Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Barbarians Storm the Gates! Broadcasting and the Future of Media

As someone who has lived most of his career in "traditional media" (in other words, outside of the internet), I've always known the NAB Show as a technological mecca - an overwhelming conglomeration of state of the art equipment for all phases and types of broadcast media - from radio to television to digital cinema.  The NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Show in Las Vegas includes perhaps the most extensive exhibition of broadcast technology in the world, with attendance topping 90,000.   

While I love tech, however, my point of view has evolved over the past decade.  Today, I'm excited with innovations that have evolved technology into an increasingly accessible tool for creative work.    There are many in broadcasting, however, who see this evolution as a dire threat.

What does "broadcast" mean in an age when so much media access is moving online?  How relevant is the traditional broadcast world in the changing landscape of information and entertainment?   Broadcasters are aware the world is changing - NAB's slogan this underlined the rumbling earthquake:  

In his keynote speech, NAB President Gordon Smith summarized the challenge to professional broadcasters - and to those working in traditional media, "Our greatest challenge is to have the courage to challenge ourselves.  Challenging our existing business models, looking around the corner, and adapting to a media marketplace where only the technologically nimble will survive.

"It is said that every moment can be golden for those who have the vision to recognize it as such."

I'm a great fan of streamlined technology - high quality, increasingly simple-to-use tools that tear town the obstacles that have prevented so many creative people from expressing themselves effectively.  With increased access to these tools, audience access is no longer limited to the select few.  Anyone can create a YouTube channel or record an audio podcast.   Of course, that doesn't mean that most will earn an audience.  Talent and ability are still prerequisites for success.  Some in the broadcast industry, in my opinion, see this as a "storming of the gates" and look upon low cost tools with disdain or outright rejection.

The future of entertainment is not in the hands of engineers and technicians.  It is in the hands of a huge and growing resource of creative people everywhere.


Here's my "Planet of the Vlogs" podcast on my NAB experience, featuring several products that, perhaps, prove that there is beauty in simplicity."

Here are a few selected highlights that likely represent the charactger of the NAB show five or ten years from now.

I met David Basulto of in the press room before the exhibition opened - his iPad based camera rig is a great example of the simpler-is-better creative spirit I love about the evolving world of media:

Some Photos:

At several locations throughout NAB, remote control camera copters, made possible by miniature HD cameras,  were on display.

Another camera copter - of a more radical design.

The NAB Show took over the huge Las Vegas Convention Center.  Here's a small portion of the massive exhibition.

Social technology was also on display.  "Escort Live," from brings dashboard radar detectors to a new level.  Now, if your detector indicates a police radar or laser nearby, your location information is fed into a social network, alerting others nearby that they're coming upon an area where they might want to be extra careful... is a desktop and smartphone application that provides monitoring of  Twitter/Facebook and other social activity attached to current network programming is a social network designed for tech and creative start-ups - with both private, group-oriented project management features, and a public area for targeting networking is a browser-based, collaborative editing platform.  It's already available as a recommended tool at  - or as a stand-alone tool.  It's no replacement for Final Cut or Avid, but it's a surprisingly useful system with a wide range of potential professional, semi-professional and educational possibilities. 

Finally, the smallest, cheapest, and most popular camera at NAB - GoPro's booth was packed, as it's cameras stood staring into the face of change....

1 comment:

  1. When I attended NAB, way back in the mid-80s, the hottest, most technically advanced booth, drawing all the attention, was the Grass Valley switchers demo.

    Love the iPad rig in the video, and I definitely want a cameracopter!