For those who follow my multi-platform output, you have invariably been bombarded with my output lately concerning the learning I gained at this year’s National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas and for that I almost apologize. But not really, because there is so much to talk about that I endeavor to cover new elements of it in each post or podcast or video or bulletin or tweet.
Which is kind of my point: last year the NAB glitterati were busy sweating and lamenting the bells tolling for TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, the record industry and all other antiquated media platforms. This year however, we saw a revitalized community – aggressively interested in emerging platforms for communication of our collective stories and in innovating new technologies to address the zeitgeist.
At his opening day keynote address, NAB president and CEO David K. Rehr began:
“There is no place I’d rather be than right here…right now…with all of you.” Donning a sticker that read “I Matter” he continued:
“We are demonstrating that broadcasters are forging ahead…spurring innovation and creating multiple platforms to deliver our content from moving 3D into the home to incorporating FM chips in cell phones, to exploring all the possibilities of the Internet – we are planning for the future and seizing opportunities in this digital age.”
And though these words can be taken as cautionary, post-mortem and defensive, they were certainly not delivered that way. As author Dr. James Florida delineated later during the opening ceremony – we must consider that we are not going through a new Great Depression, but rather a Great Reset. Where once the economy was built on God-given resources like water, food, ore and wood, and then later the resource of human energy and labor post-industrial revolution, what we are seeing now is a new kind of economy built on that of the output of the Creative Class. What Juan Enriquez called Human Evolutis at TED. As the work of building and crafting is increasingly outsourced to China and India and other countries abroad, in North America the primary export is being that of the human mind itself – of imagination and ideas and creativity. This of course, is not to say that these do not exist abroad, but rather that the North American GDP is shifting the source of its wealth.
Ideas were found in abundance at NAB as CEO’s, Presidents, General Managers and inventors from such companies as Disney, Adobe, Electronic Arts met with independent directors, producers, post-production experts, radio broadcasters and content creators of every type and platform to exchange ideas and talk about what the world will look like and respond to over the next few years.
Mary Tyler Moore, Kelsey Grammer and Bob Newhart were all honored for their contributions to the television programming lexicon.
Henry Selick, director of Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach and Coraline was interviewed about the development of stop motion and its marriage with new digital techniques.
Malcolm Gladwell, author of groundbreaking social analysis books Blink, The Tipping Point and Outliers was interviewed before the NAB attendees by NAB President David Rehr. He extrapolated his process for coming up with his book subjects and confided that one of his most powerful techniques was avoiding Google searches altogether; Google is essentially empty he explained, it is merely an index of what is on the Web but to go beyond it is to mine massive sources of information available that afford us remarkable insights on who we have been, are and will be especially when seen with our new eyes in this high-speed information exchange society.
The Jim Henson Creature Shop demonstrated their digital puppeteering system wherein one puppeteer controls a head and mouth and another the body via a motion tracking suit and capture grid. Without any intermediate, they are able to create real-time 3D animation that captures all the nuances and gravity of a real moving body. Rather than illustrate a variety of movements, they simply shoot another “take” and then use the best take as the final output (after a polish render in Maya). I asked them whether we might one day see a turnkey system from Jim Henson Company but they reminded us that the puppeteer and experience with working with such technology is really the thing, not so much the computers, mo-cap stage and proprietary software.
Lectures given in morning sessions were echoed in afternoon sessions, but now modified, expanded and reconsidered. By week’s end there were new consensus emerging about how to implement and innovate our proverbial campfires about which we sit and exchange our common experiences through this incredible life we share.
And now more than ever we are sharing it in ways we couldn’t have ever predicted or even imagined.
Beyond all the pontificating – incredible products were on display – Autostereoscopic (which you will come to know as AS-3D) 3D TV sets -(meaning 3D screens for which no intermediary viewing glasses are needed), real-time video cameras displaying in 3D, super high resolution screens that add almost ten times the pixel count of existence HDTV screens, HD radio, FM tuners in all cell phones, HD movies on cell phones that run below real-time Flash based menus, technology that allows every word spoken within a video to be searchable, real-time holographic interview wherein the interviewee appears to be sitting or standing in front the interviewer in spit of any geographic disparity (think Princess Leia’s holographic appeal for help at the beginning of Star Wars except at a resolution almost indistinguishable from reality) and yes YouTube 3D.
Seminar topics ranged from When Will The Web Kill TV to How To Blog In 140 Characters to Alternative Reality Gaming, Second Chances in Second Life and the nature of Web 3.0.
You may have noticed one word popping up an awful lot in this article: “Real Time.” Other popular keywords at this years convention were Home 3D and Metadata. Metadata will allow every stage of the production workflow be indexable, searchable and integrated from top to bottom.
It was indeed an extraordinary week and I hope to share and unravel some of the ideas exchanged over the coming weeks and even months. In the interim, you can hear myself and my travel partner and co-host Aimee Lynn Chadwick giddily discussed some of our findings at my podcast http://KeramCast.com
"Keram makes excursions into almost every style of music imaginable here and does it with such flair that these very pleased ears, he could have settled on any of these genres and made just as brilliant a record." - Mark Rheaume, CBC Radio