lördag 26 mars 2016

Om jag hade organiserat en cosplaytävling

This post will be in Swedish, because it’s about a hypothetical Swedish cosplay competition.

Disclaimer: Jag har aldrig organiserat en cosplaytävling, så det är mycket möjligt att jag missar saker som en organisatör måste ta i åtanke.

Om jag skulle bli ansvarig för att organisera en cosplaytävling så hade det första jag gjort varit att kontakta alla som organiserat liknande tävlingar förut, för att se vad som gick bra och dåligt. Denna punkt tycker jag är helt självklar, det är precis som med att bygga en cosplay: man måste göra research innan man startar med ett stort projekt, och vad är en bättre informationskälla än de som redan jag genomfört sagda projekt?

Detta är dock min vision:

Ur en tävlandes synvinkel

En cosplaytävling är ingenting utan de tävlande, de är stjärnorna i showen och ska behandlas därefter. De är inte boskap som ska fösas runt, de är entusiastiska individer som har betalat för att få vara med. Därför är det viktigt att de tävlande mår bra och att allt går så smidigt som möjligt för dem.

Den tävlandes resa börjar vid släpp av eventets hemsida. Där ska det finnas tydlig information om hur tävlingen kommer att gå till, vilka kategorier det finns, vad reglerna är, etc. Denna information ska vara skriven så att en cosplayare som är på sitt första konvent, på sin första cosplaytävling, ska ha full förståelse. Var övertydlig och förklara även sådant som du som erfaren kanske tycker är självklart. Här ska det även finnas en beskrivning av hela processen, och en kalender med viktiga datum.

Nästa steg är släppet av cosplaypassen. Dessa pass bör ha en symbolisk summa på max 100 kr, och ska finnas i begränsad upplaga (antalet ska ligga i underkant, ett andra släpp av cosplaypass kommer att komma senare baserat på vilka kategorier som ansöks till av de som köper vid detta släpp). Till cosplaytävlingen köper man ett så kallat ”blankt” cosplaypass, d.v.s. ett pass som inte är knutet till en särskild kategori. Du ansöker om kategori vid ett senare tillfälle. Detta för att ha bättre kontroll över att varje cosplayare tävlar i ”rätt” kategori. Plus att det ger ett visst lugn att inte behöva bestämma kategori redan vid biljettsläpp, för så långt innan tävlingen så är det sällan man vet ifall ens cosplay kommer bli värdig säg en plats i Master.

Kategori-ansökan sker i ett Internet-baserat system och öppnar samtidigt som biljettsläppet (för de som redan då vet vilken kategori de vill tävla i). Det är inte först till kvarn, utan ansökningarna kommer samlas in under viss tid, för att sedan gås igenom vid ett visst datum. Detta sista ansökningsdatum ska tydligt framgå.

När vi går igenom ansökningarna så ser vi till att de tävlande hamnar i ”rätt” kategori, i första hand den de sökt att få var med i, men om de inte har rätt att vara där så kommer en annan kategori att föreslås. Ansökningarna ska gås igenom av folk som har insikt i det svenska cosplaycommunityt. Efter att ansökningarna gåtts igenom så kommer vi veta exakt hur lång tid tävlingen tar, och om det då kommer finnas tid till att fler tävlar så kommer ett andra släpp med pass. Detta andra släpp ska tydligt kommuniceras i förväg.
(Edit: tidigare stod det att även domarna skulle gå igenom dessa ansökningar, detta har tagits bort efter feedback).

Nu har alla fått sina kategorier. Den tävlande prokrastinerar hela vägen fram till veckan innan tävlingen, dygnar fem dagar i streck och gråter ögonen ur sig av stress, men lyckas ändå bli klar på tåget till eventet.

Den tävlande anländer till konventet. Det är nu dags att anmäla att man är på plats. Detta ska helst ske innan ett visst klockslag så att vi vet ifall någon hoppat av. Vid denna anmälan så får de tävlande sitt startnummer, genrepstider, sista-minuten information, och en folder med viktiga tider och annat som är bra att veta.

De som tävlar i Master har sin förbedömning dagen innan tävlingen.

Vid genrepet samlas alla Novice, Intermediate, och Master utan performance (mer om detta längre ner) vid scenen (kanske får dela upp det i ett par grupper beroende på hur många det är). Vi går igenom hur tävlingen kommer gå till för dem, de får testa att stå på scenen och känna av den. De som har större cosplays får även chans att testa att ta sig upp på scenen (det bör finnas en ramp).

Genrepet för Master med performance och Sketch är betydligt längre. Varje tävlande/grupp får en egen tid då de får möjlighet att repa sitt framträdande. Helst ska de få möjlighet att gå igenom sina framträdanden i sin helhet minst två gånger, plus lite extra tid för annat. Förbedömning för Novice och Intermediate sker samtidigt som genrepen.

Det är tävlingsdags. De tävlande står backstage och är så sjuuuukt nervösa. Det finns tillgång till vatten och icke-kladdiga snacks/frukt. I den här nervositeten och peppen är det svårt att tänka klart eller att fokusera på något annat än vad man själv ska göra på scen. Därför är det viktigt att det finns gott om funktionärer som ser till att de tävlande vet var de ska och när de ska upp på scen. De tävlande ska INTE behandlas som boskap, de är artister, inte djur!

Va? Är det redan över? Adrenalinet pumpar fortfarande. Efter tävlingen så är de tävlande fria att göra vad de vill. Mingla med publiken? Ta av sig helvetesdräkten jag vill aldrig se den mer!!! Ta en dusch? Njuta av resten av konventet och känna sig fett stolt över att ha lyckats genomföra sin första tävling?

Om man vinner något så blir man uppringd under kvällen/natten/följande morgon (beror på hur lång tid det tar för domarna att bestämma sig). Vinnarna ska då infinna sig vid prisceremonin som är en del av avslutningen. De får sina priser och publikens jubel.

De olika kategorierna

Novice
Novice är en kategori för de som inte tävlat så mycket förut. För att få tävla i denna kategori så får man inte ha vunnit något pris på en tävling tidigare. Förbedömningen är kort och avslappnad där man inte går in på detaljer, det är endast en chans för domarna att se cosplayen på nära håll. Förbedömningen är frivillig (men om man inte går på den så kan man inte vinna priser för hantverk). På scen gör man en så kallad ”walk on”. Man går upp, poserar i 5-10 sekunder, och sedan går ner.

Intermediate
Intermediate är kategorin för majoriteten av de tävlande. Det är här man tävlar om man känner sig lite varm i kläderna, eller om man som nybörjare vill utmana sig själv. Man får inte tävla i Intermediate om man vunnit Bästa Intermediate (eller högre). Förbedömningen är lite mer seriös än för Novice. Domarna ställer lite mer ingående frågor. Förbedömningen är frivillig (men om man inte går på den så kan man inte vinna priser för hantverk). På scen gör man en så kallad ”walk on”. Man går upp, poserar i 5-10 sekunder, och går ner.

Master
Master är kategorin för de som verkligen satsar på cosplay. Det är här man tävlar om man vill tävla på riktigt hög nivå, eller om man verkligen vill utmana sig själv. För att få tävla i Master måste man få sin ansökan godkänd, vilket baseras på ens tidigare arbete, work in progress bilder, personlig brev, och engagemang. Förbedömningen är mycket genomgående och sker dagen innan tävlingen. Cosplayen ska då ligga i delar på ett bord, så att domarna verkligen kan detaljgranska arbetet. Förbedömningen är frivillig (men om man inte går på den så kan man inte vinna priser för hantverk). De som deltar i Master har även möjlighet att göra ett performance på max 3 minuter (tänk längden på en låt i Melodifestivalen). Även performance är frivilligt (men om man inte har ett så kan man inte vinna priser för performance). Både förbedömning och performance är krav för att kunna vinna Bästa Master.

Sketch
I sketchtävlingen tävlar man i grupp (eller ensam) för att in character underhålla publiken. Detta är inte en performancetävling, utan fokus ligger på underhållning. Vi vill se humor, känslor, nörderi, referenser, och gemenskap.

Ur publikens synvinkel

För publiken är cosplaytävlingen en chans att se snygga cosplays, heja på sina vänner, men kanske främst är det underhållning. Därför är det viktigt att se till att publiken har det bra, och att hela tävlingen är underhållande.

Ett första steg för att göra det bekvämt för publiken är att hålla tävlingen inomhus, vid en scen som har bra stolar (tänk en stor teater). Publiken ska ju orka se på hela tävlingen, som troligen kommer hamna på runt 3 timmar, och det orkar man aldrig med om man måste stå upp eller sitta på golvet/asfalt. En bra inomhusscen ger också möjlighet att få bra ljud, ljus, och effekter.

Tävlingen inleds med en introsketch. Denna sketch är skriven för att peppa igång publiken, det ska vara energi, pepp, och igenkännbarhet.

Efter introsketchen kommer konferenciererna och förklarar hur tävlingen kommer gå till, och hur man röstar. Ja du läste rätt. Jag vill återinföra Publikens Val.

Sedan sätter själva tävlingen igång med alla walk-on tävlande: Novice, Intermediate, och de i Master som inte har performance. De kommer i kategoriordning så att publiken hänger med. Att ha det i kategoriordning gör också så att man får en känsla av hur långt in i tävlingen vi har kommit, så att det inte känns som att det håller på i evigheter.

När alla walk-on är genomförda kommer en mellanakt-sketch.

Därefter börjar Master Performance, och efter det kommer de tävlande sketcherna. Mellan varje performance och sketch så är det en mini-sketch. Mini-sketcherna är mycket korta och är till för att fortsatt ge underhållning medan scenen görs i ordning för nästa performance/sketch.

Hela tävlingen avslutas med en outrosketch. Alla icke-tävlande sketcher (intro, mellanakt, mini, och outro) är av samma grupp, och det bör finnas en röd tråd genom alla sketcher. Detta för att showen ska kännas välpaketerad.

Ur en domares synvinkel

Eftersom jag har dömt en del cosplaytävlingar så vill jag även ta med denna synvinkel.

Domarna ska väljas utifrån deras förmåga att döma, inte utifrån om de vunnit fina priser. Domarna ska också väljas så att de kompletterar varandra, ingen domare kan allt, men ofta är de specialiserade inom vissa områden. Om det tas in utländska domare så ska det finnas minst lika många domare som är insatta i den svenska cosplaykulturen.

Domarna ska så tidigt som möjligt få tillgång till de tävlandes anmälningar, work in progress bilder, och framförallt referensbilder. Domarna förväntas göra utförlig efterforskning om karaktärerna. Utskrivna referensbilder ska även finnas på plats vid förbedömningen.

Det ska finnas riktlinjer om vad som ska fokuseras på, och tydliga regler kring vad som ger poäng och hur mycket poäng man kan få.

Vid förbedömningen ska de tävlande ha fasta tider som de ska bedömas på, och mellan varje bedömning ska det finnas ett par minuter för överläggning.

Under tävlingen så ska domarna kunna se allt som sker på scen, och efter tävlingen så ska det finnas ett dedikerat rum där domarna ostört kan överlägga hela natten om så behövs. Efter överläggning så ska poängen lämnas över till oss, det är sedan vår uppgift att ringa in vinnarna.


Edit: 

Efter att jag publicerat detta så har en diskussion angående förbedömning vs efterbedömning för Novice och Intermediate uppstått. Jag motsätter mig inte något av dem. Jag skrev om förbedömning här för det var det som kom till mig när jag skrev detta. Efterbedömning kan fungera bra det också, och har fördelen att det är tidseffektivt.

söndag 14 februari 2016

ConReport: NärCon Winter 2016

It is no secret that I hesitated a long time before I decided to go to this con. My convention and cosplay pepp had been non-existent since the summer, but about two weeks ago I decided to go to NärCon Winter anyway; meeting friends and watching CosplaySM live would still be worth it.

My experience
This was the first convention in a long time (and the first NärCon in an even longer time) that I went just as a regular visitor with no obligations what so ever. It also turned out to be the con where I cosplayed the most. I cosplayed Erwin the entire Friday, I got praise for my cosplay, and I even learned that I have fan girls (!). It was so fun just walking around as Erwin and talk to people. During Saturday I cosplayed as Sailor Jupiter and hung out with friends.

Doing this much cosplay made cosplay regain that “magical” feeling it had when I was new; it really reignited the hobby for me.

Opening and Closing Ceremonies
The opening and closing ceremonies where jokes. The opening ceremony was a 14 minute boring skit, and the closing ceremony was a 4 minute boring skit. I have no idea what they were thinking. An opening ceremony should make the visitors excited for the con, building up the energy and pepp. While a closing ceremony should look back at everything that happened, make the visitors feel part of the community, and build excitement for the future. We got none of that.

Cosplay Competitions
The cosplay competition (“Cosplay Classic”) was one of the best competitions I’ve seen in many years. All the cosplays were great, there were no awkward pauses (everything went smoothly), and the entertainment had a single overarching story that made the show feel complete and coherent (and Karu was so good as Tuxedo Mask/announcer). The competition made me want to get back into competitive cosplay.

Sadly I can’t remember any performance (from either the performance competition or the master category) apart from the Findus one. But that tells more about the current state of Swedish cosplay performances than it does of the competition itself.

Cosplay SM
This year’s edition of Cosplay SM had a better show than last year, but the energy in the audience was lower. The cosplayers were awesome. I really liked the Hyrule performance because it felt refreshing to see a fun performance for a change; it doesn’t have to be serious to be a good performance.

The pre-show sucked. It was just a bunch of trailers and some dances, nothing to really bring up the energy and pepp. Not like last year when the pre-show made a great job of warning up the audience. The intro show felt very out of place; it had nothing to do with cosplay at all. The second show (the big Game of Thrones one) on the other hand was awesome, and it featured several members of the community.

Cosplay SM made me not want to compete again, because what if you win and qualify to SM? The cosplayers in SM are so good, I can’t compete with them.

The new venues
The convention was in new venues this year: Saab Arena and a sport center. Saab Arena was good and has the best stage in Swedish cosplay. The rooms for activities were however very small. Overall I liked Saab Arena. The sport center on the other hand… It was just two big and open halls, one for e-sport and one for everything else. Didn’t NärCon learn from ConFusion that it’s not a good idea do have big halls? Both halls were very noisy. The designated meetup area was in one of these halls, right next to a stage and “GottCon” (famous for always blasting music). It was impossible to hear anything during meetups, so you either had to go someplace else or disband completely (rendering the meetup area completely useless). I tried to stay away from the sport center as much as possible.

Food and drinks
It was for some reason forbidden to eat or drink anything but water in Saab Arena. (I find this to be bullshit because I saw several non-visitors eating in there). And since you didn’t really want to go to the sport center, you ended up not eating or drinking anything (unless you went to the city, but it was cold outside). Yes, there were water stations spread all over the arena, but there were no mugs to drink from, so they were essentially useless. This made me a bit dehydrated by the end of Saturday, and gave me a major headache the day after.

Scheduling
The major problem I had with NärCon this year was how bad the scheduling was. The schedule changed all the time; things changed time and place constantly without notifying anyone. A lot of things were double booked and had to be canceled. It was a mess. And with everything always being late you couldn’t trust the schedule at all.

So to summarize:
Good: Friends, reigniting my cosplay spark, Cosplay Classic, and Cosplay SM.
Bad: No food or drinks, noisy sport center, and bad scheduling.

Score: 3/5

I had a lot of fun, but it’s difficult to know if I had fun due to the convention, of if I had fun because I was with the right people.

onsdag 29 juli 2015

My perfect convention

Now when the bitterness from NärCon have calmed down a bit, I’ve started to think about what I want to get out of a convention. How would the perfect convention look for me, what activities would really excite me?

I do not think it is possible to create a single con that would be perfect for everyone, and what I want to get out of a con changes with my mood and company, so keep in mind that it’s only a “in the best of worlds”-scenario.

Most of the time I will probably spend talking with friends, but I can do that outside the con, so they also need something that I wouldn’t get from a regular meetup. For me the only thing that really interests me are the stage shows. Opening Ceremony, Cosplay Show, Closing Ceremony, and other random fun shows like gameshows and talk shows.

On stage:
The opening ceremony is usually the most boring of the stage shows, so it need something special otherwise I won’t go. If it’s only reminders like “Eat, Drink, Sleep, Shower” and talking to guests then I won’t bother going. The opening ceremony need to get the excitement going and leave me with a feeling of “Yeah! It’s started!”

The cosplay show should have the normal walk on, and skits. Nothing more. No performance contest. If the con is big enough to attract a lot of good cosplayers then the contest should have Novice/Intermediate/Master categories (otherwise just a single category). Then it should also be optional for the Master category to do performances. 

The contest should have an intro-skit, an intermission-skit, and a closing-skit, all made by the same people and have a clear storyline between the three. The winner of Best Skit get the honor of doing the three intermission skits next year, this will make it more attractive to compete with a skit and it would hopefully attract the groups that normally do intermission skits to start compete again. Prize categories for the contest should include both Best Cosplay, Audience Choice, and a lot of smaller more fun prizes. The winners should get some kind of physical prize such as a trophy.

The closing ceremony should tie the weekend together, give out prizes and show an after-movie. It should leave me wanting to return next year.

I also want to see fun activities and gameshows, like Jeopardesu and Grand Batsu. They don’t have to be that serious and should just be about having fun with contestants.

The venue:
The venue should be easy to get to. I’d say max 2h by train from Stockholm, with no need to change trains. And then when you arrive in the city, the con should be located either close to the train station, or close to a bus-/subway-stop.

Also close to the venue there need to be a food store, a hotel, and the sleeping halls. Food, drink, sleep, and showers are the most important things for a pleasant convention experience, and the con should make it as easy as possible to get access to it even if it doesn’t directly generate money for the con.

The venue itself should have both indoor and outdoor areas, but should be planned in such a way that everything can take place indoors in case of bad weather. This includes not selling more tickets than the indoor area can handle.

The stage must be indoors, no exceptions. It should be a big stage with permanent light, sound, and video arrangements. Comfortable seats for the audience, do not make the audience stand. Think a real theatre stage, like the one UppCon had.

The venue and its outdoors area should have charm and character, providing good photoshoot locations for a variety of themes.

There need to be dedicated changing rooms for cosplay, with lots of mirrors and space to move around.

The indoor area should have big and open areas with big doorways for big cosplays, as well as smaller areas for lectures and places to hang with friends. These smaller places need to be comfortable and not too loud. Avoid stairs if possible.

Guests:
Guests I want to see are people that can bring something to the Swedish cosplay community. Guests with knowledge that can be shared at lectures. I do not care about fame, I want to learn. Either that, or guests that are real entertainers, that can do stage shows and participate in gameshows. I do not want to see guests that get invited for their fame, and is then never seen at the con, providing no value to the visitors.

Activities:
Since I mostly go to conventions to cosplay and meet friends, there are not that many activities that interests me. I only participate in a very select few activities and those are lectures and workshops about cosplay related subjects. And even then I only go if I have nothing else to do (my priorities are: stage shows, walk in cosplay, hang with friends, and lectures).

How it’s organized:
Everything is open, everyone should have insight into how decisions are made, how they reasoned to come to these decisions. The visitors and community should feel that their input is valuable.

The organizers should listen to their visitors. And I mean really listen, not just look at the statistics of a survey and see that the visitors want cosplay guests and then just invite the one with the most Facebook likes. No, they need engage in the community and find out what the visitors really want.

It should be rewarding to work as a staff at the con. Consider even paying money to the staff in the less popular teams. Take care of your staff, do not overwork them.

I don’t mind there being a lot of people at the con (more people to see my cosplay, and more new friends to get to know). But both the organization and the indoor-venue need to be able to handle all the visitors.

I don’t mind the ticket price being high, if it means that the quality of the con is also high.

Edit: If the con is open 24/7, then the food stores run by the con need to be open as well. If the con is not open 24/7, then it need to open around 8 in the morning (or earlier). Maybe even provide real breakfast like cereal, bread, and porridge for cheap/free (like DinoCon:01 did).


That is what I can think the perfect convention should have. I probably missed a lot, but it is what I could come up with right now.

måndag 27 juli 2015

ConReport: NärCon Summer 2015

I almost didn’t write this report, because NärCon is no longer worth anyone’s attention and should be boycotted forever. But I still feel the need to express my thoughts.

I know there are a lot of you that look forward to this report, especially after the disaster that was NärCon Summer 2015, but I am only one person so I did not see, hear, or experience everything. But I will talk about the things I did see, hear, and experience.

So let’s take this in chronological order, as usual.

Wednesday
I arrived the day before the con because the person I travel with had to be there. I didn’t do much this day, I checked in and found surprisingly many friends to talk with. It was a nice way to “ease into” the con and start the convention feeling.

Thursday
I cosplayed Commander Erwin Smith from Attack on Titan, had a photoshoot, and walked around the con with friends. The shoes killed my feet and I had giant blisters the rest of the con, awesome start…

I changed back into civilian clothes and had a look around the con. I could not find anything of interest, it’s like there are less and less things to do at cons. The stage shows are usually fun though. I skipped the Opening Ceremony because they are always the same anyway: “Eat, Drink, Sleep, Shower”, a lot of guests I have never heard of, and maybe a video.

I did see the Cosplay Performance though. It’s nice to see that there were so many participants, but can we please stop doing dance skits? They are sooooo boring. Despite my obvious distaste for dances my favorite Solo Performance was the Supernatural dance guy. My favorite Skit was the one with Stormwind City Guard, they were so funny! Their skit worked even for non-WoW-players, all the characters had clear personalities, and the script was well written.

After the performance contest I stayed for Grand Batsu. The only activity I actually looked forward to during NärCon. And just like last year it was the main highlight of the con. I laughed so much my stomach hurt.

Friday
I cosplayed Garnet from Steven Universe. Found Niclas as Pearl on my way from the hotel, found Shila (photographer) at the con, and later also Fia as Rose. We had a few photoshoots, and walked along the main road. It took us two hours to walk from one end to the other, constantly getting stopped and asked for photos. To meet people that were happy to see our cosplays, to talk to people that recognized me from online, and to pose for photos was the other main highlight of the con.

I changed into civilian clothing and stumbled into a Bacon BBQ Party where I found some friends. We talked about NärCon until it was time to start queuing for the Nordic Cosplay Championship (NCC). The NCC had a really high production value, as was expected then national television was there broadcasting the show live. From an audience standpoint everything looked great and amazing, and I’m so happy that Elin won!

Saturday
The day of the regular cosplay contest, and it’s raining like hell! I was pre-judging the Master category for four hours, and it went very well and smoothly. When it was time for the show it was still raining. We could see how the poor stage crew did their best to save the stage. The show gets delayed an hour, and then it was cancelled because the stage was falling apart. I feel so sorry and sad for the cosplayers that didn’t get to show their cosplays.

So instead of watching the cosplay show, we got a private showing of VändettA Cosplay’s intro skit, and then formed a “salt circle” and talked about everything bad. This is where a lot of things surfaced about how NärCon is actually organized.

Sunday
Nothing happened this day, I just spent it with my friends.

That was what I did during the con. And you might think that beside the rain (that wasn’t NärCon’s fault), there wasn’t anything to justify all the negativity, so let me go though some of the things I’ve heard and my thoughts about it. (It might be a bit scattered…)d


EDIT: Some people does not seem to be able to read, so I would like to make it extra clear that nothing in this report should be taken as facts. I only write about my experience and things I have heard. But apparently there are a lot of you that agree with my thoughts, so even if they are not 100% based in fact, there are some underlying problem with NärCon.

  
I go to NärCon for two things: To cosplay, and to meet friends. That’s it. There is NOTHING that NärCon does that is worth going for. Not even NCC or Grand Batsu is worth it without cosplay and my friends. And I can cosplay and meet friends without NärCon. I’m only going to NärCon because everyone else is going to NärCon, if my friends didn’t go, I wouldn’t either.

NärCon have stopped thinking about the visitors and is only thinking about big numbers and money. They didn’t even sell out their tickets, they only said they did. I think they had 10’000 tickets for sale, and “only” sold 8’000 (maybe not even that).

NärCon invite guests that have “impressive” merits, but not that is interesting or relevant for the Swedish community. Only to be able to say things like “The world’s most famous cosplays was at NärCon”.

Almost all organizes were new, so no one knew how things should be done, and I guess this is because no previous organizers want to return because of how NärCon is treating them. The same goes for the staff. Every team was understaffed, and didn’t have enough budget, so the staff had to work their asses of, which in turn leads to them not returning next year. I even saw posters about how NärCon was trying to convince regular con-goers to start working for them, and that says a lot about how understaffed everything was. NärCon is going to run out of volunteers.

The cosplay team didn’t even have a room, so they had to work out of a car. But despite this Freddi (the cosplay organizer) did the best she could to give everyone an as good experience as possible, she has been the best cosplay organizer I’ve ever worked with, and feel as sad for her as for the cosplayers that the contest had to be canceled.

External organizers didn’t get any food tickets. You can read about one external organizer here: https://www.facebook.com/Cherazor/posts/10155969540075372

NärCon could not afford the stage for the full duration of the con. The stage had to be taken down the night between Saturday and Sunday (this was the plan even if it didn’t rain). That is why there were no Closing Ceremony. But they could afford a fence, advertising in the Stockholm subway, and guests no one had heard of.

Why not take the advertising- and guest money and invest in a stage that can actually withstand rain? Maybe even a tent for the audience? Give some extra money to all the teams, pay for the entertainment and external organizers, and invite guests that would actually give value to the con-goers?

NärCon started to go downhill when they became a company, and when UppCon was canceled. NärCon is only thinking about money and PR, and they have monopoly so you can’t go anywhere to boycott NärCon.

The contestants in NCC was promised to be treated like VIP, but instead they were treated like cattle. I’ve heard that all the other countries are seriously thinking about dropping out of the NCC. You can read more about how the NCC contestants was treated here: https://www.facebook.com/regzocosplay/photos/1598764497034982/

Speaking of NCC, there was not a single mention about the qualifying conventions in the Nordic home countries, everything was “NärCon”, “NärCon”, “NärCon”. (And for the second year in a row they said “Scandinavia” when all five Nordic countries was in the contest)

A minor thing that pissed me off, but is not that important in the context: They had scheduled the CMV-competition to be at the same time as the NCC. Why do you do that? You do not schedule two cosplay-related activities to be at the same time!

A big thing this year was the new fence. NärCon had decided that it was a good idea to close the entire con with a fence. They posted the news on Facebook and everyone freaked out (understandably, I did too). Because according to the map, the fence looked like it was going to be placed directly next to the road, and the placement of the gates was just bad and greedy. How did NärCon respond to the critique? By ridicule their visitors and laughing at them! That is no way to treat those that pay for the event.

I heard that NärCon tried to extort both McDonalds and Pressbyrån to give NärCon money to open gates in their directions.

Sure, it was unfortunate that it was raining. But you know what? Rain is common during the summer. Maybe NärCon should have been prepared for that? Ten days before the con the weather report said it was going to rain. Not enough time? Well how about the 16th of Mars https://www.facebook.com/anders.pantzar/posts/10206589808483496
when I warned them that they didn’t have a way to handle rain.
Samuel (main organizer) even responded with “vi är en festival likt alla musikfestivaler och därmed får leva med förutsättningarna det innebär att vara utomhus en hel del”. Which roughly translates to: ”We are a festival like all music festivals and we’ll have to live with the conditions of being outside a lot”. When it started to rain and I saw that they couldn’t handle it I felt a bit of schadenfreude and “I told you so”.

I would like to point out that the decision to cancel the cosplay competition was in the hand of the very top organizers, both the cosplay team and the cosplay organizer was completely powerless when they weren’t allowed to make decisions, but had to execute them.

NärCon have forgotten their roots.

If NärCon continues like this then they will fall apart. I give them 2-3 years, then NärCon will be no more.

I do not know if I want to return next year. All previous years NärCon Summer has been a given, but now I’m not so sure any more.

NärCon want big numbers, things they can brag about, and PR. Well, they sure got PR now, but maybe not the kind they wanted.


0/5


Edit:
I know that this post has been shared a lot, so I want you all to know that my ConReports are only how I felt about the con on my way home from them, and should never be taken as facts. I am harsh and honest about my feelings, but that does not make them true.

If you want to read a more constructive and well formulated post about the NärCon-situation with great suggestions for how to fix it, then I suggest you read this:

söndag 28 juni 2015

MiniReport: StorCon 2015

I was invited to judge the cosplay competition at StorCon this weekend. Since they didn’t have sleeping halls, and I didn’t want to pay for hotel or sleep in a tent, I decided to only visit the con on the day of the competition. And since I spent most of my time in the cosplay workshop for prejudging, I didn’t experience the con enough for a full ConReport, but here comes a “MiniReport”.

StorCon felt like a truly classical convention, one of those that I imagine when I think back on how conventions used to be. A lot of small rooms in a school-like area, tight (some might say cozy) corridors, and a big outside area. Most of the visitors were very young, I’d say around 12-15, so it felt a bit like a kindergarten for kids in the lower teens. I don’t know how many visitor were there, and being spread out in several buildings didn’t make my estimations easier, but I’d say there were around 200-300 people there during the Saturday. StorCon offered all the standard convention stuff I don’t care about, like an activity room, karaoke, artist alley, merch, board games, video games, movie room, cafeteria, etc.

My personal experience of the con mostly consisted of the cosplay workshop where I spent most of my time before the contest. I brought my Garnet head and worked a bit on it before the prejudging. They had drop-in prejudging, it went fairly well, but it also meant it took almost three hours to prejudge 25 cosplayers (at least we had a lot of time with each cosplayers).

After the prejudging I had time to eat before the contest. The contest itself went well, the MC did a little coup and changed the questions we had agreed he would ask the judges, but it went well despite my inability to improvise. After the contest, my co-judge and I stayed at our table on the stage until we had decided on the winners. We had some discussions and argued back and forth a bit, and eventually came to a mutual conclusion, just as it should be. Nathalie (“Nathy”) who was my co-judge, and also stepped in to organize the contest when the original organizer had to stay in bed due to a fever, was amazing at her job. She is a really good judge, asking a lot of relevant questions, always being nice to the cosplayers, and being able to discuss and listen to others suggestions. It was a pleasure to work with her.

When the winners were decided we took a break, and then about an hour later we started to make calls to the winners, telling them that they had won “something” and that they should be at the prize ceremony the next day. I haven’t actually been present when the winners were called before, so it was a fun first experience for me to hear the happiness in their voices.

And then I was done with what I had come there to do. I found my friends and we played various card games until midnight, starting with Cards against humanity, with Loke Nyberg performing on the stage, and with the sunset in the background. It was almost a bit magical.

So… my final judgement for StorCon:

It’s a classical convention, and probably a very good first convention for someone young who’s just starting out with cosplay (just like KultCon is). But for someone like me that is a bit older and isn’t exactly new to cosplay it hadn’t that much to offer; some interesting lectures and Loke, but that’s about it. However, I might still go back next year, because it is a great warmup and test run before NärCon, but it will greatly depend on if my friends are also going. 

måndag 1 juni 2015

KultCon 2015 ConReport

KultCon has always been a bit chaotic, but this year the chaos was not as evident as previous years. Most of the chaos I noticed surrounded the stage, with light and sound not working properly, with not enough rehearsal and prep time, and with unclear planning. But other than that KultCon felt quite calm.

The stage was larger than it ever been before, it even had a backstage area. This gave all stage activities a much better impact. They had even installed a flame-thrower for one of the guest acts, something I’ve never seen at a Swedish con before. The stage has always been the heart of KultCon and this year was no exception.

The opening ceremony was okay. The MCs told bad (but funny) jokes, the guests did some dance. I find dances to be boring, but they were well coordinated and had a clear and thought-through theme, so I endured.

After the opening ceremony I had a proper look around the convention. The dealer’s room had all the standard stuff I never want to buy, there were a small artist alley, and a “visitors sales table” (had I known this then I would have brought some stuff to sell). I also found an activity corner, a board games room, a movie theatre, a few visiting cons, and the cosplay workshop. So overall a very standard setup.

The food at the con was a bit boring, the most “food-ish” things I could find was a baguette, microwave-pizza, and toast. Unless you ventured out in the rain to the convention-grill. The grill sold hamburgers and hot dogs, but due to the almost constant rain they didn’t get that many visitors. I tried a burger and it was okay, but I’m sure the grill would have been a success if the weather was better. Previous years the café had quite a large breakfast menu, this year it was substantially smaller. I did find that the Maid Café had a better breakfast menu, so I had my breakfast there. I do not really enjoy Maid Cafés, I find it to be quite awkward to have the Maids act all cute and social, but they left me alone so I could have my breakfast.

The staff were all friendly and helpful, I never encountered anyone that was angry or mean. In fact, when I told them that I had hurt my hand they got me someone to help me carry my luggage. I’m not sure if this was just because I was an invited guest, or if a regular visitor would have gotten the same treatment, but it was kind of them.

Speaking of being an invited guest, I was invited to give a lecture in Male to Female Crossplay. It was my first time ever giving a lecture at a con, and I was very nervous. My stomach hurt, and I went to the bathroom like 4 times in ten minutes, but two slides into my presentation all my nervousness disappeared and I could talk freely. It was actually quite fun, I knew what I was talking about, I had physical items I could show, and I even managed to make the audience laugh. I’m thinking of fixing up the lecture a bit and maybe ask to give it at NärCon.

Being a guest gave me access to the staff sleeping halls, and I liked them a lot. The halls themselves are standard class rooms, but there where something that made me sleep very well in them. Maybe the fact that the temperature was just right, or maybe that it was not too crowded, or maybe that everyone respected the “keep quiet” rule. In any case, the sleeping halls was the best I’ve ever experienced. The only thing I can complain about was that the showers wasn’t open for regular visitors the first night (I managed to get into the staff showers).

I didn’t see much of the Cosplay Chess, mostly because I know how it always goes, and this year was no exception. Super long character introductions, boring movement, way too short battles, and confusion about who should stand where (even when using my custom made Cosplay Chess program). I feel that CosplayBoardGames (the chess organizers) need to speed up their improv-chess, and plan and rehearse their pre-planned-chess more. I know that they have recently restructured how they do things, so maybe it will be better in the future.

KultCon has become known for their beginner friendliness, it has become a great arena for people to try new things. It was my first time giving a lecture, they always have at least one complete new judge for the cosplay contest, and the contest itself draws a lot of beginners and people who compete for the first time. The contest held a good quality, the cosplayers where great, and everything ran seemingly smooth. There where surprisingly many contestants for the size of the con, but not so many that you would lose focus or get bored. I had a hard time deciding who to vote for, so I ended up flipping a coin. The winners were presented during the closing ceremony and it was so beautiful. When all the winners had got their prices they stayed on stage, and then another prize that I didn’t know of was announced: “Cosplay of the Year” that would get a golden ticket to the Swedish Championship. The winner of this grand prize was one of the winners that already stood on stage, and when the judges said her name you could see that she couldn’t believe it, she dropped her prop in surprise and fell to the ground crying of happiness. It was as if taken from a movie. She deserved that prize.

KultCon 2015 was an okay convention. It had all the standard things you expect, but not much more. The cosplay contest is truly the main event. KultCon is a convention that still feels like a true convention. It was however my friends that made KultCon 2015 so memorable, without them I would certainly have been quite bored.

måndag 30 mars 2015

What advice would you give someone who would want to make Armored MewTwo?

I got this question from Lillerkat on deviantArt and thought that it would make a great topic for a blogpost. So this post is for you Lillerkat.

This is a hard question because it all depends on what you already know. So instead I’ll go through each part of the cosplay and talk about how I made them and what I learned.


I started with the legs. I glued mattress-foam onto a pair of leggings (while wearing them) and shaped the foam with a “snap-off blade knife”. I used a spray-on glue. It was nice to cover larger areas, but it didn’t stick as well as regular hot glue. After a single day at the convention the foam for the lower legs started to fall off, so I stuck it back with hot glue.
I used a pair of suspenders to hold the legs in place.
This was so early in the process that I forgot to take pictures.


Next was the tail. It is made out of solid mattress-foam. I butchered 3 IKEA mattresses just for the tail. I made it too tall at first, but managed to shorten it to a better length. I wear it like a giant diaper, with a belt that go all the way through the tail (see pictures). It is very important that the tail is secured, because the weight of the entire suit rests on this belt.








The shoes are just some old training shoes that I attached some foam to. Not much to be learned here.


Skinning. When adding skin to the body, I first created a pattern using brown packet tape and newspaper. Be careful to not squeeze the foam while working with the tape. I made the tape pattern too tight because of this and that left ugly seams. Remember to label your pattern pieces and mark out where they go on the foam. I recommend that you use a stretchy fabric so you can cover up any mistakes in the pattern-making.
The upper body is just a simple shirt pattern with long sleeves and long neck.







The hands where quite annoying. I first tried to make balls out of mattress-foam and cover them with fabric, just as I had with the rest of the cosplay. That didn’t work, so I made some simple three-finger-gloves and made the fingertips large circles. I then filled the fingertips with fiberfill.




And that was all for the body. Next up: Armor.
The armor was all made out of craft foam, and it was all free-handed while constantly referencing my reference pictures. I made some prototypes of the arm piece to get the hang of the material and its various properties (I had never worked with craft form before). I ended up not using the prototype but I learned a lot from experimenting with it. I recommend that you do the same if you are unfamiliar with how craft foam behave.
Prototype:

When I felt ready I took what I had learned from making the prototype and made the real arm piece. I decided to make this piece from start to finish before I made the rest of the armor, to make sure I understood the whole process. One thing that came up while making the real arm piece was the color of the armor. I had a hard time deciding and I even changed it while making the arm piece, as you’ll see in the pictures.
Arm piece:







Then it was just a matter of making all the other pieces. The most complex piece was the back piece (and it’s the only one I have WIP pictures of). 
Back piece:

A special note on the head: The white foam is where the visor will go, so I didn’t glue it too firmly, just in a few key location to hold it in place. This white foam was later used to get the correct shape for the visor.
Head:


And this is all the armor pieces together.


Holding everything together. Everything was held together with 3.5mm contacts. Why? I have no idea. This was really stupid. They broke and came undone all the time. I have since then changed all 3.5mm contacts for backpack buckles and now it’s more secure than ever. I also learned the hard way that you should never glue something onto a painted surface: sand away the paint and glue onto the foam it will hold better.


Painting the armor. I learned that one way to cover up seams in the craft foam is to fill the seam with body filler. So I used one my father gave me, but it turned out it was some kind of rubber-filler, so I couldn’t sand it, but it was better than nothing. Everything was then covered in spray filler, sanded, covered in wood glue, and then painted.





The blue/purple detail. I used a simple masking technique to make the shield and chest two-colored






Visor. I used the white foam placeholder as a template for cutting a Plexiglas visor. It was then bent with heat to fit in the helmet. A black car glass tint film was added to create a one-way black mirror. The visor was then glued into the helmet.






The eyes are made with cardboard, aluminum foil, blue wrapping tissue, and a small light bulb. I made the shape I wanted for the eyes with the cardboard, covered the inside with the foil, and added the blue wrapping tissue as a filter for the light.




I also have a voice changer in the helmet. It applies an echo to my voice and plays it through a speaker. The voice changer was part of a kit my friend got and assembled for me, and his father did all the wiring (this was before I knew anything about electronics). At first I placed the speaker inside the helmet. This turned out to cause feedback so I couldn’t use the voice changer. I have now moved the speaker own into the chest plate. The voice and eyes are controlled from my fingers through some wires that run up my arm.



The red tubes are red silicone tubes. And because they are silicone, no glue in the world seemed to work on them. So I had to use friction instead. A wire with a plastic shell was soldered to the male 3.5mm connections and by pushing, twisting, and turning I got them to attack to the silicone tubes. These tubes are connected to the female 3.5mm connections that are imbedded in the armor.








I hope this was helpful.




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