Content’s the Thing at New NAB Theater

The annual NAB extravaganza in Las Vegas every April is mostly known for its focus on the technical side of the broadcasting business, but one forum that will debut at the 2008 NAB Show will serve to sharply underscore what makes all of that technical wizardry so valuable.

Making its debut this year in the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, the NAB Show Content Theater is a three-day review that will highlight the creation, production and distribution of content made possible by new tools and technologies—and no doubt add even more resonance to the old industry adage that “content is king.”

That statement is not disputed by David Dziedzic, senior vice president of business development for NAB.

“Our show is all about content,” he said. “This year, we wanted to focus more on the practical uses of the tools on the show floor and discuss the applications of those technologies.”


Under the broader scope, Dziedzic pointed out Content Theater’s location within Content Central, which will be located, fittingly enough, in Central Hall.

“For example, the IPTV Pavilion will be in Content Central, as will the Content Distribution Forum—which, in the past, has been a satellite pavilion, with other organizations from the content business,” he said, noting such news organizations as the Associated Press, as well as Limelight Networks, Titan TV, MediaFLO, Verizon Wireless and BT Media and Broadcast. The basic idea is “to promote all four screens.”

That will be accomplished under the auspices of Content Theater, which will focus on industry sectors such as 3D, effects and animation, and mobilizing content.

(click thumbnail)“U2 3D” will be among the featured films showcased at the three-day NAB Show Content Theater, located in the Central Hall of the LVCC.The thought behind Monday’s portion of Content Theater is to “start out with a 3D primer, sort of an ABCs of 3D image capture, production and exhibition, then explore the art of filmmaking and its aesthetics, and how the medium can be grown,” said Rochelle Winters, the NAB Show’s Content Theater programming director. Content will be fed by a live, real-time 3D transmission (produced by 3ality), from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. “These projects we’re analyzing are educational, thought provoking and informative,” she said.

Winters noted two case studies that will be discussed on Monday: “U2 3D” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D.”

“Journey” is the first live action, visual effects narrative film produced for digital 3D release (by Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema) and will hit the big screen nationally July 11; the legendary Irish rock quartet U2 powers “U2 3D,” which critics have called “groundbreaking and historic.”

“We’ll focus on the graphics and post of the U2 movie,” she says. “[U2] took an un-usual approach in transitioning from shot to shot by using graphics and visual effects, which will be explored in the session.”

Although it’s been around for decades, 3D is once again becoming a popular film attraction, according to Winters.

“The exhibition technology has improved with the movement toward digital technologies and digital workflows,” she said. “Also, the younger audience is moving toward more immersive, bigger entertainment experiences.

“There’s an audience for these big ten pole events,” she said, “if they’re good.”


On Tuesday, Content Theater will delve into the world of digital effects, animation and digital workflows. Director/executive producer Barry Sonnenfeld will host a session that examines the creation of the look and feel of the “Pushing Daisies” TV series.

Key sessions will entail how digital technology is employed by traditional classic character animators, such as stop-motion, puppetry and hand-drawn projects.

“This [part of the lineup] should be interesting for producers because it will introduce them to new animation options; and to technology companies, because it will show them how animators are using their software,” Winters said. “Bringing the creative community together with the hardware and software communities to find solutions is part of what we are trying to accomplish with the Content Theater.”

Another highlight on Tuesday will include a discussion about an upcoming movie from the team that directed “Crank.” The filmmakers, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, along with their post team from the Lionsgate/Lakeshore Entertainment movie “Game,” will be on hand to talk about the use of several of the new RED cameras and the Avid post-production workflow.


Wednesday will focus on new media, namely broadband and mobile. A “Mobilizing Entertainment” session will explore various issues and challenges in producing and monetizing content for the small screen.

“For instance, do the rules from other platforms, like broadcast or features distribution, apply to the mobile space? How about rights issues?” Winters said. “Can you market free content and hope for subscriptions? We want to know what will work here, as opposed to the other distribution platforms.”

The session “Complementary Angles: Turner Sports, Online and on TV,” will examine how Turner is creating interactive online experiences for audiences of Major League Baseball, NASCAR, the NBA and professional golf that complement its broadcast programming.

Winters went on to cite other upstart methods of distribution, noting that another panel will include some of the leading voices in the indie content sphere, including JibJab and Ask a Ninja, as well as upstart My Damn Channel.

“It’s a free speech platform that also offers a unique profit sharing model,” she said, adding that Content Theater will offer a unique opportunity for NAB denizens. “We are pulling together the best of breed for each topic and expecting each participant to bring into their unique experience and expertise to the sessions.”