Thursday, April 24, 2008

NAB 2008

So, Amanda and I trotted off the the annual geek-gathering in Vegas called the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Show, which has become (or always was) a media technology convention showing off the latest in media creation and delivery technology.

Some pretty cool stuff that is out there now or about to come down the runway. But why were these independent filmmakers there? Well, for a few reasons. Mostly, because Filmmakers Alliance has a handful of key, meaningful sponsors and they are all there at NAB. So, we need to check in with them. We are also launching our Global Initiative (turning FA into a global org via the web instead of the strictly L.A.-based org that it is now) and need the support of even more sponsors.

Secondly, most filmmakers are also geeks or have a geek inside them that wants to see all the cool stuff out there - and learn a little bit about how to use it. It's also useful to know, as an artist, what kind of colors I can add to my palette and what kind of brushes/new brushstrokes can I add to my work. And, also, what are the new ways I can bring my work to audiences. Truly, this stuff is very meaningful on a creative level....if a bit dry and boring sometimes.


Lastly, there is a filmmaking community tucked in with all the anxious businessmen and zealous geekosaureses. They flock here for the reasons mentioned above and we love connecting with them. A number of our FA cronies also show up, so it feels like a nice party and another opportunity to extend our filmmaking community.

Oh, and lets not forget it's in Vegas. Which, of course, pushes my buttons in terms of my love-hate with Vegas. Hate because I just think so much of it, and so much of who goes there, is flat-out disgusting. Some of the worse, most fucked-up human impulses find unbridled expression in Vegas. And the Vegas big-shots know it and thrive on it. "Sin City", "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas", etc. But despite that, I love it because I almost always have a blast. Granted, I know the tricks to keeping it fun. No more than twice a year (if that). No more than a couple of days at a time. Never gamble more than I can afford to lose. Never go to Vegas clubs (unless it is privately rented specifically for an event I have been invited to). Always mingle in non-Casino stuff like shows, bowling, hikes, dinners, etc.


CineVegas is an exception to these rules and is such a great festival because it has organized all of the Las Vegas vices into controlled activity built around a film festival. It's all of the fun without the sleaze and guilt. Well, maybe some sleaze. But just enough so that it easily washes off. And lots of good films. I highly recommend it.


Anyway, back to NAB. Two highlights: meeting up with one of our main sponsors - CANON USA and hanging out in the RED camera show booth.

We checked in with our CANON USA family. Tim Smith is now our main connect there (it had been the wonderful Mike Zorich for years). But there is also Greg Salmon and Cindy Baer (who is married to the brilliant D.P. Matthew Iriving - whom she often drags to the show) and many, many more. And we love Tim Smith. For what is essentially a corporate sales guy, he seems nothing like a corporate sales guy. He really understands filmmaking and filmmakers - understands and cares about them. Sometimes, listening to him talk, I feel like urging him to toss in the suit and tie and jump behind that camera. But I'm selfishly happy he's where he is because his and CANON's support for us means a lot.

Anyway, they've donated some HDV cameras to us for our members and to rent out cheaply to others, but are always checking to see if our needs are being met. They seem to be always looking to improve and address the demands of filmmakers. So, Tim arranged a meeting between us and CANON's Japanese engineers. They peppered us with creative and technical questions to get some idea of what filmmakers need and want. Apparently, they've had many meetings like this and seem to be really listening. We'll see what it births. It was fun, though, to get a small window into Japanese corporate culture and the strange, but endearing formality of it all. Well, it's endearing when you are only brushing up against it. Curious how Tim feels about it, being exposed to it on a regular basis.


Next, we spent time in the RED camera show booth. It was crowded and definitely attracted the more "hip" geekosaureses. Our friend Michael Cioni and his Plaster City Post crew were there en masse. Michael has quickly become a RED camera authority and has worked out some elegant post work-flow solutions for the camera. So, he was hosting demonstrations and answering questions on behalf of RED. We stopped in to say "hi" and he gave us a private tour. And I gotta say, any camera manufacturer searching for a way to address filmmaker's needs just has to look no further than this camera and tell themselves - I have to do this or better. We've used the camera on a few projects so far, and it is just awesome - for any price, let alone the relatively cheap one that it is now. And what they've got coming is only better, including a 5k camera, a small 3k camera and, essentially, a 2k drive/deck for tapeless projection for under $1000 dollars. Good stuff.


But while hanging out there, a guy came up and chatted with us very casually. I asked him if he was a "RED guy" and he kinda laughed and we continued talking about FA and the implementation of the RED camera in various kinds of projects. I asked who does marketing, as they would be good sponsors for us. He laughed again. Finally, I asked for his card. Turned out he was Jim Jannard, the founder of the RED camera and former founder-CEO of the Oakley eyewear and apparel company. I was immediately struck by his manner. He was easily the most down-to-earth and easy-going billionaire I ever chatted with. And I'm not just saying that because he is the only billionaire I ever chatted with. He also flirted a bit with Amanda, who had the good sense to ignore her hastily made and arbitrary rule of never flirting with billionaires. Amanda is a good gauge of character. If they respond to Amanda, they're usually good peeps. Most impressively, he seemed to really care about his camera and its impact on filmmakers. I should send him a follow-up email. Ya think?


Oh, two more highlights to add, actually. Winning $50 at craps playing on a table I had all to myself and bowling a 160 average when I was drunk off of my ass. Ah, the filmmaker's life....

1 comment:

  1. Hey!
    Thanks for the "pub"...I'm happy to be seen on the internet with Tim Smith any day! ;-)