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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My NAB 2013

This is the strangest NAB I've ever been too. I've been to 14 now and I've seen a lot of stuff I can't talk about :) and gone to more parties than I can remember. This year seeking something of a more different experience I drove out. My plan was to take a week off after the show and spend some time camping out in the desert among several areas in southern UT and northern AZ. It was all depending on where the road took me. The road however took me to a different place than I expected.

I left home in WI with plenty of time. I didn't have a hard drive at all and took a some good stops once I hit Denver and the Rockies. Hiked in some snow ( should of brought snow shoes ! ) and came down the far side of the Rockies following sections of the Colorado River. Rt 70 over the Rockies is a spectacular drive, in particular the Virginia River section which is like driving thru a smaller version of the Grand Canyon. I even got out in a few places where ever I could.

Rokinon 14mm T3.1 Cine Lens 60D • click for full size image

Heading further down the road I got into some more deserted areas of Rt. 70. How deserted ? well nothing for 60 miles between 2 towns. Thats better than a few years ago when it used to be 103 miles. There are however exits leading to dirt roads tha wander off into mountains.


Dawn at Ghost Rock UT, 60D + Rokinon 14mm T3.1 Cine Lens • click for full size image

 I eventually stopped at Ghost Rock and spent the night camped out there. I spent time doing some cool nite shots and time-lapse. 


ghost rock rokinon 8mm canon 60D

Rokinon 8mm T/3.8 Cine 60D hand held !  click for full size image


time lapse ghost rock UT 60D rokinon 14 8

Rokinon 35mm T1.5 Cine Lens wide open • click for full size image

My Rokinon 14mm T3.1 Cine Lens did TL duty while the Rokinon 8mm T/3.8 Cine gave me a few good shots, and the 35 1.5 also made a few great shots as well. All good fun and a great start of what I figured was another week of this after the show.

Sunday I went to the lake Mead area. Climbed a small mountain, had fun. The shot above is interesting because if you look you really can't tell the scale of things. How big is that tree really ? 5 ft ? 15 ft ? actually its about 1ft tall and shot with my 8mm from about a foot away.

 The Lake Mead area really isn't the most spectacular area, but it was close to town and I could drive into Vegas the back way which I had never done. Well on my way into town, about 12 long blocks from the strip fate raised its hand. The front seal on the transmission had given out a ways up the road and was leaking. Actually the real problem was a clogged transmission filter prevented proper circulation of fluid causing it to overheat and foam. The front seal released it all out. I lost power and dove across 2 lanes of traffic onto a side street using just momentum and quick thinking. Getting out and looking underneath tranny fluid was pouring out the bottom.  This was REALLY bad.

When I pulled off  the street it was right next to a garage. I bought 3 quarts of tranny fluid and poured it in. It was just enough to get it off the street. The mechanic wasn't in, but would be the next morning to take a look at it. I took a cab to the room pretty freaked out I was in deep shit with no way back home that was going to be easy.

Monday, the next morning I talked to the mechanic at the garage and he gave me his thoughts on why it failed and what to do - replace the filter, refill the fluid and add some leak seal, then see what would happen. He did it and all seemed ok… maybe. The problem is once the seal lets loose its only a matter of time before it fails again requiring replacement. That replacement of a cheap part means taking the engine and tranny out making for a very labor expensive repair. I hoped the fix worked. I went to the show and was there for the BMD press conference, various other show events, the Media Motion Ball and Adobe parties that nite. They where all great. Honestly after the BMD 4K S35 camera and the Adobe announcements / technology demo's you could mostly of gone home. Sure there was some other very cool things but there were the two that were the biggest I think.

Media Motion Ball Crew... Hey I'm in the shot for once !

Now if you have ever been in Vegas on the strip you know internet can be hit or miss and usually its barely functional if you can get it. The hotel internet was useless where I was staying. My iPhone was getting very intermittent data access varying from slow to nothing. My wonderful partner Sharon back at home managed to get me some flight info and give me some options to get back home if it came to it. Matthew my business partner was sharing the room with me was also having hit or miss internet.

All this time I'm trying to figure out what the plan is. Is the van really fixed ?  Is the fix good enough to get me home on a drive that goes over the Rockies to 11K ft in altitude ? Would it survive a demanding drive for the transmission with long uphill and downhill grades ? or was it plan B to fly back home ? and what did I do with the van ? and what did I do with all the extra stuff I have with me ? Its a lot more than a suitcase of clothes this trip. Could I get things done in a day or two or would I have to stay around in Vegas or even LA to get things done ?

Tues I got my van back. I drove it back to the hotel and all seemed ok. Went to the show, made my appointments and all was good. I checked underneath the van when I got back and there were signs of some leakage.

Wednesday I took my van out to drive it a bit and parked it in a new spot. I looked underneath to see I had clean concrete and hoped for the best. Wednesday finally got me to the central hall and I was able to check out yet more 4K cameras, projectors and LED screens. Looked amazing. No doubt 4K will become the new production standard for work with shelf life. That said 1080HD is still good for most work… well just keep telling yourself that until you see how much better 4K looks. 4K makes 1080 look like SD. Of course I've seen 8K too and thats just another class unto itself as well. Back in the real world 4K I think will creep into TV production and high end corporate work over the next year or two and become somewhat common. Give it 5 years and it will pretty much be standard even if consumer penetration of the market is still low for displays. Util you have sub $2k displays consumer adoption will be slow.

Wednesday nite I looked under the van. Crap ! small 2-3 inch sized puddle. I tape some paper over the spot in an arch to triple check its really my van making that spot. I come back a few hours later Wednesday nite after another party and the paper is wet, just a little. In my mind the leak seems to be enough that if I where to drive like this there would be no telling if it would let go or not, or if I would be pouring fluid in very 50 miles just to keep going. Thats not how you want to drive thru some of the most desolate and arid desert. You also have to consider complete seal failure. So I'm forced to plan B.

All this time I've been talking to various friends to setup some options. Several friends from LA offer me a place to crash for a few days if I need it. THANK YOU to all of them, Doug and Greg and Phillip. This is part of simply knowing the IMUG community for over 15 years -  having friends across the globe. However I was hoping to stay local if possible.

I had been posting on Facebook about my travels to the show over the last few days. I had 3G service in most areas which was great. One person following my trip was an old friend from NY who had moved to Vegas many years ago and said hello. Next thing you know he is VERY generously offering me a place to stay and to help me dispose of the van. Its so rare that I ever ask anyone for a favor, but this time I am. I was really pretty overwhelmed that some one would do this. Needless to say, I owe Warren Markowitz Esq. a big favor for helping me out. Warren is an old friend from way back when I was living in NY shooting stills and video there. Amazing what happens on facebook !...oh and if you have too much fun in Vegas he'll get you out of jail smiley

I drove out to his place with the van. I stopped twice to check to see if or how bad it was leaking. It wasn't !$@#$@#! I then start thinking maybe what I had seen leaking with nothing but the last of the fluid from the original leak finally draining out. Without having a few more days to test it, there was no real way to know. The risk of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with almost no simple options to get home was more than daunting and potentially life threatening.

On the way to his house I found a UPS store. I shipped 2 large boxes of stuff back. One of the things that had been stressing me out was getting back all the extra stuff I had brought. Some camping gear, some extra clothes to deal with all the different climate changes of basically winter to summer, and the collection of bits I just always have in the van for production work. Needless to say this got some odd looks from the 2 folks in the UPS store while I packed stuff until I told them what had happened. Well 2 large boxes and $167 later it was on its way back via ground shipping. OUCH! but done.

I made it to Mark's house on the far edges of town just fine. Nice place away from the commotion of the strip. He helped me out with getting a nearby hotel room for $33 for the night. The hotel was a WAY off strip casino and it was fine. It was reasonably quite and I even played the penny slots for a $1 profit and a cocktail. Fun… I needed it after the last couple of incredibly stressful days. Oh and of course while I had struggled to find anything beyond dial up speed internet this place had one of the fastest internet connections I've ever had in a hotel. 

last look good bye !

Mark agreed to help me get rid of the car - to either scrap it or sell it or give it away to some one who could use it. He also got me to the airport on time where I'm writing this in the plane thats taking me back home.

Update : After getting back home I  sent Mark a text. The car sat had there for a few days for me to send the title back. It had a small puddle under it so I guess the leak really wasn't sealed after all... too bad, it had been a good van. Would of been a bad drive, I made the right call.


Me on top of mountain in Lake Mead Area. Can't wait to go back. Rokinon Rokinon 8mm Cine + 60D • clicl for full size image

I'm coming back home without a car. I don't care I can manage that. It just snowed again dumping 6 inches of it in my area. Spring is just not showing up ! I don't care. What I do know is that my loving partner is going to be at the airport to pick me up and thats all I really need. I also found I had some friends I count on who helped me get through a hard one. Thank you all… because if I've said it before, NAB is about the people.