NAB: Not-so-lazy Sunday

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For the past several years, the Sunday before the National Association of Broadcasters trade show included a special Apple press event at a posh Las Vegas hotel, complete with after-event food and champagne. Oh yeah, there were also some products announcements, such as new versions of Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio, Motion, and so on.

I was actually looking forward to the 2006 installment of this tradition—until I got a call from Apple PR a month or so before the show asking to set up a time to meet during NAB. “Does that mean there’s no Sunday event this year?” I asked. The answer: no. Not quite convinced something wouldn’t happen at the last minute anyway, I made my travel plans so I’d be in Vegas all day Sunday. Like so many of my gambles in the state of Nevada, this one didn’t pay off either.

Luckily, there’s more at NAB than just Apple. And I had planned ahead to attend a few other press events. First was a stop at Bally’s for Sony’s event, which took place in a mid-size conference hall, not unlike one Apple might use to make a digital music announcement. (Refreshments included bottled water, coffee, and some bread and cheese.) Sony’s theme for the show is “HD for All,” and the company did its best to illustrate that during a lengthy presentation with a mix of taped and live testimonials.

If Sony had tried any harder to pat itself on the back, someone would have ended up with a broken arm. There was the group of hikers capturing a trek up Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro; the Lakewood Church in Houston, TX, using HD equipment to broadcast services; the San Francisco public broadcasting station KQED producing Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Adventures ; a documentary on the Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska; and a director who looked a lot like Rob Schneider talking about how he shot the new Adam Sandler film Click entirely on HD video (released by, surprise, Sony Pictures). I think everyone who ever used a Sony product was tapped to participate. My invitation must have gotten lost in the mail. There were also some product announcements —cross-platform content management suites, production switchers, and the like—but those got a bit lost in the shuffle.

My next stop was the Hard Rock Hotel for Avid’s press conference. The event got started late because of all the food and drink the company plied us with. The desserts were pretty decadent, there was an open bar, and waitresses bringing around drinks. (I stuck to Sprite.) There was even a sushi bar outside, but since I’m both a vegetarian and deathly allergic to salmon, I stayed away from that. Although Apple might like you to think that the 500,000 Final Cut Studio users have completely eschewed Avid, the truth is that video professionals use many different products, and Avid can be an integral part of a Final Cut user’s workflow. Avid showed that it hasn’t forgotten about the Mac by adding HD support to Mac-based products, introducing a software-only version of its Avid Composer product that works on OS X.

So even without Apple, my Sunday was not wasted—unless you count the aforementioned gambling more traditionally associated with Vegas trips.

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