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About alabaster

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    Grand Vizier
  • Birthday 07/10/1970

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    Columbia, MD
  • Interests
    anime, duh.

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  1. Look for more info about AWM toward the end of this month. The Sunday concert generally starts around noon or 1pm. It won't be part of the AWM and will not require any extra payment or fee. The con generally ends around 4 on Sunday, but i don't know if our hard-out time in DC is the same as in Baltimore, Dont worry, we will post all relevant info when we are ready.
  2. Gallery is under renovation, if memory serves.
  3. Just a bit of inside pool here: It's no secret that we have worked toward something like this for years now, ever since before JAM Project came to Otakon back in 2008. The trick was always how to make it viable because it's *very* expensive to fly people in from Japan and that really affects how the economics play in. Tougher policies regarding visa and overseas payments play into this a bit too, because it can be challenging to navigate from our side. It's very, very important to our side that Otakon not become the sort of pay-for-access show that has become par for the course at other large events, even though in many ways that would make life a lot easier. That works quite well for the organizers but it poses challenges when you're a non-profit of the type Otakorp, Inc. is. And frankly, even without that, on a personal level, I still believe that there's something a bit idealistic in our makeup here that we'd rather our members be on equal footing and limited by the strength of their fannish dedication rather than the depth of their pockets. But that's not really the way the business world works (and especially in Japan where there are always committees and other partners to answer to), and we have to recognize that US concerts are not terribly lucrative for Japanese bands. They're often money sinks even when they're successful. But *most* of the industry isn't nearly as flush with money as the average person assumes, and they're beholden to their investors to earn a profit, just as we're beholden to our members to preserve our show's quality and uniqueness. And the market (and competition in the US) has evolved. The only way we stay ahead is to be willing to take risks -- ones that make sense for our organization and bring real benefit to our members and advance our goals. On their side, things like merchandise sales and itunes sales can really make a difference to their bottom line. We've been lucky to find partners who understand our concerns and goals and try to make mutually acceptable agreements. We're all in this for the long-haul and just on a personal level, I've worked with many of the key players for a decade or more and we've built up an enviable amount of trust. We're sharing a lot of the risk for this endeavor, and that's quite different than just hiring a performer. But so worth it -- as our lineup thus far should tell you. Concerts in general are quite costly to produce and those involving multiple bands from overseas are even more so. And we've got a reputation to uphold (one I'm pretty invested in personally) so everyone involved is trying to find a way to make the show fantastic without breaking the bank. It costs ridiculous amounts of money to either rent or set up a concert hall worthy of our guests, and like elsewhere, they tend to jump from "a few hundred" to the 1500-2k range, and then to arenas. The verizon center seats 20,000, so not an option (maybe one day!). At any rate, there's SOOO much happening behind the scenes and I promise we'll do our best to keep you informed. We just have to make sure whatever we say is cleared by our side and the Japanese side first, and that can take more time than any of us might like. And if this succeeds -- and I think it will -- it'll be a game-changer.
  4. The plan is to have a Sunday show as well that will not require a separate ticket. If it is at all reassuring, I am deeply involved in making this stuff work -- it's my primary job at con this year -- and keeping prices low and preserving a good free ocncert as well were critical.
  5. Yup, announcement as soon as the info is confirmed and approved. Partnerships require multiple sign offs.
  6. Shinkai was a guest a few years ago -- we were able to introduce him to Noburo Ishiguro and witnessed two giants in the field meet for the first time. Hosoda has been on the list for ages but is super busy. Haven't given up hope!
  7. This is in the Hyatt? 1000 people is a pretty tight fit there....
  8. Generally speaking, cosplayers must do more than simply brightening days and being themselves to be deemed relevant. They're certainly welcome -- Otakon has thousands of cosplayers and many are highly skilled -- but please see the extensive (and repetitive) posts about what we generally ask of guests. Also, please refrain from spamming the board with requests -- keeping them here helps us keep track of requests.
  9. Fun fact: I get mistaken for Patrick Seitz at least a few times a year. Twice at Otakon Vegas. And he has been mistaken for me at least once.
  10. There is another thread to post requests in -- it keeps it in one place fo us to refer to. But I see you've posted there, too. The problem is that our mission is all about Asian culture and Asian pop culture, and that's always the main consideration. Now, there's a lot of cross over between actors between video games and anime (and often other genres), so things can get a bit muddy on that point, but without that angle, it can be hard to justify when there are so many folks we could bring that would have relevance. I dont' think any of their main cast has done a lot of anime dubbing. Hard to find relevance. A good example of someone you'd know from another thing, but who IS relevant, is Dante Basco, who is best known as Rufio from Hook, but also as Prince Zuko from Avatar. Avatar borrows heavily from anime tropes and the entire thing is informed by martial arts and cultural cues that depend on real-world Asian cultures. And Dante himself has been a bit of an activist on Asian visibilty for years. So he was relevant. George Takei, in addition to being everyone's favorite Excelsior captain and the internet's fun uncle, has a hell of a lot to say regarding his time in the Japanese internment camps -- which is what we'd have brought him in specifically to talk about.
  11. Again, relevance to Asian culture, or Asian pop culture, is critical. We aren't a generic autograph convention.
  12. Yeah, the problem is that they cost as much or more than guests with significant relevance to our core mission -- and relevant to Asian culture and Asian pop culture in particular is by far the most important criterion.
  13. You ain't seen the half of it yet.
  14. A word of caution: old strategies may simply not apply once we're in DC. There will be some definite changes to how autographs run this year, but we're still working out the details. One major issue in Baltimore was the space we had to use for both the autographs and, more importantly, the lines for them. We have *significantly* more space in the WEWCC, and that will change how restrictive we have to be on lining. It will also allow guests who wish to sign longer to do so without displacing others. What it will not do is make it possible for all 30,000 people to all get all the autographs they want. Guests will still be limited by their schedules, if nothing else, and some guests could sign for days and never satisfy the demand. As many guests have begun to charge for autographs, we have tried to ensure that there are still free options for members. But there will never be a guarantee that you'll get the autograph you want, and you'll still likely have to miss out on other things to get certain autographs. That may mean for certain guests that people will line up the moment the doors open for guests with a scheduled 4pm signing. The difference now is that they won't be in the way if they want to do that.
  15. First, choosing guests is definitely an art, not a science. But the basics for most of the last decade, when I've been involved either directly as head of GR, as Chair/ViceChair, or just as a sounding board, boil down to the following: Try to bring a mix of new guests and familiar faces; avoid too many repeats. Why? Because if you don't mix things up, the event suffers from stagnation. But you want SOME folks who've been before and know how to navigate and what to expect, because that helps manage expectations and keeps your guests at ease. Otakon famously has *one* almost-always-there guest, and that's Masao Maruyama -- he's nearly always got something new and relevant to promote and he's been extremely generous in helping us connect with other guests in Japan. (If you're going to repeat a guest, make it count.) Industry knows we try to avoid this, and work with us to keep fresh blood flowing. Try to have something for everyone. Don't build your guest list around a single show (or genre). For a big con, your guest list has to have something to appeal to a bunch of different audiences. We do much the same when selecting a mix of fan-provided panels. That doesn't preclude having, say, a bunch of Sailor Moon guests for an anniversary year, but it means that we don't put all our eggs in one basket. Don't rely on just one person's tastes. When the call was ultimately mine to make, I always listened to what you guys wanted, but balanced that against what other members of the team had to say about particular guests. And especially for musical guests, I relied on people who followed it much more closely than I do to filter my list of contenders, and then I'd pick from them. There are really only two acts I'll credit myself with chasing down and getting based on personal tastes: Yoshida Brothers, and Yoko Kanno. There are plenty of others that I have become a fan of, or enthusiastically supported, but I've never followed the scene super-closely. But I like a broad range of music myself, and I have a decent ear for it (I play several instruments and used to do musicals in school), so I trust myself to select among good options. And it probably won't surprise you to hear that some of our past guests have recommended acts to us as well. Work with industry to promote new shows, but don't let them dominate or control everything. Otakon has always worked closely with our industry friends on special promotions, but we also bring in relevant guests without their help. They sometimes bring in guests on their own, too, but most often we work out agreements so that guests Otakon pays for are not there purely to promote a specific title. We're happy to help with what they're doing so far as it helps us fulfill our mission and brings good value to our members. Luckily, they understand that and thus we work well together. Represent many facets of the entertainment world. Guests should represent a broad range of perspectives on what they do. My rule of thumb was always to try to get a director, a producer, an artist, and a seiyu, at minimum, on the Japanese side, and a mix of old school and new talent on the US side. Try new stuff when you have the chance. One year we had a space theme. Among other guests originally planned (a Space Brothers event fell through due to scheduling in Japan, among other things), we brought in a scientist from Hubble to talk about space and how our actual efforts have shaped and been shaped by pop culture. I got a lot of hate for bringing him "instead of REAL Japanese guests"; he was a high value, low cost guest who I knew would bring the goods because I'd seen his panel at a local sci-fi con. Guess which guest got amazing feedback, packed his rooms, and had a blast doing his thing? Remember the mission. Otakon exists to celebrate Asian culture and to use Asian pop culture in particular as a gateway to broader cultural exchange and learning. We are NOT here just to provide autograph opportunities or sell your eyeballs to big companies. (That's for other shows.) In recent years we've been beefing up our academic/cultural content and you guys have been great about responding well to it. Anything we spend money on should have a direct connection to our mission. That means our invited guests are *always* involved in creating/producing the pop culture we love, or have some direct cultural or academic angle that is relevant. We don't just invite people because they're famous or have a lot of hits on Twitter or Youtube. But folks like George Takei, or Dante Basco, are relevant because "Uncle George" has a unique perspective on the Japanese-American experience to share, and Dante was a major cast member in a show that was heavily influenced by Asian culture and art and philosophy. (Several shows, actually, but Avatar's why I brought him.) We generally don't do "fan guests" or "cosplay guests". The GR team generally brings what most cons call "guests of honor". Our "featured presenters/panelists" (and even our broader panelist list) is filled with people who might be "fan guests" at other events, and we try to give them visibility and promotion. Mike Toole and Charles Dunbar are among our perennial suppliers of quality content, for example, but Yaya Han doesn't really do panels, so we've never listed her as a guest. She is too busy in the dealers room signing and selling, and that's just fine. Being famous for being a fan isn't something we've really put too much stock in. If you're a guest, you're expected to do much more than sign autographs; you must bring content and interact with the members in a way that is about more than just your fame, but about something you're teaching or insight you're providing. My view is that we CANNOT become just another comic-con-style autograph show, or why do we even exist?