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%% NAB '94 Show Report                                by Steve Herring %%
%%                                       Steve_Herring@matrix.rain.com %%
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NAB '94 Show Report
written by Steve Herring for Amiga Report (c) 1994
 
Let me start off by explaining what NAB is...NAB stands for National
Association of Broadcasters.  The NAB show is generally for the REALLY
wealthy people who happen to be part of the broadcast industry.  Just for
comparison, on-site registration to NAB is $695 vs. the $50 for CES!
 
On with the show, right??  Well, we arrived in Las Vegas (after driving
from Portland, OR to Las Vegas, NV - 18 1/2 hours!) at approx. 12:45 PM on
Sunday, March 20th.  We were supposed to be at NewTek's press conference 
at 2:00 PM.  So after RUSHING to check in to our hotel, and showering, we
finally arrived at Caesars Palace at about 2:00.  Here we were greeted 
with an almost maze-like casino where the conference rooms we were seeking
were at the other end.  The Colisseum rooms were within sight, so the fun
was about to begin.
 
NewTek started the show by quickly introducing a "video" segment and then
dimming the lights.  The video began with narration by Ken Nordine
(Remember him from all the other NewTek demo tapes?) who informed us all 
that we'd have to wait until the beginning of NAB the next day to see 
NewTek's new breakthru. But then finally after a few seconds we were saved
by the next narrator, Penn Jilette (sp?).  We were told that we had waited
long enough.  So, the video introduced what NewTek calls the "Flyer."  The
Flyer is a completely digital non-linear editing system.  What does that 
mean?  Well, the Flyer takes video and records it to a hard drive (it 
takes 2 HD's), so that it can be sequenced (edited) together with any of 
the Toaster transitions, CG's, or effects all in REAL TIME.  I won't go 
into technical details, but the output I saw was stunning.  Tim Jenison 
(NewTek's President) then came out and gave the history of the Flyer and 
how it had been planned to be used with the Toaster ever since the 
beginning.  NewTek's overall demonstration was flat in my opinion, and the
employees who departed a few months back had an obvious impact.  The Flyer
should totally revolutionize the world of video just like the Toaster has.
So, all I can say is, get one if you can! :)
 
After the NewTek press conference, we travelled to the Las Vegas 
Convention Center to pick up our badges for the NAB show the next day.  It
took roughly an hour to get everything straightened out, so after we had 
the badges, we headed off to our hotel to get some MUCH needed sleep.  The
next morning, we parked next to the Convention Center (not an easy task!)
and ventured in. 

My first impression was wow!  There was literally millions of dollars of
equipment all accessible to everyone there.  The absolute best in video
gear was here to play with.  My absolute favorite thing was the HDTV 
stuff. If you haven't seen an HDTV unit yet, you don't know what you're 
missing. There were HDTV cameras from several vendors, including Sony, 
Panasonic, and Toshiba.  The only HDTV recorder that I saw was from 
Toshiba, and it was about the size of a dishwasher.  While NewTek may have
released their digital non-linear editing system, they were definitely not
alone.  I must have seen at least 10 different systems from companies like
Matrox, ImMix, and Abacus.
 
On to the real computer stuff...the MULTIMEDIA side of NAB.  The 
Multimedia expo was held in the Las Vegas Hilton.  Here is where the Amiga
was more prevailent.  Let me see if I can name all the Amiga vendors... 
ASDG was showing a new version of Elastic Reality (the SGI version of 
MorphPlus), Centaur was showing their OpalVision card with all the modules
(it's starting to look REALLY impressive - but it still needs a few
improvements), Video Toaster User was giving VTU issues, Scala was 
demonstrating InfoChannel and Scala MM310, and DevWare was showing their 
Toaster stuff. 

I believe that's almost all the Amiga related vendors that I saw. 
InfoChannel seemed to be gathering quite a crowd the whole time I was 
there (so much so, that it was hard to get around the booth!).  Another 
*INTERESTING* thing at the Multimedia side was Hewlett Packard.  They were
demonstrating their interactive TV set-top box.  The guy I talked to 
didn't have any specific comment on the technology inside, but he did say 
they had two versions of the box.  One was based on Intel technology, and
one was based on Motorola technology (I assume with CD32 stuff being 
added! :D).  The controller for this box was the thing that I liked.  It 
was a remote (IR) with a trackball to control the cursor on the screen.  
The trackball could be pressed as a selector as well.  Very simple, and 
easy to use.  I was impressed by the accuracy of an IR controlled 
trackball!
 
My lasting impressions...There were quite a few things *I* found
interesting, but didn't put here 'cause they don't pertain to the Amiga
community at all (at least not directly).  I do believe NewTek's Flyer
needs some software improvements (which are most likely already underway).
The Flyer is supposed to be available for demonstration in June/July and
available to the market by the Fall!  The business atmosphere of NAB was
kind of refreshing compared to the circus atmosphere of CES, but it was 
harder to get answers from vendors.  This made it slightly frustrating, 
but I began to learn some tricks to get their attention.  Anyway, there 
were lots of new things, which I'm sure I'm only beginning to see what I 
missed.  I look forward to going to the next NAB, and maybe doing another
report!  That is, if I don't get snubbed out of the writing community for
this drab piece of writing! ;)
 
If you have any comments, you can catch me the following ways...
 
Internet E-Mail:
    Steve_Herring@matrix.rain.com
 
US(nail) mail:
    Steve Herring
    c/o Cyberspace 3D
    PO Box 230123
    Portland, OR 97281-0123
 
Maybe you'll see me at the World of Commodore in Pasadena! ;)