Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Calgary Expo 2013 - More Thoughts and Some Links

May 1, 2013, 10:20 am, edited: to add this link from a blog reporter's point of view.

Since it's blogging Wednesday, and since other then write my last final of the semester and buy a new bed (after almost 11 years of marriage we're finally getting a king-sized!) I haven't done much of interest, and I'm still thinking about Comic Expo and watching the comments roll on in their FB page, I still feel the need to write about some things, and link to a few things.

I should say that as someone who does quite a bit of conference planning (but on a smaller scale, maximum 150 people) I can't even grasp the amount of work and number of lists that go into putting this one - 1000 volunteers to manage is a dizzying number - and the expo staff do a great job. But with every conference, no matter how well it goes, there are always things you could do differently next year, and the expo people are great about taking fair suggestions of things to change. Lots of people don't make fair suggestions (where in Alberta could they possibly find a bigger venue then the stampede grounds?!) but they're good about listening to the reasonable ones.

There's a vocal minority who think that line-saving isn't fair, and to some extent it isn't, but how could they possibly police that without being overly harsh? You'd end up splitting family groups and making a large majority of people who come with other people unhappy. If mom takes kids to the bathroom while dad waits in line, and then you didn't let them in line together, and dad gets into the panel and the rest of the family doesn't, you have a bit of a disaster situation for that family. I don't know if there's a better way to do it, except...

I think the trick to managing line-saving (and also room-camping, as mentioned in my previous post) is to have people register for panels beforehand. This could be tricky, because the panel schedule was still changing on the Friday, but I'm sure they could think up some kind of system! This would allow them to put panels in the appropriate-sized room, and avoid the chaos and angst that comes with filling up a panel and not letting anyone else in. For instance, if they'd known that Nathan Fillion was going to be so insanely popular, maybe they could have put just that one panel in the Saddledome?!

Another problem with the panels the way they are now is that they often start 10 to 15 minutes late, and they still have to end on time to clear the room for the next one, so having more flex time between each panel might be a good idea, whether you have people sign up ahead of time or not. When you line up for an hour to only see the actor for half an hour, it can be a bit disappointing! Sometimes it can also take a bit of time for the crowd and the actor to warm up to each other, and then it's just as the panel is ending that the ice is finally broken and the good Q&A is flowing freely.

Next year it would be nice to see the con start Thursday night with a limited sneak-peek opening, and then scheduling all day Friday. For the number of people that come from far away, I think that would give them more bang for their buck.

You know what the expo REALLY needs next year? A designated area for cosplay photos. For some people seeing the costumes and collecting photos of them is a huge con pastime, but it can be a pain in the neck for people who are trying to get somewhere, but who are too polite to walk through someone else's photo. If they had a nice area with some backdrops and places for people to stand, and even approximate times of day when cosplayers from certain fandoms would be in the area, it would make everyone's lives a bit easier.

I am curious about if they had a lineup plan for bad weather - it was snowing like crazy on Monday, and I wondered what they would have done with the thousands of people lined up outside on Sunday if the weather had been like that then? And speaking of lineups, I heard about how some people went over to the Big Four building to the 'food court' (which is a grand title for what amounted to three food vendors) or the photo ops, and then had to re-join the massive entry lineup again, which seemed rather unfair, and meant that I avoided the Big Four until late Sunday afternoon, which is apparently where all the seating was...

And I know that empty space with seating doesn't pay the bills when that space could be rented to a vendor, but for the love of people's sore feet, I hope they have more next year! I miss sitting in the cushy chairs in the Palomino area and people-watching!

The system with the photo ops seems well-organized in theory - you buy your ticket and a time slot online ahead of time - and then you line up 15 minutes before the appointed time with the other people who are in that slot. I haven't done a photo op in years - since the bad experience with Shatner (if you're going to spend $80 on a photo, you should at least get eye contact) - so I don't know if it's still the same or not. I've seen a lot of great photo op moments online this year, so maybe it depends on the actor.

Anyway, I think they need to have a ticket system for the autographs. If an actor can provide their photo op rates ahead of time, why not autograph rates? Then you don't have as much problem with lines that are too long, and people who don't get an autograph after standing in line for ages. Then you can plan your budget because you know what they cost, and you'll know if they charge extra for a photo at the table. Also, if you bring something of your own to sign, it's the same price as if you buy one of their photos, which seems a bit unfair. I think the autograph system that they have right now could use some work! I wonder how other cons do it?

Here's my friend Shelli's blog post about the Calgary Expo. I thought she had a picture of me dressed up, but apparently it was too unflattering to post...eeep! :)

Here's an interesting article from the Calgary Herald, and a large portion of it is an interview with Lexa Doig, who's panel I quite liked.

This is a blog post from someone who managed to get into the Game of Thrones panel, which I didn't. :(

And here's the perspective of someone who had a VIP pass and managed to get into Fillion's panel when it seemed that all hope was lost. Jealous! But at $300/pass it's just not really an option for me. :P

It's funny - I remember my first expo, in 2010, back when it was just a small vendor hall and the Palomino rooms, and how overwhelming and fun it was. Then 2011 was bigger, the year of the Shatner and the photo op gong show, and 2012 was the year of disaster for most people (although not really for me - it was definitely my favourite year, guest-wise), and I did a blog post for each day. Each year seems to have a different 'flavour', and I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with next year!

This is the high point of every expo ever:

A massive Stargate or Stargate Atlantis reunion next year would be AMAZING! :)


Shelli said... + Chris!!! I have to show that pic to Jeff!

MichelleH said...

That picture makes me ridiculously happy. :)