In a year where the economy and terrorist attacks have had a severe impact on air travel and spending, some in the industry have decided to sit this year's NAB out. When asked, they say, "too busy to go," but the real reason is obvious. What used to be a no-brainer has turned into a luxury. But this should strengthen attendee quality.
But companies are finding other ways to get their hands on products while keeping their travel budgets down. Some are relying on smaller, and more specialized, regional trade shows since 9/11 - Avid World, DV Expo, DigiWorld, for example - but others feel that the NAB offers a unique opportunity. Under one extended roof, attendees can kick the tires on gear ranging from audio to video to streaming to digital cinema to animation and so on. So, if you have the money and need for gear, NAB is the place to be.
Peter Nehl, CTO at Hollywood's The Post Group, will be at the show. "It's a real opportunity for me to show our senior management around and let them get their hands on the technology they're going to have to write the checks for." Nehl says he could get the information on equipment elsewhere, "but it's really good to see it under one roof and do some comparison shopping." And what's on this year's shopping list?
"We will be looking at workstation-based systems that use storage area networks," he says. They will also be checking out digital cinema projectors, low cost HD VTRs for dailies and HD NLEs. He mentions Avid|DS, Boxx, Discreet and CineWave. "Solutions in that area are not quite as pricey as they have been in the past."
The Post Group sends 20 to 30 people to NAB each year. "We parse out NAB into various departments. We don't want to be caught with our pants down," he says. "We want to be in the position where we see things that others don't."
Jonathan Applebaum, who recently came on board as GM at NYC's Teatown Communications Group, is also a regular visitor to the NAB show. He says, "As Teatown is actively engaged in the development of new service areas, for me, this year's NAB is all about becoming familiar with the newest products and services that support our emerging business plans. Though I will be taking more than a cursory glance at the offerings from many of the traditional video hardware manufacturers, the lion's share of my time will be spent with leading-edge software producers."
So, maybe the exhibit floor won't be as crowded this year, but chances are those walking the halls are serious buyers armed with checkbooks.