Having spoken to the organisers beforehand, I arrived at its venue, Olympia 2, first thing Tuesday morning, expecting to pick up my press pass, walk into the event and get on with reviewing it…if only.
“You got tickets?” Barked the security guard behind the desk, as I entered the venue.
“I have press passes to collect,” I replied.
“Over there,” he responded, gesturing in the general direction of three different queues.
The Rebbe is not used to queuing, nevertheless, after clarifying which queue he was referring to, I decided to join what looked like a fairly short line. I should have known better. Ten minutes later, it was still exactly the same length, as an exhibitor was having a problem getting his ticket from the women whose job it was to provide them.
As I looked back in anger…and frustration, I locked eyes with another security guard, who reiterated the mantra “You got tickets?”
In a fit of déjà vu, I replied “I have press passes to collect.”
Swinging into action, he told me that I needed to go to the press desk. Politely thanking security guard number one for completely wasting my time, I then followed security guard number two over to the press desk…which was easily identifiable by it’s complete lack of any notice saying “press desk.”
As he picked up the small pile of delegate badges discarded there by whoever should have been on duty and started to flick through them, I became hopeful…’Digit‘…’MacWorld‘…’Islamic Review’…alas though as he reached the end of the pile, there was still no badge bearing the name of my publication, ‘The Technofile.’
“Sorry, it should have been there,” he helpfully informed me, leading me back to the desk at which I had been previously been standing. By now the line was moving and I soon found myself talking to the woman whose job it was to give out the tickets…at which point I quickly realised why the exhibitor in front of me, had been having a problem.
“Are you registered?” She enquired, in an accent reminiscent of an English actress, who’d never been abroad, yet had landed a job playing a mysterious European countess, with an even more mysterious European accent, in a 1970s ITV spy series.
“Yes, I have press passes to collect,” I responded.
“What’s the publication?” She asked
“The Technofile…that’s the t-e-c-h-n-o-f-i-l-e,” I replied.
Following a brief delay, during which she attempted to get her computer…and her brain to work, she constructively informed me “You’re not on the system.”
Risking the possibility that she was indeed an English actress, who had played a mysterious European countess, with an even more mysterious European accent, in a 1970s ITV spy series…and had been doing pantomime ever since…I responded “Oh yes I am!”
What’s your name?” She asked.
Resisting the urge to say “Don’t you know who I am,” I replied “MC Rebbe…that’s M to the C to the R to the E to the B to the B to the E…bitch…”
Following another brief delay, during which she attempted to translate my words into whatever strange dialect of English she speaks and to get her computer to work, she once again responded with “You’re not on the system,” to which I repeated “Oh yes I am.”
Clearly this was more than she could handle, as, judging by the pulsing on her temples, her brain (what there was of it), was dangerously close to exploding and in what I can only assume was an act of self preservation…or possibly spontaneous combustion, she completely disappeared, leaving me stranded there for two minutes, until a substitute automaton appeared.
Reiterating that I wasn’t on the system, but adding that she would register me, automaton number two then proceeded to take all of the details I had previously given to the organisers, after which, she printed out a badge for me…and another…and another…until, finally, she managed to print my details correctly. By now the queue behind me was about twenty people long, most of whom were looking back in anger… and frustration…in the general direction of the security guards…who were too busy barking “You got tickets,” at the newest arrivals, to notice.
Now that I had my press badge, I was finally able to enter the exhibition hall…ten minutes too late for the first seminar of the day. Of course, had this been any other trade show, this would not have been a major problem, as I could have made a beeline for the lecture theatre and caught the bulk of the presentation. Unfortunately though, Video Forum is not your average trade show…
Whereas most expos have two or three clearly themed seminar/workshop tracks, appealing to different audience segments and offering sufficient capacity for everyone, the organisers of Video Forum, had decided that instead of catering to delegate’s needs, they would chase lucrative sponsorship, resulting in no less than ten different seminar/workshop tracks, without clearly delineated themes, each one of which was sponsored by a different company.
To make things worse, due to a lack of facilities, they had decided to hold these in makeshift booths, at opposite corners of the exhibition floor, none of which were large enough to house more than a handful of delegates. So although all seminars/workshops were free, they were also ticketed, meaning that upon arrival, everyone (including journalists) had to queue for their tiny allowance of three tickets (now I understand how people felt during the war)…and then return to the ticket desk after 12pm, if they wanted additional ones.
The Rebbe is not the most patient of people and having already used up my entire year’s quota of queuing time just getting into the event, there was no way I intended standing in line again, something I made clear to the organisers, who eventually took me to the front of the several hundred people long (sic) queue…by which time the three seminars that I had intended covering for The Technofile, were already sold out. Like I said, a bloody shambles!
Over the course of the two days I spent at Video Forum, I did manage to sample a selection of seminars and workshops. The workshops weren’t workshops, they were lectures, as were many of the seminars. Most ranged from the mediocre to the totally bogus and consisted of sweaty, overweight, middle aged men, whose only friends are computers, revealing exactly why computers are their only friends.
There were some exceptions, notably Arri‘s seminars on lighting and exposure…that’s photographic exposure…not flashing (or indeed flashing…technical joke)…and I particularly enjoyed the moment during the Society of Television Directors’ ‘Lighting on the Run’ seminar, when the presenter decided to prove how rugged Dedolights are, by switching one on, giving it a good kicking and dropping it in a vat full of water…whilst it remained lit…like a Neo Nazi you’ve dowsed in petrol set light to, given a good kick in and drowned…
Ultimately though, I gained far more from my visit to Adobe’s stand, than from any of these seminars, as what started off as a single question about how to achieve something particular with Premiere Pro, quickly turned into a half hour one to one demo on the finer points of Audition 2.0 and After Effects 7.0 Professional.
After showing me how he made trailers for Hollywood movies with the former (which, as it turns out, is surprisingly quick and easy in the latest version), D man from Adobe showed me some of the effects he had personally built for the latter, at which point I realised that D man from Adobe was none other than their ‘Worldwide Product Evangelist Digital Video and Audio’ and all round nice guy, Jason Levine, whose Total Training Audition DVD, I reviewed a while ago in the Technofile, something we had a chat about. Full marks to Adobe for having people of this calibre present at the event.
Of course, every trade show has its buzz themes and this one’s were HDV, which everyone…including some cynical manufacturers… seemed to be confusing with HD, and Web TV…largely as a result of a handful of web savvy companies attempting to sell vastly overpriced proprietary internet broadcasting software to wannabe producers who had never heard of YouTube.
In conclusion, this year’s Video Forum is probably best summed up by a conversation I had with the Deputy Editor of a trade magazine which went something along the lines of:
Deputy Editor: “So have you seen anything here of interest?”
MC Rebbe: “Nothing I haven’t seen before”
Deputy Editor: “Well what do you expect, it’s Video Forum, there’s never anything new here!”
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