View Full Version : Help, how do you run a costume competition.
02-19-2004, 02:26 PM
Okay, I'm apparently now going to run a costume competition for UB con in early April (I belive). It's a small con in Buffalo NY run by the local gaming club. Upon hearing that they didn't have a costuming event, I agreed to run one. However I've never been in a Con costume contest. So if those of you with experience could tell me how these things are run and judged I'd be greatly appreciative.
This will just be a costume competition not a masquerade. And in addition I'm expecting a small number of people to participate. The con itself generally gets around 200 people total.
Things which I would most like to know are:
How are costume contests run in general.
What sort of criteria is judging based on.
What sort of format is judging done in (numerical like the olympics, or check list sort of thing?)
What are some typical problems contests have that I should be wary of.
What are some of the best features of costume contests that you've been in, that I might want to incorporate.
Thanks for any help people can give.
02-19-2004, 05:33 PM
There are many poorly-run costume competitions out there.
"Poorly run" can mean anything from not providing decent backstage waiting areas for contestants, disallowing food and water during long waits (which can result in hypoglycemia and dehydration), to massive confusion over stage direction and lighting, to not having stage ninjas help people on and off (especially those who need glasses but aren't wearing them for the costume), to allowing performances to go on far too long (even a fantastic skit gets OLD after 1.5 to 2 minutes - it's a very rare one that can entertain beyond that time), to judging child costumes (13 or 14 and under) in the same category as adults, to not distinguishing between wearer-made and other-person-made costumes (if an award is for the costume itself, the MAKER should win the award in their appropriate division), etc. etc.
In addition, "poorly run" is often defined by many people as not having seperate and distinct workmanship and performance judging, having inexperienced or biased judges who are not spreading the awards out among many people (unless there is a real stand-out reason why one person or group actually should receive multiple awards, etc.), judging vastly different levels of experience together, and so forth.
Your best bet is to talk with people who have long-term experience in running these things, and have already worked out a lot of the kinks. See what they have found works well for big and for small contests, and also ask what didn't work well. Science Fiction cons have been running costume contests far longer than Anime cons, and it shows - they tend to run much more smoothly and efficiently. I would also recommend contacting the International Costumers Guild, and also checking out their Masquerade Guidelines (not, they're NOT "rules", they're only suggested guidelines!)
02-19-2004, 09:44 PM
Well, since your con gets around 200 people total and the contest is to be just costume-based, it sounds pretty much exactly like FilmCon, and I run the costume contest for FilmCon. :) Well, this is my first year running it, but I've competed before and got the job on merit - it's this weekend, so I can drop in after the con is over and let you know how our planned ideas worked. But, I'd be happy to share with you at least our ideas, since the two cons sound a lot alike. Very small, very few participants.
Although Karisu hit the nail on the head with what can constitute a "poorly run" contest.
Judging criteria and format varies from con to con. Basically, you can do it however you want (although a good look into the ICG standards and their suggestions is a good place to start). Since we're not having performances either, just a costume showoff, our entrants are going to be primarily judged on workmanship, with an extra slot for "artistic" presentation. Basically, the workmanship judges, who have at least SOME experience in costume making as well as costume contest participation, will be critiquing how well the costume was made and how accurate it is (if it's a replica), and then when the contestants go out to parade their costume before the audience, our celebrity guests will be judging loosely on the artistic presentation. Without a skit or performance allowed, they're just going to have to rely on poses or acting the character briefly. That's why we're not going to weight the artistic side too heavily. And we are allowing commissions, we've only restricted them to not being able to win Best In Show.
Some contests are run more closely to ICG guidelines, with strict workmanship judging and no commissions allowed. I've participated in a Masquerade that was judged by very experienced Master-level costumers, and I've actually come away with both Class trophies and workmanship medals there. Other cons, very small or very half-assed ones, just run it on a popularity contest or pull their criteria out of their butts. I never win those, i don't dress skimpily enough. :untrust: I like a contest that has at least *some* emphasis on workmanship, and really sticks to it, not letting celeb judges pick their favorites and overrule everything. But for smaller cons, you have to be a little more lenient with the quality standards. You don't want to intimidate people into not participating.
The things you definitely want to have are: a green room, where your contestants can wait in comfort, relax, and be judged on workmanship before the stage spectacle (and have water and stuff on hand!!); judges who know at least a thing or two about costuming; a balanced sort of system that allows the contestants to have fun and enjoy being there, and really look forward to showing off their costume. As for the actual logistics of how to judge, what to look for when judging, etc - that's all up to you. Be as detailed or as loose as you want to be. :)
Now, we'll see how FilmCon goes this weekend!
02-20-2004, 07:44 AM
Sorry... Just... saw this and twitched... Where were you last year!? I lived 45 minutes from UB and had to go to Canada to go to a con. =P
I think the best feature of Otakon's masquerade was that they gave the results decently fast and that they showed the AMV winners during the break. It gave everybody something to look at. Also, Otakon had a screen that we could see the skits on as they occurred. It was all backwards since it was just the back of one of the tvs for the viewers, but still that was nice.
I've heard that audience reaction is a big thing judging it based on, as well as craftsmanship and originality. You'd probaby want to set aside a time early in the day to pre-view all the skits. Give the people some critique so they don't go on stage and make the entire contest a joke. Having funny skits it great... but it only really works if the audience can hear, so I'd also suggest having some kind of mic system set up for them.
Well, I hope I helped somewhat... And best of luck with the con!
02-27-2004, 07:37 PM
Interesting. Thanks everyone, although it looks like the anime club is running one and I'll just be helping, this should still be usefull. Most of this looks like stuff that's commonsensical to me though, which bodes well.
And as for last year, can't help you there. I wasn't in Buffalo last year myself. :)
02-28-2004, 11:43 PM
The best-run Masq I attend is honestly the CONvergence Masq. The judges have a set criteria of points they can award, so they just have to add up the points and they know who the winner is. I think the categories are like workmanship, skit, judges opinion, and something else, and each is worth such and such points.
They also have a professional or semi-professional group lined up to entertain the audience while they hammer out the final "who is getting what award." Two years ago it was a comedy group that did a bunch of Star Wars parodies, a year ago it was a guy who did LOTR rap. That goes over REALLY well with the audience, I think they love it as much as the Masq itself. That said, your event might be too small for that.
I'd recommend having someone they email to register for the con and have a SET CUTOFF time to register. Having everyone suddenly trying to throw music and stuff your direction at the last second is unneeded stress.
And don't let yourself get personally drawn into cosplay drama. The night before a big Masq I was MCing for, I got like four people begging me to rush over and help them fix last minute costume problems, and I was just like "if you'd asked a week ago I might have been able to help!"
Somebody knows how the judges are chosen?
Which are the criteria used?