View Full Version : To be Secret or Not to Be?

04-26-2004, 03:28 PM
I got to thinking about this with the AX masquerade rule thread, and figured it could be an interesting discussion.

How much does the world know about your masquerade ideas between the time you are inspired to do them to the time they reach the stage? Do you like to announce your latest ideas, and how they are going, or do you prefer to keep it to yourself until you surprise the audience?

For me, I don't particulary mind people knowing what I'm working on and how it's going. Most of my "costume diary" things end up in my livejournal presently, because it's the most convenient way for me to talk about it. While it's mostly "public", the only way one really knows what is going on and how far along I am in a project is if they are paying attention..i.e. they put me on their friends list and read along or whatever. So as a result, even my public entries don't really "get leaked" as it were.

Sometimes I'll take pictures and include them in the entries, but the pictures do not give the work in progress any form of justice, so I don't feel particularly like I'm revealing anything in them. Most of the time, it's like "Um...what the :eeek: is that supposed to be?"

As an event gets closer, and the costume becomes more "complete", I'll tend to be a bit quieter. This isn't so much because I'm worried about showing "too much", but because I'm usually too busy to put up any real details on what I'm doing. Afterall, the choice between "finishing the costume in time" and "documenting the process" is pretty obvious for me. Pictures are usually being taken, but they aren't being posted...if only because I'm too BUSY to post them :)

I think the only time I become "secretive" is at the con itself. The completed costume stays out of sight, and I usually don't discuss it with anybody that doesn't already know it exists (con roomies, etc). The presentation, the one thing I usually don't talk about, is kept in my head.

because I've inherited the "Alice Cooper" virus from my mother, which causes me to be as obsessive about the presentation of the costume as the costume itself...

I prefer to prepare in my room/place of residence during the con, and then try to "sneak" my way to the green room if it's possible. Part of this, is of course, surprise, but the other part is to avoid diversion. I'm all for costume photo ops, and have a lot of fun with them. The problem lies in the fact that when you need to be somewhere that relies on you to be punctual, a momentary stop for a photo can turn into a photo op for several... and I'm such a slowpoke :(

So..there you are. Discuss. Have fun with it :)

04-26-2004, 05:36 PM
My group tends to be pretty secretive when it comes to preparing for the Masquerade. I was kinda annoyed last year for Otakon when I wasn't even really allowed to tell my friends at school about our Thriller skit. Since then, I've leaked out more information to my friends, but not to the public. The surprise is a lot of fun, although it's always nerve racking because you never know if someone else had the same idea and basically the same 2 skits will be performed twice in one masque (though this has never happened to by group yet).
I'm not very secretive with the costumes. It's the performance which is the real secret for me. :)

04-26-2004, 05:47 PM
I myself am the exact opposite. I won't reveal what I'm working on, because I'm slow to make things, and there's a chance that someone could copy what I'm doing and actually finish it before I do, which would suck. However, once I'm at the con, I see no point whatsoever to hiding one's costume from the public. My reasons why...

1) Not everyone attends the Masquerade. There are probably plenty of people who would enjoy a look at the costume who won't be able to go to the show for whatever reason. I myself have seen pictures from some cons I haven't been to, or a costume I missed, and thought "Argh, I wish I'd seen that costume in person!"

2) You can't properly appreciate most costumes from stage-distance. I love to see costumes up close. I've never seen a costume yet that looked better from a long way away. (I suppose it's possible, but unlikely given my personal preferences.)

3) The halls are where most of the fun happens. People can actually react to your costume when you're right next to them, ask questions about how you did it, talk about the characters, whatever. You don't get that interaction when you're on stage. And given that every con I've been to has the Masquerade on its final night, it's never as fun to wear the costume afterwards when the con is half-empty (and/or half-asleep from the late night before).

4) Practicality. Some costumes take a ridiculously long time to get into for a variety of reasons (numerous parts/layers, bodypaint/specialized makeup, whatever). If you can start getting into it in the morning, if something breaks at the last minute and you need to fix it or your makeup takes longer than you think it will, you have a much better chance of making it to the Masquerade on time. So you get into costume, experience as much of the rest of the con that day as you can, then go to the show. It's worked great for me every time. And to add a bit to the "wearing it again the last day of the con" thing from above, if your costume does have insane makeup or whatever, the chances of being able to spend hours doing it two days in a row (or having enough makeup to do it twice, sometimes!) gets highly unlikely.

5) Anime con audiences, for whatever reason, tend to react better to costumes they've seen in the halls. I guess it's because you can root for something you already saw and liked, kind of like hoping a favorite sports team will win or something. I've done it both ways, and the reaction from the crowd was measurably better when they had already seen my costume before the show.

There's probably more, but my brain is shutting down from Sakura-Con sleep deprivation. ^^;; So I'd better stop now...

04-26-2004, 06:35 PM
Pretty much my group will give a general idea... such as we plan on doing a Final Fantasy skit... and we plan to do a Sailor Senshi skit.... now... there are things and cosplays that will be totally hidden under sheets and such until we get on stage though... otherwise, people will know what skit it will appear in once we hit the stage and there's no shock value. and it feels great to say I have a "secret" costume.

04-26-2004, 11:52 PM
I used to be of the 'secret' contingent, but now, after much 'cosplay soulsearching', I decided that goshdarnit, the costume I am spending the most money and time on will be SEEN. If feasible, I will wear it all day Saturday. As mentioned, not everyone can see the great things from onstage, and I really just want to wear it. It's also part of my plan to not get myself in too deep with too many costumes for one convention. Besides, I do the costume for ME, not for the competetion, so it doesn't matter to me (anymore) about if it wins or not or if I enter or not. I like having fun, so I would, but not to set my heart on winning the awards. My goal is to get better at costuming, and learn more skills. As long as I know how well made that costume is, I don't need judges to tell me.

That's my opinion. But by all means, if you are all about surprise, go for it! Who doesn't like surprises?

04-28-2004, 12:02 AM
I must admit I'm not much for the secret thing myself. I enjoy the hobby of costume making and being involved with the costuming community. I consider a large part of the hobby discussing and enjoying what other people are doing as well as my own work. I want to participate all year round, not just one or two weekends a year.

I also don't find much advantage in being secretive, personally. As a matter of fact I think if everyone knows what I'm doing, there is less chance of someone doing the same thing at the same masquerade,which is nice.

04-28-2004, 01:07 AM
I tried the "very public" route with my Sailor Venus, sharing every step with whoever wanted to see the pics, and asking for lots of advice in the way.

Just for the heck of it, now I'm doing the exact opposite with my current project. Partially because I'm not sure when will it be finished, partially because I want to see how much can I do on my own, and partially because I want to see the real effect of the element of surprise :)

As for somebody doing the same... I searched the whole net up and down, inlcuding all cosplay sites and couldn't find any reference of anybody ever doing the cosplay I'm working on.

All I can say is that IF it passes my internal quality control, and I'm pleased with it... I'll be as public as I can with it, and I'm hopeful it will be a nice surprise for people.

Once I've tried both ways, public and secretive, I'll decide how to aproach my next one...


04-29-2004, 12:00 AM
I've participated in 4 masqs to date, I believe. For two of them, no one knew what I was going to be doing... even me. The con allowed people to sign up right up until the masq, so I threw together some skits with my friends using whatever costumes we had.
At Anime Boston, my co-conspirator and I determined, the night before, what our skit was going to be, and tried to keep our costumes as hidden as possible during the day. It wasn't made easy, because we had to come in the morning for craftsmanship judging. However, because we'd been seen around the con (not surprising, as my partner was wearing a big red gown with feathers coming out of her head) we had a tremendous reaction to the costumes as we walked out onstage.
Presently, I'm working on 2 groups for this summer. I'm having a difficult time not sharing the progress of one of them, just because I'm so pleased with it, but the other I'm keeping as secretive as possible... mostly because it's not *my* group, so really not anything for me to share. ^_^

I have to agree with hoshikage's 5th point, though... for whatever reason, a good hall costume gets a great reaction when the audiences recognize it onstage. And I like that reaction. ^_^