January 25th, 2006

FC 2006

FC06 Con Report

Back from the con and almost back to a normal sleep schedule. So what all happened? Well, most of you know or were there, but here's my own reflections:

Thursday:
Arrived at the hotel midday, once it was already swarming with furs. Checked in to the hotel and at Con Ops. Con Ops was faster by about a factor of ten.

Discovered that the hotel does not place reservations on rollaway beds. They completely failed to mention this detail when I originally booked my reservation and said, "And I also need to reserve a rollaway bed." So 3catsjackson received a hasty phone call recommending that he bring a sleeping bag. As it turned out, it wasn't too bad, as my wife and I spent Thursday and Friday nights back home (an hour's drive away) to look after our house's cat population.

Before I left, I got to see a bit of the cool animatronics panel by Kit Fox. Nice work. It's amazing the things that people are building into fursuits these days! I swear, sometimes I feel so amazingly outclassed; on the other paw, it's exhilirating to see the advance of art.

Friday:
Most things were properly unloaded at the hotel at this point. This included the large Iron Artist box which, due to a set of glass bowls from home, was obscenely heavy. People who saw me struggling with it would've guessed that this year's media was clay.

I was grabbed at the last moment for the Extreme Fursuit Makeover event. In two hours we attempted to refurbish a suit of arrowtwolf. It... sorta worked. I must say, it's normally hard enough to use someone else's balky sewing machine; doing it under time constraints while on stage was not delightful.

I certainly have a sense of what the Iron Artists go through! But our crew was working on a large project, mostly sewing (a slow form of art), and trying to coordinate. Still, it was a personal honor to work alongside some fursuiters that I greatly admire: whiteyfawks, yippee, brokkentwolf, tj_wolf.

Saturday:
Hung around the lobby that morning and actually talked to some furs, which made a nice change from my normal con schedule. I definitely will be doing less next year. Helped out my wife, kit_ping, a bit with Masquerade rehearsal stuff. Fretted about Iron Artist. Saw a bit of the "What the Fluff?" stage improv event.

The Fursuit Airbrushing panel was really cool. It included a variety of head detailing techniques. It was led by the talented Lance Ikegawa (furtech) who was joined by airbrush expert Eric Yee (not on LJ?). The actual airbrush demonstration was outside, on the upper deck patio.

darkfang gets special points for arranging for outdoor standup heaters for the work space. In fact, he did a great job coordinating the Fursuit Track... And this was his first year on FC staff, IIRC. Kudos, wolfie! Please, eventually, forgive me for talking you into it...

The Masquerade went well, from what I heard. I didn't get to actually see much of it because I was gathering Iron Artist supplies and staffers backstage. But this means I did see many of the suits mingling around in the green room area. Amazing crop of furry critters this year!

The divisions in the Masq were a bit uneven, though. Almost everyone was competing in Novice or Master division. This is a strange byproduct of trying to adhere to the new ICG (International Costumers' Guild) rules. It's designed for different types of cons and competitions (e.g. recreations, large field of competitors) and it has the effect of pushing fursuiters through the intermediate Journeyman level too quickly.

There's also the fact that furry fandom has a fair pawful of costuming professionals in it. While other fields (e.g. historical) might not suffer as much from combining professionals and hobbyists, it becomes more pronounced when the art benefits heavily from obscure processes, access to industrial materials, and evolved patterns. At the same time, we want the professionals to compete; it would be a disservice to exclude them.

I think there will be some recommendation next year about moving to a four tier system. Something that extends the sporadic-fan-costumer's advancement and allows for a bit more of an even playing field. We need to distribute our categories to balance the fursuiter population.

Then there was Iron Artist. This is one of the major highlights (and sources of stress) for me. I think that this year went pretty well.

The secret media, dry pasta and glue, was well-received. It's something that has been suggested by fans almost every year since we did our first show at FC. Give the audience what they want! The artists had a good time with it (I think), taking a number of creative tacks. It's always fascinating to see the individual style of the artists as they approach unfamiliar materials.

I feel that my commentary was a bit slow. I had Kiteless and Trey (3catsjackson) at the head table to help out, but we were slightly off-tempo. It didn't roll the way it has some previous years; maybe we need to do more practice as a group; maybe we just need more caffeine. siegferret returned as our inimitable floor reporter. He was joined by arrowtwolf , in the role of apprentice. That was fun and the two of them really kept things alive while the artists were working. At least we made one improvement this year: the commentators' table had a monitor so we could finally see what the audience saw on the screen! Yes, in all the previous years, we've been commenting blind! :)

Marci McAdam (no LJ?) and Ocelot (electricgecko) defended their IA titles against formidable assaults by vermillionfox and babsbunny, respectively. Iron Artist Comics, the_gneech, however, was unseated by the wily kitsunezero. The kitsune has agreed to return next year to defend as the new Iron Artist... What will his specialty title be? And is this really the end of The Gneech? Can the artists do arc welding in a half hour? Find out next year!

Finally, this long day was rounded out by the Improv Workshop. A bit slower than some years, possibly due to my tiredness and Trey's absence running errands. But crocodile and kigeni were there to help out, which was a boon.

The crowd had a more improv novices than usual, which kept us to a selection of basic games. But they were all willing to give new things a try and throw themselves into it, which was nice; the problem is usually encouraging reluctant newbies to take risks. So not our greatest workshop year, but certainly good when considering the average experience level of the group.

Sunday:
Things got started off on the right foot (or talon) with Kig's Comedy Hour in one of the panel rooms. It was a fun time, with kigeni doing standup/improv along with some friends (whose names I am sadly unable to recall). He's sharp, witty, and always suave -- a winning comedic mix, I say.

There was the Furry Heraldry panel, as a tribute to this year's con theme. The panel had a decent attendance, possibly boosted by the inexplicably high crossover between SCA and furry fandom. (dustykat, did I mention your outfit rocked? It did.)

This was followed by a delightful rodent-oriented outing for dinner. Since the official rodent panel was Monday and a number of our members were departing that morning, we tried to arrange an impromptu rodent hangout session. Much fun was had, I got to actually meet a number of rodents I really knew only by name, and I met a new rat. (Hiya, lsduncan!)

That evening was the Furry Night Live show. Scruff E. was kind enough to invite me to be a judge, so I was there in an honorary capacity alongside 3catsjackson and loranskunky. As well as our literary GoH, who was a delight to talk to during the traditional pre-show delay.

I have to say, this year's show was the best I've seen! An enormous variety of acts and talent, some very good writing, clever use of staging and fursuits, and just all-out full-tilt wackiness. Awarding prizes was a very difficult matter, since the guidelines were very subjective and we could only hand out three general awards. Belic's (no LJ?) "Call to Arms" was a favorite, in the end. It was well-written, had clever and varied jokes, had a good dramatic reading, and a dynamic performance. But it was so hard to narrow the field to only three! This judge thing certainly isn't a free ride. A special congratulations and thanks to everyone who performed; honestly, the show was a success because of so many talented furs.

So, following the long show, long raffle, and long deliberation, I staggered up to bed around midnight-thirty.

Monday:

Thanks to Dark Fang and Yippee for helping me on the panel. Thanks to Zachariah the Unicorn (no LJ?), and Thio (did I get that name right? German fur with Furvan?) for volunteering some interesting tales. A good light-hearted panel for the late-in-the-con giddiness.

Finally, at the long, naked, pink, and skinny tail-end of the con: The Rodent Panel. I brought in some books about rats to recommend, handed out a rodent quiz, and generally had fun talking about cute li'l critters. Since I was the only panelist, it ended up being fairly rat-centric. Darn! (Hey, if you don't like it, you can volunteer next year! No, honestly, please do. Really.)

I'll try to post a copy of the rodent quiz here on LJ so, if you missed the panel, you can test your rodent qualifications. (Based on the panel, you can be a fully-qualified honorary-rodent furry with a score of 16/18.) t_h_squirrel even brought in some RL ratties for a visit. Coolness!

After that, I pretty much packed things out. A pleasant stop with Huggy Bear for lunch, saying "bye" to some friends, and a last chat with kigeni, and I was on the road back home...

Plans:
Currently, I'm guessing the next con that I'll be at is MFF.
I am going to volunteer for much less next year: Iron Artist and Improv. (Technically, since IA is a main event, that means I am still staff. I've been on staff at every FC!)

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