Last week was NAB, and we had a chance to connect with manufacturers and distributors of every shiny, sparkly, and impressive technological advancement in the industry.  Exhausted been-there-done-that stares floated above name badges baring titles like CEO and Technical Director, while behind them three-story interactive LED displays flashed in 4K.  I walked around like I was at Disneyland.

Today, I’m pulling out the fliers and catalogues and leaflets I’ve collected and making sense of it all.

Here’s some stuff I found particularly interesting...

Instant sound booth: 

Perfect for quiet reporting at a loud event, or to plop in the corner of the office and wire it up permanently.  Many of our small teams share open-concept spaces, making it difficult to obtain clean audio, especially when voice-over work isn’t their bread-and-butter and designating a space to sound proof is just impractical.  Instead of trying to build and then soundproof a room, buy a portable sound booth, assemble it in the corner of your space, and when you’re not using it, you can charge your neighbors to rent it by the hour.  Who just stepped up in quality AND discovered another income stream?  Woo hoo!

Two very reputable companies seemed to have similar strengths, and like most things, each would be perfect for someone.  Check out and

Ergonomic everything:

If you have a standing desk or have ever thought about getting a special beanbag mousepad, you need to check this stuff out.  We’ve all seen the split keyboards designed for those who type thousands of keystrokes a day, but this company specializes in ergonomic editing keyboards and other super-nifty industry-specific things I’ve never seen before.  Prior to standing in this booth I had never even thought about a size-adjustable mouse.  Now, it feels like one of those “Duh” moments.  We have ergonomic desks, split keyboards, and we stretch every half hour, so of course we already thought about adjustable computer mice (mouses?), right?  No?...

Check out where you’re going to get your next keyboard.  You don’t even know that you’re currently abusing your editors with repetitive motion issues, and we forgive you, because at one time we didn’t know it was a bad idea to hire children to work in the mines and this is way less terrible than that.  But the underlying point is the same.  These guys have developed something so obvious and elegant that it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the new industry standard.  Spoiler alert—you’re gonna feel a little silly for not having one already.  

Check out

All by itself?:

Automation is amazing.  We already automate tasks and think nothing of it—updates and archiving take place while I’m sleeping so my computer is bright-screened and bushy-toggled when I’m ready to work, and while it doesn’t have much of a personality, the arm inside the automated LTO system counts as a robot.  But I saw the simplest tripod capable of holding up a camera weighing 5.5 pounds and either operating per pre-programmed moves, tracking faces, or responding in real-time to instructions provided via smart phone app, and that crossed into new territory for me.  

Current uses—filming interviews where little camera movement is necessary, content for YouTube, or for dynamic time-lapse footage without requiring a dedicated cinematographer or frequent equipment adjustments.  This is a reasonably competent camera-person for someone who doesn’t have a camera-person.  At present, the programmable camera moves available are pretty standard, including rolling either in a straight line or a controlled arc depending on the manual positioning of the wheels, zooming and panning, but that’s more than fine.  If every shot in your film looks like art-house homework, you’ve got bigger problems.  

Potential uses—collecting second-unit-footage or establishing-shots with slow pans using an automated device allows team members to put their talent into other things.  Small teams and big teams alike can benefit from suddenly having an additional angle available for every shot by delegating the boring one to a programmable tripod.  If every scene requires the establishing shot and two OTS angles, delegating one saves one-third the shoot time.  In effect, the bigger the project the bigger the savings, since every minute filming two actors in a borrowed living room is slightly less costly than, say, a minute on the set of Ben Hur.  The extras and catering alone...

Right now, there are some discussions about expansion.  These are the brain-child of a single genius, and even though he is ready with several hundred units, he knows he can’t keep up with industry-wide demand all by himself.  Once a deal is in place with an existing manufacturer to pick up these amazing products, it’s highly likely the price will go down, but there’s no telling how long that will be.  

If you’re willing to pay full price, we can get them for $249 each.  There’s always a chance that agreements with manufacturers will mean the opposite—instead of price going down as supply goes up, if the manufacturer purchases the rights simply to keep it out of competitors’ hands, it may disappear into the conspiracy-fueled round-file where patents go to die.  

If it looks groovy to you, I’d say jump on it.  After a lifetime of developing both software and hardware for the entertainment industry, the inventor is ready to retire.  However, until the paperwork is done, he still owns the company, and until he runs out of units, he’s willing to sell them to us.  Check out

If you:

Wanted to go to NAB but couldn’t, give us a call and we’ll fill you in on the highlights.

Went to NAB and are still sort of reeling, give us a call and we’ll celebrate the psychological effects of all those flashing lights together.

Were interested in purchasing something, but wanted to see what was new in the industry first, give us a call and we’ll go over what might be best for you in the new-and-improved markets.

Were in need of an upgrade but were having trouble with the budget, give us a call, because when new things are invented the things that were invented the previous year tend to go on sale.

Haven’t talked with us in a while, give us a call and say hi.  How’s the family?  Scuba diving again this summer?    It’s not all about work...

There’s a lot to this stuff.  I said it over and over again—it’s logically impossible for all of it to be the best thing for you, and if you don’t have an engineer you can trust who doesn’t belong to a manufacturer, that’s all you’re ever going to hear.  A whole lot of money goes into being the biggest and flashiest on the block, but when it comes right down to it, flashy doesn’t make decisions.  Does it do what we need it to do efficiently and cost effectively?  Then maybe it didn’t need a three story 4K LED screen with a five minute looping infomercial.  

If you need a three story 4K LED screen to sell your product, and your product isn’t a three story 4K LED screen...  See where I’m going with this...