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Otakon 2013: To Old Friends and New, to our Family and to the Fans

August 14th, 2013 No comments

It’s always interesting to sit down and write these posts at the end of a con.

It’s silent in my apartment, roughly 48 hours after I took off my radio for the last time in Convention Operations at the BCC.   I can still hear the attention getting beep and the words, “Con Ops to Terry” constantly echoing in my head.   My feet are still tired, my bones still ache from the combination of stress, lack of sleep and dehydration, and I’m still dozing off any time I sit down for more than 10 minutes.   I haven’t yet processed that the show we spent more than a year planning is over.

The weekend was chaotic, everywhere we turned the engines that run the show were going at full blast.   We set some insanely high expectations this year.   The return of an entire cadre of popular guests.   A massive marketing and branding campaign.   A huge push to get more staff, a juggling act of convention layout modifications and a big upswing in industry partners and fellow conventions. Programming was insane this year, so many premieres, so many panels, returns of popular acts and trying out crazy new events.   Did anyone catch the live musical performance done against a backdrop of the live action cinema?  The return of MAT3K?

We experimented here and there, and some of those experiments were hits, others were not.  Some harsh lessons were learned or relearned – but at the end of the day the members seemed to enjoy themselves.   I saw the Otakon 20 balloons all over the Opening ceremonies, and there was a confetti cannon at the Saturday concert.    It’s not pyrotechnics, but it’ll do.  We had huge banners in the streets, the city was lit up blue, and there were even Otakon themed manhole cover decals on the street.

We got together a bunch of folks who influenced the start of the industry together, and we got the previous con chairs together as well.   Having the Four Fathers of Otakon together on the same stage to talk about how the con got started, and having all of those who came afterwards and built on what they started — it was a fond nostalgia bomb that warmed the heart.

—–

 I’m tired, there’s no denying that we really pushed it this year.   We took a lot of risks, and then the staff poured in their hearts and souls to make it all happen.   I’m filled with a sense of relief and great fulfillment – because we DID it.

From the point I arrived on Tuesday until I got on the train on Monday, it seemed like a non stop bounce from point to point dealing with things that needed attention.   We dodged some pretty significant meteors this year.   When I was told that we had surpassed last year’s membership numbers on the first DAY of the convention, I was floored.   By the time Sunday rolled around and I stood in the back watching Yoko Kanno perform, a wave of relief washed over me when I realized we’d done it.  Tears came pouring out of my eyes as a year’s worth of stress finally rolled off my shoulders, tension that I hadn’t really realized had been bound up for so long.

—–

There’s no possible way I could thank everyone who made this show possible.   To my staff, your passion and drive to make things happen is second to none.   More importantly, the sheer amount of heart that you display — going without food and sleep, giving up your own time and con so others can experience it, always putting the membership in front of your own needs and wants –how can I even begin to describe how special you all are?

A very special thanks to my associate convention chairs, Jennifer Piro and John Gluth.   You are not my right and left hands, you are my partners and equals, and never a moment passed when one of you two was not flying off to be where I couldn’t be.   To Andrew Earnhardt, president of Otakorp, Inc, you gave me the immense honor of trusting me to head up this behemoth.   To my division directors; Lucky, Lee, Robin, Lauren, Michael, Rachel, Scott and Jim — we did it.  We survived.   How could I POSSIBLY thank you all enough?

To the guests who come to us from around the country and across the oceans – thank you so much.  You honor us with your presence, your knowledge, and your talent.   Artists, directors, producers, actors, musicians — you inspire us with your creativity and your artistry.  One special note – Yoko Kanno, your performance made me cry tears of joy on Sunday, and your music was a soothing balm to my nerves.

To the industry partners that come to us every year, full of understanding and ideas that rock our world, thank you.   Our contractors, who bring so many specialized talents, without you huge gears that make this ship go would be missing.  To Baltimore and the BCC, our home for 15 years, who truly painted the city blue for our arrival, bravo!

And really, to you the members.   To the over 34000 members of Otakon, thank you.   To the old friends who returned, to the new friends we have discovered, to those who have gone before us and to the family that we have become – thank you all for an amazing 20th Otakon.

 

 

 

 

OTAKON 2013

WE MADE IT

AUGUST 9-10-11, 2013

 

 

 

Otakon 2013: The Ball is Rolling

October 28th, 2012 No comments

Riding the train home from Baltimore, thinking about the first meeting held since I was appointed to chair Otakon 2013.

Quite a bit was accomplished, both on an Otakorp and Otakon front.  In the past month, the leadership of our divisions have been set, multiple projects have been set in motion, weekly open office hours held with staff, several knots have been unknotted, celebration events have been plotted, etc etc…

It is exciting to be back in the saddle.  I am reminded every day of the skills and creativity of my staff members.   Likewise I am amused at the near obsessiveness attention much of us apply to Otakon.   No dinner or down time for us, even sitting around at a wild Halloween party turns gradually into an open discussion where we “talk shop”.  

The next month brings us budgets, the Music Festival, and more of the difficult contract talks that need to be accomplished. 

Nose to the grindstone!

NYCC – My own opinion.

October 11th, 2010 No comments

My two bits on NYCC. Reed Expo has successfully developed a show with the corporate presence that they wanted, with a character all its own. However, like the Durian fruit, a distinct character can leave a bad scent in the air or a bad taste in your mouth.

NYCC’s location and heavily financed for-profit orientation allows for a show with significant potential. The number of large booths and huge names at the show were a madhouse. Most of the major companies in both comic and gaming worlds were there, along with heavy hollywood presences. The caphony of merchandising, marketing, and booth babes put into my mind the phrase, “Give them what they want” over and over again.

However, as a show NYCC 2010 displayed many of the hallmark concerns that a volunteer convention shows (Poor line control, inconsistent enforcement, understaffing); while displaying issues that come with a for-profit motive. I was infuriated to see issues with how badly exhibitors were treated (both large and small), extremely rude red-shirt staff and their attitudes (telling an exhibitor “You GIRLS need to get back in the booth and get WORKING”, and ordering exhibitors out before the attendees have been cleared out), continued horrid bad habits with ticket control, and all events other than the showroom floor being relegated to “afterthought” programming.

I will grant this – the sudden loss of the middle section of the Javitz certainly added to the nightmare. This left NYCC with horrid traffic chokepoints in the middle of the show floor. However, there needed to be further thought towards how to rejigger the space to ease these chokepoints. 20 foot aisles are a necessity around certain booths! Flood points for line control around booths that clearly are going to need queue space, please! So on and so forth.

As a convention with a huge company to fall back on whenever a mistake is made, NYCC will certainly not die, roll over, or fall down. However to see certain mistakes made by this profit-oriented convention that would KILL a non-profit with hairline backing is disappointing, to say the least. It is a show that can afford to ignore and toss away people, as distasteful as it may be, because it has hit that point in time where no matter how mistreated you are you will return because they can “give you what you want”.

NYCC is a show that I will continue to visit, however the extraordinary crowding and haphazard management, along with a location that makes it inconducive to simple socializing makes the show a day trip at best.

Bouncing back to that Durian fruit analogy – a con that is spiky and painful on the outside, smells like sulfur and smelly feet when cracked open, but tastes like heaven to some people. (We won’t say what it tastes like to the others. ;)

Categories: Conventions Tags:

Photopost and Gallery: Otakon 2010

August 8th, 2010 No comments

Home Made Kazoku – Otakon Concert 2010

Originally uploaded by Doc Stampede Complete Flickr Gallery Here

So last weekend was Otakon 2010. My 12th Otakon as a member of Staff. My second year handling Musical Guests.

As expected, it wasn’t anywhere near as tough this year, with a much better idea of what to watch out for and plan for.

This photo is from the Home Made Kazoku concert – which I had the time and opportunity to photograph. My own guests, the Yoshida Brothers — I was quite busy keeping things in line to shoot.

Much love to my fellow staff – as it was a very hectic convention with an incredible amount of good things happening, but also the greatest challenges on the back end yet.

Of particular note was the fire alarm on Saturday that resulted in over 26000 people being evacuated. Safely, and all loaded back in within the hour, with all programming resumed 90 minutes after the incident. My greatest respect to our staffers who performed crowd control in a highly fluid, changing and challenging moment. Some of them stayed in the building despite not knowing whether or not there was a real danger. Hats off.

Personal thanks to far too many people who made it possible – Alice, Sean, Mike, Jim, Dar, Rea, Alex, Cheryl, Lee, Andy, Yaz, Mer, Maile, Scott, Pat, the entire Yoshida Brothers team, etc. Thanks to Mari for being an essential interpreter and right hand woman for the entire con! Many thanks to Crissy for visiting me and lending a much needed quiet moment on Saturday! The list goes on, and it would be impossible to get everyone.

29000+ people this year, and still going strong. I wish I’d seen more of the con, but I was non-stop guest management from Thursday morning through Saturday night, with a little extra through Sunday and Monday. So — no con for me as usual. ^_^;;

In either case, not too many photos from the con, but what photos there are can be found here..

Photopost: Central Park Ariel 03

September 28th, 2009 No comments



Central Park Ariel 03

Originally uploaded by Doc Stampede

I came home, and despite having work to do tonight I had to get away from “real life work” for a little while to post a few pics from Saturday.

This one took my breath away when I first viewed the preview, and I’m glad the post-processed photo didn’t let us down. As always with me, I tried to avoid doing an outrageous amount of work, but this one kind of begged for some tweaking and softening that I normally don’t indulge in.

Stunning. :)

A few more pics at the flickr page, and I’ll update there as I post more.

Categories: Cosplay, Gallery, Photo Post Tags:

Photopost: NYAF? What’s that?

September 27th, 2009 No comments

Spent about 10 minutes at the convention.  Spent rest of Saturday in the park, taking photos, and spent most of Sunday getting to a slow start.  Fun times!

Already feeling like its too quiet again.

Will post photos later, except for one, which we have titled the “Lionel Tribute shot” with great respect for Lionel.  :)

LL-tribute

Anyway, more serious photos when I’ve had some time to rest, recover, and edit.  :)

Categories: Conventions, Cosplay, Fandom, Life, Photo Post Tags:

More “Otakon – Les Mis Style” notes

July 11th, 2009 No comments

So, apparently there’s enough interest that we might put something more … extended together.

Since my brain has been running in overdrive, lemme get some character notes down.

(This is all in reference to THIS post….)

Character notes

Categories: Conventions, Fandom, Otakon, Otakon Staff Tags:

Otakon, as sung by the cast of Les Miserables

July 10th, 2009 No comments

I blame this on Razorbagel, who put the idea in my head with just a few lines… I had to rewrite the whole song.

Yes, I want to actually do this.  I think it’d be absolutely drop dead funny as a fan video.   (And Matt…  Sue… You KNOW I’m thinking of this for Scott M. for the next fan parody… Hahaha)

Under the cut – One Week More — Otakon as sung in Les Mis style… 

Read more…

Categories: Conventions, Fandom, Otakon, Otakon Staff Tags:

Otakon 1999 Flashback!

July 6th, 2009 No comments

Otakon1999_044

So I was cleaning out my shelves this past weekend, and found a big black binder full of photos from Otakon 1999…

So here I give you, AHHHH FLASHBACK!  XD

In several flavors, both my own hosted Gallery and Flickr as well.  Enjoy!

(Keep an eye out for alot of very familiar faces, just… younger.  :)

Categories: Otakon, Otakon Staff, Photo Post, Photography Tags:

Dork Tower says it ALL.

January 28th, 2009 No comments

Ever wonder why you see my eyes cross and I turn into a raging monster at times at con meetings?  Dork Tower got it, compressed right down into a single panel comic.

Scuse me.  Powers that be…  Firmament of the convention universe?

Why didn’t I ever get a +10 Sword of Totally Peeved Con Chair?

Oh wait.  I did.  It was my voice.  XD

(But I’d like a physical sword… ;)

Read the entire chain over at Dork Tower

Categories: Con Chair, Conventions, Otakon, Otakon Staff Tags: