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Unread 06-26-2007, 09:04 AM   #76
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Originally Posted by Karisu-sama View Post
I guess I wonder at the standards in the type of show that consistently would draw such unfortunately-designed "entries".
It's not a consistent thing. I think at this past year's masquerade that the storm troopers only came out once or twice. Which is much better than any anime con I've been to that had skits, where only two out twenty skits were even worth watching. I'd say that 90% of the entries in the masquerade are of excellent quality and highly entertaining. The only difference with d*c as opposed to anime con masquerades is that they end the torture of painful skits in a humourous manner.

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"Serious" contests can also have awesome stage presence and a very high entertainment value, as well as really well-done humorous entries.

I'm guessing it's a matter of the standards chosen in the first place, and the standards at different events simply... differ. Nothing "wrong" per say with a glorified off-the-street-entry-talent-type show, but people should be aware that there ARE more differences these days between ostensibly similar (and unfortunately similarly-named) contest events than there perhaps used to be 20 or so years ago.
Hahaha, it's really not "off the street." Many of the costumes in the d*c masquerade could blow anything from an anime con contest out of the water. Most of the entrants have worked on their costume since the d*c the year before (or longer). However, as with any contest, there are always people that enter without any planning, and enter wearing something that really shouldn't be on stage.

There is a separate costume contest for people that want to show off their embroidery and top-stitching, and it doesn't have the storm troopers. People should be aware of what they're entering. As you mentioned, I think people hear the word "masquerade" and equate it to something they've seen/been in before.

I like the way it's run, and obviously several people do. The con has been around for 20 years and this system has been used for several of them. I suggest you go and see it for yourself before passing judgment on it. The convention is definitely worth going to.

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Unread 06-26-2007, 01:13 PM   #77
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Originally Posted by Brittany Bunny View Post
There is a separate costume contest for people that want to show off their embroidery and top-stitching, and it doesn't have the storm troopers. People should be aware of what they're entering. As you mentioned, I think people hear the word "masquerade" and equate it to something they've seen/been in before.
Yes, and it was started last year to give dedicated costumers a venue to show off their hard work and be taken seriously, since that often does not happen at the regular masquerade.

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I like the way it's run, and obviously several people do. The con has been around for 20 years and this system has been used for several of them. I suggest you go and see it for yourself before passing judgment on it. The convention is definitely worth going to.
I've been to DragonCon several times over the years (including the past two years) and in my opinion the regular masquerade is a disgrace. Yes, there are some excellent costumes, but there's also a lot of stage-hogging and stupid hijinks, and the focus is clearly more on entertaining the audience than recognizing costume excellence. After 2005's masq (in which the two MCs were drunk onstage, and several celebrity judges jumped onstage to cavort with contestants), I emailed the heads of masquerade and programing with some polite suggestions as to how they could improve the masquerade. I was told point blank that they see no need to change anything because they see it as a show, and as long as the audience is entertained they don't care about anything else. THEY SAID THIS LITERALLY.

Maybe things will get better, but in the meantime if you have a really flashy presentation and/or huge costumes that wow the crowd, you may do well at the D*C masq. However it's a total crapshoot as there's no workmanship judging, so anything can happen and whatever the celebrity judges think is 'cool' can win, whether it's really better than everything else or not.

But despite that, I always really enjoy myself at DragonCon. It's definitely worth going to and is super fun; I just won't be entering the main masquerade anytime soon.
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Unread 06-26-2007, 06:11 PM   #78
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Originally Posted by Sarcasm-hime View Post
I've been to DragonCon several times over the years (including the past two years) and in my opinion the regular masquerade is a disgrace. Yes, there are some excellent costumes, but there's also a lot of stage-hogging and stupid hijinks, and the focus is clearly more on entertaining the audience than recognizing costume excellence. After 2005's masq (in which the two MCs were drunk onstage, and several celebrity judges jumped onstage to cavort with contestants), I emailed the heads of masquerade and programing with some polite suggestions as to how they could improve the masquerade. I was told point blank that they see no need to change anything because they see it as a show, and as long as the audience is entertained they don't care about anything else. THEY SAID THIS LITERALLY.
And as a participant and an audience member, I have to say that it's a refreshing change. Because it's mostly for fun there is no horrible cattiness or drama involved with this contest. You don't spend your entire day getting ready for it. Nobody's feelings are hurt if they don't win. It's just a fun way to spend your evening, get great photos of costume, meet cool people, and get to see awesome costumes. From the audience stand-point, it's the only entertaining masquerade I've ever watched...at anime conventions, if I'm not in the contest, I don't bother watching. It's boring. Walk-ons with no music or any kind of presentation, skits that are bland and poorly acted (and most of them can't even be heard by the audience) just don't make an entertaining show.

Not everything has to be so serious. I'm glad they've made a separate costume contest for craftsmanship (cause there are plenty of costumes at D*C that are of excellent craftsmanship), but I'm still glad this contest exists. Not everybody cares about craftsmanship and telling judges about how many hours of hand stitching went into their costume, and how long it took to sculpt this or that...some people just want to have a good time, get in character, and perform, without any pressure.

BTW, I didn't go in 2005, so I didn't see drunk emcees. I had heard about it, though, and that is pretty crappy that they were on stage drunk.

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Maybe things will get better, but in the meantime if you have a really flashy presentation and/or huge costumes that wow the crowd, you may do well at the D*C masq. However it's a total crapshoot as there's no workmanship judging, so anything can happen and whatever the celebrity judges think is 'cool' can win, whether it's really better than everything else or not.
Just because a contest is judged doesn't mean that what wins was the best, heh.

The D*C Masquerade never pretended to be anything it's not, ya know? Comparing it's judging techniques to those of a craftsmanship contest is like comparing apples and oranges.
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Unread 06-26-2007, 09:40 PM   #79
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Originally Posted by Brittany Bunny View Post
Not everything has to be so serious. I'm glad they've made a separate costume contest for craftsmanship (cause there are plenty of costumes at D*C that are of excellent craftsmanship), but I'm still glad this contest exists. Not everybody cares about craftsmanship and telling judges about how many hours of hand stitching went into their costume, and how long it took to sculpt this or that...some people just want to have a good time, get in character, and perform, without any pressure.
That's a legitimate point, but if it's just all in fun and an entertaining show then it shouldn't be judged. Either you should judge PROPERLY and IMPARTIALLY, or not at all. Having a 'contest' that is fraught with improprieties and unfair treatment is a recipe for drama. Quite frankly, most 'costume contests' that are all about entertaining the audience (like, say Halloween contests at bars) tend to end up appealing to the lowest common denominator, with the hottest chick or the biggest cardboard robot always winning, while more worthy costumes/presentations are often ignored.

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Just because a contest is judged doesn't mean that what wins was the best, heh.

The D*C Masquerade never pretended to be anything it's not, ya know? Comparing it's judging techniques to those of a craftsmanship contest is like comparing apples and oranges.
No, not all judges are good, but my point is that IF you get judges who are qualified and serious and impartial (rather than just roping in random celebrities), it helps make a better masquerade. And I don't think that entertainment and recognition of good work are mutually exclusive; you can have both. Yes, D*C's masquerade's judging techniques are very, um, haphazard, which is why I think it needs to be changed - if you're going to judge people at all, you should do it right.
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Unread 06-26-2007, 10:07 PM   #80
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Originally Posted by Brittany Bunny View Post
And as a participant and an audience member, I have to say that it's a refreshing change. Because it's mostly for fun there is no horrible cattiness or drama involved with this contest. You don't spend your entire day getting ready for it. Nobody's feelings are hurt if they don't win. It's just a fun way to spend your evening, get great photos of costume, meet cool people, and get to see awesome costumes. From the audience stand-point, it's the only entertaining masquerade I've ever watched...at anime conventions, if I'm not in the contest, I don't bother watching. It's boring. Walk-ons with no music or any kind of presentation, skits that are bland and poorly acted (and most of them can't even be heard by the audience) just don't make an entertaining show.
What you're describing is problems that have nothing to do with the process of judging craftsmanship and presentation in a masquerade. Cattiness, drama, hurt feelings, boring skits, and bad walk-ons are a result of the immaturity and lack of creativity of the participants, not necessarily the masquerade in which they're participating. You can have a great director and good judges, but if you've got a bunch of 15 year old yaoi fangirls entering stupid skits and poorly-made costumes, what are you going to do? Like any artist, you can only work with what you're given. If the material you're given (in this case, masquerade entrants) sucks in the first place, then you're handicapped as far as putting on a good show. What we need to do at anime cons is encourage people to work toward quality - to make their costumes better and do better, more interesting presentations without so many constraints forced upon them by the audience's expectations.

Anime con audiences think they're there to see funny skits. Thus, they complain when they don't get any. So, the masquerade director changes the rules to try and encourage more skits to please the audience. But that makes for more bad skits and bad costumes. Instead of separating skits from walk-ons and creating new contests and all these other stopgap measures, we need to re-introduce the concept of the masquerade to these cons, so they can see that walk-ons don't have to be boring, that skits don't have to be lame, that costumes CAN be beautiful and presented as such and the audience will appreciate them. Directors and their volunteer staff can make the entry and green room experience as wonderful for their participants as they can, so that even if they don't win, they don't feel bad about it.

At convergence, I've never been in a green room with catty, whiny, hurt people. The staff are all gems and the participants understand that not everybody can win something. We all have a good time chatting about our costumes with each other, so that when someone we've been buddying up to wins and we don't, we can congratulate them without tears. You can't stop people from being disappointed that they didn't win, but if things are kept pleasant backstage and the participants aren't hot, tired, dehydrated, confused, annoyed, bored, or put out by the contest, they won't freak out over not winning. Provide them with a good post-mortem on Sunday where the judges can give tips on how to improve themselves for next time, and you've got a recipe for a masquerade everyone can live with.
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Unread 06-26-2007, 10:42 PM   #81
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That's a legitimate point, but if it's just all in fun and an entertaining show then it shouldn't be judged. Either you should judge PROPERLY and IMPARTIALLY, or not at all. Having a 'contest' that is fraught with improprieties and unfair treatment is a recipe for drama. Quite frankly, most 'costume contests' that are all about entertaining the audience (like, say Halloween contests at bars) tend to end up appealing to the lowest common denominator, with the hottest chick or the biggest cardboard robot always winning, while more worthy costumes/presentations are often ignored.
I dunno, many of the people enter are all into "Oh my gosh, who's the guest judges this year?!" and some even enter *because* certain celebrities are judges. I don't think it's a recipe for drama and I don't think there is unfair treatment, not with my experience with it anyway. I've been treated better in the d*c contests than I've ever been treated in an anime con contest, which is kind of sad. I've always found a majority of the winners every year to be highly deserving entries as well. Sure there are some where you question it, but that happens with craftsmanship contests. The only difference is that people usually get all bent out of shape about that kind of stuff regarding craftsmanship contests.

CapsuleCorp:

I see your point here, and I agree. But the anime con crowd keeps getting younger and younger, and it's kinda hard to encourage 13 year olds to strive for quality with their costumes/skits, ya know? They either don't care or don't have the resources. Meanwhile, many of the older costumers/performers move on to things like Costume Con and the scifi/fantasy conventions, taking with them the quality entries from anime con masquerades. I don't think anyone can control this, though, unless anime cons start having more appeal towards an older crowd. Right now they all seem to be marketing themselves as "family friendly" and, in my opinion, getting worse because of it. :/

I agree the backstage/green room area should be made a more comfortable area. Beverages and snacks should be available, since almost all of you Saturday is spent in that room. Last year at AWA we were in line for like, 2 hours and then in the green room for 4. The organisation was so wonky that everyone was afraid to leave to get any food, for fear that they'd miss their judging. Eventually the staff came through with water and snacks, but that should have been available from the start (well, water was). I've also been in contests where the volunteers were just plain snotty. It's only insult to injury to spend an entire day in a green room, without food, being yelled at by volunteers and moved around like cattle, and then not win anything. Even if you do win it still sucks!
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Unread 06-27-2007, 09:56 PM   #82
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Yeah, that is a very good point. It's hard to encourage better costumes and competition at anime cons when they continually cater to the same age demographic, even though the kids of that age are starting to outgrow it and those of us already outside the cusp are getting REALLY bored with anime cons. I do foresee a huge die-off of the smaller, less established and less interesting anime cons within the next three to five years. If they want to survive, they do have to start making things interesting to all attendees. I tried getting that across with someone on ACen's programming staff, and she got all snippy with me. -_-

But I continue to go to anime cons because I'm doing exclusively anime and video game costumes now, and those just don't get the same fan appreciation at sci-fi cons. GreenFire and I are competing anime costumes at convergence next week, but we're not mentioning in the presentation that they're from Yu-Gi-Oh. We don't want prejudice. We want the costumes to speak for themselves. And I'm sure they will. But I know I won't get anyone running screaming up to me and "OMG! Magician of Black Chaos! I love him!" I may enjoy competition for the sake of improving and gauging my skill level, but I also really enjoy the instant gratification of fan recognition. So, I go to anime cons, even though they're boring. I don't compete. I'm trying to get into judging positions more often, and I may start running cosplay panels, just to try to instill a little of that quality to a handful of the cosplay kids. At this rate, aside from writing big long rants on this forum, it's all I can do.
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Unread 06-28-2007, 01:26 AM   #83
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This is the reason that Kaijugal, myself and many others have been working hard in our local community to put on well-run masquerades and emphasize to the cosplayers that quality DOES matter. And after 10 years, it is finally starting to pay off; this year we had the best masquerade Anime North has ever had; tons of great costumes, entertaining presentations, and an astonishingly small amount of stupid nonsense. It can be done, it's just a long uphill battle.
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Unread 06-28-2007, 02:55 AM   #84
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Too bad I live so far from Canada! ;-;

I live about an hour and half from Atlanta, so that would be the closest costuming/cosplay community there is. Dragon*con of course has excellent costumes, and with the new costume contest things are just getting better for costumers (not to mention the costuming track has lots of GOOD, informative panels). AWA is the big anime convention there, and it has just gone downhill since I started going in 2001. The attendees used to be a college age or older crowd, and I've watched it get younger and younger every year, and now it's lots of screaming tweens with yaoi paddles. The panels have also gotten terrible. Meanwhile, all of the older and/or more talented costumers and convention goers are moving on to Dragon*con. Dragon*con is *only* about three weeks before AWA, so a lot people have to choose just one and unless they only care about anime, they choose D*C. So all the people that are passionate about costuming are taking their talents and interests elsewhere. These are the same people that would be the ones pushing for better costuming activities and such at AWA. My friends and I don't even know if we're going to bother with AWA this year. :/

I agree, CapsuleCorp. Anime cons are getting boring. They all have the same guests, the same anime showings, uninteresting panels, same events, bad dances, and screaming kids. It's like they've completely forgotten about any anime fans over the age of 15, and have basically shunned us as a demographic. What they're forgetting, however, is that we're the demographic with the money and that eventually all those 15 year olds are going to grow up.
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Unread 06-28-2007, 08:32 AM   #85
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Brittany Bunny: And that is why as of last year I finally convinced most of my friends that if you can only go to on con in a month then it must be Dragon*Con. I mean I can't think of many people who are only interested in anime, and D*Con has that and just about every other geeky interest. And even as far as anime goes AWA never has any guests or anything I'm really interested in. And yeah, I'd like to hang out with people my age rather than a bunch of squeeling 15 year olds. I didn't go to AWA last year, and was quite happy with my decision. The only reason I might go this year year would just be for the contest if it sounds like it will be decently run.
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Unread 07-05-2007, 11:30 AM   #86
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I find that sci-fi cons don't treat their entrants like cattle. At a sci-fi con I feel... dunno, appreciated?

At my last anime convention masquerade, they let us up on stage once, had us do a run-through. It sucked. (The runthrough, not the stage.) But rather than let us try again, they shooed us off.
The judging was rushed, since they were running way late. No one asked to see my reference pictures. (I worked hard to print them out, since I usually work from a screen and sketches.)
There was no video feed in the green room, so I saw all the costumes but had no idea what their skits/neat effects would be. They had no water until an hour into waiting. And then they ran out of cups.
And the people weren't all that friendly. "I like your shirt -- is that pleather?" "Yes." It was like playing catch without someone to throw the ball back to you.
When I was a walk-on costume, the year before, they said "oh, you don't have a rehearsal time... but you can come in later if you want to." Weren't they worried that I'd go all kamikaze and vault off the stage onto the Judges table? Or that I'd suck?

At my last SF masquerade we went out there, did it once... and got suggestions. "Try putting her here. Do this differently. I'm gonna give you some mysterious blue light." And then we got a second run-through, which went much better. And then a THIRD! to make sure we wouldn't screw up.
The judging was kind of severe -- one judge actually stuck her hand down my hakama to check the slit-seam, and then in my shirt to see the collar. And they looked at our reference pictures and compared the final result to them. And asked how we did things.
The green room had video and sound, a thing of water with ENOUGH CUPS, and chairs.
The people were nice, and talked to each other. I got to see lots of neat in-progress and reference pictures. The costumes were amazing -- lots of original designs, and the people wanted to talk about them.

Sci-fi conventions tend to have more neat walkon style costumes... like, say, a Llamatron. They do have some skits.
Anime conventions are half skits, half walk-ons... but their walk-ons are mostly boring. The cosplayer walks in, turns around, and walks out again. The audience applauds politely. The skits get mad applause.

At an anime convention, I only enter if I have a good skit. Even if the costumes are crappy and rushed, it's really the skit that matters... I don't even go for workmanship judging. As long as I have a good time, I'm fine with it.
At a sci-fi convention, I can enter those wacky ideas that wouldn't get appreciated as much at a skit-based convention, and I don't need to write a nifty anime-style skit.
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Unread 07-05-2007, 12:52 PM   #87
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issadomae...I think you compete at some of the same cons I do, if you've seen the Llamatron. (sadly, he sandbagged at convergence last year. that bugs me)

I think it's a disservice for anime cons to essentially make the atmosphere for competitors so unfriendly that they think, like issadomae, that they have to wait for a sci-fi con in order to do certain costumes because they can't come up with a skit. It makes me definitely want to hold masquerade performance panels at every anime con in the upper midwest, to encourage people to think outside the box and bring anything but a skit to an anime con. It doesn't entirely matter what the audience thinks they want - if you don't give them 30 skits, they won't miss the skits. They'll appreciate what they're given (so long as the costumes are wonderful, of course).

After all, if Santa Claus can win best in class without a skit, by just walking out onto the stage and having the whole audience start chanting "ho ho ho," I think that's proof right there that skits are unnecessary. The audience will still be entertained.
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Unread 07-06-2007, 12:04 AM   #88
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CapsuleCorp: Yes, I do! I saw your Yugi and Kaiba skit at Convergence, a while ago, since I was in the green room for that, and the "Egyptians" skit at Anime Central.I know all about you. bwahahaha. Speaking of Convergence, it's tomorrow. I'm SO there.

Did he sandbag? He entered as Master... are there any other options? I thought it was pretty neat, seeing it light up and wiggle its ears.

And I LIKE writing nifty anime-style skits... the only single-person walkon I did was at a sci-fi con and involved a spoken soundtrack/joke I recorded myself. Anyways, I would miss the skits. Sure, you sit through two hours of suck to get to the occasional good one... but the good skits seem more impressive than a walk-on. I don't think I've ever seen a walk-on that doesn't make me go "oh, boring" except for the light-up jellyfish and the writers' block monster.

Still, anime conventions seem, at least to me, to encourage skits.
SF cons seem to encourage weird costumes.
Is it so bad that they're different? Often I'll wait on a particular skit until I can find the proper venue. So even if we have the people and costumes (and talent) for, say, a Haruhi/Lucky Star dance-off, we'd take something as anime (and stupid) as that to an anime convention. If it's more geeky, or original, I take it to an SF convention.
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Unread 07-06-2007, 07:31 AM   #89
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Is it so bad that they're different? Often I'll wait on a particular skit until I can find the proper venue. So even if we have the people and costumes (and talent) for, say, a Haruhi/Lucky Star dance-off, we'd take something as anime (and stupid) as that to an anime convention. If it's more geeky, or original, I take it to an SF convention.
I don't think that the two divergent costuming cultures are such a bad thing. It's unlikely that the prevailing model of anime skit competitions will change anytime soon; to change that culture would require a massively coordinated effort of cosplay coordinators who feel strongly about the matter, and truthfully, I think quite a few of them are perfectly happy the way things are. (It seems like many cosplay coordinators aren't even costumers themselves, so may not be in tune with these issues as much.) That there are so many venues for costume display out there is a blessing, and while a few cons have devoted themselves to applying ICG-style standards, it's been a long road for them, and I'm just not seeing that that's what the majority of anime-congoing fandom wants.

It's a question I've struggled with for a long time. I used to think the sci-fi system was "better" because it's more professional, and truthfully it's much more in tune with my personal tastes and what I like to see and be a part of; but it's also something that requires great organizational skills and resources (professional-level tech people aren't cheap or easy to find without contacts in theater, for instance) which just don't seem to mesh with the laid-back style of masquerade that anime congoers are used to. I used to think there had to be a way to shoehorn ICG-style standards onto anime competitions, and that it "should" be done. As time's gone on, though, I've come to think that it's a question of two cultures that have evolved along parallel but separate paths, and with two different sets of expectations. Does that mean we shouldn't continue to try to improve standards on the anime side? Of course not - but that's something that needs to be done at the level of the individual conventions and cosplay staffers and heads... so unless we are willing to take over those roles, we're not likely to see much change in the near future.
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Unread 07-06-2007, 01:17 PM   #90
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I will choose costumes according to suitability to the venue (a fantasy costume will probably be appreciated more at a SF/F con), but it does sadden me that so many anime cosplayers don't understand that walk-ons don't HAVE to be boring.

I second CapsuleCorp's idea of a presentation panel; I've seen some phenomenal solo presentations and if we could show people 'this is how it can be done' it might inspire them to be more creative and not think that it's a skit or nothing.
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