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Voice Actors After Dark - A giant mess as usual

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Its astonisjing that every year the same feedback is given, and every year the room gets smaller and the shitshow gets bigger.

Im not sure how this happens every year, but Otakon is nothing if not consistent.

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Thats exactly why I'm here in my hotel room, phone hooked up to the TV, I added it to my guidebook, then remembered last year.  Hopefully this will all be better with how much bigger things are in DC. 

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Its somehow worse. Its actually fascinating how they degrade every year as if their was no recollection or feedback of the issues at hand.

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Was your main beef that the room was too small for the crowd, or was the content the issue?

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Not OP but I think the room size and pre-line shenanigans are probably what they were referring to. From 7PM until 9PM the area outside was a disaster; with one lone staff member to control the huge crowd that showed up early because last year was such a problem. At one point the elevators, emergency exits and escalators were all blocked by people waiting around.

Then around 9PM there was complete chaos as the area was "cleared" (it wasn't cleared, really) and everyone scrambled to get up against the wall into the "line". A bunch more staff showed up to "help," but they didn't seem to have a plan and by that point none of the con-goers were feeling cooperative. It did eventually work out, but it was needlessly stressful and dangerous. This is a big event every year; telling people they couldn't line up until an hour before and then letting the mob rush into place was not an efficient way of managing it.

The content of the panel was mostly great though! There was a dicey moment where the mod got a little angry at a con-goer, and I thought that generally they could have done a better job of deflecting awkward/inappropriate questions so the guests wouldn't have to struggle to answer them but... I had a lot of fun once I was inside.

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This disaster is an Otakon tradition(a bad one) now, and has been for the last few years, every con feedback people say theres problems but it's pretty clear they do not really care.

"Embrace the suck"

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It was an insane line, to be sure. And I know people voice these concerns every year, and it seems like nobody sitting at the round table is listening. But I think that just the change of location next year, to a place so drastically bigger, will automatically alleviate a lot of these issues. I do the the staff stationed at an increasingly out of control line should immediately get back up to the area to aid in keeping order and structure, though. I understand that some panels end up being more popular than expected and the room space clearly becomes inadequate, and maybe there could have been a way to move to a larger room, but I can't speak on that at all, clearly, because I can't say what the options are in those situations. Obviously from year to year there should be at least one person at each panel who'd have the unfortunate job of attempting to take a head count for attendees trying to see a panel, and once the space filled up, for future reference, there'd be a better idea for next year's planning of how many tried to get in, and how much bigger a room would be needed going forward. 

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I wasn't even in line for the Voice Actor's After Dark and even I saw what a giant mess the line and how unorganization it was. I was staying at the Hilton and on my way back from getting dinner at Jimmy Johns when I was trying to walk back to the skyway (because honestly, I got the hotel so I wouldn't have to go outside in that heat) and no matter what I did I could not get on the stairs or even exit the door to go outside and people were yelling at me that I shouldn't be allowed to cross to get back to the hotel. There was just like a swam of people not in line and just seemed to be standing around wherever they wanted to. I had to go all the way out the Jimmy John's front door and around the building just to get back into hotel.

Other years I have been to the panel and I don't remember it being anywhere near that bad for the lines since the room they used was in the BBC and not the Hilton. I'm not sure why it was at the Hilton this year with a smaller room and I had always seen the line organized with ropes and a ton of staff directing traffic.

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23 hours ago, alabaster said:

Was your main beef that the room was too small for the crowd, or was the content the issue?

Alabaster!  We missed you this year....

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21 hours ago, Offworlder1 said:

This disaster is an Otakon tradition(a bad one) now, and has been for the last few years, every con feedback people say theres problems but it's pretty clear they do not really care.

"Embrace the suck"

That's simply not true and not fair. We do care, but that doesn't mean we can fix the most pressing issues instantly. The biggest issue for this panel has always been that it fills whatever space we use for it.

a panel is not "a disaster" because more people want to see it than can actually see it; that's actually a mark of success. Now, if you mean the lining and filling of the space was the problem, that's something we will definitely work on.

But most problems stem from this becoming a popular event that has graduated to being effectively a main events sort of thing, but hopefully the new space next year will eliminate most of these frustrations.

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13 hours ago, Waltz said:

Obviously from year to year there should be at least one person at each panel who'd have the unfortunate job of attempting to take a head count for attendees trying to see a panel, and once the space filled up, for future reference, there'd be a better idea for next year's planning of how many tried to get in, and how much bigger a room would be needed going forward. 

The room capacity is already known, so they'd just need to count the people who didn't get in. Use a hand tally counter for those remaining people, maybe?

 

On 8/14/2016 at 3:08 PM, zambixi said:

There was a dicey moment where the mod got a little angry at a con-goer, and I thought that generally they could have done a better job of deflecting awkward/inappropriate questions so the guests wouldn't have to struggle to answer them but... I had a lot of fun once I was inside.

Last year they screened questions before they were asked. Was that not done this year?

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12 hours ago, alabaster said:

The biggest issue for this panel has always been that it fills whatever space we use for it.

[... snip ...]

But most problems stem from this becoming a popular event that has graduated to being effectively a main events sort of thing, but hopefully the new space next year will eliminate most of these frustrations.

 

Can you speak to how the new space will eliminate these frustrations? Is it that you think there is more space to have better line management (e.g. dedicated "line-up rooms" like I see at other cons), that there is more space for headliner events, a combination of those, or something else? I want to believe that DC is going to be a magic bullet for line woes, but I have my reservations. My main issue with VAAD (and a few other panels) isn't that it gets full, it's that it's managed poorly. Both this year and last year, following the directions of the staff would have resulted in me missing out on the panel. Different staff gave different directions regarding what was going on while others stood around, seemingly doing nothing. It was just a mess, and it's hard for me to imagine what size room and line-up area you would need to prevent that from happening, when it has been consistently bad across multiple locations for the panel.

That all being said, I really do appreciate that you - and other members of the Otakon team - take the time to come to the forums to address our concerns. I'm frustrated with this event, but I can appreciate that it's not a simple thing to address and there are likely a lot of factors at play in any given con event that are beyond my knowledge. I know ya'll aren't paid, and that you work hard to resolve the issues that you have the means to correct (e.g. the Thursday pre-reg line).

 

11 hours ago, otoxo said:

Last year they screened questions before they were asked. Was that not done this year?

I don't think so. I couldn't really see, and don't have an entirely clear recollection of last year so I can't say what was different in the way questions were screened. I remember that if someone asked a bad question they'd do a round of Never Have I Ever, and while they threatened that again this year it didn't come to fruition.

Overall, the moderator did a great job. He did a fantastic job entertaining everyone and warming up the crowd while we were waiting for the VA's to make the pilgrimage over to the Hilton (I think they said they were in the Hyatt just before), and generally helped move the panel along when the energy dropped a little. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and guess that he read the panelists and thought they wanted to run the panel with less interference... but I still wish we could have had skirted some of the weird questions in favor of more interesting stories and less repetition.

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17 hours ago, otoxo said:

Last year they screened questions before they were asked. Was that not done this year?

Are we referring to Voice Actors After Dark from 2015?  Usually the guests that do make it out to the panel sets the tone/they way they do things, so it's not quite the same on a yearly basis, or between similar panels at other cons.  If I recall correctly, the guests that attended VAAD at Otakon 2015 were J.  Michael Tatum (and his boyfriend-who wasn't a guest) and Kaiji Tang.  I recall the questions were decided by the coinflip method... if you were right you got to ask the question and if you were wrong the voice actor got to ask the question.  I also recall Cards against Humanity being used as basis for some of the questions if I recall.  I also do remember the large corrals/holding areas/crowds and me personally having to have skipped the Masquerade in 2015 to just to be able to get IN Panel 2-Ballroom 2 for VAAD.

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I've been going to this panel since in began a couple of years ago, it's my top panel that I want to see every year. This year was the first time I've ever almost missed it. Usually, the panel is in a nice huge room in the BCC where they can use cameras to get the actors on the screens for people in the back. I'm not sure why this year it was moved a room that didn't fit many people as it is always popular with a huge line. My personal experience was that I went to go wait outside the panel room around 6:30 and everyone that was there was told we couldn't stay there as they were going to clear the whole area at 9. My friend and I then went to artist alley to kill a little bit of time and came back and waited on the skywalk for a little while to be told to move again because it was a fire hazard even though we didn't stick out more than the big planters they have. I respect fire codes and the staff again and moved to the bigger waiting area that the staff directed people to. It seemed that almost no one else moved either time. I watched through the windows between 8:30 and 9:00pm as the whole area near the panel was NEVER cleared. A staff person came by and told us to get in line as one had formed in front of the panel, down the skywalk and to the larger waiting area where we were. After scrambling into the already giant line, I asked a staff person about the area being cleared and he assured me that it was cause he was there, it was 9:06. The second person I spoke with, I gave the details of us listening to staff and moving every time and making it feel like we were being punished by listening to the staff and being way in the back of the line. He explained that there was another line for another popular panel and they were trying to get everyone into that panel when people started the VAAD line and they didn't have good control. He assured me I would get in as the line was single file and it fit about 600 people. When we got closer to the panel doors, the line was cut maybe 20 or so people behind myself and three friends. We ended up being in the second to last row on the far side.

Now I also went to the Meet the Heros of One Punch Man panel on Saturday and almost the exact same thing happened. I was one of the 10-15 people who started the line and we were told by a staff person we could go into the room as it was already clear. After about five minutes a girl comes down and tells us the staff were going to make us move. As we left some people spoke up about the staff person letting us down into the panel room but apparently they weren't in charge of the panel so they shouldn't have told us to do that. When I got back up to the line, there was about 30 people ahead of me. I didn't care if I was close or not but it was extremely frustrating to be told two different things. Also, this panel was in Hall D and had a TON of seating so I assume that the con was expecting more than the maybe 200 people that showed up.

A few things I would like to suggest for the VAAD panel is that people are allowed to line up more than an hour ahead of the panel. There are hundreds, if not a thousand or more, wanting to go to this panel. Having all of them line up only an hour before is ridiculous. There were no problems when there were barricaded areas that people could wait in for the panel. My other suggestion is that the panel be screened in a second room that can be the "overflow" of people who didn't get into the main room but still have a microphone or something so they can ask questions as well.

I'm looking forward to next years con and I hope the few things that create bumps can get smoothed out before next year. 

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7 hours ago, zambixi said:

 

Can you speak to how the new space will eliminate these frustrations? Is it that you think there is more space to have better line management (e.g. dedicated "line-up rooms" like I see at other cons), that there is more space for headliner events, a combination of those, or something else? I want to believe that DC is going to be a magic bullet for line woes, but I have my reservations. My main issue with VAAD (and a few other panels) isn't that it gets full, it's that it's managed poorly. Both this year and last year, following the directions of the staff would have resulted in me missing out on the panel. Different staff gave different directions regarding what was going on while others stood around, seemingly doing nothing. It was just a mess, and it's hard for me to imagine what size room and line-up area you would need to prevent that from happening, when it has been consistently bad across multiple locations for the panel.

The short answer is that it's a little bit of both. We will have larger rooms, and therefore we can fit more attendees into a room, but also we will have WAY more space to line people up and organize crowds.

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On August 15, 2016 at 0:51 PM, KyoKyo said:

Alabaster!  We missed you this year....

I was there but not in my usual roles -- having a nice time as guest handler for Michael Sinterniklaas and Stephanie Sheh.

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On 8/16/2016 at 2:41 PM, rpgmaster2378 said:

Are we referring to Voice Actors After Dark from 2015?  Usually the guests that do make it out to the panel sets the tone/they way they do things, so it's not quite the same on a yearly basis, or between similar panels at other cons.  If I recall correctly, the guests that attended VAAD at Otakon 2015 were J.  Michael Tatum (and his boyfriend-who wasn't a guest) and Kaiji Tang.  I recall the questions were decided by the coinflip method... if you were right you got to ask the question and if you were wrong the voice actor got to ask the question.

Yes, I was talking about 2015. By screening questions, I meant that the MC privately asked the attendee what his/her question was before the attendee was given the mic and allowed to ask the question aloud. The screening was done while the actors were talking so as not to interrupt the flow of the panel.

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Okay, OP here. Been traveling and can finally weigh in.

Primarily the line, only a small content issue.

(1) EVERY YEAR this panel fills its space. Giving it a progressively smaller room seems weird. Particularly a room without a good spot to line.

(2) The staff put on this room usually is not staff equipped to handle this mess. We get told lines "cannot form", but in not allowing a line to form youre asking for chaos.

(3) A staffer told us we couldnt line up officially. He recommended the hall nearby. We then got screamed at for being a fire hazard by a different staff and relocated to another hall. The promised "hall clear" for those avoiding the issues was a mess. Most just booked it to where those of us who followed the rules were waiting and got in front of us. As per usual, those who were there early and orderly lost a lot of ground to those who either arrived late and shuffled in during the chaos, or those who blatantly ignored the staff since...why not?

CONTENT ISSUES
(1) Jays MCing was great this year I think.

(2) This is just my PERSONAL OPINION and not objective problems like above. I dislike using Cards Against Humanity as a crutch. Many of us whove played hundreds of hours of it come to the panel for fresh content, not rehashed jokes weve seen before. Also, again this is personal and most will disagree with this one, I think any more than 4 guests is a bit chaotic for this type of panel. Id rather 2-4 of the higher profile VAs each doing more questions or longer answers than trying to squeeze out a response from everyone on a 10 guest panel.

Hope that helps clarify. Mainly issue just comes from not allowing an organized line to form. Let us line up and be orderly and minimize the chaos. The yearly dash is annoying.

That said...the way Beyond the Tentacle was handled was PHENOMENAL. The line was organized, orderly, friendly, controlled. I wasnt harassed leaving my spot I was in for three hours to piss as I came back (the people next to me who arent part of my group vouching for me helped Im sure) and the person organizing the line had a great personality and booming voice to help control us all while also seeming fun and approachable.

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Glad you liked Jay's MC-ing.

Guests for this particular panel typically do this in addition to their contractual obligations -- some guests aren't comfortable with that sort of banter, other simply aren't interested.  A few guests who work a lot with kids shows avoid it because having a clip of yourself being naughty can hurt their chances of getting hired by Disney or Nickelodeon. And some just don't have the time.

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