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Messages - Dany

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1
Just as a quickie from me, I sent Jack a PM through the forums to see how he's doing and if he can pop in and talk to folks.  I know from my own observations that he felt absolutely terrible about how CS went this year.  I spoke with him backstage during judging, and the guy was in tears, he felt so bad.  I'm hoping that the radio silence from him has been due to real life and other post-mortem con commitments, and that he's not too intimidated to come on and talk to folks.

Anyone who stayed long enough to see him come out to announce Best in Show could tell that he was NOT a happy person at all. I am not sure he even WANTED to come onstage, to be truly honest. I don't want to speak for the guy, but his face spoke volumes.

Here's is my overall feeling: Yes, the CS had some serious issues going on this year. I think that Jack, and the department as a whole learned a lot...the hard way. This caused a lot of grief and lost a lot of trust, as the existence of this thread will tell you.

However, this is not the Titanic..this is a stage show and there has been a process in the past that worked. I think that if Jack revisits how things were before he took on this role, investigated the issues that happened this year, and worked hard with his staff, he could make a huge turnaround for the event

I'm deeply concerned after this year, but I am willing to give him one more opportunity before writing things off completely.

2
There is indeed a separation between regular craftmanship and advanced craftmanship, which was in turn broken down by individual versus group...and this has been in place at least since 2010 when I started attending regularly.  The only thing that Fanime lacks is a true "beginner" division. That said, I don't think that is entirely a bad thing...yes, you will get beginners that get discouraged, but you will also see beginners who get inspired and drive themselves to put themselves on the level of more experienced cosplayers.

Except this was not the case this year.  AT ALL.  The craftmanship awards went: Honorable Mention (individual and group), 2 judges awards, Best Crafts. (indiv and group), and of course best in show...plus the performance awards.  Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, as it was impossible to hear the judges announce award titles from the stage....but there did not appear to be any attention to costumer level this year.  I was never asked for it on my initial judging form...but I did mention it because I feel bad when experienced folks get lumped in with less experienced costumers for judging.  There was no "Best Journeyman" nor "Best Master"....so I'm still perplexed as to how fanime didn't just lump us all together in 1 big group.

Because they do not use the terms "Best Journeyman" or "Best Master" in their judging. They use "Craftmanship" which is beginner and intermediate cosplayers, and "Advanced Craftmanship" for "master" cosplayers...and both of these are in turn broken between individual vs. group. Performance awards are more based on size of group: singular entries are put against all other singular entries, groups are put against groups.

It's not ideal, but it's more than some events have.*

The performance section is probably the only section where beginners are not protected from advanced folks, but at least an individual, who can only do so much by themselves, is not pitted against a large group, who are capable of doing a lot more onstage.  If you want to see beginners truly unprotected, that's SDCC.

Here's last year's awards, if it helps at all (because I am not sure when they will post this year's stuff). They traditionally stick to the same arrangement year to year, so hopefully it makes some sense.

http://forums.fanime.com/index.php/topic,17481.0.html

...also, is this thread supposed to be locked? Or did ewu reconsider? :)



*By the way, I will say that the ICG and its guidelines are met with mixed emotions - I get the concept, because I came from that world, but you find out quickly that not every masquerade wants to be painted by their brush.

3
To close, PLEASE STAFF! – I do not tell people to staff because I want them to prove they can do better, but because we genuinely need staff. Some of the reg staff put in somewhere around 48 hours....of a 96 hour con.....It made me sad that we had to feed the reg staffers because reg staffers would not leave reg to eat. Some would even need to be persuaded to leave their post to go pee because they had been sitting there for 6 hours. With adequate staff, it will resolve one critical limiting factor and help us make reg successful again.

Out of curiosity, how many people staff registration now (including an estimate for any on the spot volunteers), and how many more people does registration feels is needed in order to have adequate staffing? 

With that said, willing bodies moving towards the fire is all well and good, but they need to be armed with water and gear, or the fire still burns.  More volunteers would certainly help matters, but if those volunteers are not properly utilized and not equipped with a process that will support them, you're going to come back to the same problem, which is staff working stupidly ridiculous hours and unhappy attendees in line for hours on end.

4
The only thing we had this year that was photographed was our Harlock and Emeraldas costumes on Saturday. Here's a rough shot of us from 2010, the only difference being that Darieum now has a wig that he uses (and incidentally, this was the first year that he used it!).



(pardon the image - it was a quick grab off the intarwebz)


5
also, I know this was a part of the rules last year (not sure about years previous) but I also find it confusing/frustrating that entrants aren't grouped by skill level. that is a part of the rules written by the International Costumers' Guild (which can be viewed here http://www.costume.org/documents/fairness.html) and I've never seen those divisions not included in a masquerade... it really helps to level the playing field and encourages first-time entrants to participate in what is usually a wonderful and valuable experience.

There is indeed a separation between regular craftmanship and advanced craftmanship, which was in turn broken down by individual versus group...and this has been in place at least since 2010 when I started attending regularly.  The only thing that Fanime lacks is a true "beginner" division. That said, I don't think that is entirely a bad thing...yes, you will get beginners that get discouraged, but you will also see beginners who get inspired and drive themselves to put themselves on the level of more experienced cosplayers.

It may not be the exact ICG structure, but the Guidelines have never been intended to be more of a guidepost anyway. Fanime doesn't march exactly in time to the ICG drum, but they do keep people with less experience separated to some degree.

(and I'll say it - the Guidelines do have the flaw in that they tend to rank by competition experience, not by actual costuming experience. I've seen people ranked novices that really should have been ranked Masters and the only thing that made the difference is that they never competed in an event before.)

Disclaimer: This message comes from someone whose first masquerade was at CostumeCon and who has competed with and without ICG guidelines. They are nice and helpful to those who need them, but they are not the answer to all events.

6
What I would do if I were you guys, I would separate groups of pre-reg people into pickup schedules and email these people to come at a specific time frame to pick up their badges. You would at least know how many people per pickup group will be there and you can better estimate how to handle these loads.

For example, group "A" can have a time slot of: 2pm - 4pm. Group "B" came come in from 3pm - 5pm, slightly over lapping each other.

The challenge with this is that some people have work and school schedules to consider. Arbitrarily assigning a time is not going to work out because you will have people who want to change times.

Simply put - they need more bodies on laptops. There were five desks processing upwards of 2000 people Thursday, with one person at a laptop per booth. That's too few.

7
[quote author=Lucifargundam link=topic
From my understanding, Clockwork wasn't prepared for huge lines of people to pickup their badges.        It was better the way it was this year because people would have suffered at both areas due to networking and communication issues.
[/quote]

My understanding was that CA had two people manning registration only. There would have been no way to handle a sudden influx of people there if it were to have happened unless it was maybe a few hundred people or so. Also, I think you had to choose your location when you registered and I cannot remember if and when there was a cutoff to change locations.

...which brings me to the fact that Clockwork is going to need more manpower next year.

8
Fans don't want to waste a convention day standing in line.

This summarizes my feelings to a T.  The registration process has officially reached a point to where it gives no consideration to the value of a person's time and schedule.

I personally spent six hours in line, after spending about the same time in line LAST year because of all of the power failures in the convention center. Four of those hours were outside, in the cold. And yes, I was cold because I only brought a hoodie to wear for outdoors and didn't plan to spend four hours after dark on a day when I knew I would have to get up for work at 5:30 AM the next morning. I finally got home about 12:30AM because I had to still drive home to San Mateo after I got our badges.

(A HUGE thank you to the young lady who went to Johnny Rockets and could not finish her fries from her meal and shared with us at some point during the outside segment. The small, greasy boost was truly appreciated XD )

I had two people that I got in line with, both first-time attendees to Fanime. Both eventually had to leave the line after hours of waiting because one had a graveyard shift at his work, and the other was restricted to the schedule of public transit.  I don't want to think how long they waited the next day for their badges. A really poor first impression :(

When I came into the last room (after going through outside, a second room, and the Ballroom...it was like Disneyland with less entertainment while you stood there) and saw five desks for reg and five lines for badges, I wanted to scream but was too damn tired to. The arrangement was absolutely too few for the amount of people that showed up. All of that for a badge that I pre-paid for that didn't even have my info personalized into it.

...which I gotta say, would have made a HUGE difference to the appearance.  A pointedly positive note: this year's badges outside of that were beautiful and really pro looking!! Why ruin such a great looking badge with such a bleah sticker? :(

I would love to see other options investigated for reg process, and I would certainly pay to support those options. Many of my own thoughts were already brought up here, especially more tech-inclined items involving scannable paperwork and printing badges on the spot, so that you could go to either location and pick up your badge in the event that you need to change at the last minute.  Mailing can be a bit nervewracking as I have a hard time trusting the post office. :P  I really have no groundbreaking additional ideas, other than to investigate what the big shows are doing. It may not alleviate every line completely, but if I can cut my wait even to half of what I had this year, I'd be a lot happier and greatly appreciative.

9
@Dany - I hope didn't come off like I was saying anything mean about Wendell! He did try to do his best and I felt really bad that he was thrown into that situation - since he was the "face" of the show I was worried some of the audience might blame him for whatever was going on. And yeah - the band choice was the least of the problems that night but a bunch of us were miffed by it and how it seemed like having them there really gummed up the works.

Oh by no means did I think you meant to say that! :) More precisely, it's as you said, sometimes the emcee gets heat for being a bad emcee when in reality they are desperately grabbing straws to keep the audience in check in an extreme situation. He deserved a lot of credit for working with things as best as he could, especially since I have been present at other events Wendell has been in charge of and he's always been great with the crowd. I personally hope that he will have the opportunity to come back and be given less issues to have to work over.

The band choice itself is truly a small quibble in the grand scheme of things, but it does touch on a bigger issue: that people have been protesting the whole opening act thing since I started coming in 2010 (at least) and the Masq staff (or some other staff) seems INSISTENT to have something in that time slot. It poses a couple of problems:

        1. The cosplayers who are competing and are in uncomfortable costumes, some with a significantly limited vision, some with no ability to take care of biological needs without disassembling themselves..that hour can seem like not much to someone in their T-shirt and jeans, but to someone in an elaborate costume, that hour can feel like an eternity.

        2. Why put a band in front of an audience who is captive and likely may not give a damn about you? That's a disservice to both the audience and the band, in my opinion...they were a decent enough band to get the crowd going a bit, but it wasn't my thing and I would have been happier moving on to the performances.

10
As an audience member and past participant in the Masquerade, while I had a decent enough time watching so many people I know or are acquainted with compete, I was truly disappointed in what I saw in the execution of the event this year. I was giving every possible bit of my patience, as with new management there are natural bumps and thuds that will happen as someone different takes over. With that said, there were far more major issues this year than I have seen since I started attending Fanime, and it has resulted in a significant loss of trust in the event that will likely keep participants from returning, and may keep audiences opting for room parties or Black and White Ball instead.

Perhaps part of the reason is because with new management also came a switch in staff to those far less experienced. Perhaps major technical difficulties occurred that were unanticipated. Perhaps communication was simply not strong enough...whatever it was, this year was not to standard at all.  I do not foresee many people wanting to return to the masquerade in any capacity if these things are not openly addressed (as in, discussed openly on the forum if possible) and major effort is putting into resolving these issues.

I know running an event like this is not easy, and does not come without quirks sometimes.  I commend the significant effort that WAS put in to hold the event together until the very end. I commend Wendell specifically for his effort in trying to keep the audience energetic while...whatever was going on behind him. His was not an easy position to be in and I think even the most savvy emcee in the world would have had troubles with keeping the audience engaged given the situation. Go light on him, because I am sure he was sweating bullets a few times over....I know I would have had done no better in his shoes.

But I will say with no reservation that Jack and his team must put in a LOT of extra work to prepare for next year.  Based on what I have picked up from many who have competed and my own personal experience in the audience, it's a small list, but it impacts things immensely.  Communication has to be aggressively shored up so that changes in logistics are relayed to staff and participants in a timely manner.  A significant backup plan needs to be in place so that the event resumes flow if there is technical failure.  And if things need to start being prepared earlier so that an event starts on time? Get in the building earlier and make it happen no matter what. I can live with a slight delay, but the fact that the audience was not even in the door at 5:00, let alone seated and waiting for things to occur, was a huge issue.

On a much more positive note, I would like to praise is that there appeared to be more effort put into utilizing the technical resources of the stage than in the past (lighting effects, etc). Maybe I'm wrong, but if that was something intended, please continue to take advantage of it! I know many people come to compete on the stage at Fanime because it is a true stage, and any additional effort turned that way is sure to fire up a few imaginations.

EDITED TO ADD:  Curious, what was the influence of the decision of choosing the Trims as an opening band for the show? I was a bit surprised as in the past, there has been far more thought with keeping the opener at least in the Asian theme. The band was OK, but it just seemed to not fit in, and of course, it was not what people came to the show to see.  I hope that perhaps some form of cosplay-related performance can be chosen as an opening act next year, or at very least, something more related. I actually really liked Hideo, for example...or even the Taiko group that we had a couple years ago. Anything that could be kept short, ideally - remember, the primary purpose of the event is the masquerade, and anything taking from that ought to be minimized.

11
Big Event Showcase / Cosplay Spectacular 2013
« on: March 07, 2013, 08:06:50 PM »
Any news on this? i am a bit surprised that we are into March and there has not yet been anything that I was able to pull up for this year on it. We will not be participating this year (need some downtime for other project stuff) but I know others are probably wondering what the plan is.

12
Hotel and Facilities / Re: Waitlisting for Hotels
« on: February 25, 2013, 08:11:21 PM »
ewu: That makes sense. When it comes down to it, I do prefer to speak to humans :) Grazie!

13
Hotel and Facilities / Re: Waitlisting for Hotels
« on: February 24, 2013, 01:45:41 PM »
Would someone confirm the exact Fanime Housing address? Would it be housing @ fanime.com?

14
Big Event Showcase / Re: Masquerade prizing...
« on: January 11, 2013, 12:36:54 PM »
And here is the thing...I appreciate that we get ANYTHING, but really, there is a point to where you have to look at something and decide whether it is even worth the bother to give it out.  The postcards and paper stuff..those were not prizes.  That is bag filler and it is insulting to the hard work of the participants to try to pass it off as more than that. Recycle them and print certificates off the recycled stuff you want to give paper...at least that is a souvenir that will be enjoyed far more.

Since it is not ALL that is in the bags I know someone is trying, but that is my only true beef on the matter.

15
Big Event Showcase / Re: Another "Asian Only" rule
« on: November 03, 2012, 06:01:14 PM »
The last that I remember the issue about Portal being brought up, I believe I remember the response being that it was a misunderstanding on the staff's part on the origins of the game. I am not sure when they realized the situation but it was too late to pull the group, if they realized before the event.

As for amending the rule...that is hard to say. Someone will have to address that with the new director when they take up the event, as 2012 was Marisa's last year running it.  But one thing I will say, masquerades are masquerades. I anticipate no matter what the format, there will always be cliques. Removing the Asian Only rule will not change the use of tired memes, rap battles, or other overdone things...it will just change the characters that use them. And while yes, there are tons of different cosplayers doing cosplay from a variety of sources...and by all means it is welcomed. But the event has a theme that is linked to Anime, manga, and many other Asian things, and it may not be the decision of the Masquerade director to adjust the competition to stray from that theme. Not saying it cannot happen, but just putting it out there for discussion.

16
My understanding is that Marisa retired after this year's Masquerade. Is she still monitoring the email for some reason? if not, who is acting on questions while a replacement is established?

17
Allright then, when will that be?

I wish I could tell you when. Don't expect it to be too quick though, since we're only just out of this year's Fanime.  My hope is for fall, as I think the new person needs to come out of the woodwork as soon as possible. But I have no control on that matter unfortunately :)

18
As I understood of the past verdict on the matter, the rule specified that the source had to be created in Asia, and that the "look" of the source was not relevant. That said, the masquerade will be run by a new person next year, so their interpretation of current rules may be different.  I would suggest that you bring it to their attention once they announce themselves.

19
Big Event Showcase / Re: Masquerade prizing...
« on: June 07, 2012, 01:49:04 AM »
Feel like I want to step in on this...carefully of course, but since someone has breached the subject...

Let me say with all the emphasis that I can muster that I am NOT unappreciative of the fact that there are goodie bags and trophies. I am grateful that we get that sort of stuff. I am particularly a big fan of the trophy because yes, we have a trophy shelf and I like adding to it when we have earned something in an event.

And there were a few neat things that our prize bag included. I think the piece best received was one of the smallest...a Go Nagai surprise box that immediately went to my husband because he is a big fan. It wasn't huge amounts of stuff, but we didn't get Best in Show, so that's OK :)

(I DO like that BiS got cash this year, that was a big surprise, and I'm sure they appreciated that too!)

That said, I was a bit boggled to see almost 30 postcards, most of which were for things that were out of date/way past/could not be properly appreciated by the recipient because they were old. We are not talking recently past..some were several years previous. Stuff from when Lord of the Rings was coming out. Witchblade from 1998, I believe (I was stunned by that one, and it's one of the few I kept because I like the original comic)...One of them was for registering for a university on it, and had someone's scribbled notes all over it.  That one gave me a moment of definite confusion...did someone mistake the goodie bags for a trash bag on accident?

I know it's not easy to get people to contribute, and that is OK. What I will kindly request is that going forward, if promo material is included with the prizes, that it be stuff we can look forward to, rather than be rescues from freebie tables past.


20
Yay! Get to actually see all of the winners in place now. I think we missed half of them due to a combination of finding prop parts after our skit and me temporarily distracted by small children. I felt kind of like a Disney princess XD

Congrats to everyone! :D

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