Lament of a Camera Ninja: reflections from Supanova 2011
Supanova, the pop culture convention arrived in Sydney 17-19 June and I was interested in finding out what pop culture conventions are like. Fortunately, Craig (D&D friend) was happy to share his experiences and provide a little advice to convention noob (that would be me).
Had you been to Supanova before? Did you have any expectations?
I had been about 3 years ago to Supernova at the same venue and earlier this year I went to Armageddon also at the same venue. So I did have some expectations, though I have to say they weren’t met but for reason I wouldn’t have expected.
My previous two “Con” experiences I hadn’t attended with anyone Cosplaying [dressing up to look like a character], so that really impacted on my experience for this event. Becoming someone’s Camera Ninja (a term coined to describe friends who photo cosplaying friends) is not a fun way to spend your time.
The other thing that really impacted my expectation was the crowd, it was massive. I mean literally queuing for an hour to get into the venue. I had not expected that.
The biggest difference for me between Armageddon and Supernova was that Armageddon was laid back, relaxed, not overcrowded. You could chat with people and hear them. Celebrities could give their time to you because there weren’t thousands of people behind you queuing for the same thing. Supernova was frenetic, overcrowded (think the Easter Show on Good Friday). One queue was a three hour wait to get into another queue to see a celeb. Crazy!
So the cosplaying mates hindered the experience? How about other people there?
Luckily for me I had other friends who weren’t cosplaying so we went off for a couple of hours and managed to see what there was to see.
As for cosplayers, they go there to be seen in their costumes. I’m not sure if its attention craving, pop culture worshipping or mish-mash of both, but they go there to be seen. I am guessing that for non Photo Ninja’s (and from past experience) the cosplayers are one of the attractions too. It’s great to see people who like what you like so much that they put effort into representing it amongst their peers. Some of the costumes are fantastic because of the details put into them.
I guess I’m saying Cosplaying is as much an attraction as are the guests, merchandise and booths.
Anything you’d planned to see?
There was stuff to see there aside from the cosplaying ladies??????
Sure, I really wanted to see Amy Acker from the TV shows Angel and Dollhouse. I would have lined up for paid photo with her but the queues were totally ridiculously long and the only thing I would want to queue that long for is my death! I did get to see her Q&A session though so hearing her speak about her experiences on those shows was great.
I’m always interested in the merchandise. There was a bunch of stuff I “almost” managed to buy. Collectibles are so expensive!
Aside from that I wanted to hang with my D&D friends. It’s something we can do together they doesn’t involve D&D but is part of the same world. It’s also cool to see what’s out there that you can be a part of if you want. Like the group that makes the working remote control Daleks and K-9’s. They’re just a bunch of blokes who get together once a month and build these awesome ‘droids for fun!
Lowlights? Were there things (besides being Camera Ninja) that irked you about the event?
In regards to the promoters, I have no idea what they do. I know when Supanova is on each year so when it gets close I check out the website to see what happening and whose coming. After the event I did “like” their Facebook page so now I get some updates. I did see an article in the Herald about the event but it was c**p.
One guest I didn’t see and would have liked to was James Marsters from Buffy, Angel, Smallville and Torchwood. Seeing him would have earned the event more praise but I didn’t even know when he was due for his Q&A. They do hand out showbags on entry but I threw it away within an hour because it only had a poster in it that didn’t fit in the bag. Apparently there was a program flyer in it but I didn’t see it.
I guess bigger and well promoted doesn’t always equate to a better or more professional event. I found that Supanova was “over” professional in some ways especially with the international guests. At both events the guests had handlers but at Supanova you didn’t see the guests anywhere but the areas you had to pay to see them. At Armageddon they wandered the floor with handlers in tow but they socialised, talked to people, and shook the hands with their fans. I won’t say it was the actors at Supanova that didn’t want to move amongst their fans. At a guess I would imagine it’s the promoter because from what I can gather they had many ticketing options. If you paid through the nose you got VIP access to the stars. I don’t know whether Armageddon had that but I do know which event protected their investment better but maybe at the cost of opinions of the casual visitor.
Was there anything you think was well done? Highlights from your day at Supanova?
I would have to say that with the sheer volume of bodies crammed into the place, safety was well handled. Otherwise I really don’t know what I could point out what was well done, so maybe that’s a sign that a lot of the behind the scenes stuff actually was well done which made everything seem to run smoothly.
One of the things I really did like was the sheer volume of people. Not that I like crowds, but damn it this was geek/nerd event and it was totally packed out! I think actor James Marsters said in an interview, when he sees the amount of people at these things, and he goes to a few each year, that he feels like we won! Geeks and Nerds ARE cool; they aren’t the victims of jocks etc. I know it’s a very American view point but I like the sentiment.
Advice for a convention noob like me?
Best advice I can give, pre-buy your ticket! We rocked up thinking it would be a walk in the door thing. Chris queued for an hour before we got there and we queued for almost an hour as well!
Bring your camera, and don’t be shy, asking cosplayers for photos. If you want photos of you and cosplayers go with a friend who can use a camera!
Try and find a program beforehand so you know who will be where & when, whilst they rarely run to time, they try their best.
And if there is someone coming you really want to meet or get a photo with, prepare to queue. Go with friends, share the experience, its great that this year I went with Brock & Michael, we met up with Chris and his wife Dee, then Adam [more D&D friends] joined us later.
Wear comfortable shoes, and budget a whole day (and budget to spend!)
Thanks Craig, now prepared with a good idea of what to expect at a Supanova or Armageddon conventions I think I’m ready to face the crowds of Cosplayers with sensible shoes and a camera. Supanova is next in Brisbane 4-6 November then back to Melbourne 13-15 April 2012. Armageddon Expo is next in Melbourne 22-23 October. Check out the sites below for more details.