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Unread 09-03-2012, 12:41 AM   #1
Torlequin
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Cosplay Pre-Judging Advice?

Soooo I'm entering my first official cosplay contest with my updated Rachel Alucard cosplay, and the way people describe prejudging is seriously scaring me. I'm already nervous as it is, not so much about walking out on stage since I'm a performer, but just about the judging and how it will go. I've been to theatre conventions of sorts where the judges practically make the performers cry with how harsh they are, and I'm seriously hoping that this isn't anything like that... It's why I refuse to enter costume construction at those conventions. Could anyone give me some advice and such? This is the cosplay I'm entering with.

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m9...01ido1_400.png

It's at a smaller convention, but people describe it like the judges turn a cosplay inside out looking for loose threads and little mistakes, and while I try to hide them, her cosplay has a few negative points that I'd rather people not focus on, like the slight fraying around the red areas since I had to use cotton on the more detailed bits since Im on a low budget.

I'm sixteen, and this was the first cosplay I've ever made without any kind of pattern at all whatsoever (because I hate them.) and without having anything store bought.
so yes, advice would be nice. I also don't know if this is where this is supposed to go but... thanks in advance.
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Unread 09-03-2012, 03:00 AM   #2
Sarcasm-hime
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Any cosplay judge who does that kind of harsh criticism to a cosplayer's face is a bad judge. They do exist, of course, but in my experience it's rarer. If you do get that kind of treatment, you should complain to the Masquerade Director and/or the con's management, and hopefully that person won't be asked to judge again.

A good pre-judging should involve the judge looking at your costume in detail, to see all the things that wouldn't be noticeable from the stage. This is also your time to point out any parts that you're really proud of, where you learned a new skill, stuff like that.

Please keep in mind that every masquerade/cosplay contest is different, and some Masquerade Directors and judges may operate differently. But from my experience judging many masquerades, ideally the point of pre-judging/backstage judging is to see if there's anything special about the costume that would be missed by the stage judges. It isn't to penalize people; if a costume looks amazing on-stage, IMO it's still worthy of an award even if up-close it has some flaws. It just means it wouldn't get a craftsmanship award. Craftsmanship/workmanship awards are a bonus, meant to recognize details that would be otherwise missed.
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Unread 09-03-2012, 11:21 AM   #3
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Here are some things to do to prepare:

-print out references. If you can print out different views of the character (front, back, sides, up-close details), all the better.
-bring in-progress photos with you to pre-judging, as well. This shows that you made the costume, and judges enjoy seeing the construction process and some details may be hard to see underneath layers and layers even with a lot of poking and prodding (for example, if you made a corset to go under your costume).
-if you think you'll get nervous and forget what to say, write down on an index card a basic run-down on the construction process - materials, methods, things you like most about the costume, etc.
-never point out what you don't like/did wrong. Not only because you're drawing attention to a flaw, but judges don't like negativity.

Go into the prejudging room with pride in your work. This is your first contest and you'll be judged most likely in the Novice category (some cons don't have categories...I see you are from Florida, and I know down here it can really vary from con to con), but the judges should know you're new to cosplay and won't judge you nearly as harshly as they would a Master level craftsman, anyhow. I know it can be hard to smile when you're feeling nervous, but like Sarcasm-hime said, your average judge is not going to be mean in any way, shape, or form. I'm not going to say all judges are nice, because I've had my fair share of ones who were not - but no judge should ever give you a critique during the process of judging.
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Unread 09-03-2012, 01:02 PM   #4
CapsuleCorp
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Yes, listen to these ladies, they are wise.

While competitions do vary and judges vary, generally speaking, no, they do not criticize you to your face, nor should they. That is bad judging ethics, and if you did encounter that at a convention masquerade, you should inform the director, and if the director doesn't care, don't patronize that masquerade ever again.

But a good competition with good judges will make you feel welcome. Yes, they will inspect your costume, because they want to get a good look and weigh what they're seeing against your personal skill level and what you're telling them about your costume. If it's genuinely your first self-made costume, you're in Novice class and novices are not expected to be the height of perfection. It's not that certain things will skate by for a novice, but that the judges should not expect the same kinds of construction and finishing techniques as they would out of a Master. They'll take that into account. They will understand! Because judges were novices once, too, and they know what it's like to work your way up from your first costume.

A handy tip I like to pass along is, don't focus on the negatives. If you have any flaws or mistakes, don't call attention to them. Trust us, it's not egotistic to only say good things about yourself - in this case, attempting to be modest and saying you have flaws only calls attention to them so that the judges would have to mark you down for it. If the judges don't notice a mistake, that's a good thing! It means the rest of your costume is good enough to compensate for it. Focus on the good things, like what you learned in the process of making this costume, any problems you had to solve, anything you're really proud of, etc. It helps for those times when you're nervous - go ahead and brag about the parts of the costume you love, it helps the judges to also focus on the good things.
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Unread 09-03-2012, 01:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
-never point out what you don't like/did wrong. Not only because you're drawing attention to a flaw, but judges don't like negativity.
I think this is the best advice. If something is messed up, or didn't turn out how you wanted it do, don't let them know. Worst case senioro, the judges would already see it, but they'll never say anything. I've never had a judge outright point out my flaws. Judges would never ever point out the flaws directly to your face. Like everyone said, that is just bad judging ethics. Focus on the positives of the costume and what you are proud of. Go in there with a sense of pride, and you'll do fine! Lots of luck to you!
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Unread 09-03-2012, 02:43 PM   #6
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You guys are all so helpful. Thank you very much, I feel a little less nervous now. I'm used to relentlessly mean judges, so the thought of calm, soft-spoken ones kind of relaxes me. xD I'll probably talk too much if anything, so it's not really that part that makes me nervous, since I could ramble on and on about my cosplay for hours if I wanted to. Once again, thank you all for your help.~
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Unread 09-04-2012, 11:26 AM   #7
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I got more compliments than flaws pointed out in the one craftsmanship contest I entered. The judges were impressed with my draping skills and the fact I have an embroidery machine. (I entered a Steampunk bustle skirt/pirate outfit I made myself) Basically, those 2 things showed the passion I have for costuming that goes above and beyond my competitors. I find that judges are looking for details and things that set you apart in a good way. They're not supposed to pick on loose threads or imperfect painting. They want to ask you how you did it, or what you learned when making your costume.
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Unread 09-04-2012, 02:52 PM   #8
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Cosplay masquerade judges will NOT tear you to shreds. In fact, they'll easily recognize your nervousness and they'll probably try to prompt you to get you to talk and ease into the whole judging thing. It's really not as bad as it sounds.

Most anime con judges are very supportive. If they notice anything flawed, they will not criticize you to your face. There may be some critique behind closed doors amongst themselves, but it will be about all contestants, not just you, for the purpose of deciding and ranking awards. They will not get mean with you or criticize unless you actually ask them to point things out or give a critique.

The reason they do pre-judging for craftsmanship is to make the competition more fair. If the judges only judged a costume when seeing it on the stage, it would only be an anime-themed Halloween contest. (And we all know how those go, the best costumes never win!) Pre-judging allows the judges to really see your costume in a personal setting, so they can appreciate it on its own terms and get a better idea of what you did to make it. Some aspects wouldn't be visible from the stage at all, and they wouldn't know what you did during construction without talking to you.

Bring reference images with you. It also helps if you bring a couple construction progress pics if you have them. (At the least, it helps prove you made the costume.) They will WANT to hear you talk.

You can go to judging wearing your costume, or bring it in on a hanger or in a box. I tell people to do whatever shows the costume off better. If you're wearing it, no one will physically nitpick, flip things over, or turn inside out without your permission. Judges understand personal space.
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Unread 09-04-2012, 05:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil Bishounen View Post
You can go to judging wearing your costume, or bring it in on a hanger or in a box. I tell people to do whatever shows the costume off better. If you're wearing it, no one will physically nitpick, flip things over, or turn inside out without your permission. Judges understand personal space.
This is one thing I disagree with. As a judge, I will get up close to your costume and I will flip your seams. I have to be fair to everyone in the contest - those who went the extra mile to finish their work properly and those who did not. Some costumes, it's impossible to tell the difference unless you start to flip things over (large ball gowns, for example). I also prefer to see the costume on the person because I think fit is extremely important. How well it fits, how it hangs on the wearer, what it looks like in motion, proportions accurate and pleasing to the eye, etc. If it comes in on a hanger or display, then I can't fully score the costume until I see it on the wearer on stage. Though it does give me the ability to really see everything - so there's a good side and bad to that. Most cons though require contestants to be in costume. The only con I have judged that did not was Fanime.
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Unread 09-04-2012, 07:29 PM   #10
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Going with Hime No Toki on this - yes, judges will flip over your seams as you are wearing it. Tastefully of course, no looking up skirts I promise.

I've not judged a competition where you weren't required to be in costume at the time of judging, as usually general presentation is considered as part of the whole. You can't judge how it all fits together (wig, makeup, overall fit, overall impression) on a hanger.

No judge is going to give you criticism in the judging room, and if they do, that's extremely unprofessional.
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Unread 09-04-2012, 10:29 PM   #11
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I would like to clarify, since this seems to have been assumed otherwise: I didn't say they wouldn't flip seams at all if you're wearing a costume, I said that they would ask first. (At least, they SHOULD ask first or give a polite forewarning, because it's very rude not to. And if the contestant refused, well, that would be a sign right there that things probably aren't finished very well!)

The majority of the cons I've competed at or judged at did not require contestants to be in costume during craftsmanship judging unless the judging was taking place literally right before the show or during the show, in which case the contestants need to be stage ready anyway.

Personally, I feel that if the craftsmanship judges are going to be watching the show, then it's no big deal if the contestant is not wearing the costume during judging - the judges will see them in the costume on the stage later anyway to gauge the overall project. But if it's a situation where the craftsmanship judges don't watch the actual show, then yeah, contestants really should be in costume otherwise there's no way for judges to gauge proper fit.

As a contestant, I prefer wearing my costume to judging but I'm not opposed to bringing it in on a hanger either. I've had to do it a few times.
As a judge, I kinda prefer when things aren't being worn because then I can really see them from the inside out.
(In most of the situations I've been in, on either side of the fence, the craftsmanship judges do watch the show.)
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Unread 09-04-2012, 11:58 PM   #12
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Actually, the touching of costumes and flipping up of hems is one of those things that I've always found taken for granted - expected, even. I've never asked permission and never been asked. I always go into competition assuming a judge is going to look at everything they can and even have willingly undressed part of myself to show under-layers. I don't think it's necessarily rude not to ask, in this case, since it's tacitly understood by most competitors and judges that it just happens. But yes, anyone who denies permission to look at the inside of a costume is probably hiding something.

The only competition I'm personally aware of that allows judging out of costume (and sometimes requires it for undergarments) is the historical masquerade at CostumeCon. But that's a competition that is run a little differently than most in the first place. I prefer being in costume and I prefer judging people in costume. One con I used to compete at regularly has changed over the past 2-3 years and now allows you to come in an unfinished costume, and I really got uncomfortable with that. I had elaborate makeup to apply and the entire gist of the costume as well as the performance relied on that makeup, and they called me over before I was finished. It didn't go well, and that's among a number of reasons why I will no longer compete at that con. As a judge I know how next-to-impossible it is to change or add scores for workmanship during/after watching the costumes on stage, so I'm not going to ask another judge to fix my score once they see my stage makeup and how it changes the costume's overall look - or how the fit really looks on stage, etc.

But that, of course, is personal preference to some extent. And I always advocate, if you don't like how a masquerade is run or judged and the system seems to be firmly in place from the director down (they can't or won't take feedback or consider changing it for any myriad of reasons), then just give it a pass and find one more to your preference. It's the one real advantage of so many con masquerades being run so many different ways. You can find a system you like and enjoy competing at those cons.
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Unread 09-05-2012, 02:25 PM   #13
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When you go for judging have your documentation organized as you would a college report. Include pictures of the detail work you reproduced and anything special you had to do. I have recieved awards just on my documation.

Also, practice what you are going to say to the judges. Have your thoughts organized. I find I am calmer if practice this just like a speach.
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Unread 09-05-2012, 05:43 PM   #14
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I admit I can be very 'aggressive' when judging - like CapsuleCorp, I have never asked permission to look at a costume up-close and flip things over, nor have I been asked, either. I can only imagine asking a contestant and them telling me 'no, you can't look at that'. Points docked- how can I judge the craftsmanship without getting that extra up-close look? So instead of having that incredibly awkward moment, I dive into the costume and take a look for myself. Honestly, the most polite thing is to be GENTLE when handling the costume. I'm always incredibly cautious with even the most stable-looking costumes when I inspect them.
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Unread 09-06-2012, 07:59 AM   #15
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Former judge here, and only former because I chose to leave due to school and work.

But in my experience. Always bring references, judges are like everyone else, and not everyone knows all the characters in the world. So reference artwork, screenshots, or even a figurine sometimes can help.

Furthermore, You'll want to bring progress shots as well. A picture is worth a thousand words, and progress shots speak for themselves on the level of your work. It's hard to explain to a judge what you've done to make the costume, and its easier to Show AND Tell rather than just tell. It also helps us to determine if the costume is genuine, as in terms of not just another manufactured costume.

When you explain, just work from top to bottom on your costume, or bottom to top. Whichever you prefer. If you miss an aspect for whatever reason, and deem it highly important you can always add it in the end.

Now for the judges.
I've never allowed aggressive judges on my panel. This is a hobby, not a war of costumes. It's like what the other fine cosplayers have said before. If they're rude or aggressive, speak up... say something to the director and the matter will be dealt with accordingly. Usually a person that is rude has a history of being rude.

When I judged, we always told the cosplayer that we were going to look at the costume up front (flipping seams, ect.) . It's a given. Why did I do this? I want to see the work for myself, the creativity, even though I have reference pictures it's still worthwhile to look over the costume while you explain things. It's like... when you build a house, or change your front door you need a building inspector to come by and judge to see if all the fine details are there and the time was really put into the costume to make it what it is.

I personally feel that judges who sit behind a table without exploring any of the costumes that come through do not really know or perhaps even care to judge.

Wear the costume too! We want to see how well it looks on you! How well you've made it to fit you! Hahahaha, I can't think of anything else really. Don't be nervous, have fun with it and above all relish in the victory that you were able to get up on stage and show almost the whole convention your costume! People may even stop you after the show to try and nab a picture.
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