Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Convention Report: Arkansas Anime Festival

(Skip to the end for the actual release downloads)

Alright, so first things first: we did have internet, but I only had sporadic access to my laptop, and by the time things got going on Saturday, I was generally too busy to get any real material written out anyway. Which is also why there aren't many actual photos of the event, or any videos. So here we go:

We got out of town around 6:45 AM, and spent the next 5-5:30 in the car. Google Maps estimated about 6:30 duration, but that can be sped up by going 80MPH...the whole time. And yes, it was pointed out, there are quite a few small towns along the way. No slowing down!

As a side note, what the Hell is wrong with Oklahoma? It's just bonfires, weird smells, and terrible terrible civic planning. You get across the Arkansas state line, and it's just flat horrible plains on Oklahoma. You get over the state line again to Texas, and suddenly all the road noise is gone, because the roads are actually maintained. I never want to go back to Krebs, and I don't want to talk about why...God, what a terrible place...

Anyway, we got to the convention, set up shop (the whole frame system I worked out didn't quite function the way I wanted, but it was sufficient. And if you aren't at the table, people are surprisingly good about not pawing at your wares.

The convention was really quite small. Most of the attendees were locals either from Fayetteville or who just did the local Arkansas circuit. However, there were quite a number of booth folk who got recruited at Anime Fest in Dallas when we did, particularly our awesome neighbors, also Dallas locals, Badger Tea Company. I gotta say, if we'd been set up next to anyone else in the vendor's room, the convention would not have been as good.

By the way, never refer to yourself as "the bald guy," when you only have a crew-cut and there is an actually shaved-clean bald guy sitting at the next table over.

Here's the banner which will wait on my wall until it's needed again (also check out some of the cool crap I got in the mail from the SE Member's site...a fan).

This one got scrawled after the first day, wherein the most common question was "are they really made of paper?" Which of course prompted the handful of friends I made to just wander by the booth and say things like, "So, I just have on last question...are they really made out of just paper?"
All of you.

One of the funnier events at the booth, apart from the constant, hilarious exchange of smarm with Lacy (Badger), was when a girl came by and asked for my autograph. Autograph? I responded with confusion as to why she wanted my signature, to which she responded with more confusion as to why I was hesitant. Eventually I just scribbled the blog's URL and she wandered off, confused by my whole deal. A few of the people nearby (folks who would later actually sit through my panels) had a laugh about how ludicrous the entire event was.

I can guarantee my signature will never be worth anything...

Anyhow, we ran three panels, two "make and takes," wherein we supplied (some of) the necessary materials to build the Cactuar and Moogle respectively, then one Sunday afternoon on design. Here's how the panels went, since we didn't get video: they were horrible. Unbelievably horrible. To the six of you who actually stuck it out for all three: I thank you, you brave souls. The final panel was physically painful. My laptop wouldn't work with the projector, we were stuck in a tiny little room, and as anyone who reads regularly will know, this is not the sort of hobby that makes for interesting live action. I was hoping to answer any specific questions there, but really, having a look at this site is so much better than me actually being there to explain. Sorry for how terrible it was folks, if you're reading, and yes, I'm fully aware of how bad it was.

It's worth mentioning, though, that we had a lot of scheduling problems, which contributed (a bit) to the lack of attendees at the panels. Yes, loads of people opted to leave as they went on, mainly because we got severely short-handed on cutting implements and general time restrictions, but we also had some other things to contend with. See the time of that Bishi auction? Yeah...

There was this girl cosplaying as Ed there. I'll be completely honest: I fell madly in love with her in a little less than 15 seconds. However, that Bishi auction was far more intriguing, considering it was the papercraft panel or that. But yeah, every other guy there seemed to be as keen on her as I was, so it's not like there was any sort of loss. But you see what I mean about scheduling issues. Bishi auction to compete with for the first, early morning for the second (early for gamers anyway), and afternoon (when everyone is getting ready to get out of town) for the last. I'm not saying they were worth attending in the least, but yeah, in future I'll probably avoid the panels in favor of just some booth space.

By the way, that schedule's taken out of context, have a look at the full page for Sunday:

A schedule full of one-liners, then a big ol' paragraph about nothing. One guess as to who actually wrote the summaries for the papercraft panels...

I had this whole plan worked out to dress as "professor Kaizo" for the panels, but by the time you actually get around to it, realize how small the group is, and how boring it's going to be on its own, the prospect of doing it all in character as a lecturing old geezer seems a bit unattractive. Just the same though, finding a jacket with actual elbow patches for $10 at Goodwill was kind of awesome. Now I just need some survival patches. The wool is quite nice when it's chilly, as I just discovered, walking back from class.

Even got an awesome beard from the Party Store.
(My mom made the Moogle cap a while back, that just happened to be on the desk fan I felt would be a good place to hang the beard.)

Had a lot of materials left over after the booth and the panels. Not sure what I'm going to do with them. I could potentially remake a few models. Maybe have a look around on Craigslist to see if I can unload them on locals. Maybe save them for a potential convention in the future.

So here's a funny question: you've got a bunch of models to transport. How do you move them about 400 miles? Do you get a bunch of boxes, fill them with packing peanuts, and give every model plenty of padding? OR do you throw them loose into your trunk and hope for the best?

That's right! In the trunk they go! This method worked hilariously well. Loaded them like this in my apartment parking lot, opened the trunk again in the hotel parking garage, and not a one had shifted even slightly. It was fantastic. Honestly, the models suffered more causalities out of the trunk (like when Ian rolled over my Blitzball on his bed). But that's to be expected. Really, minimal repair work necessary. I was kind of upset by everything getting rained on in the initial load, but for the most part everything worked out fine.

So here's the thing, the convention was overall a great success. It gave me the chance to see how running a booth and panels works out, but on a small scale, and as such, set me up with an immediate safety net of people I saw regularly throughout the day.

Remember that Bishi auction for the "Masquerade Ball?" Well, while wandering around killing time beforehand (knowing inevitably that I'd only have a look then go back to my room rather than dance), we ran into some of the folks who actually stuck it out through all of the panels and showed real interest in the hobby. One of the guys (Krüz) was actually working on the Cactuar at the time, so I ended up sitting around with them while Ian wandered off to check out the ball. Eventually a few decks of Munchkin made their way on to the table, and a few hours later, with a few more people joining the fray, we had reached complete decoherence, and were basically just sitting around laughing our asses off.

(We were playing by Epic rules with all but a few of the expansion packs, and I dropped the effect pretty early that required you play to 22, not 20. I actually won, despite it being my second attempt at the game, in the most anti-climactic way possible: against a level 1 armchair. In my defense, I tried to take it back to keep the game going longer, but everyone was ready to call it after like 3 hours. I think my hands are the ones in the top right, doing something unnatural.)

So, the funny thing is, on the way home, Ian and I were both recalling how the whole event had been sort of a confidence boost. He hung out with some lovely ladies (even though the combination of Captain Morgan, a rave the first night, and some big ol' pirate boots basically sapped all his strength), and had a good time. I, however, found confidence in a different place. You'd expect having real people tell me my stuff is "amazing," and that I was "unbelievably epic" for doing it all, would be the good stuff. You'd be wrong. I'm numb to all that now. Heard it too many times. What boosted my confidence was when someone asked if I was an improv comedian by trade, because I'd been getting so many laughs in the panels and hanging out with people after events of the day died down.

While sitting around Saturday morning before heading down to the table, Ian and I came across the following infomercial, surfing through the hotel's TV selection:

We brought this thing up whilst playing Munchkin to great amusement of our companions. The kilted fellow (whose name I believe is Chris, apologies if you're reading, but real names weren't tossed around much, apart from when we discovered that I'm plagued with the banter gene, and babbled a bit about my second-hand name {which is what prompted the question about being a comic}) actually got a video of me doing the "Ninja whisper," so that may surface eventually. I found the Youtube clip Sunday morning, so he brought it up on his Blackberry during the 11AM panel. All good fun.

Ancient Asian metalworking secrets...

(You can stop scrolling now)

Gabranth's Helmet

It should be noted about the scale: It fits me like a glove. So much so that it stays stable on my face. Now, I've got a fairly large head, but I shave it, so as usual, I think I'm a decent representative of a generic size. Good luck with it.

Lulu's Cactuar and Moogle
Cactuar: http://www.mediafire.com/?zrcndkgn4g0
Moogle: http://www.mediafire.com/?hkm4nmotzoe

The moogle is a revisit of Lulu's Moogle, and the Cactuar is just the equivalent. I did these layouts looking for models simple enough for beginners, but interesting enough to be worth building. I don't have full instructions for them because I was speed building in an attempt to time myself. Wanted something buildable within the panel time limit. They weren't, but I'm still happy with the finished products. I'll have the PDOs for now, as minimal instructions for the brave panelists trying to finish on their own. Remember to download my standard fonts from Dafont to use the PDO effectively.

With all that said, I'll go ahead and note that I won't be working on any new releases for about two weeks. This weekend's Thanksgiving, but I've got two research papers due next week, so I'm opting to stay in Denton rather than head down to my Mom's in League City, and basically live at the library for the long weekend. Rousseau and Democritus, bring it on!

Chenille and I are still looking for some more competition for our Final Fantasy IX party build contest, so shoot me a message if you're interested. We're going to be dueling it out on Ustream with the multi-webcam option. At the moment, it looks like it will be taking place over Christmas break, when everyone's got free time. The more the merrier, et cetera.

You know the usual drill. Stay tuned...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Arkansas Anime Festival: Convention Primer

Alright kids, so Ian and I will be heading off to the Arkansas Anime Festival early tomorrow morning (like sunrise early, ugh). Rather than save it all for one big post on Monday, I'm hoping to report on the events as they transpire. I'm not 100%, but I'm hoping we'll have some degree of internet access while there. I suppose we'll all be finding out in about 24 hours. If you don't hear from me by then, odds are we don't have any free internet options, and everything's gonna get posted in a monster post Monday afternoon/evening.

In the meantime, thought I'd let you know how this is gonna play out:

I'll be running three panels. Two "make and takes," that is, panels wherein we provide the materials and attendees get to try to make their own model on the spot (probably not going to happen in the short hour we have the room for). Then one "lecture" style on design.

When we aren't in panels (and I mean no offense to the other panelists and the people who wrangled them up), we'll probably be avoiding the other events of the con like the plague. Which means we'll be sitting around our booth either in the vendor's floor or in "artists' alley." Either way, we'll be sitting around talking to people, showing off all my little trophies for wasted time, and depending on whether or not we get access to a power outlet, watching a whole lot of British comedy, or playing our PSPs with feverish intent. For the booth, I had a banner made at a local shop called "Signarama." Not only is the banner epic, I even managed to spread the gospel of papercraft to the people working there. Pointed them at the Unofficial WoW Papercraft blog after a brief conversation explaining what exactly this banner is for. Seriously, check this thing out:

How freaking cool is that?

Anyway, if you scroll down slightly, you'll see I mentioned something about a secret project. Well I didn't actually get that done in time. I intended to finish five new models before the convention and, in retrospect, that number is clearly asking too much of myself. I did manage to get three of them done, though one was basically a revisit of an old model and the other was incredibly simple. I'll get them posted later on, hopefully after the make-and-take sessions for which they were designed. The third, however, is pictured in the photo at the top. Can you spot it? I'm quite pleased with the result. I'll have time to do the instruction/release logistics whilst sitting around, so if I've got internet access, I might be able to get the release out while we're at the convention.

So, to sum up, the next three days will be awesome for me, and you may either see a massive surge in posts, or none at all, followed by a huge one.

Wish me luck~

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cecil - Paladin

Cecil - Paladin

So, it's been over two weeks since the Dark Knight release, which means it's excuse time. I don't really have any this time. I just kind of wasted time for about a week, then school work got in the way. Anyhow, here it is. I'm happy with the result, but I'll tell you this right now: might be the hardest model I've released. That's not to say it's difficult, just that the hair is detailed to a ridiculous level. I'm sure you'll do better than I did.

So, it's been a while since we last talked, so here are some updates:

The blog's passed a year with Clustrmaps and we're almost to 100,000 hits. Nifty, eh?

I was planning to have a build competition with Chenille to see who could do the entire FFIX party (as per Chamoo's designs) fastest. The idea is still on, and I'd love to get some more people in on the race. However, this probably won't happen for a few weeks. I'll be doing a panel and a booth at Arkansas Anime Festival in a few weeks, and there are a few models I'd really like to have done before then. The contest is gonna have to wait.

So, it may be a bit before another update. I need to get the models done, and of course I'll go about them the same way as usual, but I may not take the time to get the releases out until I've actually had a chance to exhibit them (one of them is a super secret release).

Anyway, stay tuned, et cetera.