Thursday, April 21, 2005

NAB 2005 review

The Las Vegas Convention Center was hopping with all sorts of techie activity this week at the annual National Association of Broadcasters convention. It's still going on, but nobody should stay in Vegas for more than 3 days. Especially me.


- Apple was the winner.
- Avid was the tired loser.
- HD is about to be shoved down everybody's throats.

I worked at Apple a couple of weeks ago, and Steve Jobs came into my edit "suite" with a group of large men wearing white jumpsuits with iPod shuffles dangling from their necks. Two of the men grabbed my arms while another laid down a sheet of paper with the words "NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT" on the top. A circular robot similar to the one in Star Wars that floated into Princess Leia's cell hovered into the room. It had a syringe attached to one of its robotic arms. I yanked my right arm away from one of the henchmen and quickly signed the form. The group of henchmen let out a collective "awwwwwwww" and slumped out of the room. Mr. Jobs just smiled and nodded his head as he rolled up the paper and handed it to the robot. They left and I got back to work. Anyway, because of that I can't really mention anything about Apple except for stuff that was announced at NAB.

Final Cut Pro 5 was announced. A whole Final Cut Studio which includes FCP, Motion, Soundtrack Pro, and DVD Studio Pro was also announced. Across the aisle, Avid was showing a demo with some 3D footage that looked like it was rendered in 1995 of a Mini Cooper. Avid played testosterone-driven rock through their soundsystem. It was sad. It just felt odd. Avid wasn't really introducing anything new other than the ability to do HD on all their systems, while FCP5 was closing the gap on functionality with multi-cam editing.

But basically everybody was touting their HD capabilities. Nobody seemed to care if your product could do SD. Even though the majority of consumers won't be upgrading their home TVs for at least another year, it felt like the collective NABers were over the hump as far as incorporating HD into their facilities. Even the small-time booths aiming for the chump-change folks like myself had HD gear to sell.

Autodesk changed Discreet's name to Autodesk, Quantel is fading from our memories. Adobe didn't have anything new to say. Sony is still the biggest fish in the pond, and Panasonic had the most forward-thinking product to release: removable disk-cards for shooting, which imports into editing systems at 4x realtime. No more kicking back and drinking way too much coffee while the tapes load. Yippee.

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