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Unread 08-29-2012, 12:11 PM   #1
Hime no Toki
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AnimeFEST 2012: Feedback Thread

This thread is for posting your thoughts/opinions on AFEST 2012!

From your experience this year, what were the pros and cons? What were the highlights and lowlights? Would you return again next year?

Also, you can discuss the particulars of the convention, such as the events, panels, masquerade, dances, etc., as well as what you thought about the con and hotel staff, the guests, convention space, food, dealer's room, attendees, and whatever else pertaining to this year's AFEST!
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Unread 09-03-2012, 07:30 PM   #2
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I had a great time and it was a really great convention! It was sad not being at the Hyatt and I miss it, but the Sheraton is pretty great for Afest too. Being there with the college football and family reunion guests was kinda meh. Some of them were really really rude! That's not really Afest's fault though, just a little mention, I guess.

I really like how all of the staff had the bright vests on, it was really easy to see where the staff are. I like how big of an area we have to walk around the artist alley and the dealers room! It was nice not bumping to all of the other congoers when walking around.

I wish you guys could've gotten a bigger room for the main events. It was really hard seeing the skits when you're sitting all the way in the back... Also it was pretty hard to hear in the back too! It sounds like they're underwater when you passed the halfway mark of the room.

The badge system is pretty annoying at first since it's so big, but I understand that's what you have to do to deal with fake badges and all. I ended up using the pouch as a money bag /room key bag.

It was a really great convention!
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Unread 09-04-2012, 12:21 AM   #3
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I'll try to keep this short, but this was my experience:

Pre-Reg - horrible, omg, so horrible.

Cosplay Runway - total joke

Hall Cosplay - lots of amazing participants, I don't blame them on taking so long to post results, but I think they over looked some major factors when judging =/

Dealers Room - Overall I was pleased, definitely a good size.

Artist Alley - Gigantic ... so many different things to look at O_O

Guest Signings - I really like how they were set up, out in the open on a stage, for anyone to walk up to, and they get to see all the cosplays, very cool.

Hotel - I'm sad to see that it's not at the Hyatt anymore (and even more sad it's at the Sheraton) but I suppose the extra space was rather nice.

I can't say anything about the concerts, raves, or the ball, because I was WAY too tired by the time those came around, and my feet hurt WAY TOO BAD ... but I think I covered everything else, lol.

So overall, I was about 50/50 ... this has been my favorite convention up until now, so I'll definitely give it another shot next year, but I just hope next year is better.
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Unread 09-04-2012, 09:45 AM   #4
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Hey everyone!

Like the other people who posted, I had a pretty darn good time myself. I think my favorite aspect was that the new location was so much larger! I agree that it was nice not having to bump into someone every 2 feet. As someone who collects gloomy bears I was a bit disappointed with the selection this year, but I suppose that is what happens when they fall out of style. I loved the skits this year, real quality stuff, just wish there had been more of it. I was able to catch Ramen and Rice, and they were magnificent as always. Can't say I stayed for Leetstreet boys since I didn't know them. Popped into the rave for a bit and it was bumpin as always.

My only real complaint was the getting those badges. Man that was brutal! As the other poster said, I know there was added security to prevent fraud, but man those lines. The nice part is the second you have your badge it is all behind you and you are super psyched to do stuff.

On a quick note, I personally know one of the directors of Animefest, so if you guys have some comments or suggestions to pass along, I will happily do that.
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Unread 09-04-2012, 11:35 AM   #5
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Here's my 2 bits.

Registration - OMG! Totally unorganized! The lines that formed ended up blocking the entrance to the convention center (good thing there wasn't a fire) & by doing so, allowed numerous people to jump in front of other people that had been waiting for hours. And those in the on-site registration were in even worse shape. There were times that they didn't move from one spot for 30 minutes. I have to wonder if staff were taken advantage of regarding these badges, readers, booths (registration, info desk, etc.). Were those expenses really necessary? In the past, tables provided by the hotel have been sufficient. How much storage space will these take up? Are registration prices going to increase due their purchase?

The badges - I hate this badge. Totally hate it. It's too big to hang with all my other convention badges and will not be staying on my lanyard with my other badges. Was it really necessary to have 2 barcodes and an RFID? Really? There are other much more effective methods to prevent counterfeit badges than a hackable RFID system. A better system would have been something similar to what All-Con uses - a holographic sticker.

The panels - HUH? A fitness panel led by someone that has no credentials to discuss diet & exercise? A guest panel on props where all we got to see was a powerpoint of the guest's portfolio? I didn't learn anything & could have see the same thing by going to his website. His 2nd panel on materials was much better. I didn't have a good experience in general on any of the panels I attended except maybe one or two. A little better planning needs to be done so that loud music doesn't disrupt the nearby panels though. The best panel I went to all weekend was the Crossplay 101 panel.

Cosplay Runway - once the runway portion started, it was good. But UGH! It took way too long for it to start. And the opening ceremonies? What was ceremonial about it? It was nice to see the guests being introduced but other than that.... And I know that the winners didn't get their prizes during the con which was disappointing for them.

The hotel (Sheraton) - I'm not sure what went wrong here, but the level of service was pitiful. We had an executive suite with no linens for the sofabed. I had to call for service EVERY day because our room didn't get serviced by housekeeping - once they took our dirty towels but neglected to replace them which had me calling them again. And the copy of my bill under my door? Never got one. The checkout process was much longer than it needed to be. It didn't help that the kiosks weren't working.

Artist & Dealer - thank you for the extra space for both these areas.

I may add other things to my review if I think of them.
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Unread 09-04-2012, 01:03 PM   #6
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Okay, I may as well write all this down before I purposefully forget it.

This con was frustrating and disappointing for the vast majority of it.

Friday:
Registration has already been addressed rather well by B.O.M. I would just like to add that the Press badges were not ready until very late in the day on Friday (and the radio tag on mine never worked...thank goodness I had a regular pre-reg badge), and the badge checking at panels was very inconsistent. Sometimes my badge was scanned, sometimes not. Sometimes they flipped it around to see if the radio tag was on the back--I could have gone into any college textbook, pulled one out, and stuck it to my badge. The point is that somehow, I don't think any potential fraud is rampant enough to justify this extra effort/expense.

The cosplay judging ran late on Friday. I feel rather bad for the cosplay staff--they were run ragged, and the registration lines caused a great deal of contestants to be late. (Which pushed everyone ELSE back.) It was so late that I didn't have time to run back up to my room for food--I hadn't eaten anything substantial since 8:30am that morning--and the gracious table monitor (I know her name but won't say it publicly since I don't have permission), bless her, shared some food with me.

The contest room....grrrr. No water stations for the cosplayers--if we wanted water, we had to leave the staging area and go get it from the stations in the main exhibit hall. Nor were there any fans or circulating devices of any sort--quite a few cosplayers were roasting in there, which didn't help with dehydration. Please, please get fans in there and a small water station. I noted that seating started so late that they had to cut Opening Ceremonies WAY short to catch up with the schedule. I would offer the suggestion that Security rope off a section for Press next time, the same way it was done for the Skit Contest.

Saturday:
Oh, the panels. B.O.M. pretty much covered it. In short, the majority of the panels seemed to me to be either off-topic (from what was printed in the program book) or were run by people who weren't necessarily experienced enough, both in terms of teaching a panel and the content itself. If you are going to run a fitness panel, be prepared to address both men and women. If you are going to run a panel about makeup, please address makeup. If your technology fails (example: if you cannot run your intended PowerPoint), you need to have a backup plan. Many of the panels I sat in had audience members walking out within 10 minutes. That's a bad sign. Not to say that all panels were bad; they weren't. Crossplay 101 was fantastic and funny, and the Cosplay Performance panel on Sunday morning was well done too. But as a whole, I felt AFest could have done better.

Also, I noted that there was a lack of communication between staff departments about where things were--the Weapons Check, the Computer Workshop 2--I heard "I don't know" more times than I'd liked. I'm not blaming any one person, but there was definitely a breakdown in communication.

The escalators. What was up with them?!?!? Sometimes they would be working fine and loaded with people. Sometimes they were turned off, and it became Stair Con. Sometimes they were working and Platinum Security would be checking our badges to go down to the first floor. Sometimes they were working but we could only get on a couple at a time "to prevent too much weight on the escalators." Come on, guys--all we want is a straight, consistent answer and experience. If they need to be off all the time, fine. Just be consistent about it. Who is Platinum Security, anyway, and why were they at the hotel?

Thank you for having the food vendors in-hotel. It was a little more expensive but better for people who either couldn't or didn't have time to go to the Plaza of the Americas.

Sunday:
Skit Contest seating started way late. Why was that? It also ended very quickly, and I know there were few skits entered. OH. The ****ed strobe. Okay. I understand that the emcees didn't want to get off of the stage. Fine. "Let's dance!" Fine. Then you blast my eardrums with mind-numbingly loud music and turn on extremely bright, colored strobe lighting. You know, that could have very quickly become a medical issue, because some people get seizures from that. There was no warning that it was coming, and I was seated in the front row. I had a MASSIVE headache and was dizzy from that stupid music and lighting within 30 seconds, and I had to put up my recording gear with my eyes closed (blindly) because I couldn't take it. I was VERY upset, but couldn't get a hold of the staff because they all huddled in the corner right after the contest.

The cash parking kiosk was broken, so no one could pay cash for their parking unless you went inside to the valet cashier (which wasn't what the kiosk screen said)--it was very inconvenient. I had to load my car, then run back inside and navigate the elevators/stairs to get inside to pay. I was also honest and paid the full amount instead of the lesser amount the confused cashier was trying to charge me.

All in all...I was disappointed. AFest is capable of better than this. It lost the relaxed, small-con atmosphere that I so enjoyed last year--it felt like a miniature A-Kon (without the efficiency), not AnimeFest. There were a few bright lights in the sea of twilight that was AFest--a few good panels, great cosplays, and very kind guests--but compared to past years, I think they have a lot they need to improve upon. I also think that they should take some pages from A-Kon's book if they expect to stay in the Sheraton and have this size of a convention. A-Kon may have been overcrowded this past year, but they're darned efficient when it comes to running their convention.

Last edited by Celyddon : 09-05-2012 at 12:33 PM.
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Unread 09-05-2012, 12:27 PM   #7
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Hotel
This is my second time at Afest once being in the Hyatt and now at the Sheraton. Personally I feel that the Sheraton works SO MUCH better than the Hyatt. There's actually food to eat a block away from the convention and a lot more space! Also, lots of different places for photo shoots.

Since the hotel staff are used to A-kon using their hotel and convention center they know what's going on and are prepared to act if anything happens. The escalators are no surprise. I'm used to any convention that has them they turn on and off during the convention. Sometimes it's a safety issue other times its because it broke down. Don't want to use stairs use the elevators. They were not far away! As for hotel rooms, the only complaint I have are those darn toilets in the central tower being god-awfully loud! AND you didn't have to wear those stupid arm bands for the elevators!!!!!!

Registration
I went on Thursday night to get my badge. They had a problem of connecting to the hotel's wireless which was why they took so long. The only complaint I had was the lines for pre-reg weren't laid out well. Everyone went to one line rather than the other 3 there. And when people didn't go to those lines people who just came in skipped the line in general and cut everyone. They need at least one more tape strip for those lines so people wouldn't have cut so much or have a staff member supervising the line(s).

As for the badges, I actually liked the size. As a cosplayer who can't carry much and wanting to look at vendors or artists. It was a convenient place to put business cards and hotel key cards! If it hindered any part of your costume you just have to work with it. Put it on your belt or whatever on your back. They won't be a problem for pics then! Just adapt!


Cosplay Runway/Skit Contests
I would say meh... Our group got the earliest times for both judging and run-throughs that we didn't have much of a problem. Though I recall last year having a later time always gets backed up and by the looks of other people's feedback didn't get changed. There were a lot of timing issues that need to get fixed for both contests.

I actually didn't understand what happened with the cosplay contest....Did the judges not know what to judge? O_o I think a lot of people were disappointed with the outcome at the end. That's all I'll say about that.

Anywas, I've enjoyed the competition at afest. It makes you work really hard on what you want to achieve. Keep up that aspect, but do take into consideration that you should have half costuming judges and the other half performing judges.

Panels
I didn't go to any because I didn't understand where or when any of the panels were because it didn't say in the program book where or when. Even the Info desk just had the times for the panels but they didn't say where they were located. So confusing!!! Though that could be me not looking hard enough to figure out what to find.

Overall
I enjoyed Afest. It's a nice atmosphere. Great con-goers and cosplayers. You always have a great variety of vendors and artists!
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Unread 09-05-2012, 12:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikineko View Post
Hotel
I actually didn't understand what happened with the cosplay contest....Did the judges not know what to judge? O_o I think a lot of people were disappointed with the outcome at the end. That's all I'll say about that.
Did you mean the Runway or the Skit Contest?

I know that a lot of people are disappointed that Saucy Noodle Cosplay didn't win the Skit Contest. However, I honestly think there was a good reason behind the contest ending the way it did, a reason that will likely remain private with the judges, so there is that.
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Unread 09-05-2012, 01:01 PM   #9
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Everyone else summed the negative pretty well, I feel.
So, I'm only going to address the one thing I haven't seen here that I have a problem with.
WEAPONS CHECK
Are you kidding me?
Two different Hawk Eye(Avengers) cosplayers had legitimate hunting bows WITH the draw strings still attached. One of them I saw actually loading a arrow, notch on string, and pulling it back. WITH REAL ARROWS! If his hand slipped and he let go, someone could have easily been SERIOUSLY INJURED!
http://browse.deviantart.com/?order=...afest#/d5dhkdk
And he did get weapons check and had the bright yellow zip tie.
They were so anal retentive about even checking people's prop staffs and canes that they let actual weapons into the convention area and gave them okay to be used.
Thank you from going from Weapons Check to Prop Check and not actually doing your job.

-rant over-
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Unread 09-05-2012, 01:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Celyddon View Post
Did you mean the Runway or the Skit Contest?

I know that a lot of people are disappointed that Saucy Noodle Cosplay didn't win the Skit Contest. However, I honestly think there was a good reason behind the contest ending the way it did, a reason that will likely remain private with the judges, so there is that.
Oh no, I don't want to know what their reasoning was behind anyone winning. Everyone deserves what they got!!! I've just competed in a lot of skit competitions and this is my second time I've competed at Afest, this was just...weird. I don't know how to explain it. I think one of the aspects was that there wasn't an overall Best in Show like in most cosplay conventions. But that's all I want to say. Otherwise anymore trying to explain it will probably come off as rude or something. ^_^
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Unread 09-05-2012, 09:00 PM   #11
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I won't repeat what others have already said, but I will say I had a good time. Granted, our group spent half of the con time out shopping around Dallas, so... XD However, we had a good time at the con too because we just make our own fun.

Have the hotel walls always been so paper thin? I've been to A-Kon 6 times and have never noticed! We actually heard our neighbor peeing at one point. No, I'm not kidding.

I think something must have gone veeeeeery wrong with those panel schedules. Not only were they missing a few panels and didn't have locations, but the print was tiny! I'm sure it'll be fixed for next year since it was clearly accidental this year.

Someone posted on the AFest forum feedback thread that there was a dealer selling Nazi merchandise. No. Just no.

Adding to the "Hyatt vs. Sheraton" vote... I much preferred the Sheraton! It was so spacious! All of those tables on the 2nd floor were marvelous too when you just needed a break from walking. Loved the venue change!
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Unread 09-05-2012, 09:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KibaEdward View Post
Everyone else summed the negative pretty well, I feel.
So, I'm only going to address the one thing I haven't seen here that I have a problem with.
WEAPONS CHECK
Are you kidding me?
Two different Hawk Eye(Avengers) cosplayers had legitimate hunting bows WITH the draw strings still attached. One of them I saw actually loading a arrow, notch on string, and pulling it back. WITH REAL ARROWS! If his hand slipped and he let go, someone could have easily been SERIOUSLY INJURED!
http://browse.deviantart.com/?order=...afest#/d5dhkdk
And he did get weapons check and had the bright yellow zip tie.
They were so anal retentive about even checking people's prop staffs and canes that they let actual weapons into the convention area and gave them okay to be used.
Thank you from going from Weapons Check to Prop Check and not actually doing your job.

-rant over-
I had to get my wrench (which was a CARVED STYROFOAM BLOCK) ziptied with a bright yellow tie. It was black. Some jerkhole also yanked on my wrench while it was hanging from my belt. Guess what happened? That's right, the ziptie was way too tight and it snapped clean off right there.

Thanks a million.

Lines for reg? *beats dead horse* I heard they were supposed to be alphabetized. THIS DID NOT WORK. This was never a good idea. For one thing, it's not possible to predict how many people will register with a last name that starts with such-and-such letter. The 'B' line could be four times the length of the 'L' line, for example. Second, if the lines were combined into multiple letters... well, let's not go there. There is a good reason A-Kon puts their reg desks close to a wall, as opposed to right in the middle of a room FACING THE DOORWAYS.

There were very few good places for photoshoots. Every shoot I had heard of took place at the same location: the Cancer Survivor's Plaza. There were probably others that took place elsewhere, but it seemed like every time a shoot was almost over, the next fandom was already gathering there for their own shoot. This could (and probably did) create drama when a shoot runs overtime.

Along with what everyone else has said. Subpar panels, vague schedule, negligent hotel staff, I had to deal with it all.

I have never had this many complaints about a convention experience, ever. I seriously hope that these issues get ironed out come next year, or I'm not going back.
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Unread 09-05-2012, 10:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor Moon View Post
I'll try to keep this short, but this was my experience:

Cosplay Runway - total joke
Can you elaborate for me? I will say every year I get this remark from at least one person and there are certain things that are out of my control - such as the contest being on Friday, which is a major drawback. However, constructive criticism is certainly appreciated. There have been suggestions in the past, some feasible and some not so much, but I would certainly like to hear them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikineko View Post
I actually didn't understand what happened with the cosplay contest....Did the judges not know what to judge? O_o I think a lot of people were disappointed with the outcome at the end. That's all I'll say about that.

Anywas, I've enjoyed the competition at afest. It makes you work really hard on what you want to achieve. Keep up that aspect, but do take into consideration that you should have half costuming judges and the other half performing judges.
There was a judging sheet for every judge to fill out, which was different for the events. The Runway and Hall judging sheet is very similar for costuming events I have attended in the past, which are heavily based upon craftsmanship and construction. The judges that were chosen for the Friday night competition and Saturday competition were of those with a costuming/cosplaying background, whereas the judges on Sunday had a performance background, so I guess I'm confused on the last statement. Friday's competition is only 'barely' based upon performance - there is a small area for judges to fill out in regards to stage presentation and that is it, everything else is done behind closed doors.

I'm not opposed to having the Best in Show award again for Cosplay Skit competition, the only downside I continuously saw year after year is that it did not give the opportunity for those in a lower performance class to win, in fact they would rarely, sometimes never win anything. Thus be the only reason why the Grand Prize for each division is present.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Celyddon View Post
The contest room....grrrr. No water stations for the cosplayers--if we wanted water, we had to leave the staging area and go get it from the stations in the main exhibit hall. Nor were there any fans or circulating devices of any sort--quite a few cosplayers were roasting in there, which didn't help with dehydration. Please, please get fans in there and a small water station. I noted that seating started so late that they had to cut Opening Ceremonies WAY short to catch up with the schedule. I would offer the suggestion that Security rope off a section for Press next time, the same way it was done for the Skit Contest.
If you're talking about the Cosplay HQ, I can't even say how many times I had to call about the air conditioning, at least about 5-10 times on Friday. If I would have known it would have been that hot, I would've brought fans myself. As for water stations, there was one water station in Cosplay HQ. Seeing I was glued to the cave almost all weekend slaving away, I never once told anyone they couldn't get water. Now for the very few times I left and if my volunteers did? I sincerely apologize. However, I doubt almost any of them would have turned you away from getting water out of the room as it was ridiculous in that entire hallway and in that room in regards to temperature.
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Unread 09-05-2012, 11:08 PM   #14
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LOVED being in the Sheraton. It was absolutely amazing to have elbow room! The artist's alley seemed kind of sparse since it was more spread out, but the space was just great.

My group hosted four panels and had a blast with them all, and I'm happy to see some good feedback on our Crossplay panel! The reimbursement scheme worked just fine for us and I think it was a very fair trade. It was unfortunate that one of our panels got scheduled at 11am on Sunday, but that's just how it goes sometimes.

As far as the skit contest, I'll echo about having no water containers- my group and I did a pretty strenuous dance skit (as did most of the skits) and there was no water in the room.

With prizes- I understand the division between Open and Masters, but since there were so few skits and so few prizes it seemed a bit unnecessary. While it's okay that most of the skits were dance skits, it seems the "original choreography" rule was kind of done away with.

Mostly I'm confused as to why there is no longer a "Best Dramatic Skit." Two years ago there was, there was a miscommunication and it was announced wrong, and then the next year there wasn't. Not many cons are like this, but there are ALWAYS a couple of good dramatic skits at AnimeFEST, so it's strange that the award has been done away with.
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Unread 09-05-2012, 11:18 PM   #15
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thefinal ~ Well first off, yes the whole thing being on Friday is completely horrible, considering check in isn't until 3pm, and of course there was a huge line, we had to cancel our photoshoot for our costumes, so that we could make the judging in time, and because we were wrapped up for 3 hours, didn't get to walk around in our costumes AT ALL.

But other than that, the fact that they gathered all of us up, made us line up, get in order, sit down, and then go 'ok either leave and come back in an hour, or sit here and watch opening ceremonies' was ridiculous. First off, an hour is about long enough to walk somewhere to do something, just in time to walk back, especially considering some of us were in either big bulky costumes, or costumes that were hard to maneuver in, so we were pretty much stuck watching opening ceremonies, which was painful and boring, and they were pretty much just BSing to waste time at the end because the Cosplay Runway started like 20 minutes late, which is another complaint.

Then on top of that, I highly disagree with some of the winners (not saying we should have won, because there were other costumes in our category that definitely beat us outright), but I think some people got way overlooked. This would help if the judges were actual cosplayers. I have no idea who the judges were, but they had NO IDEA what they were doing. I've done more than a dozen cosplay contests (not including hall cosplays) and at every one I've been asked questions about construction, materials, ect. These people? Nothing ... we walked in and they said 'ok, tell us about your costumes' then made us come closer for a 360 spin, and that was it. 3 of the girls in our group who worked on their costumes together spent about 6 hours putting together a binder FULL of reference pictures, progress pictures, and wrote about how certain things were accomplished with details and times. They explained what the binder was, set it in front of the judges, and the judges didn't even acknowledge that it was there, they didn't flip through it or anything, they didn't even pick it up. How can you possibly judge cosplayers when you yourself are not a cosplayer and probably don't even understand half of what's being said to you. There were times when we were describing how we did something, and the judges looked like we were speaking a foreign language to them, and I could almost see the ? above their heads. Not only that, but they didn't even ask us to clarify what they didn't understand, they were just like 'ok thanks, next'.

EDIT: Oh also, another thing, there were a lot of groups (considering you guys count 2 as a group) this year, I think instead of creating awards for specific people (which really isn't fair anyway) you should have done 1st in each category for individuals and groups.
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+2 (maybe 3) more later this year

Last edited by Sinnocent : 09-05-2012 at 11:26 PM.
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