Ever since entering the entertainment business as an adult (meaning after film school, because before, we had no idea what NAB was, nor had any money to make the trek to Vegas...), I've made an effort to see the show. Now, attending for my 15th year, I realize that the show itself is much like my experiences fishing with my dad. Early on, in both scenarios, it was a magical world. Just like packing up the night before for the trip to the lake, there was a high level of anticipation. What would I see? What would it be like? At NAB, there was always technology that was exciting, mysterious. What does that do? Can I use that? Working in visual effects, and at that time in a desktop revolution that was, to be frank, being led by me and many of my friends, we had little exposure to any other area of broadcasting. So going to NAB was like a kid in a giant candy store. Some kids would die to find themselves locked in a construction yard with all the keys to the bull dozers; we were kids in and amongst the coolest computer technology, software, camera gear, microwave technology and the like. Like that first trip fishing, when everything was magical, so was NAB.
But like anything that matures and becomes jaded, so did fishing, and so did NAB. More so for fishing. What was at first the excitement of rowing out on the lake at dawn quickly became the hassle of getting up too early, being too cold, touching slimy bait. NAB wasn't slimy (unless you count the "club" you attended the night before), but for a short time it became more frustrating than anything. In the years were I owned my own fledgling company, the wonder of the most amazing equipment on the earth was replaced by the knowledge that I couldn't really afford the toys I wanted. NAB was less of a kid in a candy store, and more of a kid OUTSIDE of a candy store, unable to get in, plastering his sweaty palms against the glass.
But the beauty of NAB is that it has something for everyone. What replaced the wonder of the equipment was the interaction with my peers. Parties began to take precedence. By the early 21st century I was going to NAB to attend the coolest events with all my friends, meet some amazing new people, and share in the excitement of an industry that is much smaller than we realize.
Now, the fishing trip is less magical, but perhaps even more fun than it was as a child. As an adult, I can appreciate the bigger picture; the peace of sitting on the still water, the beauty of nature, and perhaps being able to share the magic with my own son or daughter. I've also matured in my approach to NAB. I still find wonder on the show floor, but I also find long time friends eager to catch up, companies excited to work with me on some new innovation, or a presentation a friend is part of.
I'm excited to be heading to the show this year. I think I've realized that, just like fishing, the magic is where you look for it. This year I think I'll find it in the people around me, enjoying the show from their own perspective, either for the first time with wonder and amazement, or as experienced attendees who have found a new level of enjoyment in their long time friends and business partners.
John Parenteau was born in Southern California, but moved to Oregon when he was 2 (not on his own, with his family). Country life suited John, and soon he was living a Tom Sawyer-esque lifestyle which included tromping through the woods, looking for Bigfoot and shooting "crawdads" with his bb gun. John is now a senior manager for Pixomondo, an international visual effects company with 12 worldwide divisions. Recent credits include "Hugo", "Fast Five" and "Red Tails". Current productions include "Snow White and the Huntsman" and "The Amazing Spiderman".