatively recent "Newbies" guide to attending the NAB convention, but I can't find a URL for it to post here... quite entertaining, if a bit giddy, but that's part of the fun, too, right?

Over the past 27 years, NAB has changed significance, at least for me. It used to be a hallowed, if not storied, journey that only upper management types, CEOs, Chief Engineers, Operations Managers, etc., were allowed to attend. And then the rest of us were regaled with tales of debauchery and excess heretofore only known by Roman emperors, and by the way, here's the neat stuff we aren't buying, .... again.

The first of these shindigs that I ever experienced was as a manufacturer representative, but had been with the company for less than three months, so that may or may not have been a good idea. On the floor was the first (and maybe last) ACR-225. SONY was starting to take over, and may have had something to do with that other company's disappearance? Anyway, now the biggest booths are largely personal computer and support gear oriented. And, some corporations, that otherwise one might have expected to seize the opportunity to connect directly with their user base, have come to regard the show as more or less irrelevant. In the intervening decades, the trend seems to emerge that some years are revolutionary, and some are evolutionary. Attendance, every single year, seems like a questionable imperative, unless you have a really, really good reason to go see (more or less) the same stuff, different version, but occasionally, something new. Whether the innovation is a gee-whiz idea that may go nowhere, or genuinely "changes everything!" is actually pretty hard to judge at such a large dog-and-pony, smoke-and-mirrors carnival. But it might go some distance toward explaining why some attendees really do have to crash the gates at dawn Monday, likely with those words pre-typed on their mobile tweeter. There are a lot of inappropriate jokes available to illustrate the need for conserving one's energies for higher priorities that could be inserted here, but maybe I'll save them for the cash bar at the CPUG. You are warned.

Coming to the point (pint?) now, because if there is anything that the conflux is important for, it is the social context.
There are some theories-of-business out there that try to model commerce on a social basis -- reducing the product or service actually rendered as really just a souvenir... maybe too existential?

But this is a huge opportunity to meet a lot of people, hear a lot of ideas, and make a lot of connections, personal and technical. Bring a lot of business cards -- that one is a no-brainer, but what you should really do is register a UPC code and make it a part of your asset. The paper gets lost, but scanning in that contact (or getting your particulars entered by one of the booth attendants) and making it part of the database is what will count, which may be the best single reason for making the pilgrimage --- taking your place in the loop.

And yeah, there are a lot of queues, too.

jPo

"I always pass on free advice -- its never of any use to me" Oscar Wilde.
Re: Tips for Attending NAB 2013 From A Convention Veteran
by Jim Wiseman
Great to see the shot of you and Marianna. We go back with her to the very earliest years of Media 100 when I was a M100 and Avid dealer here. She is the best! Thanks for the great article.

Jim Wiseman
Sony PMW-EX1,Pana AJ-D810 DVCPro, DVX-100, Nikon D7000, Final Cut Studio 2 and 3, Media 100 Suite 2.1, Premiere Pro 5.5 and 6.0, AJA ioHD, AJA Kona LHi, Avid MC, Hexacore MacPro 3.33 Ghz 24Gb RAM GTX-285 120GB SSD, Macbook Pro 17" 2011 2.2 Ghz Quadcore i7 8Gb SSD, G5 Quadcore PCIe
@Jim Wiseman
by walter biscardi
Love Love LOVE Marianna. She was my guru when we first bought Media 100s for Foxwoods back in the mid 90's. The M100 team used to make field trips down to the casino from time to time to hang and give us more tips.

At one time we had the "largest M100 system in the world" with 40GB of storage. :)

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

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+1
Re: @Jim Wiseman
by Bret Williams
Wait now, we were right around the corner at Visual Arts of America and in 1996 we had 50 gigs. Did WE have the largest Media100? I had no idea!

I honestly have no idea why the website is still there, unchanged from the day I left Jan 1, 1998. It's a time capsule. I hope nobody is paying for it.

http://visarts.com/post/posta.html
Re: Tips for attending NAB 2013 from a convention veteran...
by Bradford Hill
Some very valuable information in here.
The last thing I was hoping for was the lines in the morning, oh well. I will be spending all 4 days at NAB(open to close) shooting interviews and I am on a very strict schedule unfortunately, so I won't have much free time. Do exhibitors with a booth have the ability to get check in before 9am?
Re: Tips for attending NAB 2013 from a convention veteran...
by Ralph Hajik
Hi Bradford,

I'm sure they have to be present at their booth as the doors open.
Enjoy NAB and don't work so hard, you're in Vegas.

Ralph Hajik

Happy Travels
http://www.LastingMemoriesR4ever.com
@Bradford Hill
by walter biscardi
If you have an Exhibitor Badge, you can enter the show floor as early as 8am I believe. I usually enter around 8:30 - 8:45 to get to the booths I'm working.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

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Re: Blog: Tips for attending NAB 2013 from a convention veteran...
by Craig RussillRoy
So true Walter,

Why does everyone line up like an Apple Store ? pace is the best bet and have a plan - random men walking around is a recipe for disaster !

As I am coming all the way from the mother land (UK) I have the awesomeness of jetlag but can't wait to see the BMD booth, AJA, Autodesk and mass of other suppliers out there !

Hopefully I might bump inot you for a photo op

PS great article !

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@Craig RussillRoy
by walter biscardi
Glad you liked the article. I have NO IDEA why folks have to line up so early, but alas they do.

I'll be in South Hall Lower in the Small Tree Communications Booth Monday and Tuesday. Definitely come on by and say hello. Awesome folks who make the RAIDs and shared storage system we've been using in my shop over 5 years now. Booth SL6005

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

Blog Twitter Facebook
Re: @Craig RussillRoy
by Lance Bachelder
Nice article Walter. Agree - if you don't have more than 2 days do a well-planned Wed. then relax and browse on Thurs. Remember they close early Thursday but the crowds will have thinned and you can see a lot more in less time than Mon/Tues.

Bucca De Beppo? C'mon Walter, isn't there one of those in every strip mall in America by now. There are dozens of insanely great Celebrity Chef restaurants in Vegas - you have to try to get to one or two each NAB. My goal this year is Gordon Ramsey Steak at Paris. Steak lovers though should also try Del Frisco's on Paradise - great Prime steaks! Reservations are a must though at most high-end eateries during NAB.

Lance Bachelder
Writer, Editor, Director
Downtown Long Beach, California
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1680680/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
Re: @Craig RussillRoy
by walter biscardi
[Lance Bachelder] "Bucca De Beppo? C'mon Walter, isn't there one of those in every strip mall in America by now"

That was the first one I tried and still love it. We only have one here in Atlanta and we all go there often.

Our favorite so far is the Wolfgang Puck restaurant in Venetian. It's out in the plaza. Wife is a vegetarian so steak restaurants are out for us.... Good recommendations though!

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

Foul Water Fiery Serpent, an original documentary featuring Sigourney Weave...
MTWD Entertainment - Developing original content for all media.
"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.
"Science Nation" - Three years and counting of Science for the People.

Blog Twitter Facebook
Re: @Craig RussillRoy
by Richard Campbell
Might I chime in with a few food and fun suggestions?
Food:
Peppermill-a great BIG breakfast. It's at the north end of the strip, near Rivera. May be the only meal you need, as the portions are huge and the price is reasonable (for Vegas).
http://www.peppermilllasvegas.com/default.html#home
Hash House A Go Go-inside the Quad (formerly Imperial Palace). Another huge plate of food, very good and some interesting combinations.
http://www.thequadlv.com/restaurants/hash-house-a-go-go.html#.UUhznqX3BT4
In n Out Burger-this only applies for those of us east of the strip. If you know of In n Out, ignore this.....if you've never had one, do so. All over Vegas.
Battista's Hole in The Wall-old school Italian food, at a very reasonable price. Behind the Flamingo. Assuming he's still alive and there, tip the accordian player. Yes...I said accordion player. You'll get it when you see him.
http://www.battistaslasvegas.com


Fun:
Pinball Hall of Fame. A warehouse FULL of vintage pinball and video games from the beginning of such devices. Games from the 1920's and up. Spend $10 and you can have a couple hours of fun.
http://www.pinballmuseum.org
Any Cirque show. Especially KA. Sadly, Love is dark NAB week (what up with that?).
Downtown Vegas. Take a walk around and see some of the old neon signs, restored and placed throughout the downtown area. If you are a gambler, blackjack and craps can be had at $2 during the day on Sunday.

For you musicians out there, mainly guitar/bass players-check out my friends at Cowtown Guitars, on Main St. downtown. Some awesome vintage, and oddball stuff, and a very cool staff. I make this visit every year and usually end up with something.
http://www.cowtownguitars.com

If you haven't a rental car, take a cab. Do not try and use the bus system on the strip especially at night-it'll be slower than walking. And if you can, walk the strip at night. It's a very vibrant and interesting place. Watch the fountain at Bellagio. Word of caution: do not wear your badge while walking around, or out partying in Vegas. It's a sign you aren't familiar with the area, and makes you a target for pickpockets, thieves, and other unsavory characters. And keep in mind guys...it's a convention week, so the hotels will seem filled with single girls walking around the casino, especially by the bars. If it sounds to good to be true-it i$.

If you are there with some time to spare (my wife and I make it an annual trip, 6 days this year), head out to Hoover Dam, Valley of Fire or Red Rock Park. Visit the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, home of the History Channel show Pawn Stars. Check out the classic car collection at The Quad, a very large and fascinating collection...a must for any gearheads out there. Also the Ferrari store at Wynn.

Monday morning, a group of freelance shooters that have been coming to the show for years always meet up for breakfast at the LVH (formerly Hilton) and eat before heading to the show. This falls in line with "you don't have to be in the door at 9am".

NAB is a chance to learn, but it's also a chance to meet others in the industry. Take lots of business cards, and TALK to strangers in the halls. I have met some great friends over the years at NAB, and our little group (now about 15-20) meets every year, and we all communicate year round. I have picked up several shoots over the years from folks I met at NAB, just because we engaged each other in discussions. There's no other place to meet this many industry people than this show.

It's a learning experience, a networking meet up, and a vacation...... all rolled up into one neat little tax deductible trip. :)

Have fun and see you on the floor!

Richard Campbell
Tvshooter Video Production
Atlanta, GA
http://www.Tvshooter.net
Re: @Craig RussillRoy
by Lance Bachelder
Second time I've heard about this pinball place - where is it exactly? Grew up on pinball - would love to check it out.

Our favorite place to eat in the Venetian is up on the 10th floor - Thomas Keller's BOUCHON - a must try!

Lance Bachelder
Writer, Editor, Director
Downtown Long Beach, California
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1680680/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
Re: @Craig RussillRoy
by walter biscardi
[Lance Bachelder] "Second time I've heard about this pinball place - where is it exactly? Grew up on pinball - would love to check it out."

It's the Pinball Hall of Fame: http://www.pinballmuseum.org/

Looks like the Red Giant / Maxon party is sold out, they have waitlist tickets only, but the hall of fame is open daily I believe.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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Re: @Craig RussillRoy
by Lance Bachelder
Thanks Walter - have to check it out for sure!

Lance Bachelder
Writer, Editor, Director
Downtown Long Beach, California
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1680680/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
Re: @Craig RussillRoy
by Bob Zelin
another great article by Walter -
as for food -
Yes, the Peppermill is amazing. It makes NYC "Queens" Diners look like a joke. The Peppermill is an experience.

And we discovered Hash House a Go Go last year (but off the strip - and it was STILL packed). Another amazing place to go for food.

Bob Zelin

Re: @Craig RussillRoy
by Ralph Hajik
Walter,
Very nice article. You guys are making me hungry. If you're into Spanish food try Firefly On Paradise. They were very friendly and the food was great. It reminded me of being in Spain. My brother comes in for NAB from California so we try not to hang around the strip since he has a car. We head out to the suburbs where it's a little less crowded and to visit friends. Hope to see you all at NAB.

Ralph Hajik

Happy Travels
http://www.LastingMemoriesR4ever.com


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