Posted: May 07, 2012 - 8:59 AM MST by Bill Ferris
knows what Las Vegas is for. It’s for gambling and other activities generally
considered inappropriate topics of conversation around the dinner table. But
did you know that Vegas is also for tech geeks? Well, I am a tech geek—a
moniker I wear with pride—and am here to say that Las Vegas is my kind of town.
At least, it is for one week each year.
of this year, I attended the National Association of Broadcasters convention. The
event is known to industry insiders simply as, “NAB,” and it occupies every one
of the 3.2 million square feet of the Las Vegas Convention Center. More than
100,000 people attend this annual trade show. And what attracts people from all
over the world to Las Vegas for NAB? Tech. Billions of dollars of equipment—all
of which in one way or another supports the acquisition, editing, delivery or
storage of video—is on display.
the centerpiece of many exhibits at the 2012 NAB. 3D cameras, monitors and
production trucks were everywhere. And where one finds 3D, one also finds those
dorky 3D glasses. Until 3D technology progresses to the point that people won’t
need to wear those goofy glasses, it will remain a fad. But if the engineers
figure out how to delivery 3D without the glasses and at a price that doesn’t
require raiding my son’s college fund, watch out. All bets are off.
I went to
NAB to look at gear for the NAU-TV production team. One element that is
fundamental to any good piece of camera work is lighting. Good lighting brings
a scene to life. It conveys mood. The same scene with different lighting can
evoke feelings of happiness, melancholy, fear, excitement or any emotion you
want your audience to feel. Television lights used to be large, heavy pieces of
equipment and they generated enough heat to start a fire.
the first jobs I had as a student employee at a PBS affiliate was as a sound
assistant. We were producing an educational series for high school students
about citizenship in a democratic society. My job was to sit atop a ladder and
hold a boom microphone to record the actors talking. We were shooting in an old
school house, a building that looked great on camera but didn’t have any
central air conditioning. It was mid-summer and the lights transformed those
naturally hot, stuffy rooms into saunas.
LED lights are smaller, more portable, can be run off battery power and, best
of all, don’t generate much heat at all. A LED light can be on for hours during
a shoot and, at the end of the day, will be cool to the touch as soon as you
switch the power off. We use LED lights on almost every field production we do
at NAU-TV. And on days when there are multiple shoots out in the field, there
is real competition for those lights. A few years ago, there were few
manufacturers of LED lights and they were fairly expensive. Today, there are
more options and more competitive pricing.
element that is critical to quality video production is motion. Motion takes a
good camera shot and transforms it into the spectacular. Putting a camera in
motion adds dynamism to a scene. It pulls the audience into the scene and takes
them for a ride that, when executed well, is the equal of anything Disneyland
has to offer. A dolly here, a jib move there and you’ve taken a good, solid
piece of professional video production and transformed it into a thing of
beauty. So, I went to NAB to look at jibs and came away with information on
several products, any one of which could be used to enhance the quality of our
my week at NAB. I walked about five miles each day, spoke to countless vendors
and saw a host of cool products that left my mind swimming with possibilities.
So, if you’re watching a show on NAU-TV and see a dynamic camera move or a
dramatically lit scene, drop me a line and let me know. I respond and tell you
which piece of tech helped us achieve that shot.