I love Vegas as much as the next person, but a few days at a time in Sin City to cover the NAB trade show is more than enough for me. Everything is much farther away from everything else than it looks, I can’t drink enough water to keep from getting dehydrated, and the city always finds some way or another to take my money—especially the activities I can’t expense. (I did find it amusing to gaze at the Eiffel Tower next to my hotel and stroll through a doppelgänger Piazza San Marco on my way to Apple’s event at the Venetian Hotel—two sights I’ll be visiting for real on my honeymoon next month.)
Now that I’m back in lovely San Francisco, I have time to reflect on my time in desert. This year, there were more than 108,000 registered attendees at NAB (including 1,200 members of the press), and I must have dodged or bumped into at least half of them as I darted between meetings, booths, halls, and areas with open WiFi networks. Did I mention how far away everything is?
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Obviously, my biggest focus was Apple and its product announcements. The day after the company’s big event, I spent an hour with the product managers for the various products. (They even found a nice vegetarian lunch for me—ideal for a noon demo). We dove a little deeper into Final Cut Server (I got to see how it worked, something there wasn’t time for during the main event); Final Cut Pro 6’s Smoothcam technology (taken from Apple’s Shake compositor), used to remove jitter and shake while preserving camera movements; Motion 3’s retiming feature with optical flow; and much more (all while I chowed down on a spinach, tomato, pepper, onion, and cheese wrap). These one-on-one sessions with Apple after announcements are always useful for getting a little more than big demos can offer.
In addition to Apple’ large booth about a quarter of the way back in the South Hall, Macs were all over the place. In fact, it was hard to walk through the video-heavy South Hall without seeing a prominently displayed iMac.
Some of the other cool Mac products I saw include an updated version of SmartSound Software’s $199 Sonicfire Pro soundtrack creation software, which adds a Smart Recall feature that embeds SmartSound data in exported AIFF or WAV files to make it easier for future editing, as well as a new $299-per-seat Network Edition and a SmartSound BackStage service for Sonicfire Pro 4 customers with paid access to unreleased music and custom composed or custom converted music. Particle effects company wondertouch showed its $399 particleIllusion 3.0 standalone app with more than 1,500 emitters, and Particle Emitters for Motion, which includes 65, 200, or 337 emitters ($39, $99, and $149, respectively), such as smoke, fire, water, explosions, sparkles, backgrounds, motion graphics elements, and creatures that work within Motion. And in addition to its software encoders, Telestream showed off its $1,950 Pipeline network hardware encoder, which takes an SDI signal and converts it in real-time to DV25/50 or IMX 30/40/50 into Final Cut Pro. And because it connects using Ethernet, it’s available to any user on your network.
I also ran into some people from Axiotron—inventors of the upcoming ModBook—who were proudly showing off a pre-production unit of their tablet Mac (perhaps the same one they lent me for a few days ). Axiotron was in a corner of Wacom’s booth (Axiotron recently announced that it would be doubling the pen sensitivity of the ModBook, available next month, from 256 levels to 512 levels using Wacom’s hardware).
Of course, I’m just one man (and one who needed to get back to the office while we’re getting ready to ship out the next issue of the magazine), so I didn’t see (or write about) everything Mac-related at the show. If you saw or heard of something cool from NAB that we haven’t covered, I invite you to post about it here.