NAB Show 2024: We Sing The Body Electric

This post is by Michelle DeLateur from ProVideo Coalition

From the bright lights of the Great White Way to the neon lights on Elvis Presley Boulevard, we swim in illumination and numbers. While every musical theater kid has memorized the number of minutes in a year (525,600 minutes, of course), every camera lover is entranced with technical numbers of all kinds from the moment they hit the show floor: frame rates, resolution, speed, miles per house, payload, cost. 

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In 2024 though, NAB Show had a unique set of numbers courtesy of construction and new walkways. Suddenly, we seemed more aware of our bodies. Heavy bags became even heavier. Long walks become longer. That cushy carpet became even cushier (here’s looking at you Blackmagic), a relief for your toes and foot pads after the longer-than-normal walk. In ways big and small, the 2024 NAB Show impressed upon us an awareness of the body in ways that stayed with us long after the floor (and not just because we now had LiveU stress balls and LucidLink chapstick). 

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With new tools at our disposal and a focus on the body, the hope is that we are able to dance, not unlike the students in Fame at the New York High School of Performing Arts (“Tuna fish. Our favorite dish!”). It feels like the swingle, the “handheld dance” filmed with one camera as the operator sways the shot between the characters. At the Women’s Cinematographer’s Workshop presented by the Society of Camera Operators at NAB Show, instructors noted that the key to be successful at the swingle, and indeed any camera endeavor was camera balance. And of course, like any good song or dance or NAB Show, don’t forget to breathe.

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Dancing is responding. It is air. We are floating storytellers. We are authors of a “silent poetry,” like Simonides of Ceos wrote. But those of us who have danced long, without supports, are starting to feel the weight, the figurative impact of those toe shoes and repetitive landings. We’re starting to fray. Those of us that have been in the field long enough to see cameras shrink are also starting to become aware of what the film industry has done to our bodies. And that bodily impact that happens alongside the beauty of filmmaking is what led Alessandro Di Leo to develop Ready Rig with his father, noted cinematographer and camera operator, Mario Di Leo

“Filmmaking is an endeavor that is very difficult on the mind and the body…It is an accomplishment to work with so many people for so many long hours in coordination to produce a beautiful piece of art,” Di Leo shared at NAB Show in between demonstrations of the Ready Rig system. The hope is that Ready Rig, a wearable stabilization system with two bendable support arms, will alleviate the literal and figurative pressure of “carrying the production on [their] shoulders” and develop a free creative mindset away from any limitations. As Di Leo emphatically shared, “What we’re trying to do from a philosophical perspective is literally dissolve away all the different elements that keep people from being able to just create instantly and be in that instant flow state when they have a camera on them.” And in this case, that camera is balanced, weightless, and ready. Even for a robot battle. 

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Two Ready Rigs ready to (dance?) battle on the show floor.

Robots are, oddly, a consistent presence on the NAB Floor these days crawling solo along the show floor, or as a humanoid AI robot named Ameca interacting on the NAB Main Stage. But it’s not the robots that stay with me from my days on the floor. The thing that is seared into my head from 2015? The SteadyGum skeleton with a shoulder camera demonstrating camera related injuries. Slumped over like they had a long night on the strip, it serves as a warning sign for those of us who have yet to address our bodies

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“Video is such a great career, as a videographer, camera operator, but..if you’re just like, oh, I’ll deal with it later, I’ll deal with getting the right support gear, then you could set yourself up for failure,” Andrew James Mitchell of SteadyGum shared from the NAB Floor. “I see getting something like the SteadyGum is an investment of yourself and future-proofing yourself, so that way you’re not going to get injured later on.”

So what’s a creator to do to try not to be a hungover skeleton, slumped over a camera, or a computer, or both? Well, what happens in Vegas usually stays in Vegas, unless you’re willing to learn. And so, at 7:30am, just a few hours after the after parties and 90 minutes before the show floor opened, a group of eager semi-caffeinated creatives met in a back room in the middle of nowhere West Hall for tea, biscuits, and wellness. Equipped with take-home bands, participants in the Rise Women in Broadcasting Networking & Wellness Event  learned the ins and ours of stretches to alleviate and counter all the time we sit at our desks and carry our gear. To start by stretching both ourselves and our creative intentions is a proper start to the show. 

“This focus on body awareness and injury prevention at NAB is crucial as it aligns with the Rise / Wellness and Care Media mission and the globally focused corporate wellness trends of supporting attendees’ well-being and longevity,” Claudia Nettig, co-Founder of Wellness and Care shared by email after NAB Show. “Through initiatives like simple yet effective ‘Movement Classes’ aimed at finding our core well-being, we strive to help professionals from all walks of life, making a difference one person at a time.”

Some of us adapt to filmmaking and our bodies respond in different ways. We change our tennis shoes (well, first we learn to wear comfortable shoes on the show floor). We roll instead of carry. We stabilize. We manage. We plan.

Some of us are treated to DJI’s eye mask and neck pillow to alleviate our travel home. It fits that a company creating stabilizers would also take an interest in our care. Making a difference one person at a time.

We come to NAB to improve ourselves, our skills, and our technology. But perhaps, it’s time to also improve our body, too. For it’s possible, like the singers of The High School for the Performing Arts in the aforementioned Fame that we too could “sing the body electric” and “celebrate the me yet to come.”

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I sleep the Body Electric?