Thursday, May 24, 2012

Basic Cosplay Convention Prep

Uhoh. Tangent topic. Run away!

Hey this is The Geek Spot. I realize that most of the content is video game based, but we can dabble in different subjects.

You know what my biggest hitting post is of all time? My summary of two panels I taught at AnimeFest 2011 – Anime Theory and Anime in the Classroom.

Second to that is my list of my 10 favorite video games, ever.
I like to mix it up on occasion.

Since I’m spending this weekend in California, hanging with my bro and checking out Fanime, and the following weekend is A-Kon, I’m coslaytastic right now.

It’s destroying my body. Go look at my hands on Cosplay in America.
The day after those photos were taken I managed to get another scratch from a straight pin (it was a stray that somehow got sewn INTO the garment-never had that happen before) and a glob of gold paint on my palm.

Amongst this mess, I’ve seen more questions pop up on forums asking how to prep for a convention, what to pack, etc. and felt like this would be a good time to throw out some general rules for cosplayers.

In fact our next episode of CosPod, the cosplay podcast, will have a layout just about that.

These are in order, particularly number 1 as a pet peeve:

1. Iron. Your. Costume.

Why would you let your very pretty ball-gown, that you spent 200 hours on and hand-beaded, prance around being all wrinkly? I know you have to take travelling into consideration, but really? It just makes you look sloppy. It’s nothing against the person or the circumstances. If you had a really good reason, and it better be a fantastic excuse, I’ll let it slide. Just iron your clothes. It’s not difficult and generally not time consuming.

Wrinkles are not easy to get out through Photoshop. It’s doable, but it’s very time consuming and a lot of cosplay photographers will do very little in post. They want to send it out with minor adjustments, because they have thousands of photos to go through.

It even annoys judges when you don’t iron your clothes. Seriously. Nothing is worse than trying to determine what seam you used on a shirt if we can’t see the hem due to the wrinkles.

If your costume is suppose to be wrinkly, that’s one thing. If it’s because of lack of care or time management, that’s a problem.

2. Practice your poses.

Just like a sport, or a play, or a dance, or learning how to play Link’s theme, you have to practice to get better. Cosplay works the same way. Even if you have “natural talent” with the camera, practice, practice, practice. This will allow you to really be creative and dead on with the character. Nothing is worse than having someone take your photo and you run out of poses to use.

3. Know your limits.

This is everything from eating when your body tells you to eat, to not wearing stilts without a spotter. If you need to take a break and sit down, do it. If that means you have to tell a few people “no” for photos, then so be it. You’d be surprised how understanding they can be if they see you resting. The same goes for big/bulky/large costumes.

If you know that you can’t wear high heels because of health/foot issues, then don’t do it. Does a corset make it impossible to breathe? Then don’t look for an alternative. Don’t force yourself into a costume if it’s going to be too painful. Cosplay is suppose to be about fun. Pain does happen, yes, but you should enjoy your costume.

4. Try your costume before the convention.

This will help you determine if it’s ready to be worn. Test its weak points. Learn how you can or can’t bend and move. If you can wear it for a few hours at home, then you’ll be good at a con.

5. Better to have and not need…

The old adage. This doesn’t mean bring your entire sewing room, but a small kit that can fit into a gallon size ziplock bag will work. Have an extra needle, thread, buttons, Velcro, and hot glue for emergency in case something happens to your costume. That way you can run up to your room, fix it, and be back in a few minutes. If it’s a major problem with the costume, change into something else. Don’t risk damaging the costume further. Most of the time, you probably won’t use it. (It took me 3 ½ years before I finally had to use mine, and that only took 2 minutes to fix).

6. Keep it simple.

If you are going alone or can’t get a friend to act as your bag buddy, don’t wear the crazy complicated costumes. The easier it is on you, the easier it’ll be on everyone else. When it comes to larger costumes, the convention is way better if you have someone act as a handler. This can be anything from holding your things, to opening doors, helping get you food and drink, and making a path in the crowds. If you can’t get someone to help you, don’t try to do it on your own. It’s just an endless headache. In those cases, just wear a costume that’s easier to walk in and try another time.

This also goes with packing. If you are travelling a long distance to a convention, say on an airplane, you probably don’t want to take 6 costumes and 5 battle axes with you. Your luggage will cost more than the flight and con tickets combined. Be reasonable about your luggage use. Pack the necessities first, costumes second.

7. Respect your fellow cosplayers.

I say this with the caveat that trash-talking in our community is pretty rare. And when it does happen, we all know about it and that person/people get brought back to reality. But it goes without saying, be polite to one another. Respect each other’s space and privacy. Respect each other’s costumes and props. If you want to touch or hold something, ask first. Don’t hug unless you are given permission to do so. And especially no glomps. Some costumes are made to be visually accurate and not convention friendly. As such, you hug that person you might break their costume. Don’t do it.

8. Lend a helping hand.

This goes in line with the last rule, but if you see a cosplayer needing help, ask if you can assist. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve acted as a bodyguard for bags, purses, and people (my brother and I saved Captain America from photographers for about 5 minutes while he took an emergency call. Ok I realize that sounded silly, but he did have an emergency crop up and couldn’t get to his cell with people spamming him for photos). It’s not just good karma, but good manners. You’ll find that the kindness will be returned in one form or another. We’re all cosplayers and we all experience the same problems. Helping each other makes our community stronger.

9. No photo bombing.

On the rare occasion they are really funny. I have one where Doctor Who accidently photo bombed a Sailor Moon gathering. He was incredibly apologetic about it afterwards, but the look on his face was perfect. However most of the time, they are annoying. I don’t care if you didn’t get a single picture of you taken that day of the convention, photo bombing is not a reason to get attention. It’s distracting, annoying, and rude to the photographer and the cosplayer. Try photo bombing a private shoot. You will never hear the end of it from the photographer.

10. Have fun.

This seems obvious, but some people like to go overboard on competition and having a superior attitude. When it comes down to it, this is a hobby. We’re all here to have fun. If you’re not having fun, then you need to dig deep and determine what the issues are. Are friends putting you down for cosplaying? Are the costumes not interesting enough? Are you unhappy with your costume choices? Because in the end, it comes down to you and your happiness. That’s what matter. Cosplay is about having fun. What’s not fun about dress-up? :D


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