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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Marriott lounge in progress

Early registration

Bags at the ready

Registration desk

Chairs in bags

Empty corner

Main hallway

Chevy area closed

Before

After

Step right up

Microsoft Studio setup

Construction everywhere

MXMW

Films...someday

Startup Crawl tables

Gear at the Omni

Fixing the stairs

Nespresso dome

Empty at Stubbs

3M Idea Exchange

AT&T experience

Code

AUSTIN, Texas -- The geeks are coming, the geeks are coming. But they're not here yet.

Tomorrow, the Texas capital will be swarming with thousands and thousands of geeks, and thousands more film buffs. It's South by Southwest (SXSW) time, after all, with the SXSW Interactive and Film festivals about to kick off.

But before the hordes descend, there's a lot of work to do, and a lot of rooms and halls that will be overrun in just 24 hours are sitting empty right now.

Just across the street from the Austin Convention Center -- ground zero for SXSW -- are two Marriott hotels, the Courtyard Marriott and the Residence Inn. The hotels plan a comfort lounge for attendees, but as of Thursday afternoon, things like armchairs were still wrapped in plastic. By tomorrow, the area will no doubt be packed with people.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
Those who show up at the SXSW registration desk on Friday will no doubt encounter long lines and tons of people impatiently waiting in them. But on Thursday afternoon, there were no lines at all. ProTip: Get to Austin on Wednesday and register Thursday.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
If you've followed CNET's coverage of SXSW over the years, you know that a staple is showing SXSW's goodie bag setup. While the bags are not laid out on acres of floor anymore, they are still impressive to look at.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
All is calm Thursday afternoon at the SXSW registration desk.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
Inside the Austin Convention Center, six chairs destined for some company's lounge area are still wrapped in plastic.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
A corner in the main area of the Austin Convention Center is nearly empty on Thursday afternoon. By tomorrow, this area will be jammed with convention goers.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
Believe it or not, SXSW veterans, this is the main hallway at the Austin Convention Center. By tomorrow, it will be nearly impassable, but Thursday it was a ghost town.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
One of the big companies on hand at SXSW this year is Chevrolet, which has, among other things, a lounge area by one of the main convention center entrances. But the area was still closed off early Thursday afternoon.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
Looking down into the Chevy lounge early Thursday afternoon revealed a number of the company's employees discussing final preparations.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
Just a couple hours later, the lounge was open and filled with attendees.
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If you're hungry at SXSW and want to grab something from this food truck, parked outside a main entrance to the convention center, you will no doubt have to wait quite a while for your food. But not on Thursday, when this man was the only one eating.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Once SXSW is in full swing, Microsoft will be hosting hundreds of people at the appropriately named Microsoft Studio. It is advertised as a "must-see space for attendees to collaborate, innovate, fuel up and recharge during the day, and party along at night. There's something for everyone — daytime meetups, evening parties, and more, all featuring Xbox, Windows and Windows Phone!"

But that will all have to wait. On Thursday, workers were still feverishly putting it all together.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
Okay, this isn't directly related to SXSW coming to town, but everywhere you look near downtown Austin, there is massive construction going on. And surely, the popularity of the conference has helped convince developers to modernize and build up the downtown area.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
At a nearby restaurant, a sign advertises the Mouth by Mouthwest concert series and fundraiser.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
The film festival runs concurrently with SXSW Interactive, and by tomorrow, there will be tons of film buffs -- and a few celebrities -- outside this theater on Congress Ave. Not today, though.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
Though not an official SXSW event, the Austin Startup Crawl will no doubt attract hundreds of eager entrepreneurs. On Thursday afternoon, workers at the Omni Hotel in downtown Austin were still setting things up.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
Tons of sound and lighting gear sit in boxes in a meeting room at the Omni Hotel, which is just one of many official SXSW venues around Austin.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
Workers fix the carpet on the stairs at the Omni, no doubt in preparation for the arrival of thousands of SXSW attendees tomorrow.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
A gold-colored dome, put up for Nespresso, will likely be welcoming tons of SXSW attendees.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
One of the most popular SXSW party venues is Stubbs. There will be huge parties here, with thousands of people. But not today.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
Just across from the Austin Convention Center, the 3M Idea Exchange still has fencing blocking the entrance.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
SXSW attendees will be able to have a multi-faceted Austin experience by stepping inside this interactive space. On Thursday afternoon, AT&T workers stand around, finishing its setup.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
AT&T has to be hoping that SXSW attendees don't see this on the interior of the interactive space. But during setup, it's fine.
Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET
Updated:
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