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Unread 10-05-2012, 04:01 PM   #1
Amanita
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Time limit based on group size?

How common is it for masquerades to set time limits for skits based solely on group size?

My local con is doing this, and to be honest, it's got me a bit frustrated. A single entrant who wants to do more than a walk on gets 45 seconds. That's only 15 seconds more than a plain walk on gets. And from there the time limit goes up in increments, to the point where you need a really large group- I think it's more than 5 people before you get 3 minutes.

For a single entrant, 45 seconds isn't time to do much of anything. I do NOT want to do a plain walk on, that's really no fun. I could do that at any bar halloween contest. I would like to do a short war dance/sword kata set to music, but I'm having the worst time finding music. I found one track where I can use the last 45 seconds or so, but it's a slow, melodramatic choral piece, and I'm worried that the audience will hate it.
It seems every good music track I could work with, there's no way to edit it down to 45 seconds without it sounding really bad, like it's been chopped off somewhere.

I'd love to do a routine to the Diva Dance from the score of "Fifth Element"- it's short but effective, has a clear beginning, middle, and end, but that clocks in at just under 1:30 and I don't think they're going to let me do it, because it's not 45 seconds.
I really hate arbitrary time limits based on group size for this reason- us solo entrants are almost shoehorned into walk-ons, because there's little time for much of anything else. A larger group may not need or want the extra time they get, but a solo entrant or couple are constrained from doing something potentially interesting, just because they have fewer people.

Do the writers of these rules think that a single person or couple won't be able to hold an audience's attention? I know there's some sort of reason, but it frustrates the heck out of me, being caught on the short end of things.

Last edited by Amanita : 10-05-2012 at 04:04 PM.
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Unread 10-05-2012, 07:41 PM   #2
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Yyyyes and no...the way you're describing seems like it's still building off the inherent bias against walk-ons, i.e. that no one doing a solo performance needs or deserves more than 30-45 seconds. Which is generally unfair. However, I also know of many competitions, even at international level, that DO add on incremental time for groups over 3, adding time per person, but they still have a max upper limit of anywhere from 2-3 minutes. But those competitions start out with a base time of 60 seconds for EVERYBODY. Group or solo, walk-on or skit, everybody gets treated the same up til 60 seconds. After that, you'd better have a group so huge that simply getting them to walk across stage will actually require an additional 30 seconds total.

I don't hold truck with the idea that extra people in your group require 30 seconds or more per person. I can see an additional 5-10 seconds per person up to a max capacity or max time limit, but that's assuming everyone starts out with a level playing field. I have seen groups that large, and yes, they really do require additional time for the mere purpose of allowing everyone to enter and exit stage. The point is, if you're not starting from an equal time limit in the first place, it still comes off as shafting walk-ons and solo performances.
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Unread 10-06-2012, 04:21 PM   #3
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Even with a time limit of around a minute, would you allow a good skit idea that came in at 1:30? That's about as long as the whole track is, and it's not a crudely chopped piece of a song that ends up sounding like one of those iTunes samples, it's the whole thing, with its beginning, middle, and end.

I am debating discussing things with the contest director, but don't want to be labelled as a special snowflake before the event even happens. Is it snowflaky to ask if it's okay to do something that runs over time, but has a better chance of being entertaining to the audience than a within-time entry that sounds more like a random itunes song clip?
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Unread 10-06-2012, 06:54 PM   #4
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If I were directing (which I will be, someday), I would take a page from directors I respect and allow people to petition me for more time, or to at least demonstrate that their performance, while going over time, is going to be worth it. Hell, I've had to email directors to say "My track goes over the limit by 10 seconds, am I going to be penalized?" and the answer has usually been along the lines of no, you're fine. But that's assuming the director is a person who's been doing this long enough and has good control over their masquerade to where allowing people to go over time (technically) is something they feel comfortable doing.

Seriously, a 1:30 performance is pretty average and, normally, would be within most masquerades' rules as-is. It's not egregiously long. But compared to the base framework at your con, I don't know how easily you'd be able to petition for an allowance to go over by 30 seconds or whatever. If you do, don't disparage the potential crap level of other entries even if you're fairly certain there'll be some interminably long crap entries. Just explain that it's a performance you can't edit down any further than that, and use as much positive information and detail as you can. If they like the idea and like you, they might be lenient. I couldn't say for sure. Good luck, either way.
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Unread 10-07-2012, 03:38 PM   #5
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Another thing I could use in my favor is the fact that most entrants won't even use their full 30 seconds for their walk-on. Due to stage fright or not knowing what to do, most are on and off in 15-20. So if a few people do that, (which we know they will) A somewhat longer performance piece won't hurt the overall runtime of the masquerade much.
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Unread 10-11-2012, 11:22 AM   #6
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Honestly I've seen really amazing performances that clocked under 1 minute. A lot of people think that it's not enough time to do anything memorable, but it really is, especially because audiences have incredibly short attention spans and the space between 'awesome' and 'boring' is only a few seconds.

I do agree that it's unfair for solo entrants to be relegated to second-class status as they are at many cons, and only allowed to do walk-ons. That's not cool IMO.

That said, I'd just ask the MD and see what they say.
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