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bishop083

Otakon 2007 feedback/constructive criticism

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Before I get started, I've got 2 quick apologies. First, I apologize for how long this is going to be. I've got a lot to say, and I've been working on this for a bit. Second, I apologize for how negative this is going to sound. I'm going to try and make this as constructive as possible, but its still the list of my complaints. There will be several praises throughout the post, but I believe that I'm going to sound like I have more complaints than praises. That's bound to happen, since there is usually less to say about good things than bad, but I still want you to remember, I loved this year's Otakon. It was a blast, I had a lot of fun, and I do not regret attending. Also, I'm letting you all know right now that I will make reference to the Uber-Hall, and that the Uber-Hall is just my name for the area created when Video Room 1 and the Main Event Hall were combined. Now, on to the constructive criticism!!!

:::::

Before I get to the criticism, let me give you a hearty thank you and congratulations on one of the most amazing decisions that either I or any of my friends have seen. Several of my friends have been attending Otakon for many years now (including at least one that has attended for the past 9), and we all agree that Otakon 2007's floor plan had by far the best layout. Placing the entrance to the dealer's room near the autographs so it doesn't block normal traffic flow was amazing. The fact that this allowed you to rearrange the Video Game room, the Main Event Hall, and Video Room 1 so they didn't block traffic was great, and it was awesome to see what it allowed you to do for big events like the concerts and the AMV Contest. It was also awesome to see that none or the rooms had that crazy massive scaffolding to block video like you did last year in Video Room 1.

Speaking of the AMV Contest, several of my complaints happened to make themselves obvious during it. Keep in mind that they aren't exclusive to the contest, but its easier to talk about these all at once. I'm going to start off by explaining something I learned about sound and the human ear during a physics lecture. Have you ever wondered what the real reason was that rock concerts have the music blaring so loud? When sounds are made at high decibels, the human ear has trouble discerning changes in a sound's frequency, like when moving between notes. That means that, by "turning it up to 11," a rock band could theoretically never hit the right note, and you wouldn't know. Considering that the Uber-Hall played host to the concerts this year, I am not surprised that the speakers were turned to 11. The thing is, anybody who was in either room for something other than the concerts wants to hear what they are watching and have it sound right. In other words, why on God's green Earth did you keep those speakers don't up do bloody loud?!?! We actually wanted to hear the music the way it was supposed to sound during the contest!!!! This one here has got to be the easiest complaint to address. Except for during concerts, please turn down the sound a little bit? Not by much, but just enough so the speakers don't distort the sounds and make it painful to sit under the speakers.

My Next AMV related complaint is for the projectors. Bear in mind that while I also noticed this problem in Video Room 2 and several of the panels, it may have also been elsewhere without my knowledge. During the AMV contest, I swore that I noticed something was off with several screens, but I was sitting on the right side, and the two screens to the right were fine, so I let it go; however, this problem really became obvious when I came back to Video Room 1 on Saturday to catch the second screening of Witchblade. (BTW, the fact that you guys screened Witchblade twice just because it was that popular was quite possibly the greatest on-the-fly change I have ever been able to witness at Otakon, ever.) I was initially sitting on the left side of the center row at the time, and I noticed that something was off again, but I couldn't say what. Well, not until I looked over at the screen on the right. The left and center screens were washing out the colors during scenes that weren't dimly lit, while the right screen looked perfect. At this point, I scooped up my stuff and bolted for the right side to watch it there, because I'm a bit of a stickler about this one. I'm not going to claim to be an expert at projectors, but I have been using projectors to screen anime roughly twice a week, every week, for the past two and a half years. Actually, there are about 10 weeks a year where I don't, but that's because I'm the projectionist for a college anime club, and there are about 10 weeks a year where we don't have screenings. Still, if you do the math, that equates to over 200 opportunities to play around with different projectors, in various lighting conditions, and with various anime. Thus I know I've got some ground to stand on when I say that many of the BCC projectors were set wrong. The biggest problem would have to have been the brightness setting, but I'd have to have time to "play around" with the menus on the projectors before I could say exactly what settings would have worked the best. My suggestion is to play around with those projectors next time while using an anime that has a lot of brightly lit whites. Now, I would love to personally help with this one if given the opportunity, but I don't want to miss out on the con. The only way I know of to work on this would be to become a gofer or staffer, and then I'd miss out on all the awesome stuff I want to check out at Otakon. Now, if Otakorp were to ask me to help, I'd do it. Hell, they wouldn't even need to pay me. I could deal with the entire thing on Thursday after I pick up my pre-reg, and I could even provide several anime of my own to do the calibration if they preferred. They don't even need to reimburse me for my badge or give me a sneak-peak at anything. Well, except for the floor-plan, but I'd moving around the con before the rest of the con-goers, so that's inevitable. In fact, it should only take about 5 minutes or so per projector, after I get used to the menus for the projectors, and especially if I get to use an anime I've already seen for calibration.

Speaking of videos, this brings me to a complaint I had about last year's subbed anime screenings. You need to make the bottom of each anime's viewing window higher up. When I say viewing window, I'm talking about the bottom of the part that contained the actual anime, wich is different for wide-screen versus full-screen anime. Even if this means you have to make the picture a bit smaller, it would still be totally worth it.

The next complaint is actually gonna be as short as the intro, because its about the panels. This year, the "panel situation" was insane. All the panels that I attended were awesome, but the problem was the attending them part. Sometimes, the panels were impossible to locate. This was mostly because there was no one place that had the correct information. One decision you have made actually makes this easier to deal with. Since you have given yourselves an extra 2.5 weeks, take advantage of them. I'll leave it up to you guys at Otakorp to figure out how to do that, since your the planners and all. There is one other thing about the panels. Please stop putting industry panels in panel rooms like panel room 2. This year's panel room 2 was too small. I missed several important pieces of information related to things that both Geneon and Funimation are doing, and both were because the rooms filled up way too quickly.

Ya know, this reminds me of something. I never made it to the video game room, so I'm gonna base this suggestion off of stuff I heard. Apparently, there were a number of people playing Gears of War by themselves down in the game room on those massive plasma screens you had there, and you also had quite a few of them. My friends and I have thought this one out, and we feel that, for the good of Otakon, the location of those plasmas should change next year. Most people are going to miss changes posted on white poster boards. But if you found a way to connect all of those plasmas to a centralized system, and placed them at several strategic points throughout the con, then you would gain 2 benefits. First and foremost, you could easily post last minute changes to the schedule on the fly, and people would be guaranteed to notice. I mean, what kind of Otakon attendee won't stop to check a giant plasma screen!!?? On top of that, it would also give you an impromptu loud-speaker system that could be used for the sole purpose of finding lost kids. I know that it could be used for other purposes, but the only real reasons that BCC needs some kind of loud-speaker system is for reuniting lost kids with their parents and for emergency purposes. Now, I don't know what kind of method you would want to use to connect them all together, nor what kind of system you would want to use to have the screens act as schedule change notification boards, but this could be a really useful idea.

This year, there were much less line issues compared to last year. The only problem I noticed came during the DMC screening. That screening was apparently more popular than the staffers expected. Thus, there wasn't an official line set up to enter the room. This caused confusion, and I almost didn't get in. Beyond that, I didn't really notice any line issues. In fact, last year's biggest line problem was completely gone. I'm not sure why exactly, but the AMV Contest line moved flawlessly. There were no issues finding the back of the line. And the most important thing is that it didn't block traffic. This is in part due to the floor plan change, but there may also have been other reasons. There weren't 2 lines into the contest, were they? Because that would explain how the Sharp Street lobby didn't seem to have enough people in it to actually fill up the contest as much as it was. But regardless, the line into the contest was amazing. It was as awesome as the "line" to pick up pre-reg at 7:30 PM.

I can't believe I almost forgot this one: THANK YOU FOR THE NEW GUIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry, its just that the new guide made me that happy. It was almost as good as the Otakon '05 guide. I do think it was odd/annoying that several of the things on the schedule in the guide didn't have a description anywhere to be found in said guide, but the guide fit into my pocket!!!!!! Also, the map in the back was awesome! If Otakorp pays the person that designed this year's guide, then they should give that man or woman a bonus! And I'm not even joking about that. Even with all the schedule changes, the guide was still rediculously useful.

Two things left. According to the schedule, there was a shiatsu massage workshop on Friday. I would like to propose that no one at Otakon ever REALLY needs a massage until Saturday. Having said that, I would like to know if the Shiatsu Massage workshop was a place to learn about Shiatsu Massage, or a place to receive a Shaitsu Massage, or both. Because I've got to tell you, I could have really, really, really, REALLY used a massage on Saturday. I would have skipped anything if I could have gotten a massage, even if the workshop charged people for the massages.

And finally, the anime selection. Friday's anime selection was, well, I didn't watch much on Friday. Granted, I did do a butt-ton of shopping, and I didn't know I was capable of attending that many panels, but still. Saturday, on the other hand, was AMAZING! I loved the anime selection on saturday. And the fact that Witchblade ran not once, but twice, was the second coolest thing that happened to me at Otakon. Mike Sinterniklaas's 2 panels were the coolest.

:::::

So that covers everything. I hope that someone in Otakorp takes the time to read this. I also hope they take it seriously. I again apologize for the length of this post. For several of my complaints, I felt the need to put them in context so what I said made sense. And for that one monstrosity of a paragraph, I also was protecting myself. I know that sometimes, people make complaints when they don't know what they are talking about. By giving that small amount of history to explain why I felt at least qualified enough to say that something was awry, I'm hoping to create a bit of a defensive arsenal to protect this massive post from some attacks. Also, in case anyone was actually counting, I only really had 5 real complaints and maybe 1 or 2 minor issues, maybe. It just looks like more because one of my complaints turned into a small novel.

And once again, I apologize for how freaking long the post is. I really hope that I was at least a little bit helpful. I also hope that you can now see why I didn't go to the Con Feedback panel.

PS: I just read a post somewhere that mentioned the weather, and I agree with them. Does anybody else think that this is the best weather Otakon has had in quite some time?

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Two things left. According to the schedule, there was a shiatsu massage workshop on Friday. I would like to propose that no one at Otakon ever REALLY needs a massage until Saturday. Having said that, I would like to know if the Shiatsu Massage workshop was a place to learn about Shiatsu Massage, or a place to receive a Shaitsu Massage, or both. Because I've got to tell you, I could have really, really, really, REALLY used a massage on Saturday. I would have skipped anything if I could have gotten a massage, even if the workshop charged people for the massages.

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Neither my friends nor I even noticed that it was on the schedule until friday night. But we could have learned how to do some basics to each other? Bloody hell, that would have been awesome. Gonna have to keep an eye out for that workshop next year.

...And yeah, it was a long one. Thanks for taking the time to read it, and a round of applause for surviving it. =D> =D> =D> =D> =D>

Also a dancing smiley face, but only cause I kinda want to post it, anyway: :P/

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Since you have given yourselves an extra 2.5 weeks, take advantage of them. I'll leave it up to you guys at Otakorp to figure out how to do that, since your the planners and all. There is one other thing about the panels. Please stop putting industry panels in panel rooms like panel room 2. This year's panel room 2 was too small. I missed several important pieces of information related to things that both Geneon and Funimation are doing, and both were because the rooms filled up way too quickly.

Actually, if I stick on as panels dept head, I'll have an extra several months, heh. :P Expect a lot of this year's problems with scheduling to disappear, when I have more than two weeks to fit everything in.

As for your concern regarding industry panels: our Industry liaison scheduled them there, and I've passed your concern along to him. While I agree that some of the larger industry players (Geneon, Funimation, Tokyopop) have a much larger draw than panel 2 can comfortably hold, keep in mind that there are smaller industry members who are perfectly suited for panel 2. ^_^

Thanks for the feedback.

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That is a completely fair statement, and I was really just talking about the big industry panels, anyway. And I thank you for taking the time to read even some of that.

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This year we had, for Panels:

1 room holding about 200 people, mostly used for fan panels

2 rooms holding about 500-600 people

1 room holding 750 or so people

and for Seki and the Dub Cavalcade, we used a room holding 2500 people.

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Well, panel 2 had to be the 200 people room, because there is no way 500 people were sitting in there. But anyway, thanks for the info.

Panel 1 seats about 200. I think Panel 2 and Panel 3 seat close to the same (pretty sure Panel 3 is 580 and panel 2 is a bit less) but I'd have to consult my charts.

Unfortunately the orientation of the one room (that we used for Opening Ceremonies) meant a lot of folks crowded into one end of the room.

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My numbers said as follows, your mileage may vary:

Panel 1 sat approximately 200 people.

Panel 2 sat approximately 500 people.

Panel 3 sat approximately 750 people.

Panel 4 sat approximately 750 people, only in a slightly different configuration than Panel 3.

Combined Main Events sat approximately 2500 people.

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Well, panel 2 had to be the 200 people room, because there is no way 500 people were sitting in there. But anyway, thanks for the info.

Panel 1 seats about 200. I think Panel 2 and Panel 3 seat close to the same (pretty sure Panel 3 is 580 and panel 2 is a bit less) but I'd have to consult my charts.

Unfortunately the orientation of the one room (that we used for Opening Ceremonies) meant a lot of folks crowded into one end of the room.

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with having 2 panels in those two rooms (panels 2 & 3), i can honestly believe that the seating in panel 2 was considerably less than panel 3.

i did some seat counting. believe it or not, but i actually counted for seats alone in panel 3 to be 580 approx. if we add standing room for that it would def balloon up to the 7 hundreds. there were three sections of seats. 2 sections (the sides) sat 140 (7 seats in a row; 20 rows total) and a middle section of 300 (15 seats in a row; 20 rows total).

panel 2 basically had the same layout (if not close), but considerably less amount of rows.

honestly, looking at those numbers and comparing the size of the rooms in general, i dont think panel 2 would seat anywhere close to panel 3, unless we squeeze people into the room like trying to fit 20 people into a telephone booth lol.

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Heya Bishop(enter numbers here),

I'll skip sections that others have responded to... cuz well, I don't plan to be at the computer for very long! :)

For re-arranging our exhibition hall layouts - Walt our Tech-Ops person poured heart, soul, and many bodies worth of sacrificed blood into the redesign. Additionally, you can thank ZZ Top for taking the Arena away from us. We made the best of what was a pretty bad situation.

We will work with DSL to turn down the volume during non-concert events. There might not be much we can do in terms of sound treatment directly below a speaker stack... If you noticed, there were plenty of sound treatments along the walls and hanging from the ceiling. Balancing out treatment and still getting good sound to the wee backs of the hall is a trick best left to the pros. As a note, our staff do not touch equipment. Gofers that touch equipment lose whole limbs. :)

I believe DSL was using Casino Royal to calibrate the projectors. We'll see about getting them some anime for 2008. Again, note the above about staff not touching the equipment. If ya wanna help, I can get you DSL's contact info and relay any position openings they may have.

We've done our best to look into raising the projection screens for subtitles. Moving most of our main events to the Arena will free up an exhibition hall for videos again (or other events, GOSH we have a lot going on). Those would be prime locations for subs, but its gotta fight some heavy popularity contests with other major draw films. The other "good" location for sub materials would be the ballroom level video room (vid 6)... but again, its gotta fight other popular titles for screen time.

Ahhh plasma displays wired to a central computer feeding you updates. It is always something that gets brought up during tech meetings, but gets axed in favor of other tech needs around the BCC (sound treatment, flipping rooms to accomodate main events... etc etc). One of these days, we'll have enough money to do everything that we want. :)

I'll make sure to double our publications' staff salaries (zero times two... yup, still zero). I'll also be placing orders of bullwhips for program book and pocket guide content wranglers. Physical threats seem to work best when dealing with department heads. Oh, you think I'm joking Mr. Workshops DH?

The weather was Perfect (from what i was told anyways). I got there tuesday with my AC going full blast, dreading setting up in all the heat. Thursday's mini sprinklers came in, cooled everything down and kept the heat at bay. For a few hours, it seemed that it was gonna be thunderstorm and rain the whole weekend! But it cleared up, and as the song goes, It was a bright and sun shiney day!

Glad you had fun! Thanks for the comments. :)

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Heya Bishop(enter numbers here),

I'll skip sections that others have responded to... cuz well, I don't plan to be at the computer for very long! :P

For re-arranging our exhibition hall layouts - Walt our Tech-Ops person poured heart, soul, and many bodies worth of sacrificed blood into the redesign. Additionally, you can thank ZZ Top for taking the Arena away from us. We made the best of what was a pretty bad situation.

We will work with DSL to turn down the volume during non-concert events. There might not be much we can do in terms of sound treatment directly below a speaker stack... If you noticed, there were plenty of sound treatments along the walls and hanging from the ceiling. Balancing out treatment and still getting good sound to the wee backs of the hall is a trick best left to the pros. As a note, our staff do not touch equipment. Gofers that touch equipment lose whole limbs. :)

I believe DSL was using Casino Royal to calibrate the projectors. We'll see about getting them some anime for 2008. Again, note the above about staff not touching the equipment. If ya wanna help, I can get you DSL's contact info and relay any position openings they may have.

We've done our best to look into raising the projection screens for subtitles. Moving most of our main events to the Arena will free up an exhibition hall for videos again (or other events, GOSH we have a lot going on). Those would be prime locations for subs, but its gotta fight some heavy popularity contests with other major draw films. The other "good" location for sub materials would be the ballroom level video room (vid 6)... but again, its gotta fight other popular titles for screen time.

Ahhh plasma displays wired to a central computer feeding you updates. It is always something that gets brought up during tech meetings, but gets axed in favor of other tech needs around the BCC (sound treatment, flipping rooms to accomodate main events... etc etc). One of these days, we'll have enough money to do everything that we want. :)

I'll make sure to double our publications' staff salaries (zero times two... yup, still zero). I'll also be placing orders of bullwhips for program book and pocket guide content wranglers. Physical threats seem to work best when dealing with department heads. Oh, you think I'm joking Mr. Workshops DH?

The weather was Perfect (from what i was told anyways). I got there tuesday with my AC going full blast, dreading setting up in all the heat. Thursday's mini sprinklers came in, cooled everything down and kept the heat at bay. For a few hours, it seemed that it was gonna be thunderstorm and rain the whole weekend! But it cleared up, and as the song goes, It was a bright and sun shiney day!

Glad you had fun! Thanks for the comments. :)

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The fact that this allowed you to rearrange the Video Game room' date=' the Main Event Hall, and Video Room 1 so they didn't block traffic was great, and it was awesome to see what it allowed you to do for big events like the concerts and the AMV Contest. It was also awesome to see that none or the rooms had that crazy massive scaffolding to block video like you did last year in Video Room 1.[/quote']

Awesome... Our Tech Ops Head kicked serious @$$ getting the setup we did in Main/Video 1, and I for one loved it.

Speaking of the AMV Contest, several of my complaints happened to make themselves obvious during it. Keep in mind that they aren't exclusive to the contest, but its easier to talk about these all at once. I'm going to start off by explaining something I learned about sound and the human ear during a physics lecture. Have you ever wondered what the real reason was that rock concerts have the music blaring so loud? When sounds are made at high decibels, the human ear has trouble discerning changes in a sound's frequency, like when moving between notes. That means that, by "turning it up to 11," a rock band could theoretically never hit the right note, and you wouldn't know. Considering that the Uber-Hall played host to the concerts this year, I am not surprised that the speakers were turned to 11. The thing is, anybody who was in either room for something other than the concerts wants to hear what they are watching and have it sound right. In other words, why on God's green Earth did you keep those speakers don't up do bloody loud?!?! We actually wanted to hear the music the way it was supposed to sound during the contest!!!! This one here has got to be the easiest complaint to address. Except for during concerts, please turn down the sound a little bit? Not by much, but just enough so the speakers don't distort the sounds and make it painful to sit under the speakers.

The Friday screening was pretty much controlled by DSL (our contractors). I set levels on the video server where they needed them (which was substantially below the 50% that they usually run), Saturday and Sunday I set myself.

For Saturday and Sunday I had actually walked the room while the contest played in order to check the levels and adjusted it as needed. If you were in the back of the room things sounded fine (maybe even a tad low), if you were in the front they were pretty darn loud, on the sides you got more bass, and in front of the speakers you had more treble.

Fact of the matter is your seating location plays a large part in what you hear and HOW you hear it. Seeing as we can not customize the sound level for every single person you have to take the initiative and find a seating location that is conductive to the levels and tone you are looking for. We didn't have spec-ops staff directing people where to sit this year so anyone could have come/gone/moved around as they wanted.

I'm sorry if it seems like I'm telling you to solve your own problem, but realistically you have to be responsible for own comfort. We adjust the audio in a way that suites the room as a whole, it is up to the individual to find their own personal "sweet spot".

My Next AMV related complaint is for the projectors.

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John, you bring up valid points. I actually hadn't thought of that. Kinda makes sense when I think on it, though. Guess I'm going to have to get seats center back next time. I also didn't even consider that glare could have caused that. That's an interesting thing to point out. Also something that you guys already kinda figured out for next year's con (you know, those crazy blue-white drapery things). Actually, that really makes sense, now that I think on it. The only screens that I saw any issues with outside of Video Room 1 were being used in well-lit rooms, and I also know that the only doors being used heavily during the Witchblade screening in Video 1 were the ones on the left side. Also, I could just be more of a nit-pick about these things, but eh.

On an unrealted note, I need to update my sig. Its been wrong for over a week now...

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On the issue of increasing volume to make sure that people sitting in the back can hear, why not just have more speakers in each room? If you put a couple speakers in the rear and the sides, you won't have to crank it up in the front. I realize this will probably increase the amount of money you have to pay to DSL, but you're probably already paying them a small fortune anyway, and they do a great job.

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John, you bring up valid points. I actually hadn't thought of that. Kinda makes sense when I think on it, though. Guess I'm going to have to get seats center back next time. I also didn't even consider that glare could have caused that. That's an interesting thing to point out. Also something that you guys already kinda figured out for next year's con (you know, those crazy blue-white drapery things). Actually, that really makes sense, now that I think on it. The only screens that I saw any issues with outside of Video Room 1 were being used in well-lit rooms, and I also know that the only doors being used heavily during the Witchblade screening in Video 1 were the ones on the left side. Also, I could just be more of a nit-pick about these things, but eh.

On an unrealted note, I need to update my sig. Its been wrong for over a week now...

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I forgot that there was one other thing that should be addressed. After the AMV contest was over, I had serious difficulty locating the voting box at the rear exit. Maybe I missed some signage or something, but I had to wade throught the people exiting the contest in order to find it. Since the last thing that place needed was more signs, my suggestion is to have the ballot boxes on both sides of the exit, rather than the one.

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I forgot that there was one other thing that should be addressed. After the AMV contest was over, I had serious difficulty locating the voting box at the rear exit. Maybe I missed some signage or something, but I had to wade throught the people exiting the contest in order to find it. Since the last thing that place needed was more signs, my suggestion is to have the ballot boxes on both sides of the exit, rather than the one.

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The only real complaint I have is about the closing of the escalators. I don't remember them ever being closed off to the public, but this year the size of the BCC became painfully obvious each time I had to walk to the extreme end of the Charles St. wing just to go up or down a level. The amount of walking I endured this year was at least twice that of previous years. Very tiring...

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That's a good point. Why were both sets of escalators closed off in the middle of the BCC? And while we're at it, does anyone know what happened to the down escalator from the top floor that was near Video room 6 and panel 4? It wasn't a huge problem, but it would be kind of nice to know what happened.

EDIT: Forgot to use a question mark somewhere. Also added that last sentence.

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That's a good point. Why were both sets of escalators closed off in the middle of the BCC? And while we're at it, does anyone know what happened to the down escalator from the top floor that was near Video room 6 and panel 4? It wasn't a huge problem, but it would be kind of nice to know what happened.

EDIT: Forgot to use a question mark somewhere. Also added that last sentence.

I believe they were shut down by the BCC due to safety concerns. The matter will be addressed with them.

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Fair enough. Still kinda sucked, but I'd rather walk a little bit farther than get hurt.

Yup. And as noted elsewhere, unlike what comedians have trained us to believe, an escalator that fails does not merely "become stairs" -- it engages what amounts to an emergency safety mechanism, but it's not meant to hold traffic for longer than it takes to empty the escalator.

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If people knowingly do not receive items from the BCC that we know were submitted to them, I'd suggest we find a charitable organization to donate lost items to rather than "give it" to the BCC for them to keep if possible.

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Guess it could also go in the lost and found thread too/instead. thx bishop.

Also, out of all the cons I've volunteered and been to so far, this is one of the most considerate cons I've volunteered at all years I've been here as an attendee or participant despite its size! :D

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If people knowingly do not receive items from the BCC that we know were submitted to them, I'd suggest we find a charitable organization to donate lost items to rather than "give it" to the BCC for them to keep if possible.

Unfortunately, it is their policies that require us to handover lost items to them. It is quite frustrating when I have to go way over all of public safety's heads to try and find kunsun's PSP.

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