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Last week I had the opportunity to go out to the yearly NAB convention in Las Vegas. I just thought I'd share a post for those who have never been or those who have thought about going in the future. Here's my quick take on the trip.
The NAB Conference
Edited by SoundCandy hence the Audio theme.
Outside the Conference
The conference itself was a bit overwhelming. I guess I would say it was like trying to take a sip from a fire hose... There was so much to see that I almost didn't know what to do with myself. Because of it's size, it had vendors for whatever you're interested in, but this also meant that you have to sift through lots of uninteresting booths and information to get to what you're after. I will say that it's fun to check out these other areas that I wouldn't normally make a point to check out like... antennas.... :)
I went with a couple of friends that were all interested in different aspect of production/broadcasting. One friend was interested in the latest computer hardware, one friend wanted to see the lighting and grip equipment... I spent most of my time at the "Plug-in Pavilion" where companies like Red Giant, Imagineer Systems, Zaxwerks and so on were located. I found it rather eye opening to see a lot of companies that created AE plug-ins that I had never really heard much of or interacted with. I have yet to install a Boris FX plug-in on my machine. I know they have a lot of content on Creative Cow, but it was good to actually meet them and see what they've created.
New AE Stuff
At the Red Giant booth we were able to see Peder Norrby demoing the new Trapcode Mir. I asked him later about the name "Mir" and he said it meant "peace" and that it was nice because it's a dynamic enough name that could be changed down the road if need be. Also he pointed out that the name wasn't directly connected the the functionality of the plug-in like a "Particular" particle system or a "Horizon" environment generator.
Peder Norrby Demoing "Mir"
As I was looking at the plug-in, it's hard to say how well it'll do. I was glad to see similar values and controls that you'll recognize from Particular or Form, but the application of this plug-in is my only question. I see lots of plug-ins that do exactly what they say they're going to do, but that I can't see myself using in a real world environment.
Occasionally a plug-in will come along like Plexus where at first look I questioned it's value, but it has really created a name for itself by inventing an interconnected particle style that people have grown to use quite a bit. We might see the say the same thing with Mir... I could see Mir and Psunami merging or building of each other to provide a highly dynamic water solution. Mir was extremely fast (unlike Psunami). We'll see, but I'm excited to jump in and give it a go either way. :)
I also enjoyed seeing Mocha Pro v3 in action with it's new ability to translate planar tracking data into 3d geometry. I have a feeling this is going to be a huge asset. I use Mocha all the time because of the powerful results it provides, but to be able to use this planar tracking system to get simulated 3d data will provide just enough information to do basic corrections and alterations quickly and efficiently without having to do all the extra work of getting a true matchmove.
After Effects CS6
I also got to see a demo of AE CS6. The new features are quite exciting. They're going to be including a very user-friendly 3D Tracking featured that spun off the Warp Stabilization back end. The introduction of Ray Tracing will allow for basic 3D extruded text within AE without needing 3rd party plug-ins. The end result of the extrusion was a bit limited, but for what for most people want, I think this will be a well-used addition. There are other functions than just 3D text, but it was by far the most common practical use.
What AE is essentially doing is looking at your layers along with their properties and saving a string of this information with the rendered frame...
The last big addition that was shown to me was the new "Frame Caching" feature which will basically hold on to any rendered frames and save you from needing to re-render them if you ever add a plug-in and then undo or disable it. I had heard about this feature first and didn't fully understand what this entailed or the value of it, but after seeing a live demo, it began to make sense.
What AE is essentially doing is looking at your layers along with their properties and saving a string of this information with the rendered frame into a cache folder. At any point if you have that same frame with those same values, it can pull from the cache rather than re-rendering. This will be quite nice when you want to try a modification out like adding motion blur or applying curves. You already had a RAM preview before these additions so even if you add them and then decide you don't like what you've done and you go back, the frames are still there ready for immediate playback. Even if you close down After Effects and reopen it later, you'll still have access to these cached frames. At first I felt like this wouldn't be that big of a time saver... but after watching it in action, I can't wait to have an ongoing cache working for me.
Media Motion Ball
Chris and Trish Meyer
I went to the Media Motion Ball on Monday night. The event really is a neat time to get some quality food and meet some of the coolest people in the industry... still not sure how I got in :) In my mind, this is a "must-attend" if you're into After Effects. I went to the Adobe after party following this and it was nice meeting those who have taught me so much over the years and those who have allowed me to really love my job by creating such powerful tools.
First off, I found the trip to Las Vegas just as enjoyable as the conference itself. I live over in Virginia so the trip was literally from one side of the country to the other. I personally don't really drink alcohol and hiring an "escort" of sorts wasn't on the itinerary :).... but I can personally tell you that you can totally do "Sin City" without wrecking yourself. I will say that I did gamble a bit with the other guys from my studio, but went in with a set amount and made some money, but then lost it... it was fun. I was shocked at how much we did in just 2 days (and especially nights) of being there!
Would I Go Back Again Next Year?
Honestly, not sure. It's like offering somebody a slice of pizza as they're stumbling out of an "All You Can Eat" buffet. I'm kinda full! :) I'd imagine that as months go on, I'll build up a hunger for going back to the event, but as of right now... "What happened in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas..."I made some memories, met awesome people, learned a lot, and I am content!