I have to admit. This year’s NAB was like my Oscars. Normal people (like you and me) would go to the Academy Awards to do some “Stargazing”, as the expression goes. That’s what I feel that I spent almost a week doing. Star gazing. Yes, I was there for work, and work I did, but as we all know, NAB is much more than that.
There are the booths, the gear, the plug-ins and, of course, the people you go there hoping to meet. I’m a HUGE fan of a lot of people in our industry like Brian Maffitt, Andrew Kramer, John Dickinson and a whole bunch more, and not only did I want to go to NAB to see the toys, but I also wanted to track down a lot of these “celebrities”, and simply say thanks. Thank you for everything you’ve done to help me get to where I am today. Now, we’ll get to all of that shortly, but to start out with, I want to talk about what amazed me at the NAB show, as there have been tons of videos on PVC, but let’s get down to this editor’s perspective.
THE WORK EXPERIENCE
I was primarily down at NAB for two purposes. One, I was working with the awesome team at Avid Blogs, lead by Editor-In-Chief Adam Kranitz, and my job was to track down what I thought were some of the great Avid “Partner” companies, and get Media Composer editors excited about the products that they offer us (Yes, me included).
I featured Rampant Design Tools (@rampantdesign) their new Studio Essentials product line, with their 2K, 4K and insane 5K elements that are a simple AMA Link to, and drag and drop for Media Composer editors to get up and running with lightning quick.
Next, Boris FX’s (@borisfx) BCC9 for AVX, which includes new effects like Len Distortion (fixing GoPro fisheye problems), Grunge (great for adding textures quickly and easily to titles), Edge Grunge (again, great for Titles), Chroma Key Studio, a combining of multiple chromakey effects into one, real-time, effect and even a new sharpen filter to take blurry footage and sharpen it up. Now, this is only scratching the surface of the over 35 effects in the new bundle. If you’re a MC editor, download the free demo at borisfx.com to check out the new offerings.
With Boris Yamnitsky, President & Peter McAuley, Senior Product Manager for Boris FX
If you’ve even run into a situation in your edit where you need to clean up some back audio, iZotope’s (@izotopeinc) RX3 is the tool you need to fix things. The presentation at Supermeet (we’ll get more into Supermeet shortly) where Bob Bronow, Sound Mixer for Discovery’s Deadliest Catch, showed some of the problems he’s run into in his suite, and needless to say, he probably deals with some of the worst audio I’ve heard, and RX3 cleaned it up nicely and, in many cases, with the effects left on their presets. Very impressive.
(image courtesy of iZotope)
Finally, to wrap things up, NewBlueFX (@newbluefx) Titler Pro 3 is something that cannot go unmentioned for Media Composer editors. All MC editors got Titler Pro with their Media Composer 7 purchase (yes, you did), and were eligible for an upgrade to version 2. If you didn’t make that upgrade, version 3 will probably sway you into taking the plunge. What impressed me about it? Well, it’s ability to quickly and easily adjust short title builds into longer animations (you know, when the director says…..”can you make that title 3 seconds longer, but keep the animation exactly the way it is???) by the simple click of the mouse, as well as the ability to create a title animation, and then quickly create multiple versions of it with with different names being swapped out, was truly impressive.
Now, these were just the articles I did for Avid Blogs. I was also demoing over at the Boris FX booth, just outside the Plug-in Pavillion. What was I showing off? BCC9 for AVX, of course. Now this was a bit of a surreal experience for me. I don’t mean showing off BCC9 (as it is a very, very welcome update to the excellent BCC8), but I was presenting with some well known people in the industry, all of whom, I’m a fan of. John Dickinson @motionworks) from Motionworks.net (demoing BCC9 for After Effects), Michele Yamazaki (@micheleyamazaki) of Toolfarm, and the very talented Eran Stern (@sternfx) from Stern FX (both demoing BCC9 for Premiere Pro). For me, it was an honor to have my name up on the schedule next to these very talented people, and hopefully my presentation lived up to the level that they present at. Of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, my voice started to go on the Sunday before the show started, and luckily, it (barely) held out until my last presentation on Wednesday.
So, enough about what I was doing at NAB, let’s talk about what I saw at NAB.
THE SHOW EXPERIENCE
To be honest, if you’ve never been to NAB, or worked at NAB for that matter, the best way to describe it, is a circus, and I mean that in a couple of senses. I had an exhibitor’s badge for the work I was doing with Avid, so that let me head to the convention center on the Sunday afternoon to get in a bit of prep at the Boris FX booth. When I got there, to be honest, I had no idea how they were going to get things finished on time for the show. I don’t mean Boris FX, as they were set to go, I mean the hundreds of other booths on the show floor! Nothing looked even close to being done but, of course, the next morning at 9 a.m., the doors were opened, and everything was ready to go! So, in a sense, it was like they were putting the circus tents up Sunday for the Grand Opening on Monday. Oh, and yes, it was a complete circus in the other sense, as there were so many booths, people and gear, you could easily get physically lost, and mentally lost at the same time.
On the main floor, the first booth that stood out for me was the Blackmagic booth. There had to be 500+ people in this booth all day, every day. Constantly. It was packed with people checking out all the cameras (new and old) and equipment, and picking up their Blackmagic bags to carry some of their “pieces of flair” around in (if you’ve watched Office Space, you know what a “piece of flair” is). Since I spent most of my time walking towards the Plug-in Pavillion, I mostly checked out the booths around there in detail, and one thing I noticed more than anything was the consistent group of about 10 people standing around the Autodesk Smoke demo guy.
I eventually gave up trying to see it on the show floor, and figured I’d just wait for Supermeet to see it in action. Because I’m an effects nerd, the Plug-in Pavillion (P-IP) was what I was interested in seeing. Funny thing was that I actually “e-knew” everyone in the P-IP. I have communicated with them so many times, but never met any of them in person until the Monday morning. So, what was hot in the PI-P? Red Giant Software (@RedGiantNews).
They were showing off, of course, Universe. I have to say, when I first heard about the subscription model that RGS was going ahead with, I had the same reaction I did when Adobe announced the Creative Cloud. Meh! What’s different here, though? Some of the plug-ins will always be free (right now, 32 effects). If you want the Premium Tools (free effects plus much more), you can choose to pay $10 per month, $99/year or for $395 RGS will let you keep the plug-ins you receive, without them being deactivated. Universe will let RGS deliver us better plugins, at a much faster rate than ever before. I got a first hand demo of universe from RGS/AE Guru Harry Frank (@graymachine), and I like what I see so far.
The RGS booth always had a steady flow of people eager to check out Universe…….and get an awesome, free RGS water bottle!
Next up for me, was the AEScripts (@aescripts) booth, where they were constantly demoing all of the awesome products, but nothing impressed me more than Neuton 2. If you’ve never seen it, it’s a physics engine for After Effects, and it’s ease of use, and super realistic animations makes it something that Adobe should just buy and include in After Effects. Yes, it is that impressive.
Now, the “2” of the 1-2 punch was from Roger Bolton of Coremelt (@coremeltfx), who was in his tiny booth, showing off SliceX and TrackX for FCPX. If you are not familiar with either, they are two simple tracking plug-ins. SliceX let’s you create mask/spline shapes, and attach (track) them to layers you’ve tracking in FCPX to do things like color grading/correction, and TrackX is pretty simple. It lets you track text or graphics to follow background motion directly in FCPX. They are both powered by Mocha, so the tracking is second to none. The demo Roger gave was very impressive, but I’m going to check them out myself in a review, coming soon to PVC.
Now, I have to point out that at NAB you always “run into” a lot of people. I ran into people I knew from Toronto, who I didn’t even know were at NAB, but for me, my biggest star sighting here was meeting the Pixel Painter himself, Jeff Foster. I think he noticed me before I noticed him. Now, because I’m an idiot, I didn’t take a picture with Jeff, so you’ll just have to imagine what it would have looked like.
Outside of the PI-P, the only other booth that really impressed me was Maxon’s. They were running demos all day on Cinema4D (@maxon3d), and putting them up on Cineversity shortly afterwards. They were also taking questions from Twitter as the demo was going on, which was a great way to get the community involved, beyond the show floor. I had a chance to talk to Paul Babb, President and CEO of Maxon of the Americas, and tell him how impressive things were at the booth. I’m going to talk a little more about Paul in the next section, so stay tuned for that.
Next, it was up to the Avid (@avid) booth, and for all the haters and naysayers out there, who say that Avid is “dead”, and it’s only for the “old guys”, you couldn’t be more wrong. The Avid Booth located at the front of the upper south hall was slammed from the time the show opened, until they closed their doors each night. Whether it was live demos, guest speakers or just people wanting to see what Avid had to show, there were hundreds of people at their booth. Constantly. Being a Media Composer editor, this was great to see!
Last, but certainly not least, I made my way over to the Central Hall, as I wanted to track down my PR rep from GoPro, Kevin Bourke (@bourkepr) to say a quick hello. KMB, as I refer to him, is the rep for other great companies like Rampant Design Tools. Needless to say, attempting to even go near the GoPro booth was a challenge.
Hard to believe that a little camera that was really a niche product for surfers and snowboarders a few years ago, has become the juggernaut that it has today. You couldn’t even move in their booth there were so many people. They were lined up around the booth to take advantage of a $100 coupon for the GoPro 3+ Black, as well as discounts on the accessories. I only had a quick second to say hi to KMB, but ended up running into him on my way to Supermeet, outside the convention center.
LIFE OUTSIDE THE EXHIBITS – EVENTS & PARTIES
Let’s be honest. As much much as NAB is a learning experience, it’s also about the parties and other events that go on that week, and with working and presenting (and being sick) during the day, the night time is where the real fun happens. Everything started out on Sunday night with the (annual?) #PostChat meetup at O’Sheas at the Quad Hotel and Casino. This was my first “official” NAB party, and I was excited to actually meet some people for the first time. I “met” a few people for the “first” time, even though I have know many of them for years. First, and foremost, I met Marianne Montague, Director of Online Communities and Forums and the Customer Advocate for Avid. What does all that mean? Well, she’s the woman in charge when it comes to the community. She’s a champion for not only the company, but the community as well. She gets things done for clients like I’ve never seen anyone from any other company do. I also “met” my boss, Adam Kranitz for the first time as well. He’s the man in charge (Editor-In-Chief) at Avid Blogs, and responsible for getting all kinds of great information into the hands of Avid users. If you use Avid products, follow both Marianna (@avidmarianna) and Adam (@adamkranitz) on Twitter to stay on top of what’s going on over at Avid.
I also finally got to meet the men in charge of Supermeet, Daniel Bérubé (@boscpug) and Michael Horton (@lafcpug). If you’re ever in the area during one of the Supermeets, Go. Just go. I’ll talk more about Supermeet in just a second.
I was talking to Daniel and Michael about Pro Video Coalition, and mentioned that we might do a meet up at some point during the week, and they mentioned that Scott Simmons (@editblog), our managing editor was at the meet up, so they introduced me to my PVC boss as well.
Last, I had to meet one of the founders of #PostChat, a fellow Toronto editor, who actually worked freelance at the company I worked for after I was laid off. Someone who I’ve always known in passing, and I’m talking about Tej Babra (@TejBabra).
The #PostChat meetup was great, but I had to get back to the hotel to sleep, and get ready for the first day at NAB, as the first meetup was Sunday night, and the show started at 9 a.m. sharp on Monday morning. ALSO, the even I was probably most excited for, the MediaMotion Ball was on the Monday night, and I wanted to make sure I was nice and rested for that!
I was going to mention this earlier, but now is probably more appropriate. If you are a “fan” of this business like I am, and look at the Brian Maffitt’s, Angie Taylor’s and Andrew Kramer’s as “rock stars”, the MediaMotion Ball is something you must do at least once in your life.
This is where the “who’s who” of the industry go, and it gives people like you and me, the “fans”, a chance to rub elbows with the “celebrities” of our business. I had a list of people I wanted to talk to at the MediaMotion Ball. I wanted to take a moment to say thank you. Thank you for everything you’ve done to help me in my career. Brian Maffitt (@bmaffitt), who I’m friends with on Facebook, basically taught me After Effects with his Total Training series. I took a moment to talk to him, and say thanks.
I got a chance to talk to Michele Yamazaki and John Dickinson, who I was working with at the Boris FX booth, and pick their brains about what they are working on, and what they thought about NAB.
I have to mention that it was Angie Taylor’s birthday the night of the MediaMotion Ball, and not only did she get a great cake, but also got a boisterous rendition of Happy Birthday from everyone in attendance. I had to make sure I said hello and happy birthday personally…..and get a picture with two of the most respected “Guru’s” in the business today!
Last, but certainly not least, I’m a HUGE Video Copilot fan, and when I saw Andrew Kramer, I had to go over and say hi. We were talking about Element 3D, and he asked how we use it at Extreme Reach MIJO, where I work, and he then went on to say probably the worst thing a plug-in developer can say to someone. “If you love Element 3D, you haven’t seen anything yet!”. Damn. There’s a tease for Element 2 if I’ve ever heard one!
The MMB was probably my favorite event of NAB, and something that anyone who’s a “fan” of our business, needs to go to.
The next night (as you can see the trend here. During the day, exhibits. Nighttime, parties), had two events on the same night at the same location. Supermeet, as well as a Pinball Party hosted by Maxon at the Riviera hotel, just down the street from the Convention Center. I’ve been to user groups before, but nothing quite like Supermeet. It’s the user group to end all user groups, and it had me in a situation that I’ve never been in before.
One thing that I noticed over the course of NAB, and maybe it was just me, but people seemed to be a little intimidated by the Avid shirt that I was wearing. They seemed hesitant to approach me, or were weirded out by my haircut, one of the two. Exhibitors immediately ignored me, as they figured I worked for Avid, and was just taking a break and checking out some of the other booths. For anyone that is not familiar with Supermeet, yes, it’s a big user group meeting where a bunch of different companies stand up and give presentations of new products that are coming down the pipeline (for me, Resolve 11 was the highlight), but there is also the networking/community aspect of Supermeet that happens for about one and a half to two hours before the event begins. This where companies have small tables set up showing off smaller products/plug-ins/etc that would be of interest to the attendee’s.
With PVC Contributer Mark Spencer (@markspen) – Our FCPX Guru!
This is also where I had my first “fan” interaction. What I mean is where a couple of editors who were fans of my tutorials came up to say thanks to me for all the work I’ve done on them. For me, that is probably the biggest reward to come out of NAB. I got to meet all the people I look up to, but I also got to hear first hand how my work has helped other people. They worked for MLife TV (the internal channel at the MGM Grand), and were excited about Avid, where it was going, excited about editing, and really excited to be checking out Supermeet. I talked to them for about 10 minutes, and that 10 minute talk made my whole trip.
Supermeet itself was great. Again, I got to meet a bunch of people who I only “e-know”, and what was great about Supermeet that you don’t see at many user group meetings is that Michael Horton and Daniel Bérubé are super excited to be up on that stage introducing each company that’s coming out. They are super fans, just like you and me, and their excitement is electrifying!
Now, with all of this being said, I did have to sneak out of Supermeet to check out the Maxon Pinball Party being held at the “Mini” Pinball Hall of Fame at the Riviera Hotel as well. How often am I going to get to go to a party with Brian Maffitt playing pinball on one side of me, and Jon Dickinson playing on the other side. Again, this was another “who’s who” party with all the top names in our business in one place, just letting loose and having a great time.
Now, before I wrap things up, there was one last person I did want to talk about, and I mentioned him earlier, and that’s Paul Babb, President & CEO of Maxon of the America’s. I’ve interviewed Paul before, and I had a chance to talk to him on the show floor. Most people probably wouldn’t have recognized him as the CEO of Maxon, as (I believe) he was just wearing a Maxon golf shirt and jeans (could have been khaki’s, I don’t quite remember) during NAB, and at the Maxon party as well. It’s been my experience that most CEO’s of big companies come across as unapproachable businessmen, who are more interested in the dealings of the company, than the individual users themselves. When I saw Paul on the show floor, he was doing some interviews, and had the Maxon PR rep with him, but the point is that he was out on the show floor talking to anyone and everyone about Maxon and Cinema4D. At the Maxon party, he was there having a great time with everyone, and seemed a “proud father” for the Cinema4D product, and was happy that everyone loved it. If you listen to the interview I did with him, Maxon of the America’s is almost his “labor of love”, so to speak, and it’s easy to see that he treats the product like his own. My hat is off to him, as having someone like that running the company (the North and South American divisions specifically), puts a lot of confidence in the users, which is a super good thing!
In the end, NAB 2014 was an awesome experience that I hope I’ll have again one day soon. My advice to anyone out there that’s thinking of going? Do it. If you’re a fan of this business, go there and talk to all these great people. They’re fans, just like you and me! Oh, and by the way….of all the deals I saw in Vegas, this was probably the worst!
Kevin P McAuliffe is a Senior Editor at Extreme Reach MIJO, in Toronto, Canada. You can send him an e-mail at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @kpmcauliffe.