NAB 2012: Introducing Our Blue Ribbon Award Winners
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Around 89,000 people attended NAB Show 2012 -- and 500,000 people came to CreativeCOW.net during the same week. We invited all of them to contribute their voices to choosing the most worthy recipients of the Creative COW Blue Ribbon Awards for Best of Show.
Some might say that the only "real" way to find the Best of Show at NAB is to be there. Maybe, maybe not. Once you're in the room, the goal is typically to see everything possible, and decide which products strike you as most interesting while you're standing in front of them. It's certainly the best way to get the full picture.
It may be easier to get the big picture from afar, though. The 500,000 people who came to CreativeCOW.net during NAB told us exactly which companies, products and technologies were compelling enough to reach beyond that big room in Nevada. That's critical, because the importance of the NAB Show to our industry doesn't end at the walls of the convention center. It begins there.
Which is why the Creative COW Blue Ribbon Award is unique: it acknowledges that the real-world expertise of thousands of potential paying customers outweighs the opinion of a handful of magazine editors.
BEST OF WHAT?
For some NABs past, sifting through the data we gather from COWs at the show, and those at CreativeCOW.net and their extended social media networks, was painstaking work.
This time, it was easy.
It was also easy to see that we were going to have to give two top prizes this year. These two were so overwhelmingly dominant in the worldwide conversation that we didn't hesitate for a moment to give both of them our biggest and bluest Creative COW Blue Ribbon Awards for Best of Show: Autodesk Smoke 2013, and the Blackmagic Design Blackmagic Cinema Camera.
One way that we could very clearly track this: the coverage of Autodesk Smoke 2013 by Walter Biscardi and Debra Kaufman, and of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera by Marco Solorio. I'm going to plant a flag and say that these were the three most-read articles for this year's NAB, on any topic, from any source, anywhere in the world.
Feel free to make your case for others. It will be to no avail. In addition to our stunning traffic for these at CreativeCOW.net, there were no NAB-related articles anywhere nearly as much Tweeted, retweeted, Liked, Linked -- even mentioned on Google+.
(Hey, is it too early to call Google+ the first postapocalyptic social media platform? That's what it feels like. You wander through this beautiful city, with not a soul in sight, and an eerie feeling that something has gone horribly wrong.)
Creative COW's Walter Biscardi on stage and online at Autodesk's NAB stage.
BEST OF WHERE?
One thing Autodesk did that made a huge difference to the world outside the show was a "DVR" stream of their stage presentations: a very high-quality stream from their main stage on a dedicated landing page, but the whole stream stayed available. For example, Walter Biscardi's presentation was well publicized in advance, but folks who missed it could simply go to Autodesk's site and rewind the stream. Brilliant.
Everybody else: please do this next time.
The story is a little different for Blackmagic Design. They were awarded the sole Blue Ribbon Award for Best of Show the last two years running by drawing enough energy to themselves that your lights at home flickered.
This year, they dropped the price of the industry-defining Teranex standards converters from $90,000 to as low as $2995! And they added features and I/O, while making it smaller and quieter! How is that even possible? So how was that story very nearly overlooked completely? Well, it turns out that the only people who can upstage an epochal announcement from Blackmagic are...Blackmagic. That camera thing was a monster.
Not that the Creative COW Blue Ribbon Awards are all about the folks at home. Not by any means. We absolutely relied on the real-time reports from thousands of Creative COWfolk at the NAB Show, but even for them, the weight they carried extended past the walls of the show.
We heard over and over that Adobe's NAB booth was jumping, and the reports of what people saw there were easily enough to earn Adobe a Blue Ribbon for their Creative Suite 6. But we saw an even greater impact of Adobe's NAB presentation once NAB ended and attendees got back online. The Premiere Pro questions poured in: "What did you see it running on?" "How was the performance of Mac vs. Windows?" and on and on.
General rule of thumb: any topic that survives the ride home is closer to signal than noise. And another: any NAB topic that pops to the top of the list after NAB constitutes a Blue Ribbon Award winner for NAB.
BEST OF WHEN?
There's a fundamental, but fundamentally unmentioned, aspect of awards like these: they really do have to be understood as "Best in Show," because the products are largely only showing, not shipping.
This raises the question of what happens when some of these "showing" products start shipping. Will the award-winners be among the best products you're actually using? After being excited in April, will you buy any of them?
(Will you even be able to buy them? The Sony F65 was the Blue Ribbon Award winner for Best Camera at NAB 2011, but didn't start shipping until January, and it took a few months for all the pre-orders to be filled.
And even though it was still one of the very most talked about cameras at NAB 2012, one Blue Ribbon per product is the limit, sorry.)
Let's plan now to reconvene at the end of the year. It will be interesting to see how this all looks in December.
No need to get too practical just yet, though. There's still time to have fun with all this -- and we have had a lot of fun putting this issue together. We can safely say that nobody has ever covered an NAB Show the way we have. At CreativeCOW.net, you can start with over two dozen articles featuring exclusive interviews with leaders from the industry's most important companies, anchored by Debra Kaufman. Think you've heard all the news from NAB? Not even close.
Here in Creative COW Magazine, Bob Zelin holds forth as only he can, as one of the most opinionated, outrageous -- and experienced and respected -- voices in the business. We also offer by far the most diverse camera coverage laid to print, from a nice combination of industry leaders and paying customers. We even have coverage of actual broadcast products from engineer Ryan Salazar. (Wait. What? Oh yeah, they have broadcast stuff at the show too.)
As mentioned above, we're certain that nobody has written more articulately or passionately about Autodesk Smoke and the Blackmagic Design Blackmagic Cinema Camera than Walter Biscardi and Marco Solorio, respectively, and we're happy to share some of their insights here.
And as a reminder that we really do think it's a good idea to go to the NAB Show at least once if you can, we include a report from longtime COW member Kylee Wall on her overwhelming experience at this year's NAB, her first. As she puts it, "This really is Disneyland!"
Creative COW Magazine Blue Ribbon Awards. Presented by Bessie. Chosen by the people that matter -- lots of 'em, including you.
This is a great industry, and a great time to be in it.
Enjoy your picks. And while you're at it, follow Tim on Twitter.