NAB from Afar

So NAB 2011 is next week, and I won’t be attending this year. I’ve done NAB more times than I can count both as an attendee and a journalist, and have probably racked up at least a couple of hundred miles in the LVCC over the years.

Partly because I’m based in Singapore now, and partly because I’m just tired of the show floor experience, I’ve decided to try something I’ve always suspected would work just as well. I’m going to cover the show from the internet.

Every press release, every product, every partnership is now online within seconds of the official announcements being made. In fact for most companies, they’ve already released to the press all the details of their new gear, and simply have an NDA that expires the day they break the news. That way the journalists can write their articles before the show even opens!

Some places out there are doing the “live from the show floor” type events, and by and large I think they’re a waste of time. Lets face it, a new camera announcement in no way is “breaking news”. Is there any real benefit to knowing when a new camera comes out instantly rather than a couple of hours, or even a couple of days later? The same with pretty much any product you can find at NAB. That’s not to say new tech isn’t interesting, I’m a total video tech geek, but that interest doesn’t really rely on being first. Besides, most journalists probably have their articles written already, and all hit “post” as soon as the NDA expires, based on the same info, all within a few minutes of each other, making the whole thing moot.

What about “hands on” with the equipment? That can definitely be a drawback, except that I’d guess at least 80% of the time, what you’re seeing isn’t production ready at NAB, just announced at NAB. That means you have a lot of non-functioning mockups, or crippled pre-production samples to report on. Even if you do get a real product in hand, how can you truly demo it other than how it performs in a trade-show environment? That is to say: loud, miserable lighting, and only for about 10-15 minutes or so? Wait for the more in-depth reviews, once the units start shipping.

So is there anything you can’t get other than with physical attendance at NAB? Well the face-to-face talks and relationships obviously. And that is a huge drawback. Going to NAB every year means meeting up with old friends, ex-coworkers, industry people, and the social contact at the parties and events that go with it. That’s always been the big draw to NAB for most of us, and our favorite part of the show. However, us having a great time with old friends in Vegas is not what people want to read about. They want to know about the newest tech, and what’s happening in the world of film and video for the next year. And these days, that is done just as well from afar.


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