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Unread 07-11-2008, 06:49 PM   #16
PatrickD
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DO POSE FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS
When doing a walk-on, never just walk across the stage. Stop in the middle and strike a pose for a second. Maybe turn and strike another pose for a second before walking off. If you're always in motion, don't be surprised if all you find after the convention are blurry photos of yourself.
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Unread 07-11-2008, 08:48 PM   #17
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Thank you, TheHag - that is where I was going with that. I find that around here, when people are asking for advice or critique on their "skit," by "skit" they mean "supposed to be humorous skit of mostly character dialogue on some cracktastic subject tangentially related to the characters." I see far too many dialogue-heavy scripts meant to be comedy, that generally aren't funny or are incomprehensible. Likewise, when people ask me about what "skit" I'm doing on stage, they seem to think I'm doing a SKIT when I'm really doing a performance. Rarely will I use dialogue at all, because it's so easy to mess up (particularly with sound recording). I don't mean for people to think they have to do something for their performance that is out of their talent range, be that acting or dancing or whatever - I mean for people to expand their definition of performance and think about what enhances the costume best, NOT what they thought was funny at 3 am talking on the internet with their buddies.

PatrickD - I don't think that's necessarily universal. Most masquerades I compete in have strict no-photography rules. At least, no flash photography, so if the pictures are coming out blurry, it's not because the costumer didn't pose well.
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Unread 07-11-2008, 10:23 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CapsuleCorp View Post
PatrickD - I don't think that's necessarily universal. Most masquerades I compete in have strict no-photography rules. At least, no flash photography, so if the pictures are coming out blurry, it's not because the costumer didn't pose well.
In those cases, pausing helps. There's never any need for someone to just breeze across the stage non-stop.
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Unread 07-11-2008, 10:36 PM   #19
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Whether there's a staff photographer at the event or not you should always take time to pause and show off your costume for the audience at least. A huge part of the masquerade (especially walk-ons, since they generally mean you're a part of the craftsmanship competition) is the costumes people create. If you're confident enough in your work to enter it, then take the time to proudly show it to the audience because more likely than not they really want to see it, and not just for the brief 10 seconds it takes you to cross the stage.
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Unread 07-11-2008, 10:37 PM   #20
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PatrickD- Other than the fact that walk-ons are allowed far less time than skits or presentations, which causes people to feel the need to rush, there are people who simply are nervous being onstage and thus they move across it so quickly you hardly have time to see their costume.

Most of the cons I attend don't allow photography during the actual masquerade, especially not flash photography. I have attended/participated in a few masquerades though that have photo runs with three poses during the halftime show to give people a chance to photograph the costumes they've seen. In that instance I would agree with you that they shouldn't just breeze across the stage.
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Unread 07-11-2008, 11:16 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RaDragon76 View Post
Other than the fact that walk-ons are allowed far less time than skits or presentations, which causes people to feel the need to rush, there are people who simply are nervous being onstage and thus they move across it so quickly you hardly have time to see their costume.
I don't think walk-ons are ever given less than one minute - more than enough time for 99% of cosplayers (with the exception of ridiculously large and immobile costumes) to pose a few times and cross the stage. I agree most who rush across are nervous . . . however, that's even more reason to plan out some poses or remind yourself to stop and pause. Rushing because you're nervous is something everyone should try to avoid.

That's why I always think walk-ons should plan some music - it will help them time the whole thing out in advance. . . when to walk, when to stop, when its over - plus its more entertaining for the audience.
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Unread 07-12-2008, 11:33 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gale View Post
Whether there's a staff photographer at the event or not you should always take time to pause and show off your costume for the audience and the judges at least.
Fixed!

Quote:
Originally Posted by *Shiva* View Post
I agree most who rush across are nervous . . . however, that's even more reason to plan out some poses or remind yourself to stop and pause. Rushing because you're nervous is something everyone should try to avoid.
ALSO THIS. Honestly, I get so tired of hearing, "Oh we can't do this because we're nervous! Oh we can't do that because the poor contestants are so nervous!" Hey people - DEAL! Of course people are and will continue to be nervous and certainly con staff and judges should try to put them at ease (or at least not go out of their way to terrorize them!) But part of presentation - hell, part of life - is sucking it up and getting out there and hitting your marks in spite of your nerves. So again, keeping to format:

DO realize that you will be nervous. Take steps to counteract that beforehand. Practice until you can do it in your sleep. Practice in front of other people. Learn relaxation techniques. Get as much information about the performance area and logistics as possible so that you won't have those things adding to your anxiety. Get to where you are supposed to be on time if not earlier. Eat close enough to the performance that you will not pass-out but not so close to it that you will throw up.
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Unread 07-13-2008, 12:40 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *Shiva* View Post
I don't think walk-ons are ever given less than one minute - more than enough time for 99% of cosplayers (with the exception of ridiculously large and immobile costumes) to pose a few times and cross the stage. I agree most who rush across are nervous . . . however, that's even more reason to plan out some poses or remind yourself to stop and pause. Rushing because you're nervous is something everyone should try to avoid.

That's why I always think walk-ons should plan some music - it will help them time the whole thing out in advance. . . when to walk, when to stop, when its over - plus its more entertaining for the audience.
What I meant by that was that walk-ons consciously think that they have less time and therefore they feel rushed. Most of the walk-ons I've seen only have stayed on stage for 30 seconds or less and most seem to rush on and off.

The problem with planning out music ahead of time is that most of the conventions I attend don't allow walk-ons to have their own music at all. They simply play a track of music chosen by the MD which is usually some sort of up tempo, fast paced music. This only makes the walk-ons move faster and only adds to the problem. Not all conventions are like that but most of the ones I attend are. It's just a difference in con experiences.
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Unread 07-13-2008, 02:35 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RaDragon76 View Post
Do keep your presentation/walk on/skit short and sweet.
I'm going to second this. I've seen far too many people doing an individual skit that goes on FOREVER. Most masquerades give a two minute time limit, but that doesn't mean you need to use all of it! From what I've seen, the best skits are under 1:30. If it runs too long, you'll lose the audience. Especially if you're just one person, keep it to a walk-on. Pick out some cool music that goes with your costume, cut a 30 second piece out of it, then spend that 30 seconds posing and displaying your costume. You're on, you're off, the audience will appreciate it. There's no need to spend two minutes standing by yourself on stage.
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Unread 07-13-2008, 02:52 PM   #25
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I judged a small contest once at a library (itty bitty venue!) and if I can say one thing is:

Keep you audience in mind! You have to consider the venue and the demographics of the audience and determine what's appropriate and NOT appropriate. If its a family friendly event with casual con goers you shouldn't have any coarse language or questionable themes. Srzly, at the library con there were a alot of little kids (like 10 yrs old) and their parents and we had to cut about half the skits because they were dealing about sexuality.

Obviously if you have a convention at a hotel or something that is described as being an 18+ event, you can certainly get away with more.

Don't "Wing it" Its not going to go well. You need a plan and organization, otherwise its just going too look like a big sloppy mess.
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Unread 07-13-2008, 03:53 PM   #26
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This is an excellent thread. I agree with everything in here so far, and hope more people see this before attempting their own skits.

Going along with edo_oniichan, DO exaggerate your acting!! Not only is the voice acting important, but you are on a stage, and thus, stage acting is called for. Big gestures. Big moves. Big expressions. A lot of cons will have projections so people in the back can see up-close, but a lot don't, and sometimes technical difficulties will come along and projections will fail. Now, I don't mean "go overboard!" and make things cheesy when they aren't called for, but just make sure everyone can see you move. Nothing's more confusing than not knowing who's talking and when.
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Unread 07-15-2008, 10:01 AM   #27
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I agree with everybody so far, pretty much, and have a couple of additions:

- DO bring an extra copy of your music/dialogue just in case, and as a secondary backup write out an alternative script that the MC can read in case there is a total SNAFU with the sound. I've also been told that burning your CD at 1x is better than 4x because it's more versatile; some players apparently can't handle 4x or higher.

- DO test out your costume beforehand so you know what kind of mobility and visibility you'll have.

- DO stay in character for the entire time you're onstage. It totally ruins the effect if you glide on gracefully (or slink on menacingly), do your thing, and then drop character to slouch offstage as yourself.

- DO keep it short. I've seen so many skits that started out great and we would have certainly considered them for an award, and then the whole thing was ruined by staying on way too long and boring the audience. One minute is plenty in most situations; you want to impress and entertain the audience and then get the heck off the stage while they're still impressed. One minute may seem like not much time, but to the audience a minute of not much happening (or 2, or 5 minutes) can seem like an eternity. Remember that professional actors and performers go through training to be able to keep an audience's attention! The usual ideal timing is 30-60 seconds, depending on how much you have to show/do.

- DON'T end your skit with a random dance-off or chasing each other around the stage. I've seen this so many times and it always ruins an otherwise good skit.

- I second the statement that dancing well is DIFFICULT. Dance skits are very popular but they are rarely done well. Everyone needs to have rehearsed over and over until they can do it in their sleep; otherwise it looks messy. Don't just do a dance skit because 'everybody else is doing it'.
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Unread 07-15-2008, 01:47 PM   #28
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DO HAVE A BACKUP PLAN
Plan for every possible disaster. They can happen before you go on stage or while you're on stage. What will you do if the tech crew loses your music? What if someone forgets their line? What if ___? Know how you will handle a minor setback (someone drops a prop) to a major disaster (a major prop shatters on stage). Plan for the worst, hope for the best.
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Unread 07-15-2008, 03:07 PM   #29
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- DO stay in character for the entire time you're onstage.
I would go even further,

DO stay in character whenever the audience can see you. Some of the cons that I have gone to have, erm, less than optimal green room (Huh? Whut's that? o_0?) or back stage facilities. If the audience can see you, you should be in character. You don't have to do anything except be mindful - don't slouch, don't slap and giggle, if you do shift or need to whisper to someone in your group do it as your character would. This will also help you keep focused and hopefully less nervous. And when it's your turn, you will be all ready to go.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarcasm-hime View Post
- DO keep it short.
Many people have said this (which shows you how important it is), so I'll just add that while I've seem some good skits, every single one of them would have been even better if they had been 30 sec shorter. This can often be accomplished without cutting any material. It is a matter of pacing which takes practice (as has also been stated a number of times). Have your blocking down. Know where you are going on stage and what you are going to do when you get there.

Quote:
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DON'T end your skit with a random dance-off or chasing each other around the stage.
The worst ending ever! Ending well is one of the hardest parts of a skit. If you are really stuck for an ending, as an audience member I would far rather see a final tableau, followed by a bow (or dimmed lights if you have had the luxury of a tech rehearsal) rather than pointless dancing.

Last edited by The Hag : 07-15-2008 at 03:15 PM.
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Unread 07-15-2008, 03:53 PM   #30
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@Gale-- this is a great idea for a panel! I'd also love to do something like this as well. If you need people to collaborate on this, please let me know! I'd be more than willing to organize info/design a presentation for this material. (I have a training background, so i'm not stranger to designing presentation materials.)

Skit times and stunts-- as well as rules regarding pre-recorded audio and rules forbidding karaoke-type presentations-- are typically regulated by the convention's own Masquerade rules, so follow them, and don't feel obligated to use ALL of the allotted time.

As for the comments as to walk-ons being allowed less time than skits (and thus feeling 'rushed') I'm not sure which cons do this, but in the 2 yrs I ran things at AB, I have never imposed a separate limit on my walkons. EVERYONE got 2 minutes, mo matter what they decided to do. Of course, walkons typically did not USE a full 2 minutes, but not all skits did either. It was all factored into the overall length of the show.

And goodness Hag! I cannot emphasise how much I agree with you as to the importance of recording high-quality audio. This is the one MAJOR aspect of the Masquerade show that neither the convention's Tech crew or their Masquerade Director can control (tech can't do much with a low-bitrate recording, no matter HOW good their system is), and it is the leading factor in how well the audience as a whole will wind up enjoying the performace. They want to understand whats going on. The sound quality ultimately begins with you, the performer. SO PLEASE do the show well, and submit audio that can be heard by the audience.

My addition to this discussion is DO be mindful of the size of your performance space. Both when choosing what kind of presentation to do, and when recording your audio. Skits that are dialogue heavy can work better in more in intimate venues (such as PortConMaine) because SOME of the subtlities in the acting can come across, and you may be able to use microphones. However, when you're looking at larger venues (such as Anime Boston and the Veterans' Memorial Auditorium, a.k.a A HUGE BOX OF CONCRETE SEATING 5,000) you will be needing some VERY high quality audio and also some VERY broad stage acting to play to that venue. IMO, elaborate walkons do better in these type of venues as opposed to skits.
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