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Unread 06-07-2007, 02:31 AM   #46
Danzikumaru
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Yes, skits are fairly uncommon in sci fi cons. There are some contests that do have them, and are likely what inspired the skit trend in anime conventions.

That being said, I can admit that we gave our best in show award to a skit this year at Ikkicon, but it's difficult explaining to people that they didn't win because they were the best skit. There's allready a Best Skit award for that. They won because not only were their costumes damned impressive (Kingdom Hearts II group with a Sora, Riku, Schoolgirl Kairi, King Mickey fursuit!, and two very neat and clean Turks) but they also had something I like to talk about alot and that's STAGE PRESSENCE! EVERYONE payed attention to them, fans of the series or no. They COMMANDED the audience and it was awesome to behold.

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Unread 06-07-2007, 04:01 PM   #47
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TC: Mystique was the first costume I EVER did. I was 18. That was a life time ago.

Um...you know, I really think the large masquerades should do away with the skits. Three hours is a little long for your average audience.

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Unread 06-07-2007, 06:16 PM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grandis View Post
TC: Mystique was the first costume I EVER did. I was 18. That was a life time ago.

Um...you know, I really think the large masquerades should do away with the skits. Three hours is a little long for your average audience.

Catherine
As easy as that is to say, it's far more difficult to execute. A Director's duty is not just to their participants but to their audience as well. And the audience demands skits, at least to a certain extent. We can lessen their importance, but not remove them entirely. Not yet, at least.

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Unread 06-07-2007, 09:59 PM   #49
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I'd think they'd get better play if they enforced stricter time limits on skits and were militant about it. Don't give everyone three minutes to bore the audience, stick to a minute to two minutes.

One thing I think sci-fi cons do better, in that regard, is mix up the skits and walk-ons. Or, really, they don't have a distinction between them. There is no category for either, everything is just 'performance.' If it's clear from rehearsal or the tech sheet that the performance is a skit of some kind, a good director mixes it up by staggering the skits between the walk-ons, or vice versa, so you don't have too many of the same thing all following each other.

I am really curious where anime cons got the concept of the skit so ingrained, that they have such a wall between skit and walk-on, and sometimes even have whole separate contests for skits. I have seen what I guess qualify as "skits" at sci-fi cons, but they're not very long, and often just a punchline with a good lead-in. Even CONvergence, whose halftime show is their in-house acting troupe Soylent Theatre, has never had a major influx of skits. It's kind of baffling, I wonder where the anime con thing came out of.
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Unread 06-07-2007, 10:23 PM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CapsuleCorp View Post
I'd think they'd get better play if they enforced stricter time limits on skits and were militant about it. Don't give everyone three minutes to bore the audience, stick to a minute to two minutes.

One thing I think sci-fi cons do better, in that regard, is mix up the skits and walk-ons. Or, really, they don't have a distinction between them. There is no category for either, everything is just 'performance.' If it's clear from rehearsal or the tech sheet that the performance is a skit of some kind, a good director mixes it up by staggering the skits between the walk-ons, or vice versa, so you don't have too many of the same thing all following each other.

I am really curious where anime cons got the concept of the skit so ingrained, that they have such a wall between skit and walk-on, and sometimes even have whole separate contests for skits. I have seen what I guess qualify as "skits" at sci-fi cons, but they're not very long, and often just a punchline with a good lead-in. Even CONvergence, whose halftime show is their in-house acting troupe Soylent Theatre, has never had a major influx of skits. It's kind of baffling, I wonder where the anime con thing came out of.
I honestly have no idea. As our con ages, we're going to be enforcing shorter skit times, eventually settling at 2 minutes. I don't think we could ever go to one minute, as that would just make them walk-ons with a gag in the way we run our contest. We want to at least make them seem unique still.

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Unread 06-08-2007, 04:29 PM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danzikumaru View Post
As easy as that is to say, it's far more difficult to execute. A Director's duty is not just to their participants but to their audience as well. And the audience demands skits, at least to a certain extent. We can lessen their importance, but not remove them entirely. Not yet, at least.

*
That can be a matter of uniqueness from con to con. The anime con culture I came from until very recently dispreferred skits. We gave each cosplayer 30 seconds, because we knew the audience didn't want a 3 hour show. In Minnesota at AD it's not quite so strict, but still I think it's 2 minutes.

It really depends on what expectation is set up, and what the audience is used to. My experience as both a director, a participant, and an audience member is that lots of people also prefer short.

Something that I haven't seen discussed in this thread yet, which is relevant is the cosplay convention that it is okay to wear your costume all day, and then show it in the cosplay at night. At SF cons, this is verboten, because the audience generally disprefers to see the same old at the masquerade. I've tried explaining this to anime fans, and many of them don't get the whole audience accomodation thing in terms of surprise, or length of skits, or so many things. It really does seem to be a more "all about me" culture than many of the SF masquerades, which seem to be more about show biz, entertainment, skill, and the costume.

Of course, SF costume masquerades are NOT paradise. Many conventions in that venue don't have ICG rules, do have bad mcs, and have some problems with long performances, or simply poor execution of costume presentation.

I guess we are all just amateurs trying to have fun, and no masquerade is going to be perfect for a variety of factors.

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Unread 06-08-2007, 10:46 PM   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danzikumaru View Post
I honestly have no idea. As our con ages, we're going to be enforcing shorter skit times, eventually settling at 2 minutes. I don't think we could ever go to one minute, as that would just make them walk-ons with a gag in the way we run our contest. We want to at least make them seem unique still.

*
Watch some of the videos from Anime North, past and present. The time limit now is 1 minute - and I assume that most entries are probably not just walk-ons and walk-offs (if it's anything like previous years - I didn't actually watch this year's yet, as I was pooped from helping work the greenroom/polaroids). I think it was longer in the past, but the masq was getting very long as the MD was reluctant to cap entries. The entries at CNAnime (now Fan Expo, I think) have only 45 seconds, IIRC. People are coming up with some pretty interesting things to do in 45 seconds, which is more than long enough to allow them to show off their costume (which is the main goal of the masq, in the opinion of the people who tend to run it [Kaijugal/Sarcasm-hime/stillvisions/elemental/oselle...]).

It all depends on what you want from your masq, I think. I believe AN has had to cap its entries, since it was starting to run more than 100+ entries and 3 hours. >.< The focus of the masquerades in Toronto seems to be the costumes and how to present the costumes the best way possible, and leaving the skits to the skit contest (at AN at least; 5 min max), a completely separate event.

Anyway, at the Sci-fi cons here, cosplayers are welcome and encouraged, but the entry numbers tend to be smaller as the crowd gets older. I hope that with the influx of new blood (i.e. the anime cosplayers going to sci-fi/fantasy cons) wearing costumes in the hall, those more interested in the sci-fi/fantasy etc will copy, and overall the numbers will increase. We can only hope, right? Right now, I think Anime North has the stiffest competition here (Toronto) of all the TO cons, due to the larger attendee numbers.

Sci-fi con does not always = costumecon/comiccon/worldcon/etc. There's tons of very small sci-fi/fantasy cons out there with varying levels of costuming ability.

I blathered. I think I should have been in bed at least 30 minutes ago. >.<
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Unread 06-08-2007, 11:14 PM   #53
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LOL but it's good blathering, Eleryth. tis true, not every sci-fi con is on the ball either. But there, you have the difference between a small local or regional con where the only hall costumes you see are maybe a couple of TOS Trek uniforms and a random Jedi, and the larger regional to national cons where costumes of all shapes, sizes, and colors are parading around the convention space all day. The better the hall cosplay, the better potential for a decent masquerade. Which is why anime cons really CAN do better - hall cosplay at an anime con is like breathing. It's getting to the point where newbs are afraid to show up not in a costume. It leaves the door wide open to show the difference between what people enjoy wearing in the halls for comfort or fandom, and what they should start thinking about taking to the stage.

grandis - I did bring up not wearing your masquerade costume in the halls. Most people seem baffled by that yet. I concede to Danzikumaru that maybe it would be harsh to make that a RULE, yet you and I come from the circles where that IS taken as an unwritten rule and to see someone come into the green room in the same costume they've had on all day is rare and provokes boggled looks.

If we are returning to that topic, let me mention this. I didn't see it myself, but I heard about it from a friend. At Archon, last year, there were some anime costumes in the masquerade, but the people doing them had only ever been to little anime cons, never a big sci-fi con like Archon, and weren't aware of its masquerade traditions and rules. My friend who was competing said they really stood out in the green room in a not-so-nice way, because they had been wearing their Naruto duds all day and were just competing them against three classes worth of costumers who brought out their most stunning apparel from all sources, sci-fi, fantasy, anime, and original. In my friend's opinion, those anime kids looked like rank amateurs next to the sci-fi people, and their work paled because people had gotten used to seeing it throughout the course of the day.

It isn't always about the surprise factor, just that the audience is expecting something impressive, worth the wait to get in for good seats. But if they've seen all those costumes in the hall already, and already got pictures of them, then it can come across as a letdown. There doesn't seem to be much point to putting them on stage when the entire con has already gotten more than an eyeful of them. Especially if we're talking about emphasizing walk-on performance instead of skit - then you really lose a lot of impact of your presentation.

I still lean on the practical side, that being costumes you wouldn't want to be in all day, but there's the rub. Are the kinds of costumes you would feel comfortable wearing all day in panels and the dealers room the kinds of costumes that deserve to be on stage? CAN they compete against the costumes that are not good for the halls, with complex designs and difficult construction methods?
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Unread 06-09-2007, 12:12 AM   #54
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Just to add my two cents worth, though for the most part it's already been said several times over. Anime cons could stand to learn from Sci-Fi and I truely to mean a whole lot. If only they would get their heads out of their asses and look into the things they could be doing but refuse to do.

Last year was my first year competing in any kind of masquerades though it was almost my last year of doing so at all due to an unpleasant experiance. One was at Acen and the other was Archon (yeah, I'm the one CC keeps refering too). One anime, one Sci-fi/media and the differences between the two were so drastic that it amazed me. I felt far more welcomed and my work more appreciated at Archon then I ever felt at ACen or any anime Masq for that matter.

Though part of it could be that Archon has been doing Masqs for, counting this year, 30 years now and ACen is only now 10 years old. However, I don't think that's the whole thing with it. Archon strives to have an excellent costume show and Anime cons seem to want to deemphasie costumes and focus all on performance. Which of course we've already talked about. I'm sure this isn't the case at all anime cons but at the ones I've been to it sure seems to be.

Archon and I'm sure most other sci-fi cons have so many things to ensure a nearly flawless show that anime cons should really pick up on. We had a manditory meeting to go to where everything about the show was explained to us. There was another meeting that was optional, but I went to anyway, where you heard about the masq, the history, got to see the greenroom location, backstage stuff as well as other various information. Then you have a tech rehersal, where you go through your performance, lighting crew does lighting things for your costumes so they look good on stage and the stage manager tells you things to do to improve your performance. They also have a rule, though it's more of a suggestion I surmise, that you not wear your contest costume before the show because as was mentioned before if people have seen it all day it's not going to be impressive at all unless you have a kick ass performance in mind that'll drown out the fact that you wore it all day. Skits are only allowed one minute (though you can ask for more time) and walk ons are allowed 30 seconds. And thus the show runs pretty quickly because they have a method that's worked for them for years now.

And the greenroom atmosphere is wonderful. You have dens with den dad or moms and they help you with everything. They joke with you and keep you relaxed and everything. Get food for you, help you if costumes malfunction everything, it's what they're there for to lessen the stress on the performer. The judges were attentive and asked wonderful questions and if you were nervous they helped you to relax as well.

And ACen...we don't really need to talk about them. -_- But there is so much out there anime cons could learn. And I wish they would learn.
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Unread 06-09-2007, 12:58 AM   #55
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Mmm... I think 3 hours is DEFINITELY too long for a masquerade. Especially the ones where the contestants are shoved into a small, hot room with little or no water available, and of course, no one is allowed to leave because if they win an award and can't be found... Well, then what? Some costumes are too hot/big to wear if you're just sitting in a tiny room collecting sweat droplets for three hours. And it could be even worse at the cons where the contestants have their own seating section in the audience. What if their costume is HUGE, or doesn't allow them to sit? And of course, that 3 hours doesn't include the hour or two prior where the contestants have to wait around to be judged.

And I say this because, no only is my competition cosplay for next year HUGE, it will not allow me to sit, and I will have the equivalency of large wings attached to my back.

I think two, maybe two and a half hours is plenty long enough for a masquerade, but that could just be me. Few competition worthy upper level costumes are comfortable for long amounts of time, especially when you're, like I said, shoved into a small room or stuck in a chair for 2+ hours. (I can only imagine how hot you must've been in Sforza at Detour, Grandis. x.x)

I think it might help more if skit entries were just limited. And I think 2 minutes is a good time. The longer skits that take 3, 4, even 5 minutes usually bore me, especially when they're about series or characters I've never seen or even ones I dislike.

The con I went to didn't have skits. I don't believe they ever even had a stage for the contestants to walk on. I think they had a parade of costumes where all the contestants walked around... In a parade... For people to see them. But it didn't seem like anyone really cared about the competition at all. I mean, most of them went to the Star Wars panel instead.
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Unread 06-09-2007, 12:52 PM   #56
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I think there could be so much that anime cons could learn from sci/fi cons regarding masquerades too. As Khene said the differences between what went on at the ACen masquerade and the Grand Maquerade at Archon was staggering. I really liked the fact that the judges at Archon were very attentive and even excited about the costumes they were presented with. They asked excellent questions of everyone and gave everyone equal time. There was no hurrying about to try and get the craftsmanship judging done before the show started because they opened the greenroom early enough that judging finished up just as the show started. There was no contest drama because the costumers were all friendly and helpful, offering advice when asked and sometime when not asked. I felt I could go to anyone in the room and ask them about the contruction of their costume without them looking down on me as a novice and witout them feeling like I wanted to steal their 'trade secrets'. We even had master level costumers oogling our costumes and telling us how good they looked, which made us happy. (As a side note, the masquerade at Archon doesn't call skits 'skits' they call them 'presentations' since what you are doing is presenting your costume like the walk-ons only with added whistles and bells. )

On the other hand, it's completely the opposite attitude at anime conventions. I'm not sure how much of this is the result of their refusal to use a tried and true method that has worked for another convention, the age demographic of anime cons in general, or simply because each new masq. director wants to reinvent the wheel to put their own stamp on it but there is something not right in the land of anime masqerades. I really think that there should probably be some kind of panel or training session run by experience masquerade directors and staff on how to run a good, solid masquerade that anime masquerade directors as well as people who are interested in running a show could attend. That might help some conventions get their act together. Personally, I've written off most anime masquerades already with very rare acceptions as being a waste of time and effort. (Another side note: It appears that our local anime convention here is trying to model their contest after the one at Archon since the con chairs are heavily involved in participating in Archon's and are aware of some of the problems other anime cons have had in the past. I hope they can pull it off because then they would have an excellent contest to sell to attendees in addition to the other things the convention has going for it. Their second contest was a major improvement over the first one. )
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Unread 06-09-2007, 08:15 PM   #57
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One thing that hasn't been mentioned and I find VERY relevant is the fact that the Main Events at an anime con is always being used for other things and the Masquerade takes second place during the day. Very few conventions will schedule more than 2 hours for rehearsal, because they NEED that room for the AMV contest, a movie premiere, concerts, etc.

That makes a big difference on how the staff has to handle the event and how much attention can be put on individual entries. Anime cons just don't have enough time, which would make a huge difference on keeping people relaxed and well-practiced. It would also give the Tech crew a smaller margin of error, which would be nice...

Also, the green room issue. It's a panel room that at larger cons, will more than likely be coveted for actual panels and workshops. A lot of conventions don't allot the use of the large panel rooms for the cosplayers because they've got other programming for the con scheduled. Sometimes, there isn't a room to even spare, such as times you're stuck in a line going through hotel staff hallways or loading dock areas.

So one huge factor overall is that the convention itself restricts what the Masquerades can provide for their competitors' comfort. Conventions that pride themselves on good costume contests will make ample provisions for the costumers. Conventions that see the contests as just a major event to pack in the Main Events won't do that.
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Unread 06-09-2007, 09:50 PM   #58
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One thing that hasn't been mentioned and I find VERY relevant is the fact that the Main Events at an anime con is always being used for other things and the Masquerade takes second place during the day. Very few conventions will schedule more than 2 hours for rehearsal, because they NEED that room for the AMV contest, a movie premiere, concerts, etc.
Yes! I was going to bring that up - Danzikumaru and I were talking about that the other night. It seems to me the cons with the best masquerades have unlimited access to Main Programming, and the only events going on in the ballroom that day revolve around the masquerade - orientation, rehearsal, etc. Whereas most anime cons, for whatever reason, squeeze the most they can out of their ballroom. Can't fault them for that, I guess, if they have the wherewithall to show anime premieres or have concerts. But smaller ones...I would have to wonder, if it wasn't something like a concert, a taiko or martial arts presentation, do they really need the biggest ballroom for AMVs and guest panels? Have they ever really filled the main programming room for anything other than the masquerade or a concert? If an anime con wants to to better with their masquerade, they have to look at space concerns and be willing to bend over backwards to accommodate the masquerade director, rather than just toss them whatever scraps of programming space they can scrounge up.

CONvergence runs like Archon - they have main events all day, hold orientation in the morning and then rehearsals all day, which are full tech rehearsals so the tech crew can get used to the lighting and sound cues. Once you've witnessed a masquerade run like that, you can never really go back to anything less.

As a side note, Detour copied its rules from CONvergence, and runs very similarly to the best of their ability because of staff overlap. They're an example of learning to adapt an existing, working masquerade to their own space and limitations, which is why I've been proud to be associated with them as a judge in the past few years. Not this year because I went to CostumeCon instead.
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Unread 06-10-2007, 12:31 AM   #59
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Loving the posts here. This is my new favorite thread.

A few points, since I've been away all day:
I have seen plenty of great skits that are less than a minute. But I've also seen plenty of incredible skits that our three minutes long. I prefer having a happy medium. If, after enough time, two minutes still feels like two long, I will cut the time. But I don't see that happening for our show any time soon.

Something to note about Texas conventions is that skits are spoiled. Up until recently, they weren't even pre-screened. At all. So it's going to be a SLOW process transitioning the participants AND the audience into the more strict rules that other regions are used to.

And, like I told Cap last night, it's exceedingly difficult for masquerade directors at Anime Conventions to get what we want from our superiors for our show as we have to share our space with so many other events. I had to FIGHT tooth and nail to get the three hour block I needed for our masquerade (that includes rehersal and the show and the awards ceremony). It's an uphill battle, and we're getting there. All I ask is patience.

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Unread 06-10-2007, 01:15 AM   #60
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Our con chair at AMA is pretty damn accomodating with budget, award trophies, prizes, whatever. But he's always coming up with new things for the convention with Japanese bands, musical guests, all sorts. So unfortunately, I take what space I can get although it's not for any lack of cosplay interest on Ed's part. He really likes Masquerades... but he really cares about giving his con attendees lots of fun things to do and see over the weekend.
Thankfully, I've been able to put my foot down on panel locations and times but when I'm not able to attend staff meetings, the schedule tends to get moved around and I have to jump up and down to get attention. But yes, AMA seriously falls into the category of "not enough Main Events time". And it's unlikely to change, especially with the addition of a concert AFTER the Masquerade this year. *sighs*

Thinking of skit length, dialogue has to be extremely witty or inspiring for me to watch anything longer than a minute. The longer skits I enjoy are usually choreographed ones (action, fight, dance, etc.) that have a lot of dynamic movement and use the whole stage. I also enjoy the musical skits that I've seen a lot lately, specifically musical instruments. I can sit through a song that's played well. Singing not so much... as I despise karaoke and anything similar. That's a personal thing, though.
Anyway, my point is that certain types of skits seem to work well with various lengths of time as well. Hmm... sorry if this seems muddled, as I'm sleepy, worked a hole in my finger from sewing 13 hook & eyes into a costume after a lot of stitching trim with hand and I've lost my train of thought again. I'll come back when I'm lucid and not constantly hitting the delete key for constanty typing errors.
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