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Unread 03-27-2013, 01:43 PM   #31
Amanita
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^I once heard a cool idea somewhere- this might even make a fun interactive game if done right. Have anyone who wants to write up a backstory for themselves (As long as it fits onto one 8.5x11" piece of paper), and post it on a bulletin board at the con. People could read it at their leisure, or if somebody asks you what you're supposed to be, you can direct them to the wall for a more detailed explanation.

There might be a few ways to turn this into a game- congoers could see how many of the posted characters they could spot, kind of like an OC scavenger hunt. Perhaps offer a prize to whoever finds the most- you prove it either by getting a picture of said cosplayers (You have to ask them for a photo, random snapshots grabbed on the fly when said cosplayer isn't even looking at you don't count)
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Unread 03-27-2013, 02:47 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Amanita View Post
That's why I think that maybe judging based strictly on "accuracy" needs to go away. People are going to keep doing originals and derivative characters, so perhaps one solution might be to replace the accuracy section on judging sheets with a section titled accuracy/design. It might read "For costumes falling into media or historical recreation, use section 1a- Accuracy. For Original or Derivative designs, use section 1b-Design.

Design would evaluate such thing as overall looks- does the outfit look cohesive, or a thrown together mess of randomness? Does it look suited to the character? For example, an assassin wouldn't run around in an epic ballgown. And while judging on accuracy, you might ask how somebody researched their costume, you might ask an original what their thought and design process was, when coming up with the design.
All these revisions concerning masquerades so they reward what you see as your personal strengths. Curious.

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I just...holy crap, I do not want to hear about anybody's character. Ever. Again. And while I know there's plenty of people in OC costumes who have successfully figured out that they can't open up with a 15-minute monologue about their character...

*shudder*

...the people who will still launch into that same monologue once you approach them to compliment the costume and make polite remarks are fucking LEGION. It's like there's that same uncontrollable urge to SHARE MAI GENIUS ERMAGERD, and the thin veneer of manners can only hold it back for so long before they decide you're somehow an exception and safe and they can cut loose and it inevitably, tediously, tumbles out. And there you are trying to excuse yourself from an increasingly awkward situation.

Long story short, OCs can be cool costumes. If they are, I'll admire them from afar: I've been bored out of my damn mind too many times to trust the people in them.


(Naturally, this doesn't apply nearly as much to different kinds of convention environments where pretty much everybody is a freestyle OC of one general fantasy archetype or another. It's the attempt to make a *specific* original character that causes this kind of behavior.)
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Unread 03-27-2013, 03:07 PM   #33
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It's not about rewarding just my own personal strengths, it's about masquerades that allow both originals and recreations to compete and having a fair means to evaluate both, rather than penalizing anything that doesn't fit a narrowly defined or overly rigid judging sheet.
I really don't think a level playing field that allows everything to be fairly evaluated is unreasonable.

If ALL judges have leeway to evaluate besides pure craftsmanship is accuracy, than anything that isn't strict recreation is gonna get shortchanged. Not just the pure originals, but also characters that while derived from existing fandoms, aren't strict recreations of established characters. (for example, doing your own Jedi and giving them a name with some backstory, instead of just cosplaying as Obi Wan or Anakin)

I've said before that popularity should not matter in judging either- either popularity of the cosplayer, or of the character. That not only puts originals at a disadvantage, but pretty much anyone who cosplays from older, obscure, or non-flavor-of-the-month sources. Popularity should only count for the "best audience reaction" award, which some cons give as honorable mentions.
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Unread 03-27-2013, 03:25 PM   #34
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A character's name and backstory shouldn't even enter into judging, regardless of any other criteria. Judges have even less time to hear campfire stories than attendees do.

You want criteria that give equal footing to reproductions and originals? Craftsmanship. Construction. Straight across the board. References not required, progress photos encouraged for the sake of documenting you did the work yourself and how, and bam. Done. Some contests are already run this way--most of them at non-anime cons.

Now, consider this--are masquerade judges, even ones at anime-focused cons, really as narrow-minded as you think they are? I don't like to compete, but I've been asked to do so by judges who liked my costumes. When I explained that they were non-canon variants and there was no reference material available, I've gotten nothing but assurances that I could enter anyway, and should. Does this sound fussy and exclusive? Does it sound like I'm getting screwed over for using my imagination? I don't think it does.
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Unread 03-27-2013, 09:18 PM   #35
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mango, have I told you lately how much I love you?

Okay, I know a lot of folks around these parts are familiar with anime con masquerades, but let me hoist my cane and chase you off my lawn for two minutes.

Quality masquerades, which have been running longer than some of the people signed up for this forum have been alive, know the difference between rating the accuracy of a reproduction and rating the creativity/design sense of an original design. There was a time round about the late 60's/early 70's when masquerades were overwhelmingly made up of original designs and book characters that were essentially original designs based on a text description. Movie replicas started to creep in over time, and a few TV reproductions, some occasional Japanimation (yeeep)...

There are plenty of masquerades where craftsmanship is weighed evenly and fairly between reproductions and originals. But let me note that accuracy/creativity is only one of several factors taken into the whole - technical proficiency and overall quality are far more important and usually, it takes a pretty massive accuracy fail to even register to the judges. We'll be all up in your seams and fitting before we'll count whether you have the correct number of buttons.

Anyone who thinks that original designs are free license to just go "lol whatever!" and document the costume as-is as how it was intended to be all along despite running out of fabric, doing it wrong, etc, has never made an original design. I have, and competed it, and it was just as hard as doing a reproduction - just hard in different ways. A design has to look coherent, appropriate, aesthetically pleasing, it has to convey what the character is supposed to be, and it also has to be technically well-made. Having done it, I've sworn off original designs forever. I suck at it. I freely admit it. My eternal awe and admiration is directed toward people who can design original costumes and pull them off. There's a gallery full of these kinds of designs at the CostumCon Visual Archives, go have a look at some of the work there and tell me that these original designs have no business being in masquerades.
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Unread 03-27-2013, 09:39 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by CapsuleCorp View Post
mango, have I told you lately how much I love you?

Okay, I know a lot of folks around these parts are familiar with anime con masquerades, but let me hoist my cane and chase you off my lawn for two minutes.

Quality masquerades, which have been running longer than some of the people signed up for this forum have been alive, know the difference between rating the accuracy of a reproduction and rating the creativity/design sense of an original design. There was a time round about the late 60's/early 70's when masquerades were overwhelmingly made up of original designs and book characters that were essentially original designs based on a text description. Movie replicas started to creep in over time, and a few TV reproductions, some occasional Japanimation (yeeep)...

There are plenty of masquerades where craftsmanship is weighed evenly and fairly between reproductions and originals. But let me note that accuracy/creativity is only one of several factors taken into the whole - technical proficiency and overall quality are far more important and usually, it takes a pretty massive accuracy fail to even register to the judges. We'll be all up in your seams and fitting before we'll count whether you have the correct number of buttons.

Anyone who thinks that original designs are free license to just go "lol whatever!" and document the costume as-is as how it was intended to be all along despite running out of fabric, doing it wrong, etc, has never made an original design. I have, and competed it, and it was just as hard as doing a reproduction - just hard in different ways. A design has to look coherent, appropriate, aesthetically pleasing, it has to convey what the character is supposed to be, and it also has to be technically well-made. Having done it, I've sworn off original designs forever. I suck at it. I freely admit it. My eternal awe and admiration is directed toward people who can design original costumes and pull them off. There's a gallery full of these kinds of designs at the CostumCon Visual Archives, go have a look at some of the work there and tell me that these original designs have no business being in masquerades.
I'm not saying people in masquerades doing OC's are lazy and shouldn't be there. I'm just saying that they could in fact say everything they are presenting was meant to be there over what it really is. While every mistake with my cosplay is quite apparent and I think there is only so far you can go with 'creative license'. I just don't know if its quite fair in a competition sense?

Also btw, I'm not really talking about this in a big masquerade thing in the mainland. I've got little experience with that and am more talking about my experiences here with OC's. Very rarely are they done well and they get mad when you can't guess what they are...
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Unread 03-27-2013, 10:13 PM   #37
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I never said that judges should get involved in a character's backstory, that's not what I meant at all. The game I mentioned earlier would be something fun for interested con attendees to play if they wished, completely independent of the masquerade.
And yes, I believe workmanship should be the determining factor, above all else.

I've had some people locally who love my work tell me that in all likelihood, I won't get the props they think my work deserves, because I do original stuff these days, and that judges are more likely to give the award to the more "recognizable" character if it comes down to a tight decision. I sincerely hope they're wrong, not just for my sake, but the sake of anyone else who likes to cosplay OCs, obscure things, or derivative designs.

I can attest that doing original designs isn't a "LOL I'll just fudge it and pass off mistakes by saying 'just as I planned it!" Capsulecorp is right, it's hard to get something you're truly happy with sometimes. Sometimes a design practically falls into your lap, other times it takes a lot of trial and error to get something cohesive and nice looking. I'm in that boat right now, trying to design my first armored costume. I've never built armor before, and even deciding what to make it out of is driving me nuts right now.

As far as just faking things, slacking off, or trying to pass off mistakes as "Just as I planned it", I suspect experienced judges could sniff that out a lot of the time.
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Unread 03-28-2013, 08:52 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by CapsuleCorp View Post
Anyone who thinks that original designs are free license to just go "lol whatever!" and document the costume as-is as how it was intended to be all along despite running out of fabric, doing it wrong, etc, has never made an original design. I have, and competed it, and it was just as hard as doing a reproduction - just hard in different ways. A design has to look coherent, appropriate, aesthetically pleasing, it has to convey what the character is supposed to be, and it also has to be technically well-made. Having done it, I've sworn off original designs forever. I suck at it. I freely admit it. My eternal awe and admiration is directed toward people who can design original costumes and pull them off. There's a gallery full of these kinds of designs at the CostumCon Visual Archives, go have a look at some of the work there and tell me that these original designs have no business being in masquerades.
I think you're confusing two issues. The issue is not "original designs do not take any effort", the issue is "original designs can not be rated in accuracy, while existing designs are". That means two costumes are evaluated differently in the same competition. How much these ratings factor into the final mark is not important as long as they exist.
And I do not think that accuracy rating and design rating are interchangable values, exactly for the reasons you mentioned. Designing something from scratch is hard and a completely different process from making something true to an existing design. Additionally there often are a lot of design decisions to be made even for existing designs, so I don't think it would be fair at all to go "Original design is rated for the design itself instead of accuracy and vice versa".

I just don't think that the two should be in the same competition and I don't believe my opinion is less valid because I haven't competed in an original design.

Last edited by pinkkiller : 03-28-2013 at 08:57 AM.
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Unread 03-28-2013, 10:43 AM   #39
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So just where do you think originals belong? Seeing how a lot of convention cosplay started out as originals, or fan interpretations of written descriptions, telling original stuff it's no longer allowed in competition seems like a bit of a middle finger to the history of cosplay, not to mention the creativity and imagination that cons should celebrate, not discourage.

And while I can't speak for everyone who's done an original, a lot of my designs could be judged on accuracy, provided I brought in the character drawings I based the costume on.
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Unread 03-28-2013, 10:53 AM   #40
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Like I said in my first comment, I have no influence on any masquerades whatsoever, so you really needn't worry that anyone's going to tell the OC cosplayers that they're not allowed just because I dislike it. I wouldn't ask any convention to change because of my preferences.

You asked why OCs have a bad rap, so I wanted to share what I think, since it's possible that it's something that plays into other people's dislike of OCs.
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Unread 03-28-2013, 03:12 PM   #41
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I know I'm about to do an OC cosplay a little later on, and no I'm not expecting anyone to recognize him, but at the same time if anyone asks, I'll just have to simply say "Oh he's just my original character. I liked his design so much I wanted to cosplay it!"

There's no need to do a detailed description.

Unless of course my friend and I get the web comic up and running but even then I doubt anyone will recognize him.

I personally think the reason why people hate OC's are exactly like some have already said. People ramble too much about their characters. I understand being passionate, I love Aaron like a child, but no one has time nor do they care that much. And B, some people aren't creative about it... "Oh look it's my Naruto OC that's about to become the sixth hokage." A lot of people see those as "mary sues/gary stues" and while it is annoying, there are those of us who put a lot of thoughts into the OC. Just like the OP, they make OC outfits of BUILDINGS. And they are gorgeous. But unfortunately again with the 'fandom hate' the few bad apples ruin it for the rest of us. It's just like people hating Homestuck or Hetalia. I don't dislike or hate the series, I just get tired of the immature fans, but again, that isn't the fandoms fault. Just like the people who cosplay OCs aren't always just making random characters, they actually put a lot of thought into their outfits.... And because of those few who ramble and get upset about, it makes the rest of OC cosplayers look bad...
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Unread 03-28-2013, 06:04 PM   #42
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And I do not think that accuracy rating and design rating are interchangable values, exactly for the reasons you mentioned. Designing something from scratch is hard and a completely different process from making something true to an existing design. Additionally there often are a lot of design decisions to be made even for existing designs, so I don't think it would be fair at all to go "Original design is rated for the design itself instead of accuracy and vice versa".
And I'm not saying your opinion is invalid. I'm merely saying that 30-40 years of masquerades both in North America and around the world have more or less proven by example that it CAN be done. Maybe not every masquerade everywhere has done it perfectly, but a few failures can hardly invalidate the many successes.

I have judged many masquerades. I am able to judge accuracy where it matters, and design creativity where it matters, and not confuse the two. In theory, it may seem like an impossible thing to mentally sort, but I can personally attest, it's quite do-able. After I've looked over the actual craftsmanship of the costume, giving a quick check of the reproduction's accuracy OR the design's aesthetic coherency and creativity is the last step before deciding how I'm going to judge the costume. And the two types do coexist rather well in practice.

Of course I know you can't judge original designs on "accuracy." That isn't the point. I'm saying that people need to take a step back from this narrow vision of how important accuracy is to the overall judging of a costume and realize that a lot more goes into it - enough that there's a rather wide area of wiggle room into which other factors, including design, creativity, personal choice, interpretation, decision-making, and the actual physical construction, fit.
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Unread 03-28-2013, 10:33 PM   #43
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I guess my hatred for OC cosplays comes from having a bad experience with a lazy OC cosplayer. Like a REALLY bad experience.
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Unread 03-29-2013, 11:12 AM   #44
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^Oh dear! That sucks, do tell!

I want to write an essay aimed at both OC cosplayers and others.
I'd tell the OC cosplayers "Don't get mad if somebody doesn't recognize you", although that goes for anyone- even less famous established characters.
And also, make an effort- Don't just lazily throw random things together. Try and come up with designs as cool as the established characters we all love.
And come up with a short, concise explanation of your character, which you can give to those who ask. You don't need to give out their whole life story here.

For example- when I'm doing Skyscraper cosplay, I'll tuck a reference photo of the actual skyscraper into my con swag bag, and if somebody asks what I am, I just say "I'm the Avatar of "Insert Skyscraper's name here", and show them the pic, so they can see what inspired the costume. "Black skin and silver pinstripes on building= black fabric with silver pinstripes, Building logo on belt buckle, red and white accents (taken from colors of building signage) added for visual interest, and of course, note the crown"

I don't tell them all of the character's life story, all the details of said skyscraper's more annoying tenants, the elder skyscrapers who made sure that new tower in their midst grew up with discipline, or the other neighborhood skyscrapers mine has relationships with- relatives, friends, love interests, or that one naughty skyscraper who likes to think up naughty pranks and then try to recruit mine into doing them for him.

Something else I might advise people making OCs to do is to run their characters through one of the online Mary Sue litmus tests out there- it might help them tweak and rebalance their characters, to make them less sue-ish. Even that character from that vampire novel I cited earlier might have done better with toning down of some traits (the whole martial arts mastery thing), and a better explanation of others (She's had many identities over the years, perhaps she learned her helicopter piloting and skill with explosives due to military service at some point)
Having a backstory is good, but learn how to give a quick, concise character explanation.

To the other cosplayers- if an OC cosplayer gave you a "short and simple" character explanation, and offered you a card with their website/blog/whatever on it, saying "If you want to learn more, this site has stuff on the character itself, how I designed and made the costume, and some of my other stuff", would you prefer that to the dreaded "life story info dump"?

On another note, I found this yesterday:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/benosar...n/photostream/
This is the kind of thing I love to work with, and turn into an awesome character design. One one hand, you could turn this into an awesome set of robes- sand colored outer coat, with heavily textured fabric, and a robe underneath, made of shiny deep blue green fabric, with that hexagonal design applied with silver fabric foil. Or on the other- it might make the basis for some pretty wild sci-fi armor.

I would like to encourage other OC cosplayers out there to exercise creativity like that- put thought into their designs, and have fun with it, whatever their source of inspiration is. In other words, do something to counter the perception that OCs are lackluster and lazy.

Oh, and thanks Mother Silver

Last edited by Amanita : 03-29-2013 at 11:14 AM.
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Unread 03-29-2013, 12:09 PM   #45
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To the other cosplayers- if an OC cosplayer gave you a "short and simple" character explanation, and offered you a card with their website/blog/whatever on it, saying "If you want to learn more, this site has stuff on the character itself, how I designed and made the costume, and some of my other stuff", would you prefer that to the dreaded "life story info dump"?
Speaking for myself, while I'd prefer that to the listed alternative of an info dump, I'd toss both options in the can in favor of people just keeping their damn shirts on about it. Assume that people don't even want to know there is a backstory unless they specifically ask, and when they do, err of the side of saying too little.

Remember that you're working against a long and ongoing tradition of people demonstrating the least pleasant aspects of nerdly socialization while in costume. Overcompensation in the area of discretion is vastly preferable.
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