Depart the customary Las Vegas flashing lights, ringing of slot machines and smell of stale cigarettes and you may find yourself at NAB. Boasting over 103,000 attendees and claiming the spot for the world’s largest annual convention, NAB brings together media, entertainment and technology experts from around the globe. This is an event that we at Sim always ensure we attend and get inspiration for how we will continue to move ahead with new technology and industry trends. We have been growing as a company at an incredible rate, from the small team we once were only about 10 years back, to now having over four hundred crew and taking on the biggest jobs the industry has to offer. To ensure we keep this momentum, we need to keep a steady read on which technologies to invest in, and which new trends are going to stick, versus fade away to be remembered as a fad.
Within this blog, I plan to go over some tips and tricks for NAB attendees, as well as share a few experiences from last year’s trip!
A look at the venue:
As you can see, the building is massive! Therefore, do not make the same mistake I did the first time I went a few years back and walk into any old entrance, not knowing which types of vendors are in which hall. You could find yourself lost within radio, or live broadcast land for an hour before finding your way out. Without proper maps and documentation, it can be a little overwhelming!
- Look up the app: NAB Show 2018 on the app store. This app will allow you to type in the booth number for any booth you want to hit and will draw a line across the NAB floor navigating you. Without this map, you are literally looking for a needle in a haystack, as it’s unfortunately not as simple as one might think to look at a Booth# your currently standing at and figure out which way to go by counting. I tried that my first year and it was a nightmare.
- Wear comfortable shoes. My day 1 of NAB last year:
- Book your meetings!
Yes there are a ton of booths and opportunities to just walk in and chat with anyone.
However I personally feel that it is very important to book your meetings well ahead of time! The first year I went I did not book any meetings and I just showed up at people’s booths. Due to this I had unprepared sales people greet me that were unfortunately not ready to dive into the minutia of some of my questions. They were of course equipped to show me their new products they were showcasing, however, if I wanted to talk about the mechanics of how their hardware actually worked and/or the metadata management end of things, this was not something they were prepared to dive that deep into!
Rather then just looking at my meetings as an opportunity to see new products, I tend to look at this as an opportunity to jam pack meetings into a few days of NAB that would otherwise take a month to schedule and make happen. As an example, last year I had meetings every half hour-45 minutes, all day every day I was there! To prepare for this, my team and I from Sim:
- Sent a simple e-mail to the vendor requesting the meeting. Within this e-mail, you can explain to them why you are meeting and request that the right person be scheduled from the vendor’s side.
- We also offered up sample material for the vendors to have on hand. An example of this would be a meeting with Foundry.
I knew I wanted to go over VFX color science and pipelines and therefore I forwarded on some sample media, CDL’s, LUTs, stills and anything else they would need to get through our meeting. This way, when we showed up, their artist had everything pre-loaded, they knew what we were there to talk about and within 30 minutes we had a super productive meeting and were out the door!
For my team at Sim, we try not to just think of this as an opportunity to see new products, but also a chance to chat with the lead engineers face to face about some of the issues we are facing. As the software/hardware companies often fly many of their top engineers to NAB!
- Bring an iPad for visual aid. I usually try to think about each meeting I have and ensure that if pictures of my office, gear, workflow diagrams, etc, may help as visual aid, I have them with me on a big enough screen to easily share.
- Ensure my meetings from various halls are all scheduled so that all South Lower meetings happen together, all of my Upper Hall meetings are together, etc. The last thing you want is to be running from one end of the massive building to another, over and over.
With many members from the Sim team present at last years NAB, we were able to divide and concur the show floor! We certainly found many products that caught our attention and have since been either pursued deeper, or actually brought into the fold in our workflows.
My team and I partnered up our time at NAB, along side our annual planning session in a house off the strip. I feel it is very common for companies to have their technically minded crew buried in their daily routine, keeping up with the onslaught of work and never properly disengaging, to reassess where the company has gone, what you are doing right, and what could use some re-direction. Yes, maybe the executive level staff may do this at many companies, however, wouldn’t it be better if you had the technical/creative minds that are actually in the trenches lead some of this discussion! Or is this a task to heavy for this level position? I personally don’t believe it is and the more you empower your staff and give them the opportunity to shape the company, the better your service, culture and products become.
Whether you are entertaining new ideas like the one I presented above for how you tackle NAB, you’re going for the educational sessions, or simply to see what’s new in the market for software/hardware, there is something for everyone in our industry at NAB!
Director of Workflow