Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Anime Express 2005 Report

To sum it up in just one sentence: not quite as good as I'd have hoped. Read on if you care to learn why.

In terms of equipment, I was lucky since the con was held at a college. They set me up in a big room (one of those classrooms used for lecturing) and provided me with a TV and VCR (owned by the college). I even got a microphone by way of a karaoke machine! That was most excellent. What wasn't so excellent was the audio setup. Nobody bothered to check in advance to see if the speakers mounted on the walls of this big room actually worked, so the only sound I could get was mono audio coming out of the ceiling-mounted projector. The staff was able to get me PC speakers from one of the empty video rooms--the inevitable result when the video schedule is done in the style of "26 episodes of something from start to finish, followed by 26 episodes of something else"--which was at least better than the built-in projector speaker, but still not what the room was made for.

I was ready to go, 9:00 PM rolled around...and the room was COMPLETELY EMPTY. Sure, the convention was one of the smaller conventions on the Florida con map, but considering there were no other events scheduled at the time, I figured something was amiss. Then it quickly dawned on me that there were no con guides printed out for this convention. Nor were there opening ceremonies, and on top of all that, the con took place in multiple buildings spaced quite far apart on a rather cold day (by Florida standards, 50-60 degrees is COLD like three million bucks worth of whitey's ice, baby). There really wasn't many ways for people to know my panel (or anything else that weekend) was going on. There was no sign by the room indicating it as being the panels room either, which I brought up on a few occasions to no avail. Earlier that day, I had suggested to the con head honcho--who along with the other staffers was a REALLY cool guy to me, going to such extents as to pay for my hotel room all weekend and take me to dinner on Saturday just for doing the panel--that it'd be a good idea to at least post the schedule in various places around the convention, and that actually did get done. Alas, the schedule was in list format instead of a table (and in military time), and for some reason my panel was entitled "Anime Hell" despite the fact that I have never called my panel that to anyone since Dave requested I use a different name.

I walked around, rounded up some folks (about 20 or so, with more trickling in/out over time), and got things started at 9:15. My bad fortune continued, since the computer (same one I always use) crashed a few times. That's never happened once before, but I could now instantly switch over to the VCR while fixing the problem so that there wasn't any downtime of more than a few seconds. I must say, the monaural audio situation hurt me big time with the older clips since the sound isn't that good on those to begin with. In the future, I might just have to omit that stuff or learn some rudimentary audio equalization so that I could alter the clips in advance since everything sounds fine on my speakers at home.

Something was actually scheduled after my panel (karaoke), so I ended my panel at exactly 11:00 despite the late start. Due to being overly cautious and bringing about 4 hours of material to fill a 2 hour block (I'd pick something from the VCR while playing something from the computer and vice versa), I didn't make as big a dent in trying out my new footage as I'd have hoped (especially not my multitude of goofy Arnold Schwarzanegger clips from such hits as The Villain, Hercules in New York, and Commando). Forklift Driver Klaus and Cartoon All-Stars To the Rescue went over well, and luckily for me the audience found my Zardoz selections quite entertaining (I had 12 short clips of this masterpiece which I'd intersperse throughout, and I got through 4). The "Slimby" segment of Look Around You (a personal favorite of mine; I'll do a separate Look Around You update later) also got a great reaction, as did The Awful Truth ("Make a Wish Foundation" and "Teen Sniper School") and Ayaka's Surprise English Lessons ("How many members are in Morning Musume?"). Fish Fight was just a little too weird for some, one of whom retired to another room and was later seen showing a roomful of people this interminably long Flash animation that's a little funnier if you've read the book, but not by much. I'll write that off as an anomaly and bring Fish Fight back for the next Panel OF DOOM, at Anime Festival Orlando in August.

Looking back, I don't think I'd do a panel at Anime Express next year. The staff treated me very well, but I can't help but think that they really should be spending that $300 or so they spent on accommodating me on things like say, the printing costs for a convention guide. I think I'm best off sticking to mid-sized cons like Jacon, AFO, and AWA for now. I would have included Metrocon on that list, and indeed I'd someday like to do a panel at Metrocon opposite the cosplay nerd prom on Friday night, but they want most of their programming to be "G to PG-13"-rated, and my panels tend to hover pretty solidly in the "TV-MA" to "R" range. Plus, I don't know anyone in Tampa so I'd need a place to sleep for the night, and since they're a convention that gets REAL guests, I'm pretty much sunk.

9 comments:

Tohoscope said...

How did the OH! Mikey Hour of Power go over?

Getting butts in the seats helps if they know where to put their butts and when. Which is why I always print up a stack of flyers and go around the con with a roll of masking tape (the kind that don't pull up the paint from the wall when removed.) Of course alot of flyers go missing before the show, but I usually get good coverage and I make sure there's a flyer or two outside the videoroom where the event is gonna be held.

I'm gonna set up a flyer archive of past show flyers, and maybe some pre-mades that can be quickly modded for new shows...

Tohoscope said...

Hey, which SUPRISE ENGLISH LESSON clips did you show? I've been wanting to run those at an OtakuHELL for awhile now...

That flash movie, the one that's NOT Awsomely Humorous, I knew it was gonna suxxor when they wasted 10 seconds just showing their names before the actual content. Harper Lee should kick their asses...

Daryl Surat said...

The OH! Mikey hour didn't have as many people (that one wasn't even on the schedule; I walked around and wrote it in pen myself onto every posted schedule I saw), but the people who showed pretty much stayed throughout. At some point, most everyone stopped laughing at it and were just seriously interested in where the story was going. I've since acquired the third season, and I think someone out there will break down and buy the rest from the bootleggers at superhappyfun.com who have DVD-Rs of the series.

I had a few Surprise English Lessons on tap, but the main one I used was "How many members are in Morning Musume?" I also had "Do you have any cheaper ones?" plus the subsequent test, as well as "Can you please draw a map for me?" and test but I didn't get to that last one. "Where is the rest room?", "How tall are you?" and "What is your birthday?" are also ones I think I'll use eventually. In fact, any of the ones with Tsuji Nozomi are pretty funny.

Bchan said...

If y'all want, I can set up some generic Anime Hell/Otaku Hell etc. flyers in PDF for download. These would have blanks for the place and time -- just download, print, copy, and post.

PS-- Ayaka is hot.

Tohoscope said...

The SURPRISE ENGLISH LESSON clip that I've been wanting to show is, "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse."

I didn't know superhappyfun was selling OH! Mikey, that's where I bought my VERMILLION NIGHTS disks. I just couldn't bring myself to buy the jlist region 2's without knowing what was on the DVDs...

Tohoscope said...

Do it, Bruce! I'll put 'em on the AnimeHELL server...

davehellmerrill said...

From what I hear the big excitement at Anime Express was some guy from some Florida fan group yelling at the guy from Kunicon, or vice versa.

No program books or schedules? Entire runs of series in the video rooms? FUCK. I worked all weekend and I had more fun than that. If they can't be bothered to even get the name of your event right, screw 'em.

As far as flyers go, if you can't be arsed to spend five minutes with a Sharpie and some clip art to make your own flyers, you probably should re-think your dedication to hosting any event, period. I mean, come on.

Tohoscope said...

Did anybody throw any punches?

True, flyers aren't rocket science. Swipe some Photoshop Phriday posts from Something Awful and kludge it together with MS Word if you need to. Instant litter, as they say...

I've always admired Carl Horne's collage technique.

Daryl Surat said...

I have printed up flyers in the past, but at most every other con I go to, you're simply not allowed to post them anywhere at all, not even by the door, not even if you use the low-tack tape. I usually just leave them by the freebie table near registration.

Style-wise, I usually just do black-and-white ones with a few central silly pictures (ie Zardoz, Dubya flipping the bird in both live-action and doujinshi form, Bennett from Commando, etc) with Time: or Room: at the bottom.