Monthly Archives: July 2009

One more quick set of ComicCon observations — Masquerade Tech

In both my report for day 4, and my final comments, I forgot to mention a couple of observations I made about the tech work at the masquerade and in general.

I don’t know if there was an adequate tech rehearsal for the masquerade or not. I know that unlike Worldcon where the masquerade can often hold the space for most of the day to do the rehearsals, ComicCon has to use the large space not only for masquerade but also for the big panels. While there was a 2.5 hour break between the last panel and the start of the masquerade, some of this time was eaten with clearing the room and then filling it. With a 2 hour show, that would make doing a full run-through in the space difficult on Saturday.

But even taking into account that there may not have been a run-though, the tech work was pretty shoddy. Most obvious to someone watching the video — but also anyone watching where they could only see one of the big screens or in a remote viewing area (so more than half of the people actually watching live as well) — was that the cameras were regularly in the wrong place. Also the video director didn’t have an idea of when he (or she) needed wide shots and when they needed close shots on some of the larger groups.

However, there were also quite a few missed lighting cues — mostly blackouts at the end of the bit that left the performer standing at the front of the stage expecting to be able to walk out without performing. At first I thought that the follow-spot operators weren’t doing all that well, and then I realized that the cameras weren’t positioned all that well in relationship to the follow-spots, which left a couple of the performers in the dark to the cameras but probably OK to the live audience.

There was also one costume that needed to have a black scrim behind the performer to really work well, but the scrim was instead lit with a backdrop — allowing the performer to be seen breaking some of the illusion the costume (a walker from Return of the Jedi).

The music and sound cues were mostly good with perhaps one or two glitches.

I suspect that all of these problems could be helped by a full run-through, but it would have had to be done on Friday or even Thursday — which in turn would have required moving a couple of items to the other large hall or elsewhere which might not have been doable. But I’m sure that they could have set up space on Saturday somewhere in one of the nearby hotels that would be big enough to simulate the stage and back stage areas, and enough audience for the tech people to at least observe and take notes to refine their cues and shots.

The lighting cues could also be helped if the performers had written out clear directions that say something like “when I come front stage and bring the sword down, black out lights,” so that the light operator could at least have something to work with.

Having done, or observed (in the case of video directing) all of the jobs — but in venues other than a con masquerade — I can appreciate out how difficult it is to do without a rehearsal. But the con needs to do something or it will distract people like me who will spot this kind of stuff.

A few final ComicCon thoughts

Once I actually got to panels, I enjoyed myself pretty well. I suspect that next year — and any other year in which I’m nursing my vacation — it will be similar with me not doing a whole lot on Thursday and Friday. It is possible that I may just head home one or both days and rescue the dog.

I have a couple of general observations. First, it is obvious that this event has attracted the marketers very strongly. So, there were a few people there that didn’t seem all that good of a fit — like the Playboy Enterprises truck that was set up just up along 5th Ave. They were getting people stopping by (and not only men), but still they just don’t seem to really fit to me. I would not have been that much more surprised to see Good Housekeeping there (OK, I would have been really startled, since how many fen are good housekeepers 😉

I did see two behaviors that really disturbed me. First, several people — including many of the large companies with booths in the exhibit hall and the aforementioned Playboy Enterprises — didn’t seem to consider the impact that they would have on traffic flow. This ranged from attendees stopping to pose for costume shots in the middle of high traffic thoroughfares in the exhibit hall, to vendors having signings or other events in their booths positioned so that the crowd was forced to choke traffic. Playboy had the same impact on the sidewalks of 5th.

The other problem behavior was that people didn’t seem to be able to say “No, Thank You” if they didn’t really want something, and wouldn’t keep what they got or dispose of it properly. The area between the end of 5th Ave. near the trolley station across the tracks (all 3 sets — two trolley and the BNFS tracks) were nearly covered with post cards and other freebies that were handed out on the plaza close to 5th Ave. I’m guessing that the only reason that the tracks themselves were clear was because the trains pushed the debris away. Fortunately, nobody appears to have slipped badly and fallen because of this loose paper on the ground. It was better in the Gaslamp and Convention Center.

We also witnessed other rude behavior. However, I suspect that the worst thing we saw did not come from someone at the convention, but rather someone who thought that they were inconvenienced by it. Yesterday, a driver in a fancy BMW was driving on K St, crossing 5th Ave. He wanted to make a left turn, onto the part of 5th that was open. But the cops directing traffic were not allowing turns. This person refused to go straight, probably until the cop directing traffic threatened to arrest him (I’m guessing, I didn’t see her reach for her radio or cuffs, if she had cuffs). He then drove aggressively as he could. Fortunately, there were not pedestrians crossing while the traffic cops weren’t watching.

I can now see why the various governments in the area are desperate to expand the convention center for this one event. I think I’ve seen the revenue estimates from the convention, but observing how much business was done outside of the convention center — and knowing that at least indirectly much of the business inside the convention center created business outside as well, I can see that this is a major economic benefit to the area. Having this event move to Las Vegas, or Anaheim would probably at this point actually hurt the economy at least a bit. But getting a major municipal project launched quickly in this current economy won’t be easy, even if the numbers will show that it can be paid for just with the direct taxes and rentals.

Now, I only wish that I had one more weekend to recover between ComicCon and the trip to Montreal. Next year, I’ll have plenty of time, but it will probably get eaten just like this summer has.

ComiCon Day 4

Not that long ago, robot_grrl and I got back from the final day of our first San Diego ComicCon


ComicCon Days 2 and 3

I didn’t get a report done last night — and as you may see, I should have. So I’ve got two days here


ComicCon Day 1

Yesterday, robot_grrl spent most of the day at ComicCon, and I was there for a while in the evening (work keeps getting in the way)


ComicCon Day 0

Last night after work, I met robot_grrl at the preview night for the San Diego CommicCon.


ComicCon Newbie Question

Since this will be my (and robot_grrl‘s) first time(*) at the San Diego Comic-Con, I have a couple of silly “newbie” type questions.

1: Will we get anything similar to the pocket programs that we get at most literary SF cons (not that the ones from the last several Worldcons did a good job of fitting in a pocket)? Or should I make sure that I have any items that I want to make sure I remember to try to go to are saved in the calendar on my phone or some other resource of my own.

2: On larger events, do they clear the room in between? More specifically, if I’m at a panel and want to also attend the next one in the same room, am I potentially out of luck since I’ll be shunted outside and then be at the back of the line to get in for the next one?

3: For the masquerade, they say that tickets will be given out to people in line at 4:30. Do you need to stay in line at that point, or is it one line to get tickets and then another to get back in? If you do need to line up for the masquerade for four or more hours, is it really worth the price?

4: How badly to they over air-condition the convention center? I’ve been wearing shorts for the last couple of weeks (while last week and this week) but didn’t on Saturday knowing that the movie theater would be too cold. I’d like to be comfortable both inside and outside. I’m pretty sure that the bay front area will be a bit more mild than Sorrento Valley/Sorrento Mesa and our neighborhood of Oceanside, but not by that much. So I’m pretty sure (if the weather holds like it is currently predicted) I’d rather have shorts on when outside, but what about inside?

5: Are we going to run into any silliness with bags, water bottles or anything like that? Or, as long as it isn’t a weapon, I should be OK. On similar grounds, should I leave my leatherman at home or work?

(*)In 1998, I choose to not go to Comic-Con ranking it as the third choice of three activities that weekend, and choose instead to go to Burbank/L.A. to see my parents and help out with the American Valuating Association’s national championships, and would have probably gone to the Mira Mar airshow had I stayed in San Diego. Of course since they I’ve been back living in the Chicago area and didn’t even think about going until we decided to move back.

Church Frustrations

robot_grrl and I are just about ready to leave the church we’ve been attending. In fact, if I hadn’t been working this morning we would have probably gone elsewhere, and Tara didn’t end up going at all.

An Answer to Prayer, but not enough

I Should Quit Analyizing Dreams While Half Awake

Last night, I caught myself once again thinking about a weird dream. My conclusion was that I was in an SF story. After a while I came up with the first line:

“If I could understand how, exactly, I came to run a restaurant in my parent’s house, with a former – probably discredited – astronomy professor as a head cook and a scatterbrained waitress, I might be able to explain what happened that night.”

Some other things I recall

A Marvelously Dreamy Idea

Last night I saw a picture in my dreams, and by the time I was out of the shower, I’d turned the idea from it into a Super Hero, or at least the background for a super hero. Since 90% of my knowledge of super heroes comes from playing the Marvel Super Hero Role Playing Game twenty or so years ago, I’m pretty sure that that influence how I conceived of the character. For reasons not entirely related to the era in which I played, the character’s background is set up for the mid to late 80’s, but I’m sure someone more familiar with the ways of comics could figure out how to jump it 20 years.