Since the debut of Aki-con a few years ago, it has earned a reputation as the “chill” con. The lax atmosphere has always been something of a trademark of this Pacific Northwest convention, and a good portion of the attendees are primarily attracted to this convention because of this attribute. Vince and I had the opportunity to attend this convention, and personally I attended the convention with two project goals in mind– a coverage video and photo-booth.
This year’s Aki-con layout was quite a bit different from last year’s. The relocation of vendor hall and Artist Alley to the hotel-covered parking lot freed up quite a bit more space for panels, the cosplay hall, and other activities. The main hallway was expectantly cramped as usual, but perhaps too many indoor rooms were freed up, and the foot traffic drastically dropped as one approached either end of the convention floors. The relocation of the vendor hall and AA has caused quite a stir, which we will get into more detail later in this article.
Panels, cosplay hall, concerts, games, arcades, dances, vendor hall, and AA has been the default, must-have entertainment at most conventions I have attended. In addition to these standard forms of entertainment, Aki-Con converted half of the covered parking garage into a massive haunted house to get into the Halloween spirit. I had the opportunity to walk through it myself and it surely was quite a trek; the lines from both nights speak loudly of the popularity of this addition.
I dedicated my first day attempting cosplay convention videography. If you don’t know already, our sister site Cosplay Videographers have gathered many talented cosplay videographers from all over the world to present you a different kind of experience from photography. Having a HD video capable DSLR, I figured this would be my tribute to CV, as well as being sort of an experiment and a learning experience. Most of the day was spent running around capturing footage that I forgot to slow down and enjoy the convention myself. Oops. Though, the rest of the convention more than made up for it.
The second days (Saturdays) have almost always been the busiest days at conventions, so I took up the opportunity and got approved to setup a backdrop in the cosplay hall. It was a long 7 hours at the “photo-booth”, but luckily my friends, Liam of Riamux Creations, Jeremy of Open Your Eyes Visuals, and a few others were able to step in to (temporarily) guard the booth for me as I took occasional breaks.
After wrapping up the photo-booth, my mission turned to covering Richie Branson‘s concert and the dances. One of the greatest aspect of being creative is the never-ending quest of learning, and I have to say I really enjoyed myself covering these events.
The relocation of booths to the covered garage has stirred quite a backlash due to the poor environment that the artists and vendors were put in. There were a lot of water leaks going on in the garage and one can easily find lines of blue buckets hanging on the pipes trying to capture these drips. Some uncaught drips eventually caused damage to some artists’ artwork. The general atmosphere, including the smell, temperature, and other elements that make an environment pleasing seemed to be lacking as well in the garage.
While this is a developing situation at the time of this writing, and there are many legitimate excuses from both sides of the argument, I believe it is fair to say that no convention is perfect, but how issues are resolved and how the organizers go about making the convention a better experience next time, will ultimately determine the convention’s overall quality.
From a personal perspective, Aki-con remains one of the most “chill” conventions for me. The relatively small size may be one of its strongest attractions, and the relaxed environment definitely scored a +1 point on my book. Some decisions have left a sour taste for some people (particularly artists and vendors who were left in a sub-par environment), but it is our sincere hope that these issues can be resolved to both sides’ satisfaction.
Last but not the least, here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come from the photo-booth project!