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About alabaster

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    Grand Vizier
  • Birthday 07/10/1970

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    Columbia, MD
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    anime, duh.

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  1. alabaster

    Another Chance for an Otakon Video Game

    I feel ya. But I don't think any of that money is coming back. That's the risk of kickstarter and other crowdfunding. You don't know if the projects will come to pass, and you may not see your investment pay off. That's simply how it works. The money was spent, and the project failed to produce. We said what we could legally at the time and the statements are on record. There was no sweeping under the rug. Let me clarify something here to the best of my understanding, and with the disclaimer that I'm NOT making a statement on behalf of the corporation here -- this is my personal recollection and most of it's been public for a while. Otakorp, the organization, provided some seed money (I don't recall the exact amount, but it was thousands of dollars) and licensed our mascot characters and some concepts to the team making the game. We didn't own the process or have access to the kickstarter process other than as a participant -- that was all the studio making the game. And the folks behind that had a long association with the community and nobody had a reason to doubt their intentions. You may notice that my avatar here is "Evil Doctor V" from the concept art. Fred "Piro" from Megatokyo did some of the concept art and was one of many creative types (including voice actors) who committed to or helped build the prototype. (My inclusion as a boss was going to be a surprise until our lawyer pointed out that they had to get me to sign off on using my likeness, so the first I heard of it was when I was asked to approve and sign off on the art.) Since other folks paid to be included, once the KS launched, I forked over the appropriate donation for that tier (I want to say $400 or $600), since it only seemed fair. At least I got this out of it, which is a lot more than most folks got. Disclaimer: I have known Fred for like 15-20 years and I certainly could have paid a lot less to be captured in his style. Further disclaimer: Most folks in the industry understand that projects don't always pan out and I think they've written it off long ago. For Otakorp a lot of the value came from the announcement buzz -- but the negative impact of its failure was no picnic. But for the staff who chipped in, that's money lost just like it is for any members who supported it. And I don't speak for everyone on this, but I suspect that we're a little hesitant to get involved in another game project. Still, we're up on MOST conventions in terms of video game credibility: Otacon, of MGS fame, is named after our event and many MGS materials credit us with allowing them to use the name -- and we always credit Dr Hal Emerich as our scientific adviser in our program book.
  2. alabaster

    Otakon 2020 Guest Request Thread

    He has had the option. i just realized I have known him for 12 years now!
  3. alabaster

    Otakon 2020 Guest Request Thread

    He’s been to otakon a lot, and is a friend. But he rarely performs these days because he essentially runs lantis and typically accompanies JAM project... (not as keyboardist, though). the Lazy reunion may have changed his mind.
  4. alabaster

    Otakon 2020 Guest Request Thread

    For context: Grandrodeo and Garnidella have both been attempted before. I feel like we may have come close with M-flo a while ago, but I know we had Taku this past year. Scheduling is always a challenge, especially for folks who work the lucrative summer festivals in Japan.
  5. alabaster

    Otakon 2019: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

    I'm sure the web team will make note.
  6. alabaster

    Otakon 2019: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

    I'll preface this with a big fat disclaimer: not my job, not my call to make. That said: The issue is likely access control. The initial rush of people to the dealer hall is probably the single biggest logistical line management issue in the whole convention. The autograph area is in the dealer hall. Anything that puts people in that space before it's open properly and the pent-up line of people is processed is ripe for massive abuse and confusion. You'd have folks standing in the autograph line only to break out and hit the dealer hall, and thus skip the huge long Friday morning line there. It's much the same reason why certain escalators are one-way during key traffic points. OR you'd have to assign more staff to make sure nobody popped out from Autographs to go to the other areas. But I agree, it would be ideal if we had a way to make autographs its own space more easily. But as the guy who ran guests for many years when we were in Baltimore and stuck with a terribly limited space and virtually no lining area at all, this is a big big improvement.
  7. alabaster

    Regarding the Women in Anime panel

    As you said, wires got crossed. Sometimes it isn't clear until just a hair too late that that's happened. With 200+ events on the schedule, it's almost inevitable. Privately, I'm going to suggest that Ellyn use a less generic name for her panel to avoid similar mishaps, much like Richard does with his outtakes panel.
  8. alabaster

    Otakon 2019: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

    Hmm. May want to tweak your settings and put Otakon in the "always show" camp. I was seeing social media posts from Otakon nearly every day, and the info was on the website, IIRC. A few of the things were confirmed quite late in the day, though. I think the Promare announcement got something like 30k views just on FB. Unlike the BCC some years, the water in WWDCC is potable, and I kept refilling my bottle all day. It's something I do at every con -- I refill whenever I see water. I didn't have much trouble finding a place to do that, but I know we buy less bottled water than we used to because the water fountains by all the bathrooms work just fine. (As do the bathrooms, and there are more of those, too...) I'd have to check but I think we reduced the number of water stations based on usage patterns; I know we *talked* about that at one point, but I'm not sure we did it.
  9. alabaster

    Otakon 2019: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

    Inoue-san is one of the busier actresses, and while she enjoys our show, she had to be back at work on Monday to record [REDACTED]. That's been the case with many of our high profile seiyu, and a reason why east coast cons have more challenges with seiyu in general -- that extra 5-6 hours of travel time makes a big difference. At any rate, it's not a case of not being able to afford her, it's working around her schedule, which unfortunately typically means compressing ours.
  10. alabaster

    Otakon Panel Feedback 2019

    Many of the issues you raise are, unfortunately, pretty intractable. Communicating to 800 of our staff is a big enough challenge , but there are limits in communicating to dozens of building security through proper channels. Frankly, they’ve been massively better here than in Baltimore, but not all of them get the message. We keep adding more signs in key locations, and there are quite a few of them now, as well as roving info desks and several static ones. Between them, guidebook app, the program book, and the built in signage, there is only so much we can do to help you navigate. It also isn’t really possible to shut down elevators or limit their access, but for other closures we would need to have more specifics about where you were denied access, or where staff (ours or the convention center red coats) blocked escalators or entry points. Chances are there were reasons, but maybe they weren’t communicated well. Or maybe you just didn’t hear. As for the door control, in most cases the doors are limited specifically to ensure we track entry and exit and avoid overcrowding. Specific issues would help a lot, because there are a few hundred panels over the course of the con. I am perplexed by the issue you reported with AMV theater. Are you maybe referring to the third floor area where concerts are held, which did have limited access during key periods? Do you have a room number? Was it a back hallway or something? There were very few areas that were limited to “VIP” or to guests.
  11. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    Let's leave the speculation out, and leave the thread for people suggesting guests, okay?
  12. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    With again the caveat that I'm not running things these days and the Ethan may have a different take.... That muddy ground is one reason I actively avoided giving "fan guests" the GOH (guest of honor) nod for many years. There are some fantastic folks out there doing excellent work, but there is definitely a distinction between folks who have "official" status within the industry, and those who don't. The challenge is to honor what they do without causing confusion or trouble with the pros. (And quite a few of them have crossed into pro status, at which point we might change their listed status.) It's just a cleaner distinction to make: did you go pro and legit with this? Once you have, then it's a much simpler call to make, because you're adding something significant to the whole deal. This industry has a LOT of folks in it who started in the grey area and cowboy days, but now are legit, so it's not an unassailable wall. If you're running a smaller con, you want a larger list of guests and drawing Big Name Fans can make a big difference, and just as importantly, non-GOH level guests *tend* to only get badges and similar low-cost considerations. The questions we typically ask about any potential guest are: How does this guest advance our mission? Remember, our mission is about cultural exchange, fundamentally, but certainly with a focus on pop culture. For people already actively involved in professional creation, localization, or distribution, either as production or talent, that's an easy one. For people in academic circles, pro speakers and authors like Roland Kelts and Fred Schodt, it's also an easy call to make. Because we're a nonprofit, we need to be able to justify what we spend on our guests. What's their likely draw/appeal? I've received requests for youtubers with a following in the dozens; that's an easy call. But we've also brought major voice actors and directors from Japan who draw a couple dozen folks at best. Prestige and name value really kick in here. How much content are they bringing? I've never been a fan of "guests" who do nothing but sit in the dealer or artist halls and sell and sign stuff. That's why we typically require 2 panels or the equivalent from all our GOH guests. What's the cost of bringing and supporting them? Japanese guests need bilingual interpreters to handle them, and cost a fair penny to bring. US guests (especially actors) typically have fees these days that range from bargains to tens of thousands of dollars. Each of them needs a room and food, and that all adds up disturbingly fast. OTOH, industry support can help mitigate those costs. About a third to half of all our guests come with some help from industry (not always financial); the rest are existing relationships, personal contacts, or direct offers. What special challenges do they bring? Are they known for being "difficult"? Is their management bad at responding and providing info? Do they miss their at-con obligations? Are there troubling accusations against them? Do they have annoying significant others? Have they pissed off their employer somehow? Cost is a big deal, because all things considered, if you're spending $2k minimum on travel/room/board for a guest, you'd rather spend it on a guest who has a draw, who have mission relevance, and who doesn't have a ton of "baggage" to deal with. Just a little insight.
  13. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    I'm going out on a limb here and say there is still a distinction between "guest" and "panelist", which isn't always clear at some smaller events, but which has been pretty consistent at Otakon for many years. Guests are guests of honor, the names that draw folks to your con, and typically are professionals who have some direct connection to the mission or the industry; panelists typically are fans first, and are not here to support or promote their work or that of their employers. Guests get official status and their travel costs are paid (including fees, where applicable), panelists generally do not get much more than a badge and a place to chill in their downtime. Team Four Star exists in a weird place, because the work they produce is unlicensed parodies of licensed works. I'm not sure how Ethan feels about it, but I shied away from bringing them as guests because it creates unwanted tension with industry. Most of their con appearances tend to be "under the radar" -- they're panelists or have a booth someplace. We have had them at Otakon before as panelists, but spotlighting unlicensed works with full "guest of honor" status can be problematic. IIRC, Funi basically ignores the parody works (because they're clearly parody, even if they use enough content to be legally tricky to deal with), but .... The nearest analogy I can come up with is when you pack more than the allowed occupancy in a hotel room. The hotel really doesn't care too much if you have 6 people in a 4-person room so long as you don't create more work for them with endless towel demands or noise complaints. But if you draw too much attention, they have to act to protect their bread & butter.
  14. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    One challenge there is that our contacts are primarily in the animation, gaming, and music industries, and not so much in the world of modeling. The other is that they’re going to have very little motivation to come. When evaluating guests, it’s fairly routine to break down the non-adjustable costs (flights, hotel, etc.) and the negotiable ones. Appearance fees have become more of s thing in recent years, despite the complexities of taxes, payments to overseas agencies, etc. Given the same baseline costs (it costs thousands of dollars to bring a guest from Japan, regardless of status), and limited budget, the first question is whether you spend that on someone with broad appeal, or someone with narrower appeal, and the other question is how relevant that guest is to our mission. A guest with broad appeal and fantastic relevancy is going to win, but one particularly appealing, or super relevant, would also be a prime selection. There’s really not much particularly unique about scantily dressed girls posing for magazines, honestly, and little to no crossover appeal. The management and business involved isn’t pushing to broaden the audience, as is the case for music, and there isn’t really a compelling cultural argument here. And to switch hats, if I were such a model, I can’t see much sense in flying 13 hours each way to be stared at in person by foreigners who don’t buy the magazines I am paid to appear in. Not when I can make bank in Tokyo for personal appearances, during the relatively short window when I am still young and sexy. (And that’s before you consider the unsavory types that tend to be involved in those businesses. There are musical acts I was advised to avoid because of Yakuza involvement, and I am certain that would be an issue in the world of adult magazines.) If this really interests you, and you think it has broader appeal and something to teach us, start with a panel. It’s rare to see a well presented panel covering such content, though I’m sure someone out there could make a good one. Until then , I don’t see anyone making it a priority, at any broad anime con.
  15. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    You’re quite right, brain fart on Amandas. And while i appreciate the vote of confidence, I am not the one booking guests these days...