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I hope it's alright with the staff for an attendee like me to start this, but now that the con schedule has been released to the public, I'd thought we all have a thread for this year's autographs in the first year in DC.

I'm sure there are some things in the schedule that are still subject to change, but as of this typing, and looking at the schedule, the sessions are pretty tight with other events, like panels, and other events, as ever.

One thing I want to note is that a few certain guests; specifically Kyle Hebert, Tony Oliver, and Michelle Ruff have all been given just one session for signings, and that's only on that Friday.  Should we assume that the three of them have some sort of limited appearance?

And as far as the autograph policy goes, I'm sure some of it will remain the same, but are there going to be any changes, given the change in location?  Such as the lining up 1 hour prior to the start of the session, and among a few other things?

And with Vic Mignogna being one of the guests this year, I imagine his lines will be incredibly hectic, and insane.

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As I mentioned elsewhere, I hate having the combined sessions as my only option for some guests. If I'm only interested in one of those guests and don't particularly care about the others then I would rather just go to a separate session for that one guest. I thought the new convention center was going to have tons more space so that sort of thing shouldn't be so difficult to accommodate. And not having any autograph sessions for the AWM guests is also pretty disappointing. Guess you're SOL on that front without a VIP ticket for the post-concert gathering, if there's even a chance there.

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SteveUzumaki    10

Since the schedule came out, I decided to peek at it and glance over the autographs and times. I saw a couple things that seemed strange and slightly concerning to me.

The first thing I saw that was strange was the total lack of autographs for the Anisong World Matsuri guests. I'm actually really surprised over this because from what I've heard, AX always had autograph sessions for the AWM guests. I know the current schedule isn't final, but if there really isn't any autograph sessions it seems like the only way to get something signed by the AWM guests was to have gotten VIP tickets and meet them at the backstage gathering. Also someone correct me if I'm wrong but I didn't see Matsubara listed as having any autographs either.

Another thing I noticed was the lack of multiple sessions for various guests. Having saw what that does first hand at this past AnimeNEXT, I can't see that faring very well at Otakon either. I saw some guests did have multiple sessions, but not all. What makes that more concerning is that it's supposedly some of the English dub guests that only have the one session. The demand for them is going to be very high and while I understand that not everyone is going to leave with an autograph, having a second session can ease some of that demand. On top of that, it gives people a second opportunity in case one has a conflicting event or other activity.

In the end though, I'm hoping all goes well regarding autographs this year.

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Matsubara is the main focus of my complaint; I'm assuming he's going to be part of the "In This Corner of the World" autograph session. So it looks like the only way to get something from him is to go to that one session on Saturday, the busiest day of the con, and get it as part of that group of people, when all I want is him. It's slightly better than no autograph session at all, but only slightly.

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kimmibeans    76
16 hours ago, SteveUzumaki said:

Since the schedule came out, I decided to peek at it and glance over the autographs and times. I saw a couple things that seemed strange and slightly concerning to me.

The first thing I saw that was strange was the total lack of autographs for the Anisong World Matsuri guests. I'm actually really surprised over this because from what I've heard, AX always had autograph sessions for the AWM guests. I know the current schedule isn't final, but if there really isn't any autograph sessions it seems like the only way to get something signed by the AWM guests was to have gotten VIP tickets and meet them at the backstage gathering. Also someone correct me if I'm wrong but I didn't see Matsubara listed as having any autographs either.

Another thing I noticed was the lack of multiple sessions for various guests. Having saw what that does first hand at this past AnimeNEXT, I can't see that faring very well at Otakon either. I saw some guests did have multiple sessions, but not all. What makes that more concerning is that it's supposedly some of the English dub guests that only have the one session. The demand for them is going to be very high and while I understand that not everyone is going to leave with an autograph, having a second session can ease some of that demand. On top of that, it gives people a second opportunity in case one has a conflicting event or other activity.

In the end though, I'm hoping all goes well regarding autographs this year.

So the schedule is actually still being revised, and there are still some things that need to be added in (and we still have a few more announcements coming ;) ). Please keep that in mind when viewing it.

As for autograph sessions, we are not so much limited by space as by time. Our guests do have other obligations during Otakon, and also need time to do things like eat. Signings are based on their availability, and they may only be able to do one autograph session. I know sometimes last minute they find time to do another one (I know Vic did this a few years ago), but this is not common. Trying to coordinate all of this is tough and I give so much credit to our guests team for making this happen. 

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Tachibana    13

Now that the guidebook is out, it's become apparent that the Artist Alley, where the Autographs area will be located, doesn't open until 1 PM... But the first autograph sessions are at 1:30. Will there be a seperate line for those who want to go in for autographs that opens earlier, or will we just be a part of the AA line until the Artist Alley opens?

I'll be making a thread in the Q&A section too for maximum visibility.

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Oh for Christ's sake..  Why would they do that?

Edit: Might want to clarify those hours are only on Friday. But still, yeesh... And probably not any better the other days. In fact, after double-checking, there's a session at 10 AM on Sunday, which is also the same time AA opens.

Why? Just... Why?

Edited by Dostovei Illuminas

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Tachibana    13

Sorry for not being clearer, my mistake. It was late, I was tired, my bad.

But yeah, I didn't even notice on Sunday something similar was happening, same on Saturday. That really doesn't seem well planned unless there is a separate line for Autographs from the AA line.... which I rather doubt, as one group could easily "cheat" to try and get in one earlier by being in the other. Unless staff has something to say otherwise? It is a bit odd how autographs are working this year hasn't even been broached, one would think such things would be hammered out by now, yet not a thing has been changed from Baltimore based on the site's "How our Autograph Sessions Work" section... which clearly cannot work with the given setup, at least, not for the first autograph session of each day. 

In fact, even looking at the AA map, it doesn't look like there's... well, enough space for lines in the AA unless they're heavily coiled. It's a nice assumption that people will just be able to walk up, but I don't see that as being very realistic. Especially not with the headlining US guest being Vic, who consistently draws lines that are impossibly long.

I apologize to the staff if I'm coming off as terse, I appreciate all you do. I'm just concerned. There's a guest I very much want to meet and get something signed by this year, but pretty much all of my inquiries regarding autographs this year have yet to be answered, when they really shouldn't be that hard to answer. I understand, entirely volunteer run, all that, so I'm not like... gonna demand anything and if the answer is "play it by ear" I'll just have to do that... but, still...

Edited by Tachibana

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SteveUzumaki    10

I'm also worried as to how autographs are working this year after seeing that autographs are taking place inside Artist Alley.

As Tachibana said before me, space looks like it's going to be a major issue because of how everything is all situated. I saw that there was to be a queue room for everyone to gather in until someone forms an official line but after looking at the map on Guidebook, it shows that the queue room is on another level of the convention center. How exactly is this all going to play out?

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Tachibana    13

... there's a queue room in a separate area of the convention? That sounds like it could end up a bit problematic.

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SteveUzumaki    10
1 hour ago, Tachibana said:

... there's a queue room in a separate area of the convention? That sounds like it could end up a bit problematic.

Yep. According to Guidebook, the Artist Alley/Autograph room is on "WEWCC Lower Level" and the queue room is on "WEWCC Level 1". "Queue Room" is lumped right in between Panel 4 and Panel 5.

And yeah I completely agree that this could turn problematic.

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Yeah this has all the makings of a total CF... How are they going to separate people waiting in the queue room from random people gaggled around the autograph area? Really not looking forward to seeing how this plays out. Autographs are not being organized properly in the new venue at all.

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Ananegg    33

The Queue room on level 1 is for the programming rooms on that level. It has nothing to do with autographs, dealers, or AA.

Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk

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4 hours ago, Ananegg said:

The Queue room on level 1 is for the programming rooms on that level. It has nothing to do with autographs, dealers, or AA.

Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
 

Well that much is good to know, thanks for the clarification. Still wondering how lines for those sessions near the open of AA are going to work though.

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Aresef    43

The AWM autographs have been added. The FLOW and Yousei Teikoku ones are before the alley opens Friday and there's language about a separate line for each.


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Well that's nice, but I wonder if they'll do a separate line for the sessions that are immediately after Hall A opens instead of before it. Otherwise autograph people will be stuck in the Artist Alley line and then will probably be mad rushing over to the autograph area to line up as soon as the hall opens. It's just not a good setup unless there's a separate line. You're asking for a stampede.

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Tachibana    13

Yeah it seems like FLOW and YT signings specifically call for lining up outside of the hall. I can only assume for ones that start at or within an hour of the AA opening will have lines outside too. But I'll verify things at  the information desk tomorrow morning first thing, and if I can get 'net access, get that information here ASAP. Thank goodness for mailed badges!

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Tachibana    13

Right, so, checked with info desk, we should have seperate autograph lines outside the hall from the AA line proper for the signings that start near AA opening. I'll double check with the little desk near the AA too.

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11 minutes ago, Tachibana said:

Right, so, checked with info desk, we should have seperate autograph lines outside the hall from the AA line proper for the signings that start near AA opening. I'll double check with the little desk near the AA too.

Good to know, thanks for the info!

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Tachibana    13

Of course, no prob!

Edited by Tachibana

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Well I'm not seeing a separate line right now... Of course, this doesn't really surprise me. 

Edit: Okay, separated now. Phew.

Edited by Dostovei Illuminas

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The Tsunami    14

Yeah, we started a single auto line to reduce confusion (unofficial and with a second line already for artist alley).

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ogul    13

Sorry I wasn't on here much pre-con guys, I had a lot of stuff to get moved off my plate before I could head off for the con. I hope it turned out well for you though and I'll try and explain some of our choices.

The situation with the Artist Alley opening times was hard to work with either way. If we restricted ourselves to only do signings an hour after it officially opened, then we wouldn't have had enough time for as many signings as we had, and I kind of wish we'd had a few more. It would also have led to the Artist Alley line being full of Autographs people, who would then rush over to our area, which could get messy. I'd love to hear from you guys how you thought that element worked out, but from out perspective it seemed to work pretty well. It's possible we could tweak a few things for next year, but for now the plan is to leave that element mostly the same.

As for the area we had to work with, it seemed to work out for most of the sessions, except for Sunday which had to deal with the water damage taking several of our queuing spaces out of commission. Luckily that was a light day in the first place or we'd have had an even bigger mess on our hands, but I think we managed it. I hope to have lowered stages next year, the ones we had this year just seemed too high to us, and we're considering implementing a queuing system in which there are only two tables, one on each end, with multiple lines leading directly to each guest, individual guests coming and going according to their schedules. It would be very different than what we're used to, and given that the current set-up did seem to work, we might not go that route, but it's worth discussing.

Were there any other considerations after the convention?

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As long as there's a separate line for us and we can get in and get into line without getting caught in the general AA traffic, I think the current setup is fine. That was one of the major things I was worried about going in for the same reasons you cited, so I'm glad you went the route you did. 

Also felt like the stages were too high, so if those can be lowered next year that would be great.

Not sure I understand what you're referring to with how you're considering redoing the line, but honestly I would rather you leave things like they are. The setup worked well and I didn't experience any problems.

Though I will say that you could stand to be a little more flexible with the whole one hour rule; when the autograph line was let in on Sunday morning it was literally 5 minutes before the one hour mark for the session I was going for, but when I asked where the line was I got the whole "It's not open yet you can't be down here if you're lining up for that" spiel, which was completely unnecessary given the fact this was Sunday morning with a light crowd and also it was five lousy minutes guys, c'mon. I could have just gone straight into line 5 minutes early instead of having to go wait in another line and then walk 20 feet over to the next location 5 minutes later.

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rotinoma    2

The line management was OK, given the restriction on AA. I think in the end we end up having unofficial lines anyway outside of AA. How we were sent down before AA opened worked well. But this is in the case when the autographing guests were able to accommodate just about everybody. I guess what I'm trying to say is the system works, mostly because there weren't that many people/guests that had longer lines were able to process the lines quickly. I guess for future reference just make sure to schedule popular guests at a later time when possible.

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alabaster    0
36 minutes ago, rotinoma said:

The line management was OK, given the restriction on AA. I think in the end we end up having unofficial lines anyway outside of AA. How we were sent down before AA opened worked well. But this is in the case when the autographing guests were able to accommodate just about everybody. I guess what I'm trying to say is the system works, mostly because there weren't that many people/guests that had longer lines were able to process the lines quickly. I guess for future reference just make sure to schedule popular guests at a later time when possible.

Scheduling of autographs is really tricky -- because scheduling itself is really tricky. It's even worse with musical guests like this time, where their schedule was so intense that it was rough to fit everything in at all.

As a rule, most guests stuff happens between 10 and 6, and Otakon has a lot of guests.  Most guests have two "live" obligations and two autograph sessions that need to fit in between that window, primarily on Friday and Saturday, with limited availability on Sunday.  Add up the guests available, and you wind up with a really intricate puzzle, and that's before you have to juggle all the other programming like industry premieres, concerts, etc.   There are also press interviews to add to the mix. Press and Autographs are usually the last things added.

For the AWM folks, we had their timing down to 15 minute windows from morning through late at night, and i'm very proud to say that we were never more than 10 minutes out of sync -- despite multiple crossings that had to be coordinated with both buildings through underground docks, and everything else about learning the ins and outs of a new facility.  That is frankly amazing, especially considering there were four groups and a ton of competing priorities. Even a slight delay in the concert was still within our internal window for recovering lost time.

 

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Tachibana    13
12 hours ago, ogul said:

Sorry I wasn't on here much pre-con guys, I had a lot of stuff to get moved off my plate before I could head off for the con. I hope it turned out well for you though and I'll try and explain some of our choices.

The situation with the Artist Alley opening times was hard to work with either way. If we restricted ourselves to only do signings an hour after it officially opened, then we wouldn't have had enough time for as many signings as we had, and I kind of wish we'd had a few more. It would also have led to the Artist Alley line being full of Autographs people, who would then rush over to our area, which could get messy. I'd love to hear from you guys how you thought that element worked out, but from out perspective it seemed to work pretty well. It's possible we could tweak a few things for next year, but for now the plan is to leave that element mostly the same.

As for the area we had to work with, it seemed to work out for most of the sessions, except for Sunday which had to deal with the water damage taking several of our queuing spaces out of commission. Luckily that was a light day in the first place or we'd have had an even bigger mess on our hands, but I think we managed it. I hope to have lowered stages next year, the ones we had this year just seemed too high to us, and we're considering implementing a queuing system in which there are only two tables, one on each end, with multiple lines leading directly to each guest, individual guests coming and going according to their schedules. It would be very different than what we're used to, and given that the current set-up did seem to work, we might not go that route, but it's worth discussing.

Were there any other considerations after the convention?

First, I apologize if I seemed too distressed or pushy about the lack of communication. I understand that you were busy, and that's fine. It'd just be appreciated, I think, going forward, if possible. 

Second, I think it worked out fine this year? That is, letting people line up outside the AA in a separate line around when the signing is an hour away but the AA isn't open. Just make sure that's actually in the rules and regulations. If you all do it like that, I feel like even doing a signing right when the Alley opens would be a-okay.

I thought the area was fine for the most part, but lowered tables would be nice. They don't need to be as low as before, but, they were a bit too high. You also mentioned elsewhere removing the "Autograph 1, 2, etc." signage and instead listing ... and I think that'd be very proper. I felt very badly, while waiting for Stephanie and Micheal, for Furukawa-san and Kakinuma-san, when they arrived and seemed confused no one was clapping and cheering for them. Something like that could've likely been avoided if there wasn't confusion about which signing was where and it was just decided prior to each where they'd be. 

With regards to like, only having two tables, and having each individual guest have their own line ... that'd be both good and bad. On the one hand it would help cut down on people in each line. On the other, it would make group sessions, which I'm sure industry loves, nigh impossible.

One thing I will make note of that I noticed with Michelle Ruff's signing, the first half hour or so a line of about only maybe 10 max people got through who were outside the primary line. After that things went much quicker, but, I'm still a bit confused as to what went on here. If it was a special needs line, I somewhat understand then, and I'm happy to accommodating people who might need a bit longer to get through line. But I recognized someone in that line from the earlier signing who was not in a similar line... so... what was going on there? I remember something similar happening with Romi-san's line back in 2015, with that separate line taking forever to get through but once they got through everything ran smoothly.

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ogul    13
9 hours ago, Dostovei Illuminas said:

ittle more flexible with the whole one hour rule; when the autograph line was let in on Sunday morning it was literally 5 minutes before the one hour mark for the session I was going for, but when I asked where the line was I got the whole "It's not open yet you can't be down here if you're lining up for that" spiel, which was completely unnecessary given the fact this was Sunday morning with a light crowd and also it was five lousy minutes guys, c'mon. I could have just gone straight into line 5 minutes early instead of having to go wait in another line and then walk 20 feet over to the next location 5 minutes later.

Yeah, flexibility on these things is tricky, since if we allow people to start lining up early for something, then people who show up on time, when we want them to be there, they will end up in the back or even cut from the line. If we have a reputation for letting people line up two hours early, then people will be showing up three hours early to try and get ahead of those guys, and it's just a vicious cycle. ;) We can and should allow people to line up a bit early for the first signings of the day,  but that's about it.

 

33 minutes ago, Tachibana said:

First, I apologize if I seemed too distressed or pushy about the lack of communication. I understand that you were busy, and that's fine. It'd just be appreciated, I think, going forward, if possible. 

Don't worry about it, I can understand the concern as it was a new space, new experience, and it was unclear what you were meant to do to get the autographs that you wanted. We were just as concerned that we'd planned things out to work on our end. ;)

Quote

I thought the area was fine for the most part, but lowered tables would be nice. They don't need to be as low as before, but, they were a bit too high. You also mentioned elsewhere removing the "Autograph 1, 2, etc." signage and instead listing ... and I think that'd be very proper. I felt very badly, while waiting for Stephanie and Micheal, for Furukawa-san and Kakinuma-san, when they arrived and seemed confused no one was clapping and cheering for them. Something like that could've likely been avoided if there wasn't confusion about which signing was where and it was just decided prior to each where they'd be. 

And I agree that we should more clearly codify the rules for how things work. There was a decent amount of improvisation and last minute decisions in this year's planning since we had only a vague idea of how the space would work, but now we've lived it, we have a feel for what works and what doesn't, and we can be more clear about how things will operate. I do plan on doing a pass on the official rules to make them more relevant to the new set-up.

Quote

With regards to like, only having two tables, and having each individual guest have their own line ... that'd be both good and bad. On the one hand it would help cut down on people in each line. On the other, it would make group sessions, which I'm sure industry loves, nigh impossible.

Yeah, we'll have to game-theory the idea, and figure out how we would want to handle it. I don't think it would make such things completely impossible, it would just make them a bit different. We could either schedule it so that we have one group session at a time that takes up half the queuing space, and then multiple individual signings that take up the other half of the spaces, or we could say have the group session take up half of a table block, with 2-4 of the line spaces routed into a single queue that would feed to that half, while the other half would be unrelated guests. I don't believe that the total number of people in each line would be less than what we had this year, since while they might only be 1-2 spaces wide, they would be much longer than the traditional line spaces. They would actually be occupying more total area than the current set-up, since there would be less stages in the middle.


Again, seeing how the more traditional Otakon serpentine set-up worked out this year, I'm not sure that this approach would be the best way to go, but we're giving it some thought. We might experiment with it next year, or maybe not.

 

Quote

One thing I will make note of that I noticed with Michelle Ruff's signing, the first half hour or so a line of about only maybe 10 max people got through who were outside the primary line. After that things went much quicker, but, I'm still a bit confused as to what went on here. If it was a special needs line, I somewhat understand then, and I'm happy to accommodating people who might need a bit longer to get through line. But I recognized someone in that line from the earlier signing who was not in a similar line... so... what was going on there? I remember something similar happening with Romi-san's line back in 2015, with that separate line taking forever to get through but once they got through everything ran smoothly.

If they were entering from outside the standard queue then they had priority badging. We were not running any alternative lines for reasons other than that. I can't be sure why an individual might have been in one queue one time and in the other a different time, perhaps they felt able to join the regular queue or didn't understand their options the first time around.

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First thing I would like to say is despite whatever issues the staff may have had with autographs this year, I'd say that autographs for Otakon's first time in DC worked out well for the most part.

On Friday, I tried to see Michelle Ruff.  Like many others, I went by what the guidebook said and got in the front of the supposed lane the guidebook said that the signing was going to use.  But then it turned out that because so many people showed up, the staff changed lanes.  When I saw people going and lining up in the newly assigned lane, I quickly made my way in the line.  After a while, when I was at a point to where I was about to walk up to, and speak with Michelle, and have her sign my stuff, she then announced that she had to leave to get to a panel.  But she made little note cards for people to come to another signing of hers on Saturday morning in the dealer's room.  I got my note card, and on Saturday, I was able to walk up and meet her.  It was really nice of her to do that.

As for the rest of Saturday as far as autographs go, I met Tyson Rinehart, whose line was incredibly small.  Despite him being in the industry for quite a few years, he still doesn't have as big a fandom as certain other guests.  Not yet, anyway.  He's still awesome, though.  Even more so since he knew me already through social media interactions.

Finally, when coming to the area for Vic Mignogna's Saturday signing, after seeing what the staff did with Michelle's first solo signing, I didn't want to assume what lane was going to be used this time.  Instead, I waited until I heard the staff make a formal announcement of what lane they would use.  When I saw one staff member carrying the sign for Vic's signing, I quickly got to the spot where they started lining people up.  I was able to get in with no trouble at all, and was able to walk up and meet Vic.

Also, before Vic showed, me, and few other folks who waited talked a little with one of the staff, and got a little info with how the session was going to work.  We even mentioned with many people say various different things about Vic.  From my own experience meeting Vic, he's a nice guy, but perhaps any sort of issue that any fan or staff had with him had to have stemmed from Vic having one of his off days.

Anyway, despite whatever tiny little issues I may have had, as well as anything on the staff's end, I think we can excuse them a little.  Considering the fact that because of the change in location, there was a lot for everyone, attendee, staff, or otherwise to get used to, so even for the staff, there was a lot of testing the waters going on.

The only other thing I want to say is that the table are much too high.  Why not have them more leveled?  That way the guests won't have to bend down one knee, or jump down whenever a fan wants a picture with them.

That's all the feedback I wanted to give.  I hope some things I've pointed out can help improve a little for next year!

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ogul    13
17 hours ago, UzumakiWarlord said:

On Friday, I tried to see Michelle Ruff.  Like many others, I went by what the guidebook said and got in the front of the supposed lane the guidebook said that the signing was going to use.  But then it turned out that because so many people showed up, the staff changed lanes.  When I saw people going and lining up in the newly assigned lane, I quickly made my way in the line.  After a while, when I was at a point to where I was about to walk up to, and speak with Michelle, and have her sign my stuff, she then announced that she had to leave to get to a panel.  But she made little note cards for people to come to another signing of hers on Saturday morning in the dealer's room.  I got my note card, and on Saturday, I was able to walk up and meet her.  It was really nice of her to do that.

To be fair, we don't typically make decisions based on "how many show up," it's usually based on what lines are being used at the moment, what guests are coming up later, and how many we expect to show up. We pretty much ignore the line-up the schedule says though, which is why we want to move to just having all sessions listed as "autographs" in future schedules, if at all possible. And yes, we do appreciate that Michelle took the extra step to try and accommodate the fans that got cut off.

Quote

The only other thing I want to say is that the table are much too high.  Why not have them more leveled?  That way the guests won't have to bend down one knee, or jump down whenever a fan wants a picture with them.

Yes, we all agree the stage was too high. I was a bit shocked when I came in on Thursday and saw them. They seemed to have worked, but there was no way to modify them or the tables so we were stuck with that height this year. We'll look into alternatives for next year, either a shorter stage or no stage at all, but we did actually grow to like the concept of a stage, just for the formal separation it provides, just one maybe half that height.

But other than that, I'm glad that it seemed things mostly worked out for you, I hope we can further improve the experience next year.

Edited by ogul

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