NAB is back…but how do you enjoy the largest media trade show in the world?
NAB—the legendary media trade show (largest in the world)—is back in person after three years. If you polled past attendees, you'd probably hear a lot of the same things: You should try to go at least once; Over 100,000 people attend; It takes up the entire Las Vegas Convention Center; It's pronounced 'N-A-B,' not 'Nab'; and Awesome Adobe and Maxon software updates get shown off! But in a 2022, (hopefully soon-to-be) post-pandemic world, where many people still aren't ready to travel, how much of this is still true? Does NAB hold the same draw that it used to?
Most of these questions can be answered, so let's tackle them before jumping into what you can expect to see at the show.
What is NAB?
NAB (or NAB Show) is a conference featuring the biggest brands, names, and events in our industry. As we said before, it is one of the largest media trade shows in the world, and it is well worth your time.
You should try to go to NAB at least once
We think many would still agree with this: NAB is a unique experience that can be loads of fun. It's a great time to see old friends and make new ones. Perhaps 2022 might even provide a more relaxing and intimate experience, due to lower attendance.
NAB takes up the entire LVCC
Well, mostly. The South Hall, the two-story behemoth that used to hold many of the coolest booths, is not being utilized for the show this year. For comparison, here are the interactive maps of the show for 2019 and 2022.
The above point makes it seem very likely that attendance will be greatly reduced, but we won't know for sure until the show starts.
Is this the most important thing in the world? No. But most attendants say “N-A-B,” not “Nab.”
The world of content creation software has changed significantly since the beginning of the pandemic. Adobe's public beta program has moved feature reveals that previously would have come at NAB to potentially months earlier. Maxon, too, is holding their virtual Spring Launch Event on April 20th, just days before NAB starts. It appears the age of mega NAB software updates may be behind us, but I think we can still expect plenty of surprises and cool reveals at the show!
So You’re Going to NAB. Now What?
Ok, let's assume you're going, so now what? With whatever decisions you make, be flexible! Many of the norms we expect from past years might be completely upended; there's a lot we don't know, so let's all agree to buckle up for the ride and just go with the flow.
As for what you can control, you need to get to Vegas, stay somewhere, and get around. If flying, you'll be coming into Harry Reid International Airport (confused? It was renamed from McCarran International in Dec. 2021), which is about 10 minutes from the center of "The Strip." There are about 2.5 million hotels in Vegas, so you should be able to find something that fits your desired price range; take a look at the official NAB partner site for hotel booking. You can stay close to the convention center and walk to the show each day or stay on The Strip, where all the fun is, and take the monorail or a rideshare/taxi. Single rides on the monorail cost $5, so consider buying an unlimited pass.
As for timing, the show starts on Sunday, a day earlier than it used to. Consider flying in on Saturday so you're ready to go for day one. Speaking of actually getting into the show, there are several options, but most of the eyes reading this will likely want an exhibit-only pass or attendance via Post Production World, where SOM’s own Kyle Hamrick is among the lineup of talented presenters. If you're only looking to visit the trade show floor, make sure you don't pay! NAB exhibit passes are like WinRAR—yes you can pay for them, but how many people really do? Most vendors, like our friends at Maxon, offer codes for free exhibit passes, but official conference sessions do cost money.
What can I expect to see on the NAB Show floor?
You made it to the convention center, congrats! What do you actually do once inside? If you've never been, you definitely have to "walk the show floor." If you're a production or post-production gearhead, you'll be in heaven. There are some pretty incredible things that you might not expect to see inside a building (a drone pavilion and huge broadcast antenna, for example), and there are some pretty awesome booths with swag that ranges from "meh" (pens) to great (t-shirts). If you have been to NAB before, you know the drill: you'll probably end up walking the floor anyway, seeing some awesome stuff, but also thinking "this looks the same as the last time I went, but the cameras all shoot one or two more "K's."
So is that all there is to NAB? A big ole trade show floor that's going to tire me out in a day or two? Actually, the real fun of this show is making new connections and lifelong friends! A few days with a fun group of like-minded motionographers can turn into connections that span years and thousands of miles. I haven't seen The Time Traveler's Wife, but I'm pretty sure it's exactly the same concept.
When not walking the show floor, you'll find a lot of your friends hanging out at either the Adobe or Maxon booths. There will be presentations happening all day long, given by all sorts of wonderfully creative people. Have you ever wanted to talk to members of the After Effects, Premiere, and Cinema 4D teams? This is your chance! One piece of advice, though, be nice. These are real people who care about you—their users—and the products they make. Have a nice conversation with them and I guarantee you'll learn some really neat tidbits you can't find online. If I find out that you (yes, you) were mean to anybody, I will know and I will hunt you down.
Are There Parties at NAB?
You didn't think going to Vegas was all about the trade show, right? The real fun happens after the show floor closes! Y'know who throws great parties? MoGraph and video people. Picture this: you're standing around with your favorite beverage in hand and you're talking to people about After Effects and Cinema 4D. Yup, that's it; that's how we roll. There are loads of parties during NAB, but here are some fan favorites:
MoGraph Meetup - Sunday 4/24 - Free, but you must RSVP.
The MoGraph Meetup is a relatively new event, but its popularity exploded quickly. It's sponsored by all the cool kids in the MoGraph world, including School of Motion. The drinks are free, the company is nerdy-in-a-good-way, and it's a great way to kick off NAB. What more could you want?
Media Motion Ball
Media Motion Ball - Monday 4/25 - $25, which includes light food, two drinks, & one raffle entry.
An NAB institution, MMB was first held in 1998 and is always considered one of the best parties to attend. This year's event will be smaller and outdoors, but you can still expect a good time. The prize raffle is well known with loads of high-value items and it's sponsored by all the big names in the industry.
SuperMeetUp! - Monday 4/25 - $15, which includes complimentary drinks, light food and 2 tickets to win prizes.
Another long-standing NAB event that's been moved outdoors this year, the SuperMeet is more geared towards editors, so pick the party that speaks to you the most! This one also includes a mega set of prize giveaways sponsored by all the big names in the industry. Is there an echo in here?
Secret Pizza - Any day you want - $ cost of delicious, secretive pizza.
Location: If I told you, it wouldn't be a secret, right?
If you keep your ears and eyes open, you’ll probably learn about several other private and semi-private parties and events happening every evening. Make a point of visiting vendor booths, talking to new people, and being a little loose with your schedule. It’s Vegas, after all!
What If You’ve Been to NAB Before?
What if this is your 20th NAB (or third) and maybe you want to try something new? Vegas has a ton of amazing shows, attractions, and restaurants, so maybe this is the year you branch out and try something different. And don't forget, being in the middle of the desert offers some unique opportunities you might not get while attending other conferences. Have you considered taking a drive out of town to see some of this country's most beautiful landscapes? Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire are only 30 and 50 minutes—respectively—off The Strip. Consider bringing your camera and getting away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds because they can be mentally draining.
You made it to the final stretch! You know all the basics about going to NAB and what it takes to have a great time. Let's wrap up with some tips that will make you feel like you've been going to the show for years.
- Do you love coffee? Do you need it to start your morning? Guess what, Vegas hotels don't really do coffee makers in rooms; so if this is something you desperately need, consider bringing your own portable brewer (yes, this is a thing some people really do).
- Bring comfy shoes because you will be walking a lot. And when you're done walking, you'll be walking some more. Not every company opts for the premium, foam-padded carpet at their booth, so you'll find yourself making a point to step on it to give your feet a break. The real pros walk the show floor like they're inside a strip of The Family Circus.
- Rest before going out for the evening. Oh, and change your socks—your feet will appreciate you.
- Stretch each morning and each evening. You'll thank me later.
- Bring a refillable water bottle; bonus veteran points if it's collapsible.
- Most free events will require tickets, so don't assume one isn't needed or you might not be allowed in.
- COVID is still a thing and NAB has very clear guidelines for entry. Proof of vaccination or negative test is required. Read through this page so you don't get held up at the show.
Book Your NAB Ticket Now
I'll leave you with one last tip, and this is possibly the most important one: there's too much to do at NAB, you can't do it all, so be flexible and don't worry about it. You'll meet new people, have a great time, and go home with some wild stories. See ya in Vegas!