Once a year, us posties flock to our mecca, and plant ourselves within the bowels of sin city to suckle from the geek teet, and bask in all it’s acronym run glory.  We spend too much on cheap food.  We spend way more on alcohol, and desperately try and find which one of the vendors will have the best afterparty.  Walking each hall and floor tenderizes our feet as if Rocky Balboa was in training.  We hoard swag in the several free branded bags slung over both shoulders.  We shout over the tens of thousands of other people asking the same questions, and demand specifications about balsawood products that won’t ship until next year.  We play business card roulette and find out who is where.  We reminisce about older, bulkier and more expensive technological solutions, the same way we’ll chuckle over this years offerings in 10 years.

Aren’t you psyched?  I’ve been packed since Thanksgiving.

I’m lucky enough to be a part of many of the vendor meetings (yes, I still feel lucky) to hear some behind the scenes and roadmap information.  This year, I even get the added bonus to be a special corresspondant for the Digital Production BuZZ; the official (and on the show floor) podcast of NAB.  With this impending information overload, I’ve made a short list of the biggies I need to be sure to check out.

AJA: PCIe cards with 3G.  That would be friggin’ sweet.  Imagine your Kona 3 having two 3G outputs.  This kind of bandwidth would allow for for Dual Link 4:4:4 and perhaps even full frame Left and Right Eye 3D – at resolutions at or above 2K.  Michael likey.  I’m also hoping to see a more enhanced KiPro; perhaps a more robust web interface for metadata, extra storage, and *maybe* other codecs.

Avid: Of course.  With Apple (still) not having a booth, that leaves Avid as the sole NLE juggernaut on the floor.  Due to NDA, I have to dance around the Media Composer 5.0 offerings, but I am excited about what will be shown.  Several game changers, in terms of media usage, management, and viewing.  Avid is really making a push, across the board, to be a bit more open.  Kudos.  I’d love to see Metafuze become (easily) cluster-able, and be a bit more efficient – if that is, indeed, how Avid will continue to utilize 3D.  The smell of a Unity revamp is in the air, and I can only imagine an ISIS / Unity / Cuisinart hybrid.

Blackmagic: DaVinci.  Lots of rumors about what the product is being morphed into since the purchase.  What will Resolve become?

NewTek: TriCaster, natch.  The Standard Definition units and now the XD300 are some of the few products in the past few years that have really knocked my nerd socks off.  We lost 3 baseband inputs when the jump was made to HD – but I completely understand the limits of technology.  To do all TriCaster does – in real time – hey, ya gotta make some sacrifices.  A guy can hope that a unit with more inputs will be available.  I’d also love to see an easier way to make 3D sets; much like the old Virtual Set Constructor NewTek had.  However, perhaps an app that allowed for HD virtual set construction with user defined areas for super imposition / PIP, as well as reflections – like their pre-baked sets have.  Creating these without Lightwave would be a huge benefit.

Cineform: I am totally in love with Neo3D for stereoscopic monitoring in Final Cut Pro.  I’m hoping for a more reliable way to reconform, rather than just pulling timecode from the “paired” file.  I’d also love to see distributed encoding into the cineform codec, so we can flip files faster.  Perhaps the ability to have different views between the Canvas and the video hardware I/O output.  Maybe more editing ability – like the 3D Stereo Tool box plug-in has.

Root6: I’ve been jonesin’ for the ability to have web based interaction with Content Agent.  I’m also hoping to see some abilities to utilize more P2 based file formats that we use here in the States, but hasn’t taken off in the UK.   I’d also like to see the incorporation of Digital Rapids 3.x software into the fold.  Stream 3.0 introduced a host of features, and Content Agent is still utilizing Stream 2.5.x.

CatDV: Another piece of enabling software that is part DAM/MAM and part friggin’ awesome.  I don’t expect anything more than further ass kicking.   Automatic Duck:  Wes has always been finding new and creative ways for project and media interchange.  I can only hope that he’s been a bloodhound on the Avid 5.0 scent and will be ready to rock and roll.  (If not – Wes, call me Monday at 9.01am.  I have some ideas.  We’ll make MILLION$).

Telestream: Can’t say much.  Just go to the booth.  Game changer(s).

Apple: Yes, I know you don’t have a booth, but you WILL be there…in some suite.  A shiny one, I bet.  Lurking.  Taunting.  iPadding.  I’d love to nibble on the cheese in the mousetrap of Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Server.  Who am I kidding?  It won’t happen.  But I can hope that maybe after the 5th or 6th round of Apple martinis, something will slip.  And if that fails, there’s always roofies and knifepoint.

Autodesk: SMAC – Smoke 2010 for Mac OS X – is generating a ton of buzz.  I’m hoping more modules will be written, and enhanced codec support.

Facilis: File Level locking is here!  Hooray!  But not for everyone.  Mac 64 bit, and a few other choice configs – not so much.  What say you, Facilis?

Assimilate: Lucas Wilson is the MAN.  When he and Tony get together, stars align.  Plus, their boss is named Taco… 😉  How can that trifecta be ignored?  I’m gonna be looking for additional hardware options and configs for Scratch, and perhaps a wee bit more editorial options and project interchange.  Howabout more efficient use of the Red Rocket card and hey RED, howabout stability on a Mac?

Other Hot Topics I’ll be sniffing out:

Easier and less expensive Blu-ray authoring for Mac and PC.

Larger Stereoscopic monitors at lower price points, both in Active and Passive varieties.

Anyone who wants to buy me a drink.