Is The Once Coveted Trade Show Still Relevant?
With NAB 2022 recently behind us—and the reviews in—did this notable trade show live up to its past expectations? Let’s talk about that.
The mother of all video production trade shows, NAB, finally returned to Las Vegas last week. With the physical conference canceled for the past two years, we at PremiumBeat were ready for an all-gas-no-breaks approach to getting back down to business covering the madness of the NAB we knew to be.
But was that a practical expectation for what the trade show is in its current form, with the world being what it is now? Some thoughts!
What Used to Be
I find myself missing the days when the PremiumBeat writers’ room was just that, a writers’ room where we were all tuned in to the “wire” as each new and exciting camera announcement was revealed. We would also have on-the-ground personnel to get hands-on impressions and interviews fed to HQ.
Those were the days.
But, since that time, there’s been endless amounts of . . . chaos? I guess? With NAB getting canceled in 2020, things have just been weird regarding trade shows and how companies plan their release strategies.
We have to consider that the global electronics shortage has likely played its part in many announcements being delayed or put on the back burner.
As Will Knight for Wired says,
Nearly two years into pandemic-caused disruptions, a severe shortage of computer chips—the components at the heart of smartphones, laptops, and innumerable other products—continues to affect manufacturers across the global economy.
Automakers can’t make enough cars, and have been forced to halt production in recent months. The shortage has affected industries from game consoles and networking gear to medical devices. In October, Apple blamed chip scarcity for its financial results, and Intel warned that the drought will likely stretch to 2023.
In short, the semiconductor supply chain has become stretched in new ways that are deeply-rooted and difficult to resolve. Demand is ballooning faster than chipmakers can respond, especially for basic-yet-widespread components that are subject to the kind of big variations in demand that make investments risky.
– Will Knight
With that, we do have to give some leeway to the lack of exciting releases at NAB this year, but also, I think we need to acknowledge that the way gear is announced changed around 2015.
Historically, there used to be some mumblings and hype built up over several months, but now everything’s so remote and weird—the releases all happen through social channels and influencer hype campaigns.
The aforementioned rollout strategies are perhaps the most significant disruption in this “trade show system” that we used to look forward to so much.
Ultimately, in a crowded marketplace, why are manufacturers going to wait for a trade show and the organic traffic of a news outlet to share the information of their new release when an influencer can bring 10x the awareness to a product within a few hours?
I’ve said this before in articles written on this blog: I’m not entirely sure we will get that wave of new technology and camera “revolutions” like we did in the mid-2010s anytime soon.
I’m also not saying that cool new tech isn’t being released, it just wasn’t at NAB this year. But, the technological revolution like we loved writing about a few years back will happen again . . . just not for a while.
What Was Announced?
Of course, there were some announcements and reveals that I got excited about. Some notable announcements were the DZOFILM’s new 14-35mm Zoom lens to the cine line, a new super-wide 21mm anamorphic lens from Atlas Lens Co, and Aputure’s new color point-source light.
My biggest takeaway with listing those off just now is there’s a big emphasis and room for growth with lights (especially involving color) and lenses. Also, remember, this is just my opinion as it relates to my career and taste, so this could have likely been the most lit week of your life, but that wasn’t my experience.
Remember when Blackmagic just plastered a billboard of the BMPCC4K with no other indication for what it was, and we all lost our minds, and then they proceeded to release the start of one of the best camera lines of all time? Sips coffee. Those were the days.
Check it out. That’s me in Vegas next year at NAB 2023 playing golf! Maybe.
It’s hard for me not to be sentimental during a week like this because there used to be such an emotional investment in all of this, with us being in a “newsroom” setting competing to see who could cover something the fastest and who could write as many articles that day as possible . . . and the excitement is just gone. It’s gone.
As a freelancer now, it’s easier to feel more objective about everything. I don’t get as worked up over companies “beating us to the scoop!” That being said, I’d still like to be surprised at the announcement of some game-changer.
So, what does that look like? I can’t say because, as we all know, anything can happen, and the industry can be shaken up in minutes. But, if there are new game-changing cameras, lenses, and gear on the horizon, there will always be a part of me that wants to be the first to write about it.
So, I’m trying to say that there’s nothing fun about remotely tuning in to one of the biggest production trade shows in the world to hear that a mid-tier level camera got a firmware update.
Have a good day!
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Cover image via Mauromod.
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