Seventeen years ago, I decided that I would go out to Las Vegas to my first National Association of Broadcasters convention.
Video Expo, which used to be held in New York City, was no longer being held and I felt I needed to keep up with what new things were happening in the video and audio gear world. I
knew that nearly every video and audio gear manufacturer was present at NAB so that was the most logical place to go to improve my knowledge base and keep it current. Moreover, I knew I’d have the opportunity to see and touch gear that my school television studio could never afford. At the very least I would be able to pick up brochures which had pictures of gear that I could discuss with my students to increase their knowledge.
Having never been to NAB or Las Vegas, I really didn’t have a good idea of what I’d be walking into. In a trade magazine I read an article that the biggest tip anyone going to NAB for the first time needed to know – wear very comfortable shoes! You’ll be on your feet all day. The convention center is unimaginably huge. I read that if you just walked up and down all the carpeted walkways between the vendor booths you’d walk 17 miles. Secondly, I was encouraged to dress comfortably. Oh sure the first day (Monday) you’ll see
lots of suits and ties but by Tuesday you see jeans and shorts and sport shirts and always sneakers.
I returned from that first trip and when I was asked I had no qualms in saying that it was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself professionally. The knowledge boost by being present is at once intimidating and frightening as well as welcoming and friendly. The vendors are nearly all very friendly and helpful and willing to tell you about their product and how it can be useful to the industry as well as possibly to you in your small educational production facility.
I encourage all teachers to make that pilgrimage to NAB as often as possible. It is light years better than any college course you’ll ever take in continuing education! It will make you a much better and more relevant teacher. Trust me!
Some years there are explosions of new technology that can revolutionize the educational facility. Other years, most of the new gear is awesome but far out of reach financially of schools. Most manufacturers offer products to the educational market so your trip is notalways “window shopping and dreaming” but it can be quite practical and actually make you aware of products you could use that you didn’t even know existed.
I just returned from my 17th trip to NAB. Yep, I go every year. I wouldn’t miss it! It seemed there were zillions (I like that word) of products on display and, as you would expect, there were all kinds of “new and improved” versions of gear from previous years. Some of the new capabilities are amazing! I have never been able to walk the entire 17 miles of the convention floor – there is just not enough time to do that if you stop and talk to vendors about their gear. I did not see much this year that was truly revolutionary or game-changing.
However, the one item that I did see expand a great deal was the miniature ‘copter or camera drone. You know what I’m talking about- you’ve seen them in places like Brookstone or Sharper Image or maybe even in a Radio Shack – radio controlled devices that are basically a square with helicopter blades in each corner and you can mount a small camera (think GoPro style) on it. These devices allow you to get some amazing aerial shots to spice up your shows. There were quite a few companies that offered their own versions and sizes of these unique camera mount devices.
I did get to talk to several of the vendors about these and a question I always raised with them was, “have you ever heard of the users of these devices getting into liability issues?” What I wonder about is when these devices run out of fuel or battery power, gravity is going to take over and what are the legal ramifications of it falling on someone? Or on their property? Or behind a fence on their property? Are there invasion of privacy concerns? Are there insurance companies that deal with this brand new technology? I hear of schools using these devices and I hope they’ve checked into this issue. None of the vendors were able to offer any answers to questions along these lines.
NAB said that 100,000 people were in attendance this year. Regardless of where you are from I imagine that there are very few places in this country which can absorb that many people for a week with no major traffic and transportation ramifications. After 17 years of going to Las Vegas, I can only say “Bravo.” There are none of the traffic nightmares that exist every day where I live in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area.
If anyone is planning to go to NAB next year feel free to contact me and I can give you a lot of tips on how to get the most out of your trip as well as some ways to definitely save some money.