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Thursday, April 21, 2016

NAB Show 2016

NABShow 2016 was a great experience.  I have never taken interest in the production of movies, radio, or any form of media in my life, but this event has changed my perspective dramatically.  This will be my first in a series of posts, in which I will share photos and information I learned throughout this event.

A recent gig has required me to take an interest in video production.  It is not always common to have an employer pay for the attendance of a conference, but I think it is important.  If you take away anything from this post, it should be that self-enrichment is required to succeed in any field.  And you should push your employer to give you an opportunity to pursue it.

The show was in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Being from Virginia, it was a long flight.  However, after meeting so many people from Europe and China, I cannot complain.  I stayed at a cheaper Hotel/Casino called "Circus Circus".  

The "Hotel and Casino" was dated and odd with the whole circus theme, but the room was clean and the last night I was there, I had fun losing a few dollars at the slot machines and roulette.  They do however have a good Italian place with the best meatball sub, and a great steakhouse that has class and has been around for years. ProTip: The steakhouse is reservation only, however if you are alone, you can eat at the classy bar. Also, I can say that I appreciate not seeing one single clown the whole time I was there.  I think acrobats and dancers have mostly replaced them.

The event is Monday through Thursday every year.  I attended Tues & Wed, and had enough for my first visit.  However, if I get the chance to go again, I'll plan it better.  The hotel is only a 15 minute walk from the convention center.  The Las Vegas Convention Center is HUGE.  To give you an idea of what I mean, the "Westgate" is 200,000 sq ft (19,000 m2) and has it's own station on the Vegas monorail.

As you can see the convention center is much larger than the Westgate, located to the left of the blue "North Hall" in the picture above.  So be prepared to walk several MILES at this show.

There were so many exhibitors I could not count them all.  But I learned a lot from some of the free sessions that were included with the Exhibits only pass.  Make sure you go to those while you are there. They are usually only 45 minutes, but worth the time.

I realized I was at a whole new type of tech event when the first thing I came across was being called "IP Hybrid Routing".  My first thought was, "What to they mean by 'hybrid'?  Is there some other kind of digital routing that is more efficient than TCP/IP that I don't know about?"  

Turns out there is.  Video and audio signals have been around a lot longer than the internet.  These original analog signals gave birth to the broadcasting industry.  As a result, the industry vendors behind analog equipment went straight to using hardware components.  Custom hardware for digital signal processing was faster than computer processors (or GPUs), and could perform the digital operations as quickly as they were needed to encode and decode the signals being recorded live.

As a result, in 2016 there are thousands of vendors of this equipment worldwide.  And they are all chomping at the bit to crack in to the cloud.

I attended two sessions by Josh Kolden regarding his C4 ID system.  His system essentially uses natural language semantics and byte hashes to create a metadata tagging system for all of the artifacts used in video production.  There is a whitepaper that goes in to more detail available at his site, He also stresses the importance of using a RESTful API with JSON as the glue between your software components.  He named several but Avid and Nuke are two that come to mind.  If you are in to software engineering, it shouldn't take much to wrap your mind around how quickly the cloud is going to (or already is) provide a major role in the future of media production.  The C4 ID system was used to produce "The Suitcase" a movie currently in post-production and will be released later this year. It was very interesting to hear about the challenges getting this metadata collection process integrated with the movie production staff.

I spent the rest of my first day looking at Drones, LED displays and other gadgets.  There was a TON of them.

Dual-Prop Airplane Drone

Stabilized Sensor Suite

Octo-copter with gimbals and professional video camera

With adjustable carbon-fiber chasis

These enormous LED displays are high resolution at a distance, and can be scaled to any size

The LED screens are an array of squares with an input, output and LCD display showing about 14 volts and 37 degrees Celsius.

You can even make cubes with live video for your nightclub.

In my next post, I will go over more equipment and talk a bit more about the current VR industry, the future of VR, and post more photos of the event.

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