I was expecting CES (the Consumer Electronics Show).  I loved CES.

NAB wasn’t CES.

But it’s unfair to compare the two.

As an organization with an educational focus, the National Association of Broadcasters puts a sharp focus on panels at their conventions.

Many of these panels were unsuccessful, in my view.

Some of the seminar titles were misleading.  For instance the program listing the panel would have something like, “How to conquer the world.”  But it would turn out to be “How I conquered the world.” Big difference.  Sure, it’s inspiring to hear how someone else took their path.  But the thing about teaching strategy is that it should, in essence, be applicable to someone other than yourself.

NAB takes a strong curatorial role in their panels, unlike Comic-Con, at which panel concepts are pitched and produced by outsiders.  At NAB, approved teachers are brought in to teach courses at the conference.  If they bomb, an entire course track can be rendered worthless.

Some panels lacked structure.  I’m not sure those who create panels generally value structure.  I think an ideal seminar is structured like a hopscotch pattern….  Instead of setting up a progressive build to their course climaxes, some instructors at NAB haphazardly hurled topics at their attendees.  Not pretty.

Panels that were collaborations with with other organizations were hit-and-miss.  Sadly, Film Independent’s indie panel had too many clips, too much moderator spotlight, and too much “I did this.”

Fortunately there were exceptionally well done panels as well.

The International Cinematographers Guild and Local 600 put on an excellent one with Vampire Diaries co-creator Julie Plec and Director of Photography Dave Perkal, Supervising Producer Sam Hill and DP Ken Glassing.  This panel promised insight into the collaboration between creator and camera.  It delivered.  It promised a glimpse of how the team tackles problems.  It delivered. And it was entertaining.

A workshop on writing for the Web provided great information on what works these days.  CG Society’s Rod Harlan forced me to think about what’s digested on the web.  (I’m trying to apply what I retained.)  Essential: proper format, small bites of information, and omitting journalistic snobbery.

On the Web, it’s be read or die.

More on NAB to follow.

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