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Quick Review

Rating: 4/5

The Good
Lot's of interesting video products to look at.

The Bad
Las Vegas has a lot of smoke.

The Price: $0

The Advise
If broadcast video technology is your life, this is the conference to be at.

NAB 2001
Super models, full body motion capture devices and more. Read this report to find out what happened at the largest television convention in the world.

By Ben Miskie

The National Association of Broadcasters(NAB) conference is held every year in Las Vegas Nevada. To the worldwide television industry, it represents Mecca. Over 1700 exhibitors show off their broadcast related products. NAB is large and very international. This year, over 112,776 people attended NAB with 29,632 of those people coming from outside the US. The majority of the products showcased at NAB are not for consumer users. However, products shown at NAB can give a sneak peak into the near future for the consumer. With the constant acceleration of technology development, these products may be filtering to your home a lot faster than you may think. Superstar reporter Ben Miskie made the trek to NAB and here's what he uncovered.
Interesting products you can use today.

MoviePack 4.0
You all know about the Adobe video poducts, and Final Cut Pro, but do you know about MoviePack? MoviePack comes from a German software company called AIST. Movie Pack combines much of the functionality of special effects title program and a video editing(NLE) program into one. In addition, MoviePack claims to have ability to preview multiple layers in real time with out waiting to render and without a special acceleration card. From the demo, the results were impressive. AIST is hoping that by combining a special effects, non-linear editing program, and a super fast rendering engine, MoviePack will be a serious threat to Adobe. Priced at $799, the full version isn't cheap. However, it costs a lot less than buying the two Adobe programs.

DVD creation products
Two consumer priced DVD authoring products were being showed off at NAB: Sonic's "DVDit!" and Spruce Technology's "SpruceUp." Both products promise themselves as an easy way to author DVD's. As the price of DVD writing drives comes down, these software products may soon become an integral part as a way you distribute your DV video movies.

Hitachi DVD Video Camera
Hitachi showed off a consumer video camera (priced around $2000) that records to a DVD RW disk. The disk records in the same format (MPEG-2) as a DVD. But fear not, you need not throw away your DV video camera just yet. The quality of DV video is still far superior than MPEG-2 compression. This camera is a great idea because it is the first camera to bring random access to a video camera, however the video quality and compatibility is not up to par with DV video. The DVD camera media can only be used with their proprietary DVD drive. In addition, the camera lacks a high-speed port such as FireWire. While I applaud Hitachi for innovation, this product is not yet ready for prime time.

Pioneer DVR A03
Available at the end of May, this drive will write to DVD-R, DVD-RW, CD-R, and CD-RW. Priced at just under $1000, most consumers will probably hesitate to buy one of these drives. However, the drives will continue to drop in price, and may be very affordable in the next two years.

Products you may use tomorrow.

Motion Capture
Several companies were showing off full body motion capture devices at NAB. With many of the systems priced in the 50k and up category, don't plan on using these motion capture systems anytime this year. However, seeing these systems providing an exciting glimpse of what we may see in the future. Come see some of these different motion capture devices in action by downloading a movie taken directly from the NAB floor. Click here to download the NAB Movie (QT 2.2 Megs)

Virtual Sets
Eventually, virtual sets could be a great way to reduce the cost of your production. The virtual sets that were shown off at NAB have seen some major technological advancements compared to years before. Special devices attached to a camera track the movement, zoom and focus adjustments. This information is then fed into a computer. The computer calculates the data and then makes adjustments the perspective being shown of the virtual set. Right now, this technology is aimed at professional studios. However, 5 years down the road, you could be making a movie in a Virtual Morocco set that you programmed on your computer.

A full body suite motion capture device

3D Capture devices
One interesting product was a 3D capture device being demonstrated on people's faces. The product uses a slide projector to map a grid on an object as shown in the picture. Then an image is taken while the grid is on the object and scanned into a computer. The computer then creates a 3D image by measuring the distances between the grid points that were projected on the object.

Personal Commentary

Going to Las Vegas for the first time is an overwhelming experience. Going to NAB for the first time is an overwhelming experience. Doing both at the same time is ridiculous. In the process of being ridiculous I learned many things that will help me for the next time I go to NAB. Here's what I learned.

Things Not to Do in Las Vegas and at NAB.

On the first day of the convention, don't get drunk off of free wine and shoot pick-up lines to the painted body model that is engaged. This is generally not the best way to gain a good reputation.
Don't walk through the whole Las Vegas convention center, the whole Sands convention center, and then walk from Circus Circus to Caesar's Palace and back with a 30-pound backpack in one day. You will feel pain. Combined, these convention centers are far larger than any of the other convention centers in the world. No matter how tough you think you are, you will suffer. Calves will ache. Shoulders will be sore. Hipbones will want to come out of their sockets. In addition, an ass sprain is not uncommon.
Don't ask two drugged up hookers that are playing in a fountain, "Are you okay?" Drugged up hookers playing in a fountain are obviously not okay. When you ask this question, they will not answer you. In addition, you will feel like an ass for even trying to talk to them.
Things I Learned in Las Vegas and at NAB.

Under no circumstances are the pretty girls in silver body suits standing in front of the booth the engineers of a company.
If you wear dirty running shoes in Las Vegas, girls will not be attracted to you. Most of the Vegas girls are after money, that's why there are so many hookers. Dirty shoes are a dead give away to a lack of money.
If you are between the ages of 18-39, don't stay at Circus Circus. Staying at Circus Circus feels like staying at dirty super-sized 1976 Baskin Robbins ice cream parlor laced with drunken clowns and the scent of cigarette smoke. On top of that, the average age for the guests is about 76. Instead, try to stay at the Luxor or any other hotel that does not have clowns. -B.M.