Editor's note: This article originally appeared on our sister brand Systems Contractor News.
It’s been three (long) years since the last NAB Show in Las Vegas. In this interview with SCN, Chris Brown, executive vice president and managing director of NAB Global Connections and Events, shared his thoughts on what changes attendees can expect and what topics will be generating buzz on the show floor.
SCN: Since no one expects the 2022 NAB Show to break attendance records, how will you define success for this year’s event?
Chris Brown: Registration numbers are picking up rapidly, but the NAB Show has always been about so much more than metrics. It is in many ways about setting a tone for the industry and helping to point the way to new opportunities. It is about getting re-energized around the creativity and business opportunities in media and entertainment.
It’s an exciting business and the NAB Show community is highly passionate about what they do. This is their opportunity to come together to see, feel, touch, soak in the industry—maybe above all to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. There is nothing like it. So, in some respects the victory will be in just being able to produce the show, bring the industry together, and help inspire forward progress.
We are confident the show will bring the right people together—those who are coming to do business and engage in true knowledge exchange, and those who are on a mission and serious about their visit and ready to get things done. This by itself could make this one of the most productive shows in recent history, with a higher buyer-to-seller ratio than we would see in a typical year.
SCN: What will be different for returning attendees?
CB: Among the big changes are a new schedule, new convention hall, new featured exhibit category, and perhaps most importantly, a brand-new way of organizing the entire show.
We will be opening the show on Sunday for the first time—versus the traditional Monday opening. And we will be closing on Wednesday instead of Thursday. This change is being implemented to make it easier for those involved in live and other studio production projects, as well as those who may find it difficult to get away during the week or want to minimize time away from work. The idea was driven by feedback received in the past, and we expect this will open a path to stronger overall attendance for the show.
The layout of the show will also be different. The exposition and educational programs will still be spread across three buildings at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), but this year we will be adding the LVCC’s new West Hall (and dropping the South Hall). A state-of-the-art facility, the new West Hall totally changes the whole look and feel of the LVCC campus.
In keeping with that state-of-the art theme, we have placed some of the more leading-edge categories in the West Hall. Specifically, we will be launching a new featured exhibit area here—dubbed "Intelligent Content." With the enormous influence that data and new data-driven technologies are having on every aspect of content creation and distribution, we felt it was time to place the spotlight on this trend.
The area will feature a strong lineup of anchor exhibitors, including Microsoft, AWS, and Mediakind. The focus will be on everything from employing data to drive more personalized content experiences, to advanced advertising technology to AI, blockchain, and the evolution to the Metaverse. Other feature areas in the West Hall include Connected Media IP and the Future of Delivery areas.
Layered over all of this is perhaps the biggest change we have implemented in quite a while. The show will now be organized around three major content pillars—Create, Connect, and Capitalize. These three pillars reflect how the industry works, and organizing the show around these concepts will help every attendee navigate the show and find what is most relevant to them. The idea is to help everyone maximize their time.
From a physical space perspective, Create will be featured in the Central Hall and part of the North Hall, Connect will be the focus in the new West Hall, while Capitalize will find its home in the North Hall. Our conference programming has been reorganized around these three pillars as well, and will include a mix of legacy programs, such as the Broadcast Engineering and IT Conference, and new elements.
To further curate the experience for every visitor, we have created unique Experiential Zones tied to each of the pillars that will help bring focus to the key trends that are relevant to each area. These hubs—two in each hall—will provide a variety of engagement opportunities for visitors, from theaters running daily education content to hands-on demonstrations to startup displays and unique networking forums.
With respect to the latter, we are introducing a series of roundtable discussions in the Experiential Zones that will provide great networking and the opportunity to dive deep on key industry topics with peers.
We are also introducing NABiQ, an “idea hackathon,” which is designed as a variation on the traditional hackathon, with the objective in this case to “build” a new idea. Groups of peers will be matched up in a competition to see who can create the next great idea in helping solve for a pre-determined technology or industry issue. Winners in each of the three pillar categories will be selected. These should be fun, and we expect they will yield some terrific new ideas that can be shared with the entire industry.
SCN: What topics are shaping up to be the buzz at this year’s show?
CB: Obviously, we think data is a huge driver for the industry in many ways, and that is why we have introduced the new Intelligent Content area. Covered in this will be a range of buzz-worthy technologies, including AI machine learning and what it can do to create efficiency in various sides of the content creation funnel, whether capture, editing, distribution, you name it. You will also see tech that is enabling content creators to build more personalized experiences for audiences and develop new business models to capitalize on this engagement.
Beyond this, I think you will see a great deal of focus on tech that drives remote workflows. The whole move to virtual production has been greatly accelerated by the pandemic, and the industry has shown that there are effective and efficient ways to produce remotely. A number of our major anchor exhibitors, including Ross, Grass Valley, and Vizrt, have adapted quickly around this trend, and will be must-see stops for those looking to explore the possibilities in remote production.
The metaverse is also definitely going to be a topic of conversation throughout the show, not only in terms of debate around what that actually looks like, but just in looking at the technologies that are already underpinned by a mix of reality and augmented reality.
There will be plenty of virtual and mixed reality set technology on display, and the show will feature a number of specific demonstrations in the Experience Zones tied to these developments. These will include a unique mixed reality demo developed by ARRI in the Create area (Central Hall), and an AI-driven demo by Microsoft in the Intelligent Content area (West Hall).
SCN: Beyond the typical exhibit hall exploration, what will be some of the main attractions for systems integrators attending the show?
CB: Systems integrators should plan on investing time in the various zones to discover how technology solution providers are working collaboratively and building interoperable workflows in the areas of ATSC 3.0, virtual production and IP. All the education on the show floor is, of course, free for anyone to attend. So, it is really a great way to gain some broader perspective before diving into specific conversations with vendors on the show floor.
For more information on the 2022 NAB Show, April 23-27, visit nabshow.com/2022/.
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Mark J. Pescatore, Ph.D., is the content director of Systems Contractor News. He has been writing about Pro AV industry for more than 20 years. Previously, he spent more than eight years as the editor of Government Video magazine. During his career, he's produced and hosted two podcasts focused on the professional video marketplace, taught more than a dozen college communication courses, co-authored the book Working with HDV, and co-edited two editions of The Guide to Digital Television.