NAB Survival Guide

Getting through your first NAB Show comfortably.

LAS VEGAS - MARCH 20: Exterior photo of the New York New York Hotel and Casino March 20, 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Doubble Troubble/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - MARCH 20: Exterior photo of the New York New York Hotel and Casino March 20, 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Doubble Troubble/Getty Images). Doubble Troubble/Getty Images

Each year about 150,000 people storm the gates of the Las Vegas Convention Center in hopes of getting a look at the latest in goods and services for the broadcast television, radio and motion picture industries. The mighty NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Show is the ultimate show for video production pros and enthusiasts alike, where it’s possible to try out the latest ARRI ALEXA or Phantom Flex, look at the world through a $200,000 cinema lens or just ask somebody from Canon if they’re ever going to release a 5D Mark IV.

This year's show runs from April 16 - 21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

If you’ve been to NAB before, you’ll know that your second year is usually better than your first. The show is big. Big enough that you can wear out a pair of shoes over the course of a four day stay. Big enough that your Fitbit friends will think you’re lying about your steps. Big enough that…oh, heck. You get it. It’s big and there is a lot to see.

So, how can the aches, pains, and general exhaustion that NAB brings be minimized? Like everything else in our industry, a little bit of careful planning. After one visit, you’ll likely have your own points, but here is Russ’ NAB checklist.

Pack extra shoes - more important than anything else on this trip, be sure to have comfortable shoes, and a couple pairs at least. NAB runs until around dinner time each day, but there are events before, during and looooooong after show hours.

Even if your feet aren’t sore after day one, a shower, clean socks and a new pair of shoes can help bring about that second wind before a long night of small talk, go-karting, or dancing with industry peers.

Bring water everywhere - Las Vegas is in the desert, and it’s a walking city. The event is a walking event covering a few acres of convention hall.

Combine the two, and hydration becomes a matter of survival more than it is a luxury. Drink plenty of it, and….

Watch the booze intake - this one is really up to you, but there are a ton of events where alcohol is free or cheap, and Las Vegas is a 24 hour a day, seven day a week party. Drinks are not hard to come by, can be carried EVERYWHERE, and there will almost never be a time when it feels improper to have a drink while outside the convention center. Sitting at a slot machine at 7am and feel like a Bud Light King Kan? You won’t drink alone. While the opportunity may exist everywhere, keep hydration in mind and look after yourself. This show takes a lot out of you, and you want to present your best self. But that doesn’t mean you can’t…

Participate! There are events that are not to be missed, where you can rub elbows with the top artists, editors, motion graphic designers and other pros of our industry. There is the Las Vegas Supermeet, The MediaMotion Ball, endless industry parties, events, pinball and go-karting events and much, much more. Get out there, chat up some folks and have some fun. These events after show hours can elevate your experience from good to unforgettable. But don’t stay up too late, or you might not want to….

Go to the show - The show itself is incredible. Hundreds of vendors have saved up most of their largest product launches for NAB. Check out the latest from Blackmagic Design, AJA, Autodesk, Red Giant, Adobe, RED and much more. Prepare to see the faces you’ve watched in tutorials, or the CEO of your favorite effect company. It’s the show of all shows for our industry, so if you haven’t been, pack those shoes and get to Las Vegas!

For a more exhaustive survival guide, my pal Michele Yamazaki keeps updating the ultimate NAB Show Survival Guide, which can be found here: