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Unread 03-07-2012, 10:39 PM   #1
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Steampunk costume contest

I somehow wound up organizing the costume contest of a steampunk convention and realized... how does one JUDGE such a thing? I realize how open to interpretation steampunk is, which is why I'm running into problems creating the juding sheet.

The layout for this year's contest is simple: sign-up on site, no craftsmanship judging, no skits. Just walk-on entries. So I need to create a judging form that's likewise simple.

What key points should I put on the sheet? I've found judging sheets for historically acurate costumes, but that doesn't quite fit.
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Unread 03-07-2012, 11:45 PM   #2
Write Knight
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Just like, walk on, walk off? Like a project runway dealio? No really close looks?

You would be limited to things like...

-General Cosmetic appeal (Very slanted if one wearer happens to be much more attractive themselves)
-Color usage (Contrasting colors, highlights, trims, complimentary colors, texture usage, use of luster. How much does the costume stand out in other words. This category should be tweaked if the character is meant to be a bland color scheme, or muted tones, but does the usage of these things Help, or hurt the costume?)
-Utilizing the theme (Is it Steam punk, or is it more lolita, or some other fashion not meant to be there?)
-Originality (Is the character super original, or does it seem like you've seen this character in a movie, or a show somewhere (Unless media characters are allowed. In which case, accuracy to that character))
-Level of apparent difficulty (Was it made or Engineered, or were most items seemingly bought in a store, or simple enough that they COULD have been bought at a store?)
-Practicality (Can they walk well in it, let alone function in steampunk society. Very slanted interpretation, as steampunk ranges from Posh life, to gritty industrial workers.)
-Fit (Does the costume fire the wearer properly, or is it a few sizes too big/small, and is it apparent.
-Audience reaction (Naturally, if the judges pick a costume that gets very little audience appreciation, there might be heck to pay, so the general audience reaction should be considered.)
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Unread 03-08-2012, 02:58 AM   #3
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I'm not so sure on the audience reaction one, to be honest. I've seen that go bad too many times, when audiences went wild for fanservice-type stunts or costumes.

Apparent difficulty, made vs engineered is another tricky one. Some people go gaga for armor/hard costumes and ignore fabric work, because they think armor is "harder". But that's not always the case. Sometimes fabric projects can be surprisingly difficult.
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Unread 03-08-2012, 10:09 AM   #4
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Right, but throwing out every possible thing that COULD be judged on gives the OP much more to work with. It's then their discretion what get's screened out and what makes it ontot heir Clipboard for evaluation ^^
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Unread 03-08-2012, 03:04 PM   #5
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I see what you mean, but I would hate to see a great mainly fabric costume get penalized because somebody thinks fabric work isn't as hard as "engineering". Or to see great work get passed over because it doesn't get as much applause as somebody else's skimpy fan-servicey outfit did.

To be honest, I wouldn't use audience applause as a factor at all, unless I was handing out a "people's choice" award.
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Unread 03-08-2012, 03:16 PM   #6
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This may seem kind of mean, but I would give minus points for costume that have gears stuck on haphazardly. This may also go with Practicality. Sometimes it's real easy to tell people who know what they're doing vs people that don't and may have jumped on the bandwagon too carelessly. (For example.. alot retail. They're starting to sell "Steampunk" things. Read: things that they stuck gears on. *See link example below)

Is the outfit even remotely Victorian or Victorian inspired (it doesn't have to be pure Victorian, but having at least a little bit is the whole thing around Steampunk), or did someone just get a vest or a corset, and slap some gears on it?
Does it look like the person did at least a little research?
How well do all the outfit pieces work together?

Steampunk is definitely not all gears. Actually, alot of the good outfits I've seen have no gears whatsoever.

Also, going with the "Does it look like it COULD be bought" thing. A dead giveway of commercial Steampunk sometimes is that they have gears (often huge ones), in inappropriate places, or places that just don't make sense.

This is an example of what I'm talking about: http://www.sinistersoles.com/v/vspfi...OOTS-BR-2T.jpg

Don't get me wrong: Gears look really cool. But if you think about it, back in the day (or the day that should have been ), most people didn't have the luxury to put gears on random things. Gears were the heart, the insides, of alot of things. They're one of the thing things that made things work. Technically, if someone needed a gear, they would have to take apart something working or broken, or find it. And I'm sure loose ones weren't easy to come by because EVERYONE was using them. xD And even if it was broken would you really take apart your cool clockwork hair machine, or someone's precious gadget to decorate something, instead of using those gears to fix it? Usually not
But hey, those are just my thoughts on it o.o
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Unread 03-08-2012, 03:51 PM   #7
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Yeah, that's a consideration. Randomly throwing gears onto things won't cut it.
I've actually toyed with the idea of a Japanese Steampunk outfit- take Japanese dress of the Meiji era and use it as the basis of a steampunk get-up. Considering that Japan was starting to look to western technology, realizing it needed to play a major game of catch-up, such an outfit is entirely conceivable. Either a Japanese national who's taken some western imports and integrated them into their wardrobe, or even a Westerner who's gone native, or chosen to adopt some of the wardrobe of the place they're visiting.

Innovation and originality like that within the theme should be rewarded- I wouldn't nail judges down too rigidly when it comes to clothing style. As long as it's a reasonable approximation of period dress made to work with a steampunk theme, I wouldn't mark points off of it for not being strictly European in appearance.

In regards to another of Write Knight's ideas, practicality/the ability to move is mentioned. That's a good idea, but I would base my score there in terms of the character being portrayed. If it's a posh upperclass type who would have had to do very little work, I would cut them some slack in the movement department. After all, some of those types didn't have to move around much at all, their clothes were not designed for mobility. But it would be a huge factor for an industrial/action oriented type. Those types would have to be able to move easily, there's no way around it.
So perhaps write it on the sheet as Practicality/ease of movement with regard to the character type being portrayed.

Last edited by Amanita : 03-08-2012 at 04:02 PM.
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Unread 03-08-2012, 06:12 PM   #8
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I wouldn't have a complex points system on the sheet, as it's so hard to anticipate everything that will show up and it's easy for entries to fall through the cracks. Rather, I think you should have a list of Write Knight's elements for judges to read and keep in mind, and then have a very simple scoring system. We use a simple 1-10 for recording our gut impressions, and then during deliberations we use that score simply as a sorting tool to help us make our decisions. We still discuss and take all elements of the costumes into consideration.
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Unread 03-08-2012, 07:34 PM   #9
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If they're not having pre-judging for craftsmanship and are only relying on the judges to judge during the fashion show/stage presentation, you are kind of limited in what you can conceivably judge. And it always raises a stink when judges are trying so hard to eyeball costumes for craftsmanship from 20 feet away and try giving awards for things they thought were really well-made that turn out to be store-bought - and vice versa! So you might be better off keeping it VERY simple, very streamlined, and concentrated more on the appearance and originality/creativity factor. The overall visual impression is a good thing to judge by eye, and something anyone can do even if they're not totally familiar with steampunk. I'm guessing that at a steampunk convention, though, there's enough knowledge of what's possible within the genre.

You're probably best off trying to give points for design, including creativity, originality, and the overall steampunkishness of the outfit. Execution has to be limited to whether it looks like it fits, whether it looks GOOD overall, and whether any parts are obviously falling off, etc. And be mindful that unlike most craftsmanship judging at regular masquerades, there's probably a much larger allowance for being mostly or all store-bought items assembled into a costume. It's a very different animal, I often have difficulty wrangling my brain away from "no, store-bought is bad!" and toward a more accepting mindset for contests like this.
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Unread 03-09-2012, 12:20 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amanita View Post
Innovation and originality like that within the theme should be rewarded- I wouldn't nail judges down too rigidly when it comes to clothing style. As long as it's a reasonable approximation of period dress made to work with a steampunk theme, I wouldn't mark points off of it for not being strictly European in appearance.
"Victorian" is not just Europe by the way.. It's a general time period
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Unread 03-09-2012, 01:10 AM   #11
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I know that. But too many people see "Victorian" and think it means only western stuff- petticoats and perisols, and the like.
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