By Gytha North
The Masquerade at Intersection, the 53rd Annual World Convention, will be held on Saturday 26th August 1995 at 19.30 in Hall 5 of the S.E.C.C.. The Hall has seating for 3,750 people. The Stage performance area will be 32 feet wide by 20 feet deep. The M.C. 's podium will be at the front, stage left. There will be wings so that you enter and exit at stage level by ramp or steps from the sides. There will not be a runway. Entrance to the Stage is 15 ft feet tall by 10 feet wide.` See layout attached.
Novice is any entrant who has never won an award at a WorIdcon or American Costumecon.
Journeyman is any entrant who has won no more than more than 3 awards at a WorIdcon or American Costumecon .
Master is any entrant who has won three or more awards at a Worldcon or American Costumecon or an entrant who earns half or more of their income in the costume/clothing design field.
Costumers may elect to be judged at levels higher than their standing as defined above but under no circumstances can they compete at a lower level.
Some lighting effects and colours will be available, to get the best out of these the Tech crew will need to know the main colours of your costume/s and the pattern of your presentation on the stage. They will run through what is possible/suitable with you during your technical rehearsal. Please remember that techies may be magic but they are not telepathic nor are they superhuman!
No power sources will be available to entrants, if you need electricity you need batteries. If your costume involves flash cubes please ensure we know about it to avoid distress to other contestants and blowing of video cameras .
This information sheet will be updated as more information becomes available. Please feel free to photocopy and distribute to other interested costumers.
by Gytha North
(Fiona: Below is Gytha's article about her Intersection experiences. Gytha is one of the unsung heroes of Intersection, and she deserves to be greatly thanked for everything she did for us. Without Gytha, the convention would have been shambolic in many ways.)
I admit it, I volunteered, BUT, I only volunteered to do Extravaganzas. Somehow I ended up doing a large assortment of other tasks, some of which were not suited to my inclinations or my temperament.
I'll deal with Extravaganzas first. Martin Easterbrook made it quite clear to me at the outset that I was to set up a mini-committee to run the division, I am sure that the successful running of' Hall 5 on the day was in a large measure due to the fact that we were an effective team and no one person had too much to do.
The system was to have a person responsible for back stage, a different person responsible for front of house and a third person available for anything else that came up. This was broken down into smaller tasks for the Masquerade when the expected stress levels would be higher. We programmed rehearsals for all the major events so that we, the tech crew and the participants knew what: should be happening.
The opening ceremony went smoothly and the only problems I noticed were photographers blocking aisles and intruding on the camera pen, the front camera being set too high so that it impinged on audience viewing, and audience members climbing down the raked seating. We therefore removed the two front rows of seats, set the front camera as low as we could and arranged more stewards for following events.
Masquerade day started early with tech rehearsals running from 08.00. All participants had a slot during which we confirmed their technical and personal requirements. This was a particularly difficult day for the tech crew as they had to deal with the requirements of' the costumers, which were all-embracing and not necessarily couched in terms that were understandable, against the limitations of the kit: and time available.
For this event the team consisted of
1. Stage Manager, defined as controlling stage and entrance/exit ramps.
2 Tech Manager, liaising between tech and stage manager to ensure timings, light and sound effects and order of contestants were correct.
3- Costumer Den Mom, looked after the comfort and well being of the costumers from when they reached backstage to when the Hall was cleared after the event.
4 Official Photographer, organised the formal Masquerade Photocall and studio shots of participants.
5 Front of House Manager, looked after everything to do with audience and liased with stewards for crowd control. 6 Masquerade Director (me), firefighting, eg. watching for and catching problems that either had not been spotted or crossed between their staff.
Things that were good, I believe that this system worked well, no-one was responsible for too big a chunk of the action, everyone was aware of what their job consisted of, we started on time (I believe this was a Worldcon first), the correct lighting/music came up for every costume, the no flash photography rule was enforced, the costumers welfare was catered for, and having a video of the event available for the costumers to view the next day
Things that: were not so good, the post masquerade photocall should have been organised better, allowing someone other than myself or the MC on stage when we stopped the masquerade briefly to persuade people that we meant to enforce the no flash photography rule was a bad move and forgetting to get a written list of prize winners from the judges before they dispersed.
The things that went well did so because of team effort. The things that were not so good are my responsibility alone, There are things 1 would change if I did it again but I would not change the overall system.
Hugo day was supposedly my day off. The ceremony started late but not horrendously so. The stewarding of the reserved seats for V.I.P.s and disabled was handled very efficiently, The communications between the Hugo Ceremony Director and Tech were not good, mostly due to a lack of experience. I was in the audience for the event and I felt that the format was good
Things that I would have done differently: the event manager was doing too much and was the only member of my crew who, in my opinion, was @ approaching burn out, 1 should have realised this earlier and got other people in to spread the load, I should also have sussed that lack of stage experience necessitated a talker to techies to ease communications and there should have been an organised photocall. after the event
Closing Ceremony was my moment on stage. Organisation was similar to that for Opening. I had fun doing it and lots of' compliments afterwards. The only things that went wrong from my perspective were the lighting desk going down, no control on that one folks, and Mike Jittlov falling over, which he did very well.
Pre-convention things that worked were talking to other people so that they knew what was going on in my division, particularly Ops.
Pre-convention things that didn't work were people ignoring information that I had given them.
The times I got wound up and stressed out were times when I was *not* working on Extravaganzas.
By Fiona Anderson
This is the information that went into the Ops Manual, after consultation with both Gytha North and Pete Tyers, so that any queries to our stewards or our general staff on this point could be answered swiftly without having to get hold of the Masquerade staff every time.
It is planned to run the Masquerade photocall before the actual event The photocall area will be divided into 2 parts - flash and 'natural" (i.e. floodlight). Queries about this should be directed to Gytha North (Extravaganzas) or Pete Tyers (Con Photography). People wishing to take advantage of this photocall will register with Pete Tyers, and will be given an appropriate label to wear to gain admittance to it. Flash photography is strictly forbidden during the Masquerade, and stewards will monitor this. This is due to safety- costumers in costumes with restricted vision on a darkened stage could have an accident if flash is used then. There are other safety implications for people with medical problems that can be aggravated by flash.
Photography at other events will not be subject to a ban on using flash, and photocalls will be arranged where possible. Video cameras will only be allowed in positions where they do not disturb or interfere with the enjoyment of the audience. They must run on batteries (see Electrical Items section) Should Program Participants object to photography during their items, the Hall Manager or the panel moderator will make an announcement before the item starts. This announcement will either be a complete ban on photography during the event with a photo session at the end or just a blanket ban. Unless such an announcement is made there will be no restrictions on photography.
The following seven articles were all written by Pete Tyers:
Index of Articles
Name of File
Title of Article
Photography at the Convention
Based on memo to Committee on photography in general
What we hoped and what really happened
Official Masquerade Photography
What we hoped and what really happened
Advance thoughts on the Masquerade Photocall
Based on memo
Advice to photographers
From instructions issued to photographers at photocall
Advance thoughts on Official Photographers and general photography in the Masquerade area
Based on memo
Advance thoughts on running the Masquerade
Based on memos
This article is based on a memo I submitted for the consideration of the Committee. It followed on from what I had heard about the limitations which some members of the Intersection organisation wished to place on photography.
Many fans take photographs at conventions; some merely snapshots with a cheap-and-cheerful camera, some with a great deal of professionalism and excellent equipment. Whatever the equipment and whether the pictures be of their friends in the bar, their favourite author, or some particular event, they all form memories of the Good Time they had. To these fans, their photographs form an important part of the whole convention, not just at the time of taking, but for many years to come. If, however, one seeks to restrict the ability of the average fan to take photographs in almost any way, said fans are very likely to very annoyed. They will perceive their enjoyment to be curtailed, and they will feel most aggrieved. In my experience, with the sole exception of the Masquerade, I have NEVER known of ANY restrictions on photography at a convention.
The use of video recording is growing as cameras get lighter, smaller, better, and cheaper. Unlike still photography, which briefly catches a moment in time, video recording is time-based and can easily become intrusive. The guidelines must be that: it must not be allowed to intrude on the enjoyment of others it forms part of the experience and enjoyment of the user and therefore should not be unnecessarily curtailed.
The video user presents two problems: the shooting is not a transitory event and it requires a steady position, i.e. set up the camera and stay there for the duration of that "scene" or event, thus potentially getting in other people's way additional lighting to produce better images.
The answers to these problems are: to set up a special area for video cameras at events WHERE and only IF this is possible, otherwise the user will just have to find an empty space at the back or sit with everyone else and accept that the view is less than perfect the user will just have to make do with available light as the use of auxiliary lighting cannot be permitted - it is far too distracting for everyone else.
The exception to the above will be when the user is "off to one side", i.e. not in a "main" part or event in the convention, such as interviewing/talking to a favourite author, or videoing a group of friends, i.e. not disturbing anyone else.
I do not know if there are any plans to produce an "official video" of the convention. If there are such plans, then the makers must be made aware of the above and must adhere to the guidelines (though some dispensation could made, such as to ensure that they get good views).
As Channel 4 will be recording parts of the convention, there will inevitably be their video cameras and auxiliary lighting. None the less, they must be made aware that they also must not intrude on the enjoyment of others - they must not be allowed to upset events or activities.
This limitation must also apply to any other media recording and photography, e.g. the local press photographer.
Flash photography is usually banned during masquerades at major conventions for the reasons:
it can disturb the already limited vision of costumers - they are on a darkened but spot-lit stage, and their costumes often offer a very restricted view
it can cause distress and even damage to those costumers with eyesight problems or medical conditions
it disturbs the dramatic presentation
it disturbs the audience
it shows on video recordings.
Likewise, the use of video lights is subject to the above problems and is also usually banned.
For these reasons, I thoroughly endorse the banning of both flash and video light photography. Further more, I have never heard sensible complaints from any fan on the subject, and it is generally accepted as a very practical rule.
On the other hand, available-light photography suffers from none of these problems, and I can see no justification for restricting it.
For those really wanting to take photographs of the costumes, there is, of course, the photocall. This is a controlled special event, where the above problems do not exist (and account can be taken of any medical or visual problems). In addition, the costumers will be encouraged to mix with the fans outside Hall 5 during the judging/after the event for the purposes of getting a close look at the costumes and casual photography (this will doubtless involve flash lighting - but it will be with the implicit permission of the costumers who will be there voluntarily).
The Hugo Awards always generate a large audience, and many might well wish to record highlights of the event if it is sufficiently spectacular. There will be a number who will wish to take photos of the winners, and it is therefore hoped that some sort of photocall can be arranged for after the event (probably just a simple gathering "backstage").
Likewise, the opening and closing ceremonies are likely to be spectacular (I presume), and again many will wish to record them.
I don't know of any theatrical presentations, but these might prefer not to have the drama reduced by flash/auxiliary lighting. With what I have seen of fannish "drama", this is rarely the case (could "Spock in Manacles" really be ruined by a flash?), so it would be up to the presenters of the event to make their wishes known. I don't anticipate that we will be in the realms of a professional theatre with its own needs to ban photography.
I can see no reason to ban photography during a programme item (provided it does not actually interfere with the item, e.g. trying to photograph Captain Kirk off the screen during a movie presentation), nor to restrict it to before or after the item. Taking photos of items, e.g. a panel discussion, is NORMAL PRACTICE, as is asking to take a shot of a participant as (s)he leaves the event.
I was discussing this with a well-known American author recently, and, whilst admitting that she did not herself enjoy being photographed under any circumstance (a personal foible), she regarded such photography as perfectly acceptable and (in her words) "part of the territory". She added that, short of medical reasons, she seriously wondered about anyone who was prepared to be in front of an audience and yet deny the photographer - "it's part of being in front of your public - you owe it to them - if you don't like it then you shouldn't be there". As part of the audience, I couldn't agree more!
Outside of programmed items and events, there is plenty of scope for the fan with a camera. There will be friends, both singly and in groups, and interesting sights and events. Any attempt to restrict photography is unreasonable, other than for specific reasons in designated areas such as the Art Show.
I can see no problems with exhibits - after all, exhibits (of any nature) are there to been seen (and admired) and are the subject of photographs in all free countries. As for the dealers area, again I can see no reason for limits, other than an individual dealer not wanting detailed shots of particular wares such as art work (but generally I would wonder what it was (s)he did not want recorded - and why!).
When photographing an individual, such as a favourite author, it is common practice to ask permission. This very rarely results in "No" (most people like a moment of fame), and is more likely to result in the subject co-operating for a better photo. Common sense and a feeling for privacy should, say, stop a fan from interrupting while his/her subject is trying to enjoy a quiet family lunch.
This again comes down to the subject of being in front of your audience - it's part of the territory.
Personally, I have never had a "No", and often a "would it be better over here?" - and a chat afterwards.
I believe that there are concerns about commercial use of photographs, particularly videos. I have no experience of this, but it certainly could be a problem, and, if so, must be tackled specifically.
Perhaps everyone should be warned when they arrive that photography is purely for personal and strictly fannish use. The convention could reserve the right to stop suspected commercial activity (though this could be very hard to prove), and, if necessary, confiscate equipment. Such people could also be told that they are violating Channel 4's commercial rights, and could face legal action from the company.
For any rule to be obeyed, particularly by fans (who pride themselves on their free-thinking), it must be obvious and sensible. If not, it will be ignored.
Attempts to enforce bad rules will be difficult for the steward/gopher concerned, and will generate bad feeling and could easily lead to incidents. News of these spread like wild-fire, and can cause a general Bad Feeling very quickly.
The legal position when it comes to limiting photography is very tricky. Apart from proven commercial implications (such as a show or a play in a Theatre) there is an almost carte-blanche RIGHT for anyone to photograph anything and anyone - and attempts to stop a photographer might be illegal in themselves. For instance, it has proven impossible to stop the paparazzi from invading almost any level of privacy. Declaring the convention to be a private event might not work - it could be argued that buying a membership conferred rights of purchase upon the member.
Even if an individual or group denies permission for their photograph to be taken, this has no legal meaning (unless there is a very good reason such as a medical condition being exacerbated by a flash gun). If the person actually tries to physically stop the photographer, they could (if only in theory) find themselves the subject of an assault charge.
In my opinion and experience, there is very little need to restrict photography. To generally ban it during the programme and at major events will disappoint many members and diminish their enjoyment of the convention.
The "regulations" as I heard them being bandied about are draconian and will upset a great many fans. I see no justification for them, and doubt that many other members of the convention will either. We are running this convention so that the members can have a memorable and GOOD experience, not so that we can exercise our talents for running their lives. As they are always telling us at work, these people are our customers - we need their good will (and not to mention their money!).
It is vitally important to remember that Intersection is an event organised on behalf of its members. It is for their enjoyment, and this fact must always be of the greatest importance in all that the convention does. Remember, most fans will have travelled hundreds if not thousands of miles to be there, and will be spending hundreds/thousands of pounds/dollars on what is probably the biggest event of their year - THEY MUST ENJOY IT.
I have been a keen photographer at conventions since the 70's and have attended more conventions than I can remember. In addition, I organised the Masquerade photocalls at Conspiracy ('87) and ConFiction ('90), as well as participating in the photocalls at Magicon ('92) and ConFrancisco ('93).
I am pleased to add that my photography and slide presentations enjoy a good reputation internationally.
This article is to describe how the photocall was planned/was expected to work - and then what really happened!
The purpose of the photocall is to provide fans with the opportunity to take their own photos of the Masquerade entrants.
The important thing to remember, however, is that the plans of mice, men and fans never go as intended, and the Masquerade Photocall was no exception (read on ...).
For those of you who have not seen Hall 5 at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), here is a brief description. It is a very large hall, with the stage set up in the centre of one of the long sides. The seating held approx. 3,000 people, was ranked, and in blocks forming a near semi-circle. The seating, staging, lighting, sound, etc. were all set-up by professional teams (at the insistence of SECC).
The original plan had been to make use of what appeared to be a lot of space behind the seating, i.e. the "back of the hall". By putting the costumers against the wall of the hall and the photographers against the back of the seating ranks, there would be the space for a number of costumes to be seen at one time, for a large number of photographers, and to allow distinct areas for flash and available-light photography. The walls would be covered with a light, neutral backdrop (personally I have found a light fawn-type of colour to be best overall) reaching from as high as possible down to floor level and then continuing across the floor past the costumers. The available-light area would be flood-lit with a number of lamps (to give plenty of light and to reduce shadowing) and the colour temperature of the lamps announced in advance (to allow photographers to obtain/use colour temperature filters if they wished). The flash area would be lit at least sufficiently for easy focusing (but not so bright as to out-power the flash units). No specific provision was envisioned for video, it being assumed that video users would utilise the available light area (i.e. not use separate video lights).
The photocall would take place in the afternoon before the Masquerade itself, i.e. as soon as each costumer was ready, she/he would appear before the photographers. That way, the photography would be complete before the show started, and the photographers would get to see it as well. Should there be too a great a demand for places, the photocall would be repeated after the show (time permitting - there was a very strict time by which the hall had to be completely emptied due to the contract with the SECC). It was also intended to encourage costumers to parade their costumes in the main lobby outside the hall during the interval (while the judges deliberated, and deliberated, and ...) for the benefit of all and sundry who just wanted a quick snap or a good look at the craftsmanship.
So much for the plans!
As the con approached, it became obvious that the convention's finances were more limited than hoped for and would not stand the hire of additional lighting or the purchase of large amounts of backdrop material. Furthermore, the latest plans of exactly where the seating would be and the amount of space behind them, plus taking due consideration of the safety angles and the problems of moving people about, meant that the idea of using the back of the hall had to be dropped. The idea of using part of Hall 4 was investigated, but there simply was not the necessary space available - it was all accounted for already. The only remaining alternative was to use the stage itself!
This was a real problem - the stage was no-where near big enough for the number of photographers envisaged, nor for the adequate provision of well-defined flash and available-light areas. There was no way to provide good lighting, the over-head stage lighting would have to suffice! One of the lighting guys did his best to mix the lights (all coloured of course) to get the nearest to "white" and agreed to push the power to maximum, but that was all he could do. Some of the stage curtains were a light grey but the remainder were black, and the floor was carpeted in tiles of alternating grey and black squares. Fortunately, as a backdrop, this proved not too bad for the cameras' metering systems and not too much of a clash for the costumes, but it was far, far from ideal. The flash photographers were confined to one end and the available-light photographers to the other end - this arrangement required a lot of co-operation from the photographers themselves (for which I am very grateful!).
Furthermore, representations from the costumers meant that they did not want/could not be ready too soon before the show, so the photocall would have to be shortly before the show started. We had to settle for a timetable which went: 4:30 - open doors and set-up, 5:00 - start photographing, 6:30 - stop photographing, clear stage, and final set-up for the show, and 7:30 - show starts. This was a very tight schedule and my thanks go to everyone involved - we made it - just!
The lack of space meant that the numbers had to be severely limited to a mere 30 and we had to turn many away, which I personally found very disappointing. Furthermore, there would be no opportunity to repeat the photocall on the stage after the show. We tried to arrange for the end of Hall 4 to be used during/after the show (once the kiddie-con had packed up) but were told that this was not possible.
It was hoped that the costumers would mix with the audience during the interval and after the show, but I do not know if it ever really happened. However, a surprise after the show ended was the sudden decision that an extra photocall would be held utilising the end of Hall 4, which was being kept open especially for the purpose! When I say this was a surprise, what I mean is that no-one backstage had been told, not the costumers, security, the gophers, nor even myself - they first I knew was when several costumers and gophers came rushing up to me demanding to know if it was true and why hadn't they been told beforehand - good news for the photographers but a bit of a shock to us "in the know"!
Although Hall 5 was ideal for the Masquerade itself, it did not have the facilities (nor were they available elsewhere) for adequate "backstage" activities. This included the changing/dressing area, the photocall, and the official Masquerade photography. A Hall 6 next door was required - but there was no such thing!
A larger budget would have alleviated some of the problems, but like all cons, Intersection had to balance the books between income, expenditure, membership fees, affordability, and value for money - a difficult juggling act at the best of times. Perhaps if more people had bought memberships and poured their money into the coffers ...
Come the end of the day, despite all the plans and aspirations, the photocall was severely limited by the financial and spatial realities. It is a shame, but that's the way it was.
The purpose of the official photography of the Masquerade is to provide a record of the entrants for all who wanted it, i.e. copies would be available for any one to buy (at a reasonable price) at the end of the con or afterwards.
Charles Mohapel, from Ottawa (Canada), very kindly volunteered to be the Official Photographer. He is a very keen fan and has been taking and displaying photos at cons for many years, and, as the Official Masquerade Photographer for Magicon, he knew the ropes.
It was intended that a proper "studio" area be set up. It would have its own lighting and backdrop, and would be very convenient for the costumers whilst also being out of their way (and vice-versa), e.g. in one corner of the changing/dressing area. Every costume would be photographed, at leisure, and from different angles and/or different poses.
In reality, the lack of a proper changing/dressing area in Hall 5 or immediately adjacent to it caused many problems. At one point, it seemed that the costumers might have to get ready in their hotel rooms (or where-ever), and Charles would either have to tour these rooms or else commandeer a hotel room for his purposes. In the end, it was decided that the changing and dressing could (just about) be managed in a partitioned-off area of Hall 5, behind the ranked seating.
A part of this area was set aside for the "studio", and a backdrop erected. However, there was no budget for flood-lighting and there were no spare lights to be borrowed from anywhere, so we had to rely on Charles' flash gun. The "studio" area was not at all convenient, it was limited in space, poorly lit, and it was on a direct line to the toilets - he needed a loo-guard just to stop everyone walking through his pictures (and there were queues in both directions!). It should have been a relaxed affair, but it ended up being very frustrating and aggravating for almost everyone.
Such photography should be fun for all concerned, whereas it turned out to be an onerous task with little joy to offer anyone (apart, that is, from the final results). Like the photocall, this suffered from a lack of money and space. Perhaps in another world...
This article is based on a memo which I wrote to outline my thoughts whilst we were looking ahead to the Masquerade. It was based on my experiences of Worldcon photocalls at Conspiracy, ConFiction, Magicon, and ConFrancisco. I was assuming (hoping!) that the number and standard of entries would be great (rather than the tiny, and often last minute, entry than ConFiction attracted).
Ideally, it should be either enroute from the changing/dressing area to/from the stage or else in an area which is easily accessed from the changing/dressing area. It should be large enough for all the photographers, tall enough for the tallest of costumes, and there should be "stacking space" for those waiting to be photographed.
The advantages of holding the photocall before the event include: the photographers also get to see the event itself there is less rush and immediate need to get costumers moved from one place to another, an all together more gentle affair of each costume being photographed when the costumer is ready (but note that someone will have to keep a check that they do all appear at the photocall) Some costumes take considerable setting-up in order to be seen/photographed at their best (e.g. the lady wearing the stained glass window, who needed her own spotlight positioned behind her so as to shine through!) - much easier done when there is no rush.
The advantages of holding the photocall as part of the event include: the costumers only have to get dressed up once or else do not have to remain costumed for the extended period from late afternoon until the early hours of the morning the costumers have a definite, single time to aim for if the costumes come straight off the stage, the photographers know they have seen them all.
The flash area also needs to be well lit - the photographers need to be able to focus their cameras, and the dimpsy lighting of ConFrancisco made that very difficult! The (last minute) solution there was to tape a cross on the floor so that everyone could prefocus in the knowledge that every costumer would therefore be in exactly the same space. This was not such a good idea as it sounds; it takes time and a person (or two) to arrange the costumer onto this exact spot, they must cover the cross or it (really) shows and makes the picture look silly (and the costumers are very good at moving their feet - the rules forbid nailing them to the floor!).
The choice of backdrop material is interesting. Magicon used white paper which ran from the front row to well (but not always quite well enough) up the wall; this provided a very neutral background (in colour terms), but the reflection of the whiteness confused automatic light measuring systems - the photographer had to compensate for this by "overexposing" by one stop, either by misleading the meter about the film speed or simply by setting everything manually. ConFrancisco tried one better, they covered the walls with photographically-neutral grey paper; this should have worked (it was certainly ideal for the metering systems) but actually it was very boring and seemed to drain the colours from the costumes. They did not cover the floor, which was a very dark carpet; this meant that the lower part of costumes tended to get lost, and many costumers wearing black boots appeared to have suffered amputation at the knees!! My personal preference is for a light, natural colour, such as a pale fawn or buff; at Conspiracy I found that this filled-in the background in a pleasing way, neither detracted from nor emphasised any colours, and was ideal for metering systems.
This article was gleaned from the instruction sheet produced for the photographers at the Masquerade photocall. Although it was produced specifically for that event, a lot of it is of general use.
If you have any queries about taking photographs at the photocall (or in general), please seek advice. If you do not know your camera very well, are uncertain of its capabilities, etc., read the manual very carefully and thoroughly. Go to a photography/camera shop and ask about anything you are uncertain of concerning your equipment. Take account of the backdrop. If this is a light grey or similar, it should present no problems to the metering systems of flash guns, camera bodies, or hand-held meters. However, if it is very light, you may need to increase the exposure by up to 1 stop to avoid over-reaction to the bright backdrop causing the photograph to be too dark; likewise decrease the exposure if the backdrop is darker. To make compensations on a normal flash gun, change the aperture from that which the flash thinks you are using; with through-the-lens metering, change the setting on the film speed dial. Talk to other photographers - they won't know all the answers, but they are usually only too willing to discuss equipment and techniques, and it is always worth listening to others (after all, you don't have to believe everything they say - it isn't actually necessary to have a Bamble-Wheeny 2000-GTX Sub-Meson flash unit even if the twinkling lights are very pretty).
If you are using the available light area, you will get the best results only if your film is balanced for the colour temperature of the lighting (note that most film is balanced for daylight / electronic flash). To compensate, you can put a colour correction filter on the front of the lens. A filter will not affect the accuracy of through-the-lens metering systems (i.e. they compensate for it automatically), whereas those using hand-held meters must make a manual compensation (the filter manufacturer will supply the details). Those trying to use a filter on an automatic compact might have an interesting problem (as the metering is automatic but not through-the-lens). For example: daylight film under lights of 3400K will require an 80B filter (exposure factor 2.0), and under lights of 3200K will require an 80A filter (exposure factor 2.4). I do not know how the automatic colour balance on video cameras will respond to the lighting - it might be worth a word with an expert at one of the camera/video shops.
This article is based on a memo which I wrote to outline my thoughts whilst we were looking ahead to the Masquerade. It was based on my experiences of Worldcon photocalls at Conspiracy, ConFiction, Magicon, and ConFrancisco.
Official photographer. Both Magicon and ConFrancisco had official photographers. They had their own "studio" area, with backdrops, flood lighting etc., and by early the next afternoon had produced and displayed prints - ready for the convention members to order.
Non-official photography. The idea is, as I understand it, to protect the privacy of other costumers and avoid the (sometimes quite real) problems caused to others by flash guns going off "in their eyes". Therefore, the rule usually seems to be that photography is only allowed in the photocall and the Official Photographer's area. However, this necessarily excludes the costuming staff, the friends and helpers of individual costumers, and the costumers themselves.
It is unrealistic to ban this unofficial photography, there is always someone who will do it - "... but it's only a tiny little camera", "... but it's the only chance I'll get", "... but she asked me to - it's her camera after all", and so on. I think that the answer is simply to have a photographic area in the changing/ dressing area - perhaps an end wall with a simple backdrop - and make sure everyone knows to use this area only. Mind you, that still does not answer the question of how to get photos of the activity, the friends working on the costume, the fun of the whole thing - perhaps there is no real answer to this one, just request people to be very, very careful and considerate (and jump on those that aren't!).
This article is based on memos I wrote to outline my thoughts whilst we were looking ahead to the Masquerade. Much of this is theoretical, it certainly didn't get run like (all) of this, but none-the-less there are some useful points in here - make your own mind up what you would need to do and what is really relevant to your circumstances.
It was very obvious at both the recent European Worldcons that running the masquerade is, particularly on the day, a very difficult and tiring job. It calls for very long hours, patience, understanding, a knowledge of the requirements and aspects of the events, and very good communication between all the various areas of endeavour.
I believe that the event will run much more smoothly if there is a full management structure in place, so that the event is formed of specific, mutually exclusive but interrelated, areas of activity. These areas would be under the direct control of the Head of Masquerade, whose responsibilities would include overall supervision and co-ordination. Indeed, good communication between the various areas is essential to the smooth running of such an event, and everything must be done to facilitate this.
If the areas are as illustrated above, this would require a management team of 6. Their responsibilities could include: Head of Masquerade - No specific activities, fully available to all areas of the event at all times. Front of House - Registering entrants at the con in the days prior to the event, information desk (for all areas), layout of seating for the event, stewarding the hall (keeping people out until it starts, getting them in when the doors open, etc.), disabled access, escorting judges in and out. On-Stage - Master of Ceremonies, lighting, sound, stage-crew (e.g. specific help to costumers and their props whilst on, or getting onto and off, the stage) Changing/Dressing Area - Provision of space for everyone, supply of food and drinks, controlling access to the area, controlling access to associated areas, resolving problems or conflicts. Photocall - Setting up area, issuing seats/tickets. People Movers - Moving costumers between the changing/dressing area and the stage, likewise for the photocall area.
It cannot work well if the overall head is also the manager of a particular area and is therefore too busy with that area on the day to be able to maintain overall management and command. It is essential that there is some one available to make definitive decisions. That person must be available at all times - these will be real-time decisions and they will need taking "now" - without them, there can be chaos, much time wasting (when time is at a premium), and a great deal of stress and bad temper.
It is essential to any management or project structure that the team meets well in advance and holds sufficient meetings for everyone to understand what everyone else is doing, the exact areas of responsibility, the aims and requirements of each area, and to establish and maintain good communication between all concerned.
I have stressed above that the Head of Masquerade must not be involved in any specific area on the day. In the event that, in fact, the Head of Masquerade does undertake management of a specific area or else performs a specific task, then it is absolutely essential that each area must be completely autonomous in order to be able to function to their best ability without the aid of an overall manager. This will increase the need for the advanced planning of each area and emphasise the need for understanding between, agreement with, and communication between the areas. Everyone concerned must know that the areas are autonomous, where the boundaries of responsibilities lie, and have a full understanding of the aims and requirements of each area.
It will be obvious that the above mostly covers running the event on the day. There are many other aspects involved with the earlier days: setting rules, pre-registering entrants, creating and distributing information packs, etc., and, of course, people often have different responsibilities and activities before an event to those actually at the event. I have little experience in the planning and administration of this event, and so I have not tried to include these aspects with this set of ideas. Obviously, they also need great consideration and should be incorporated into an amended version of the above.
The changing/dressing area is going to be pretty busy, with lots of people milling round for a long time. In order that people do not have to go traipsing all round the place, it would be very useful to arrange for supplies of food and drink to be available throughout the day (or least the later afternoon and evening). To keep the place, and especially the costumes, clean and dry, the refreshments should be confined to a specified area.
Obvious point, but the costumers will need easy (and preferably private, i.e. non-public) access to toilets.
Smoking might be publicly unacceptable, but there are a lot who will want a quick drag (or several). A smoking area will be essential.
There will need to be some sort of access control to the changing/dressing area.
There will need to be enough space for not merely getting dressed, but also for last minute repairs and alterations, and even a certain amount of constructing pre-fabricated large costumes and props. Electrical power points will be needed (e.g. irons, hair-driers).
Some costumes will be very tall or wide. Maximum heights and widths for all parts of the building which are used by any part of the event should be established and publicised - not just for on stage but also for the very real problems of getting to and from the stage (and other areas, such as photocall and official photographer). This will mean planning all routes and measuring corridors, doorways, etc.. Helpers must be available for all tricky parts of the route.
Entrants should be asked to provide the maximum dimensions for their costumes/groups/sets/ props. In the case where costumes are "collapsible" to make them easier/possible to get to the stage, this should be for both the "collapsed" state and the full display state. This will ensure that it really is practical for that costume to get to and appear on stage, that it will fit in the photocall and the official photographer's areas (including the backdrop), and so on.
There is a tendency for backstage areas to be very poorly lit, and it can be difficult for some costumers to actually see where they are going at the best of times. Every effort should be made to ensure a high level of lighting, and helpers must be available for all poorly lit areas.
If possible, there should be no steps or stairs. If there are any: costumers must be warned well in advance of the event, they must be well lit and well marked (preferably with high visibility edges), and helpers must be available.
It will be a long day for everyone, and refreshments and rest will be important for all involved. It would be a very good idea to specifically schedule several refreshment/rest breaks into the day - this way no-one is likely to faint because of low blood sugar level, blow their top because of sheer tiredness, etc.. These breaks must be respected by all, though there is no reason why everyone should have to stop at the same time.
It seems a shame that sometimes the public only get to see the costumes on stage. It would be good if the costumers could be encouraged to wear their costumes in the public areas once the event is over, or even at later times during the convention. Some of those costumes are well worth getting close to and seeing all the details.
If there is to be video coverage, it would be helpful if monitors could be set-up for the benefit of those unable to be in front of the stage. This would include the changing/dressing area and the photocall, other areas of the convention site, and could possibly include one of the TV channels in the main/nearby hotel(s). I do not know if the hall will be able to hold all those who wish to attend (only about one in three or four could actually get in at ConFrancisco - a source of many, many complaints), but if there is a problem, then at least those stuck outside can still see something of the event.
A programme book would be most useful. This could include the entry number, entry name, persons wearing the costume(s), persons making the costume(s), source of inspiration, etc..
Will there be a cut-off date for the registering of entries?
ConFiction was criticised for having very few entries (particularly of any real quality) - though I do remember some very brave and last minute ones! If there are insufficient entries, will the event be cancelled in the interest of maintaining the quality of the Masquerade?