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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. Otakon 2018 Guest Request

    Again, disclaimer: I'm speaking from prior experience and not for Ethan, who's making the calls this year. There's no particular reason why an actor known for video game work would be excluded from consideration. But we've typically aimed for guests who EITHER are tied to a specific hot new property (and thus are possibly supported by industry) or tick multiple boxes. Crispin's a great example -- he's a very popular guests, he brings good content, and he's in a ton of anime, video games, and other cartoons. The more boxes someone ticks, the greater their draw tends to be, and the more they have to contribute to the overall mission. Many voice actors also direct, adapt scripts, etc. which means they have plenty to discuss, and we've never really wanted to be an autograph show (not that there's anything particularly wrong with those). The more ties to our cultural and educational mission, the better. I've usually said we're an East Asian culture convention; many of our voice guests do a wide range of voice work including video games, Disney shows, etc. Nearly all of them are based in LA (because that's where most of the work is, excluding Funimation's Texas studio and a bit in NYC), and some are pricey to get, partly because they're being competed for by events focused more tightly on video games or Disney properties. For example, we tried several years back to get the voice of Solid Snake (David Hayter) for MGS's anniversary. If memory serves, he was already booked too close to our dates for us to score him, but I think another time he was unable to commit due to work as a scriptwriter. In some other cases, the work is frequent and short-notice enough that some folks are reluctant to take bookings that might conflict with likely work -- and our usual timing is one reason it's sometimes difficult for us to get seiyuu guests from Japan as well as guests who do non-anime US shows. In both cases we tend to fall close to the end of the deadline for fall launch projects and that can make it difficult to get firm commitments. That said, I'm sure Ethan's aware of the draw of Overwatch, but it is worth noting that the game itself is not a Japanese or Korean developed game, but one developed by Blizzard, which is firmly US-based, so the connection to east Asian culture's a bit more tenuous.
  2. Because he's in SEED, if memory serves. (bites into green bell pepper) As for Kon...yeah, a few of us staff raced down there after a staff meeting ran late, because we'd explicitly had seats held for us. We parked the car and ran across the mall to get to the screening mere moments before they let us in. Kon and Maruyama were there already, and Tom, our Smithsonian contact, plus the Sony rep. I remember the slightly demented glee of Kon's suggestion that we all "hang on, it's a roller coaster", and Maruyama's pride in both the film and the audience's response. I have one of the posters on my wall, and our friend Maile, ended up with a signed one!
  3. Otakon 2018 Guest Request

    Please post guest requests in the main guest request thread. (Moving there now.)
  4. I know some of the folks involved in running it, but haven't decided yet whether I'll be able to attend.
  5. I am really bummed that I will be otherwise occupied this time around. Hard to believe we've known each other for 15 years -- I was his driver back in 2003. Mind you he looks maybe half my age, and I think I've only got a few months on him. I know you all think that hanging with guests is my main job, but actually having some downtime to chat? That's super rare, and usually managed only over guest dinners unless you're handling the guest directly *and* they feel chatty. I believe he'll be hosting a live showing of some anime or other, too. His english is considerably better than it used to be, and he's a friendly guy. Probably worth going to that!
  6. Otakon 2018 Guest Request

    Popping back in briefly with a little info: Rest assured that most of the folks you're requesting aren't avoiding us, but scheduling and demand and other things have kept them away. Which sucks for me, because some of them are personal friends and it's a lingering annoyance to have not had them over for a while. One factor in which guests we get is the cost of bringing the guest. And some guests are just more expensive to bring. High demand guests sometimes use higher fees to narrow down the requests; they can't possibly hope to satisfy everyone. Quite a few folks pro-rate their appearance fees based on the size of the con, so they can still do a range of events without screwing over smaller events. Sometimes industry covers the appearance fees, and sometimes they don't. The fees overall have grown considerably in the past 5-10 years, and it wasn't all THAT long ago that it was rare for a voice actor to charge at all. But it's only fair to pay for their time, especially since it sometimes comes at the expense of their main gig. The typical "autograph show / comicon" model (which is the norm for many events, but not ours) is that a guest is offered a guarantee -- basically the event guarantees the guest will earn $xxx in income, and most of that income comes from merchandise sales, and the event pays the difference. Guests don't do free autographs as a rule, though some VIP packages include them. So for example, a top-tier Marvel or Star Trek actor may charge $75k as a guarantee, but most of that will come from merch sales and photo ops. But that has never been our business model, and we aren't currently set up to deal with things that way. We have experimented a little in Vegas, but again faced an issue of space and lining space in particular. We've pushed very hard to avoid that model, primarily so you'd still have a free autograph option. We also don't want to be handling money on behalf of the guests, which can get tricky and open up liability concerns. One *other* reason, however, was that in Baltimore we didn't have space to set up autograph lines and merch tables, and the scheduling of the available space was such that there wasn't really an option to let a guest run late. We did experiment with dealer-hall based autographs, but again, Baltimore was too cramped for that to make sense. Space is no longer an issue in DC, and I know it's been discussed. I don't know how Ethan and company are working through the options there, but I know that we are trying to find the balance that still gives as many people as possible the chance to get an autograph or meet the guest. And just to make things clear, I certainly do not begrudge guests being paid for their time -- it may not look it, but they work extremely hard and entertaining a live crowd and being "on" for autographs sessions are demanding, exhausting work. It has nothing to do with their love for their fans, and nearly all of them are quite appreciative of you guys. But anime guests, and US voice actors in particular, are working actors, and the work is competitive and not particularly lucrative. It gets trickier with crossover artists like Steve and Mary Elizabeth, who are in higher demand because of their Star Wars and video game work. When they appear at anime cons, it's because they really do want to. But the reality is they've got bills to pay too.
  7. Your first Otakon

    I grew up in suburban Baltimore in the early 1970s, and I would race home from elementary school to watch Battle of the Planets and Speed Racer. Later, Thundercats and Robotech showed off pretty animation and teased deeper stories. i went off to college in 1987 and my bestie went to an art school. Various friends shared the joys of GHIBLI (Laputa, Kiki, Totoro, Nausicaa....but these were the old crummy chopped up dubs), and the dubbed and nigh impenetrable Saint Seiya and Urusei Yatsura and Orange Road. In those days we had a friend with access to the internet (which meant he worked at a research or government job), and he would pull translations and synopses off Usenet, and read them as the psi kids and alien girls and knights did stuff on screen. It was an early comic book version of Ranma 1/2, which I picked up initially thinking it was more Lum, that hooked me, and when I spied a tape of it I unwisely spent about $30 to buy 2 episodes of the show. Critical willpower saving throw failure. later, I was at Shore Leave and found myself at a Room party watching, IIRC, Yamato. Someone mentioned there might be a con for anime, and pointed me to a flyer. And in 1996 I went to Otakon first thing on Saturday, and stayed up all night watching anime. In 1997 I went again for the whole weekend, discovering my love of Detective Conan. In 1998 I was on travel for work and missed Crystal City entirely. And in 1999, broke, I came and worked off my membership fee as a gofer. Again in 2000, and then in 2001, I was in my sisters wedding and managed to put in 20-plus hours as a gofer, amidst rehearsal dinners and receptions and a clutch that went out on my way home. That winter I joined staff, and by 2004 I was part of the leadership. I spent the next decade or so throwing most of my blood, sweat, and tears into making Otakon the best con I could. Ran a pretty good convention in 2006 and then moved over to run guests (and programming in 2012) or handle special projects, as well as the nitty gritty details behind the scenes. Opening videos by real animation studios, big name guests, outreach to other events, direct engagement with Japan, broader cultural offerings, huge musical acts...I am proud to have played my part in all those things, though certainly not alone. Watched the industry evolve along with us, watched fandom grow and change. Pulled out all the stops and called in favors, and got some of my dream guests for Otakon’s 20th. Helped launch Otakon Vegas. Made so many real and deep friendships among the staff. Met a lot of my heroes along the way and am delighted to have made a lot of extremely talented friends. I’ve partied with rock stars, taken a meeting in studio GHIBLI, been to world premieres, seen sneak previews, been trusted with secrets, watched recording sessions and toured studios, been animated, almost appeared in a video game (still salty about hownthat went down), all of which has been lovely, but other things mean as much: having guests say nice things about me to my mother. Having parents tell me that Otakon brought their kids out of their shells. Hearing about friends, lovers, and families who were made better by what we do. Seeing the talent and passion and joy of discovery in our members. Making impossible meetings happen (Mr Ishiguro and Mr Shinkai were introduced at Otakon, along with many others). Teasing the forum members here since day one. Cheering on friends as they achieve their dreams. And now I am semi retired, but I’m not going anywhere. I am taking some time to catch up on all the anime I have barely been able to watch, reconnect, and will see you at Otakon. Right now the plan is to moderate guest panels, which should be fun and allow me to stay connected, and it is something we have needed for a while.
  8. Otakon 2018 Guest Request

    So real briefly: On some level, it seems like you're just venting and don't want a response, and that's fine, but this is a guest request thread, on a forum designed for member interaction. Venting's fine, but if you vent *here*, it's only fair to expect a response, and in fact I'd argue we need to be responsive to complaints. There is also a difference between being vocal and being needlessly abrasive and confrontational. If you find yourself constantly being challenged about your opinions, it's likely that *how* you express your opinions is what people are reacting to. I've been on this forum since it started and I try, as a rule, to be tactful and reasonable in my responses. (Full disclosure: I personally agree that the mix of guests felt a little off last year, but I'm privy to some of the reasons why particular calls were made, even if I can't discuss all of them here. It isn't my call to spill beans when I'm not in charge and didn't make the decisions, but I think you'll find that I have explained my own calls in the past, and hopefully that lends some credibility.) Anyway, venting in public and then being upset when people push back on things you say or get defensive in response to your words? That's not a healthy way to go, and will eventually lead to embittered troll-dom. It may be a hard lesson for all of us to learn, but other people have opinions and reasons that are different from ours, and the same right to share those as we do. This isn't anyone's personal soapbox for shouting unchallenged opinions into the ether, it's a forum for discussing and questioning and answering. Look, you absolutely have the right to disagree with the choices made, but we (your fellow forum members and staff as well) also have the right to provide another perspective, and explain why a choice might have been made. Where things get unhappy is when someone claims that a decision they personally disagree with is either evidence of a laziness on the part of the organizers, or a terrible choice because of irrelevance -- and it is patently untrue. A few popular but frequent voice actors get complaints from a vocal minority, for example, but routinely pack rooms and book new shows. You may personally be tired of them, but that's fine; they're still an excellent use of convention resources and a guaranteed draw. And there are a few friends that we can rely on to fill seats and fill in for a drop-out. Because I wasn't in charge of guests last year (just the AWM show), I can't speak much to specifics, but I will say that there was a reliance on proven guests last year, and it wasn't necessarily the mix I'd have brought. Nearly everyone we brought were folks I've known for years, most of them friends, but none of them were my call. As you know, the only real exception to the "don't repeat guests two years in a row" rule has been Maruyama-san; for pretty much all other cases, industry has sponsored the repeat guest for their own reasons. Michael and Stephanie, and a few others, were here for that reason primarily. (They're also personal friends, but I've tried very hard not to let that influence my decisions, and at any rate I had no say in their presence.) Even so, Your Name was a big deal, and Gundam was having anniversary, and they're both knee deep in that stuff. So to sum up: * Lots of things go into the decision to bring a particular guest. * The repeats were likely because of industry requests, or may have been replacements for other planned guests that you never heard about. * The mix of guests last year was a little more reliant on prior guests than we usually are, but that's at least party because of the move and the need to have dependable draws * It's fine to feel however you feel about a particular guest, but if you post a complaint in our forums and don't expect us to address it, and don't expect others to weigh in with their opinions, you're misunderstanding the point of a forum.
  9. Otakon 2018 Guest Request

    Moving this to the existing request thread. Typically, Otakon has not invited cosplay celebrity guests, though some have obviously participated in our show as panelists, judges, or even (in the case of Yaya Han) as vendors in our dealer hall.
  10. Otakon 2018 Guest Request

    Folks: Please use the existing guest request thread, which we DO follow, and don't create new threads to request specific guests. It's much easier to keep them in one place. Shifting this to the other one.
  11. Otakon 2018 Guest Request

    Folks, I've moved some stray guest requests for 2018 into this thread. I've also locked up some older threads in anticipation of upcoming archiving/housekeeping. As for me, I'm taking a little break this year -- something I'd kinda planned last year, but I ended up overseeing the Anisong World Matsuri instead. This year, it's more of a proper break, so I'll pop in here occasionally and will be giving what advice I can to the new blood behind the scenes. Hopefully he'll pop in soon to take stock of things. Fact is, I've been doing this here in the forums since we launched them in ...what, 2003 or so? And I've been in various leadership roles almost since I joined staff in 2002, and have been helping since 1999. If all goes as planned, you'll see me at con (both at upcoming Otakon Vegas and at Otakon in DC), but until then I'll be keeping a much lower profile than usual. Be good!
  12. Anime NYC Nov 17-19, 2017. Anyone here going?

    Heard of, certainly. Organizers are friends. Considering attending. Always nice to hit shows I don't have to actually work. (This is where I complain about the cost of going to NYC for a convention. $150+ parking for train up, if I'm lucky crashing with a friend, and then just the cost of being in NYC for a few days.)
  13. Otakon 2018 Guest Request

    Various Abridged folks have often come to Otakon as panelists, but typically not as guests -- which in Otakon terms means "guest of honor". Little Kuriboh's been a few times. .
  14. Otakon 2018 Guest Request

    Folks, please note that guest requests are best kept in a single thread here for monitoring. I've pulled in the other rogue threads and merged them here. Please note that it's fine to request a guest that's already been requested. But please also read the pinned topic on this board, which is essentially a guest request FAQ.
  15. Pardon, I wasn't intending it as an attack. More of an observation -- that people will walk right past five warnings and never notice, and then complain they weren't warned. Happens all the time. I'm not saying you're deliberately ignoring the signs, just saying it's human nature. People miss stuff, especially when in new places and full of distractions and excitement. Past a certain point, additional warnings do little good. The 18+ policy is in the front of the program book with other policies; it is also on the website, and it should have been on easels with other policies in the line-up area at registration. You also agreed to follow the policies when you registered. Next time, you'll know, and it'll become part of the rhythm -- or you'll forget and have to go wait in a line again. Not the end of the world, just inconvenient. I use the guidebook app myself; it's especially effective with the free wifi in the WEWCC. Setting reminders can be a godsend.