Yes, I’m a part of the NAB Show virgins. Well… I mean to say, I was!
There’s many great articles already out there about being new to NAB and for surviving it with grace and sanity. That’s not exactly what I’ll be writing about, or rather, not specifically. I just want to share with all of you about my experiences while there, perhaps you’ll learn something new or at least be entertained reading. For people who couldn’t make it, I feel your feels. I know. And to give a glimpse through my eyes, I tried to Periscope (the new broadcast live app) my exploring of the South Hall, the monorail ride, Fremont Street, and much more. I hope you got to enjoy those. If not, there’s a plethora of pics you can view. ^__^ So. This will be about things I did right, things I didn’t, and how absolutely wonderful of a time I had meeting you all. Regrettably so, there were people I didn’t get to meet as we couldn’t cross paths (for instance, Angie and Andrew! lol) Hopefully we can meet up next time. I’ve never been surrounded by so many friends in one spot or been able to openly speak to so many vendors about specific questions. I understand why people enjoy going so very much!! Even if you travel alone, you won’t be for long once you arrive! ^_^
I stayed at the Westgate hotel (formerly, LVH I believe?) this year because I’d seen it was close to the convention center, and the less chance for me to get lost, the better. I was lucky to meet up with the awesome Kylee pretty soon at the airport to begin this adventure. I was beyond thrilled that I got one of the renovated rooms. I instantly jumped on the bed “WITH FOUR PILLOWS! OMG” You have to excuse me, I don’t get to travel very often so I’m easily amused by ‘the little things’. My first night there was mostly getting a bearing on the area, the hotel itself which mazed around with restaurants, casino stuff, and cafe/shops. I got to meet Michael Cardillo (also an NAB virgin this year) and the three of us walked around the strip and saw places like the Bellagio and Caesar’s – notably the inside part where the ceiling is an afternoon strangely blue sky, which made us feel weird because it felt like 3am time wise but inside there, suddenly it made it feel like 3pm!! I even saw the fountain show outside, despite the insane cramped quarters to do it. Many interesting characters and vendors on the side of the sidewalks, everywhere around there. Sandwiching the trip with fun adventures first night and last night: On my very last night in Vegas, I was taken by entertaining Matt Penn, Deb, and Kylee to eat the infamous In-N-Out and see Fremont Street, which shall forever live fondly in my memory. I only wish more of us could have been there, what a fun night!
As for NAB itself…
Nothing prepares you for that first step down the stairs and into the South hall on Monday morning. Nothing. I am beyond glad I was not alone and I had Kylee there to support me, dazzled and nervous as I was on my first day on the floor. People. Lights. THINGS. STUFF! Good luck focusing on anything at any given time. And after that, my days are a blur. I’m kidding. Well, kind of. Highlight sessions included the editors from the Hobbit, Premiere/Adobe, the gender gap panel, the Walking Dead panel, after effects tips & tricks, and Sandra Adair w/ Norman Hollyn.
What do I think I did that was awesome?
I didn’t close myself off to possibilities. I said yes to many things to network and grow. I pushed myself hard.
Summoned every bit of courage to speak to people I’ve always wanted to meet. Attended classes & sessions I told myself there was absolutely no way I’d miss it, no matter how early it was or how far of walking it’d take. STOPPED BEING SUCH AN INTROVERT for the week! Every time I wanted to go back to the hotel for a break, I asked myself if I was really genuinely exhausted or trying to excuse myself from being uncomfortable. Almost every time, it was because I was feeling overwhelmed (rightly so!) which simply meant I should stand outside for 10 minutes and get back in there, champ! Tuesday I didn’t even see the hotel from the time I woke up until very very late. I had people tell me how busy they’d seen me via twitter pics and updates, and I felt like I was glowing on cloud 9. It just confirmed I really did my very best to maximize my time while there. I DID IT. This is not the time to hide in the shadows. It was a large victory for someone like me. I can honestly say I’m proud – I grew more and pushed myself to keep going, finding that the unease would pass, and soon I’d be back to enjoying myself immensely while chatting up a Twitterlands friend or speaking to various vendors learning new things.
If there was any networking or fun event going on later that evening, I said yes or tried my best to attend it. For the most part, I made it to many night events I wanted to, minus a few major ones missed that I was either extremely worn out for or happened to miss while at another one. >.< WTB more time & energy, please! Notable ones included the #postchat meetup, Women of NAB sushi dinner, Adobe party, KISS Golf, Supermeet, etc. that I was glad I was able to make it out for. It was a fun way to end each day. Sometimes, things happened spontaneously and were equally fun! There is no wrong way to go about your evenings while here, so long as you’re fueling up noms at some point and having a good time.
Introvert Story Time:
Early on, I remember seeing Jason Levine from Adobe doing a presentation and thinking how on earth would I approach in the mass of people to meet him. What was I even going to say first? There is a little mental block that can happen when you suddenly recognize someone and think “ohhhh man, here’s my chance! I don’t want to screw it up!” I snuck up in the crowd after the presentation finished and kind of hid behind the taller people in front of me, sure if I was to do something nervous-silly that I could have a quick exit. Instead, the funny thing was he recognized me and waved, and in one minute, instantly I felt like I’d worried for nothing! He was incredibly easy to talk to (could have for hours, perhaps one day!) and very friendly, and I had an absolute blast chatting. Remember, the people you know off Twitter or otherwise that you meet up at NAB are your friends. So think of it like meeting up with a friend. ^__^ I’d met someone that I’d always wanted to meet, and I couldn’t be happier for it. I would have regretted if I’d listened to that inner introvert voice who assured me attending the live session and seeing them from afar “was enough” 🙂
So you see, don’t build things up so much in your head. Trust yourself. You’re going to be just fine.
This same experience happened again and again, and the nerves lessened, plus I got better at it each time. I feel different having just experienced all this condensed socializing.
Early on, I was able to meet Sian Fever through Kylee at a delicious brunch at the Avenue at her hotel. It was like meeting up with an old friend!! We all ended up having a long brunch, great conversation, and it turned out to be someone special that I enjoyed spending time with. She’s someone that radiates a lot of happy energy that you’re drawn to, so hopefully next year you’ll get the pleasure to meet her. It’s funny how you’ll meet someone initially and then run across them later on the floor or at events in the evenings. People you didn’t know or people you only knew through Twitterlands, right here to go grab dinner with! There were silly fun times with Monica ‘GlitterShitter’ haha – this gal is amazing, a must-meet, and knows her stuff! Really enjoyed watching her demo at Rampant Design. The whole time watching all I thought was “I WANNA DO THIS!” She’s incredibly fun to spend time with, and I’m glad I got to hang with her more in the week!! PS: Epic nails are epic. And both of them wore super cute dresses that made me re-consider wearing them sometimes. Cherry bomb and Alice n Wonderland, wow! ^__^/<3
I met so many people at the #postchat meetup, I worry I have a hazy memory to even touch the surface of this epic night, but I want to try anyway. Last year, Kylee passed around a pink domo bear that some of you took surprise awesome pics with later made me have FEELS. ;__; I wasn’t even there and people were trying to cheer me up. I’d been looking forward to attending this for ages and will continue to any year I can make it out.
I got to meet the legendary Jesse Averna and Gordon Burkell (AoTG) finally, and Jesse had a little keyboard with him people could sign 😀 Felt like a neat memory from camp. I can’t even begin to account for everyone I met there, and I won’t even try, but I will say you all know who you are – thank you for talking to me and showing me a good time! SO happy to get to meet Weston Woodbury, after having gotten to work with him remotely on a seriously fun project for me, it was someone I definitely wanted to cross paths with, and we did! YAY. We had fun convos about gaming (ahh EQ days!) and much more – he’s someone I would enjoy hanging out with plenty! Stay in touch, ya hear!? Also got to meet the epic and hilarious Al Mooney (meant to get pic of your Rilakkuma bear w/my Kuritsu Nyanko black kittay toys together, WHOOPS!) Sean Mullen of Rampant Designs, Jason Konoza and Eric Harnden who I have been meaning to cross paths with for some time! Got everlasting glowsticks from Kanen Flowers from That Studio, who I’d enjoyed doing a podcast with. Seriously, are they super powered glowsticks or is Vegas crazy energy powering them!? >.<
I can’t describe how cool it was to finally run into more from our ‘Twin Club’ (also including Jesse and his bro!) haha the epic Diamond brothers, Josh and Jason, over at Frame.Io. I got to chat to them for much longer than I thought possible, got to ask a few specifics about Frame Io, and told a nerdy story about birthdays which ended with a picture. A true highlight!
I knew about the infamous WallyCam from previous years, and sure enough, I found myself talking to his selfie stick camera about my excitement to be at NAB & the #postchat meetup, all the while trying hard to forget I was being filmed. >.< I am glad I got to meet Walter in person, as well, a pleasure. I was lucky to be in the video with a great group of ladies who joined me, YAY! You can see that video here. In fact, there are many WallyCam’s from this year I’d suggest checking out, such as Jesse Averna’s interview about #postchat or Kylee Wall‘s interview about #postgendergap. If you were able to attend or not, there’s some really entertaining and informative stuff to enjoy watching.
I got to hang out often with Andrew regaling our old work horror stories and much more – this guy’s so easy to talk to! Live closer, dammit! I watched Matt’s epic goofy dance down Fremont St old strip while later chatting to Deb about anime at the gamer bar. These two!! I wish you guys lived closer. You are awesome! Listened to some fascinating stories from Ben Barden about his travels, if only there was more time – he took some fantastic photos at #postchat too ^_^ Also, I had a good podcast chat with Liam, who I’d been meaning to get more time with since I had to leave EditFest early the last time. He’s a very motivated guy that I could learn a thing or two from. OH and a very lucky winner hehe I had a very comforting and cool conversation with the guys at Screenlight about being an introvert, being new to NAB, got a secret recco for noms, and a nice little demo of Screenlight and how it works. Wonderful conversation with Matt Fisher of License Lab, (sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet up, Dennis!) who we found out hails from Evansville, and we all recalled memories of good ol Indy. He’s simply awesome to chat with! I got to hang with the Lucky’s lunch group (@dhepburn @EllsDynamic @EricAddison @ChrisContiPhoto @Adamski @h_hepburn) discussing evils of cable & everything in-between, lovely ladies of NAB, and much more than I could ever possibly describe (…or we’d all be here awhile), thank you all for the chats and fun!! Thank you so ever much 🙂 I was sad when NAB was over and we all had to head back home.
On the whole, I made it through the long walking sessions more gracefully than I thought I would. Any concerns I had about my healed up lung were very minimal. I could trek that place all the same. I was told a little tip by Deb Eschweiler before even coming out that I’d tucked away in my mind. It wasn’t until nearing the end of things that I’d found myself happily soaking my feet before dinner in nice hot water to loosen the muscles up. Comfies shoes or not, you may find Deb’s trick equally helpful.
Aside from fashion-be-screwed and bringing your most comfortable pair of shoes, the other best tip was to bring extra socks. I mean, bring your whole lot! If you happen to stop by your hotel between NAB day and your nightly events, you will be extremely refreshed simply by switching into a fresh pair. I ended up bringing so many that I didn’t use them all. In fact, wardrobe wise, I think I did pretty good. Lots of tees, a few tanks, two pairs of my fav jeans, and comfy soft leggings (including the epic unicorn/robot dino pair I wore to postchat mwahah) as well as even a dress in case of sudden fancy-pants moments. As far as outer layers go, I brought my favourite lucky plaid shirt (as it saw me through my popped lung back in october) as well as two different hoodies. Ah yes, and my super lucky flying tee that has a fun little Nova in a hero cape, SuperNova, that I always wear every time I fly.
And that brings me to the weather this year in Vegas… I’ve heard it gets quite hot in the day and that it cools off at night. It does indeed get warm during the day. Lots of sun, so you’ll need sunglasses, and if you are as ghostly pale as me? You’ll want some kind of face sunscreen, at the least. I don’t know how previous years specifically went, but this year we were delighted by a dusty sand storm thing midweek. I have never in all my life seen such a thing. Bizarre doesn’t begin to describe it, but with it came along gusty cold dusty winds which continued on for the next few days. My contacts were not impressed. lol. You’ll be mainly walking to NAB in the wee hours of the morning and/or when the sun is starting to go down to head back. I would definitely not underestimate how much it cools off. If you find yourself only with shorts and a light jacket, you might regret that. I tossed a hoodie into my backpack I brought in each day or simply wore it and took off as need be. Anyone with longer hair, bring hair ties! It can get windy :O
Flying. I still don’t really like it. xD Sorry. I love glancing out the window once we’ve reached a certain height, marveling at everything below. It feels surreal. I like seeing all the clouds and sun, or the stars and lit up cities at night. I don’t love turbulence or being packed in a full plane like sardines. LOL! Who does? It wasn’t too bad on my adventures out to Vegas, but certainly on my way home it was different. Between the sand storm and the rain storms near NC, I had a little bit of a rough flight, so much so that not even a rum & coke could entirely fix that. So perhaps all I mean to say is be prepared for a possible bumpy ride. Your return flight may be a little harder to deal with than your flight coming out. You’re more tired, thoroughly exhausted, ready to see your partners/fam/kitties/familiar faces. I remembered that if the flight attendants weren’t freaking out, that I shouldn’t be either. I flicked back on the Lord of the Rings movie that I’d loaded on my phone, zen’ed my nerves, and things went a bit better. Prep yourself with good music and movies. Keep your mind busy as possible, and remember you just experienced something amazing and this ride will pass quicker if you stop paying attention!
PORTABLE BATTERY! I cannot even begin to say what a relief it was to have it on this trip. I didn’t once have any issue where my phone was dying and I was tied to a wall outlet while trying to network. I could breeze through the airport secure in knowing I would not have to be leaping to the nearest station to charge up (if one was even free, that is!) I will never travel without it again. Ever. I think a lot of people had portables with them, but if I’d come across anyone who needed some juice, I had a double USB port charger at the ready. I think I got mine for a bit under $30, and it was worth every penny. Do yourself a favour and purchase some sort of battery so you can keep up with everything.
The lines for noms and caffeine at any hall, south/central/noth, were truly of epic proportions. You can’t count on X place having X item that you saw mid day Sunday because chances are, it’s been ravaged and there’s no light snacks left except carby stuff. There were several times I braved the lines and waited it out – often, I would find myself chatting up my waiting line partner and suddenly exchanging cards and having a nice conversation. While I would say avoid these if you can at certain hours, there’s certainly some networking to be had if you keep yourself open to it. And, if you are lucky, that prized protein pack from Starbucks WILL be available still. hah.
That brings me to another fond story I’d like to share.. about strangers or wandering around Vegas and NAB alone. I had gotten up very early one morning to attend the Walking Dead panel. This was one of those won’t-miss sessions I promised myself I’d go to. It was the first time I was taking the monorail alone and heading into the halls alone. While nervous, I knew there was no other way around it, and I was going to have to trust myself to get there. That I would figure out a way if I found myself lost or took the wrong direction out. During this morning, I almost went to the wrong side of the monorail and quickly realized it. Scooting over to the proper side, there were two businessmen waiting there as well. One turned to me and mentioned he really liked my style. :O Wow. Okay! We were starting to chat and before long, he mentioned he watched anime and dressed up as Inuyasha for conventions. He even had the NecoMimi brainwave ears, WAIT! Really?! This was pretty damn cool. We chatted all the way while walking to the halls, exchanged cards, and headed about our days. I intended to run upstairs to their booth and see the ears, but sadly that turned out to be an incredibly busy day for me.
Don’t judge people by how they look, whether they have purple hair or wear a suit. Have you heard this a billion times by now? I myself would have never guessed either of them would be into anything like that, and a little trip on a monorail changed that. It was a good reminder that I hope you all take with you every time you go to an event like this.. don’t avoid someone simply because of how they look. Talk to them! Find out. Maybe you jive, maybe you don’t. You’ll never know until you try.
As for my experience as a woman at NAB (who happens to also have colourful hair/different look).. it is a mixed bag. I’ve heard about past years, and I do feel like it’s improved since then. There were times I feel like people treated me equally & well, and a few times where I felt like I was being dismissed or a bit ignored because it was assumed I wasn’t someone in the industry. Definitely the first day was the hardest for me on that front. I wasn’t sure what everybody would make of me. I realize I express myself pretty openly with how I look, and I don’t particularly love to don any ‘professional look’ suit for instance. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just not me. But hey, most of us wear jeans and nerdy tees so I’m no different there. Certainly a few booths had questionable setups. A lot less booth babes. But sometimes assumptions would sneak their way in.. even during dinners with strangers! One time, during a sushi dinner with the lovely ladies Kylee and Sian, someone thought we meant we were reporters when asked what we do, “Editors.” >.> Um. Hm. But I am happy to say that more often than not, I was greeted friendly and spoken with like anybody else. That’s all I wanted or I think any of us would want. To feel included.
To that point, I attended the Women of NAB sushi dinner, which was full of interesting ladies and filled my tummy with delicious sushi over chatting. I felt welcomed even though I didn’t really know anyone at first, everyone was friendly and easy to get on with. Also, I was in a front row seat along with Andrew Kimery and Liam Johnson to watch Sian and Kylee as part of a panel with Ellen Wixted and Megan McGough, moderated by Amy DeLouise for “Working Together to Close the Gender Gap in Post Production.” There was some really great discussions had afterwards over drinks. If you weren’t able to attend, I highly suggest checking out their hashtag #postgendergap on Twitter!
Were there things I could have done better? Oh dear me, yes!! I planned many classes that ended up being in North to South hall. The little N or S before the room # hadn’t really meant much to me beforehand. HAH. I didn’t realize the sheer distance until my first day, and believe me whether in shape or not, that distance is pretty hard to navigate under a short time frame. The rest of the week I adjusted my schedule to make sure I wasn’t unrealistically expecting myself to get from upstairs south hall to upstairs north hall in 15 minutes. Not to mention needing a water/bio break NEWSFLASH: We’re not machines!
I think it goes without saying that making sure you’ve eaten properly while hiking all through the show floors is a challenge. I had nuts and jerky and snacks, but really, it’s not a meal. It sounds easy in theory if you plan it out and bring them along, I just wasn’t prepared for how extra hungry I was by the end of each day regardless. Thankfully, there’s plentiful and even healthy options you can stuff yer face with by dinner time. You may be able to find out what night events have noms and plan ahead for that, like the Supermeet or KISS Golf events. I still say, make sure you have something edible always on yourself in case of any nom-mergency. >.< My hotel cafe had these little protein bars I could tuck in my purse for a pick me up. All that walking. All the excitement and networking takes energy. Not to mention most likely having had less sleep than usual. Just know it will go wrong, despite your best efforts. All these things can make or break your experience. No one is going to have a good time when you’re barely awake, grumpy from lack of food, and have super sore feet. I felt pretty darn good most days, and even then, I could do better. Take care of yourself, and you will be happier for it.
How I avoided getting sick? Hand sanitizer on a little holder around my backpack/purse. Each night I made sure to rehydrate the heck out of myself between water and orange juice. I don’t normally drink juice, but in this case, I decided it was a necessity. My nose would get a little stuffy (just from the dry air, more than a cold) and most times by the time I dragged myself in to lay down, my voice was raw and I was exhausted. Hilariously, I spent usually a very quiet hour uploading pictures and catching up social media stuff. It was my nightly ritual, and pretty fun one at that – I’d see a picture and think OH WOW I really did that! hehe. The cafe downstairs had little bottles of apple/orange always stocked, so it was convenient on my way back in. Sometimes I finished the rest in the morning for a boost. Also, sheer will not to catch any colds or worse. hah. I think it worked 😉
My two main thoughts regarding NAB: I wish I’d had more time and could have done more! It’s really quite impossible, no matter what you plan. Where else will I be so lucky to have so many great sessions, speakers, and floors to explore? Thank you all for showing me a great time, helping me network, showing me around the area, and most of all, making me feel included. I needed it more than you know, and I feel grateful to know/meet you in person FINALLY, mentally refreshed, and more determined than ever to keep being better.
You’re all awesome. <3
– Katie @ninjakittay
Your colourful haired ninja editor.
PS: By attending the Walking Dead Panel, I won a signed dvd by Kirkman out of sheer luck! <3 /squee.