A Complaint About The Iron Editor Event Significant contextual problems with the Iron Editor event.
Posted 19 May 2007 - 12:18 AM
I'm posting it here instead of the Con Gripe board because the Con Gripe board is already overflowing with insanity w/r/t registration issues, the masquerade, and various other things like the mess on the Dan Ryan Expressway. That's unnecessary clutter, and I want this topic to be given full attention, so I'm posting it here. However, if this post is better placed in the Gripe board, I won't mind if it's moved.
First, a little bit about me: I've attended Anime Central since 2003. Although I have never been a staffer, I have been heavily involved with Anime Central's AMV programming: first, as a five-year participant in the AMV contest; second, as Anime Central's 2004-2005 Iron Editor; third, as a panelist.
I don't know how that will color the rest of this post -- that's up for you, the reader, to decide -- but I feel that it's necessary to get that information out there.
With that out of the way:
I think this year's Iron Editor competition suffered from significant problems, some of which revolve around context. Here's a breakdown of what I thought were the two most significant problems.
Hosts and Entertainment
Iron Editor is AMV-oriented by its nature, but that doesn't mean that it should exclusively cater to people who are intimately familiar with the subject material. It definitely does not mean that the judges and host(s) should use inside jokes from AMV sub-communities for entertainment.
Unfortunately, I saw a lot of this. Here are some examples.
- References to "the .org". Believe it or not, this isn't that well-known among the general populace, or even people who like and/or edit AMVs.
- Inside jokes about bets, regardless of whether I'm involved with them or not. Now, I don't really care if people tell what I did four years ago for some AMV-based bet. What I _do_ care about is people trying to use that as an excuse for crowd entertainment. It's a bad idea, because it requires too much context and too much time-consuming explanation for it to be entertaining.
- Distinctive characteristics of some AMV editors, whether or not you think said characteristics are known outside your social circles. (Is there any more to be said about why this is a bad thing?)
- Catch phrases, e.g. "shirtless o' clock". I know what that's a reference to, but I bet that most people haven't a clue what it's supposed to mean. This isn't because I'm in some position of privilege, but because I just happen to be in a social circle where that term has meaning. Such terms are completely inappropriate in the context of entertaining large audiences.
One of my main concerns about Iron Editor has been the Iron Editor judges not knowing the full scope of their audience. After all, it's easy to entertain your friends, because you've shared so much with them: sometimes, just mentioning a phrase, or even a word with the proper inflection, is enough to trigger raucous laughter. Those techniques just do not work with a large audience.
These examples, and others, are my concerns realized, and that's not a good thing.
As far as I know, Iron Editor is supposed to be a family-friendly event.
Dr. Tran is not family-friendly material, especially not when the episode playing on giant projection screens features a senile grandmother running over young children, with the whole mess accentuated by generous blood spatters.
Did I mention that this year's Iron Editor was attended by a grandmother? Yeah. She was pretty pissed off when that started playing.
Content ratings aside: what the hell does that have to do with AMVs? How is that unique to Iron Editor? How does that involve the audience? Games and the like are good, unique, interactive fun that really add to the soul of the Iron Editor event. If I wanted to watch Dr. Tran shorts, or Haloid, I could do that in the video rooms, or -- probably even better -- watch it with a group of friends on a laptop.
In short: some of the content was inappropriate for the context of the Iron Editor event, from (at least) the ratings and relevance perspectives.
I care about this issue because it directly affects how Iron Editor is perceived at Anime Central. If it becomes known as a waste of space exclusively catering to some self-elevated, self-entrenched anime-fan elite, then attendance will diminish and the Iron Editor, on the whole, will become much less entertaining.
On the other hand, it becomes known as a genuinely entertaining event, its attendance will continue to rise, and it will be a memorable event, leverage for improved treatment of ACen's AMV program, etc.
I want the latter scenario to occur, because a well-run Iron Editor event can be immensely entertaining. I think that Dan, Omar, Julius, Greg Wicker, Bob, and everyone else who have put themselves into Iron Editor -- past and present -- have given too much for this event to be reduced to circle-jerk garbage.
Unfortunately, after this year, I feel that that is the direction that Iron Editor is taking, and I don't want that to happen.
Please reflect on the direction of the Iron Editor event, and do what's necessary to get the audience involved and keep them involved. Strike out the inside jokes, watch the content, perhaps develop a few new games, that sort of stuff. Thanks.
P.S. On this subject: It seems that it's become an institution at Iron Editor events to reserve the middle sections of the first two rows for the Iron Editor, the challenger, and their friends.
For the past five years, I've benefited from this policy, because I've always been a friend of the Iron Editor or the challenger. However, this policy reeks of the exclusivity problem I've alluded to throughout this post. Should it become necessary to change or outright delete this policy to make Iron Editor more palatable to the general public, I won't object to that.
Posted 21 May 2007 - 01:00 PM
Posted 21 May 2007 - 08:49 PM
Posted 22 May 2007 - 08:42 AM
I hope that they see this letter and take it to heart as I think its a great event, and I would really like to see it succeed. However right now I believe they are alienating more people than they are drawing in.
My best advice on how to change this is get the audience involved more and make them have fun. I believe a good panel is one that is both fun and educational. You have the knowledge, so instead of using it to make people feel shut off from the group, use it to educate them so that they feel part of the group. The most important thing is to make sure the people who attend your panel are having fun and learning something. All of them and not just the amv creators and elite. Theres a ton of other panels at any given time you can attend at ACen, they chose yours, don't let them down.
Columbus, OH December 21-23, 2012
Posted 25 May 2007 - 11:43 PM
Starting off- I honestly have no argument with a number of the points put forth- many of them are indeed things that we do need to work on and that have not been executed as well as may be possible. I do have some counterpoints to some of them, but hopefully they don't come off as being defensive- I'll do my best to be as open and honest as I can.
First off, I'll be flatly honest with everyone: I'm nowhere near as good of a host as Greggo was- I'm not being emo, or fishing for sympathy or anything of the likes- that's a solid fact. Greggo is an excellent showman and is outstanding at reading an audience and keeping them entertained. Being as outgoing as is necessary to host the Iron Editor is a nearly 180-degree shift from my usual behavior and personality, and it shows- I'm just not as good of a host of the event as even I would like it to have. The problem is, so far to the best of my knowledge nobody whom Omar and I trust enough to handle the event well and could likely do it better than I can has volunteered to take over. The one person who I would hand over the host mantle to in a heartbeat is frustratingly wholly ineligable to do it right now (we'll see about that in a few months, though...). In the meantime, Omar and I will do our best to try and improve the event as it is, and I'll keep trying and be a better host.
Secondly, as Julius (SailorDeath, the head of the AMV events) pointed out on another forum, one of the biggest handicaps ACen's Iron Editor has had the last few years is the fact that the panel of judges has been entirely pulled from the fans/other editors. Quite simply, Iron Editor runs best with a panel of judges who are familiar enough with AMVs to not be bored by the event but who are more importantly highly charismatic and entertaining in their own right. At an anime con, this most effectively translates to Guests of Honor- honestly and ideally, domestic VA's. In my observations over the last few years since I've been hosting, the Anime Weekend Atlanta Iron Editor runs the best and smoothest- largely because it's the one convention where we have little problem pulling in GoH talent to sit on the panel. A vast majority of them are my friends- and this following statement includes myself- but quite honestly, it's very hard to find AMV-related people who are both highly entertaining to the general public and not self-centered jerks. Unfortunately, at ACen the past two years the event was delayed pointlessly because of waiting hopefully that the GoH's that we had requested- and were promised would attend- would show up. Honestly, this year we essentially said, "*($$#* it, it's too much hassle and we're tired of getting burned by them," and didn't bother even asking. Perhaps next year we should try again- I imagine we'd have a lot more success in getting them if we didn't end up opposite an event that they all generally end up being at.
Next- You're right, we were not very prepared as far as having things queued up and a playlist of appropriate AMVs decided upon beforehand to show. While it would be nice to be able to blame this on the technical difficulties we had shortly before the event opened, doing so would be a cop-out. I've wanted for quite a while to have a playlist set up beforehand and everything planned out so I know what I'm doing and what's coming up- but I've never managed to actually put the time in and get it done. Part of the problem is that each of the events is run differently and off different equipment- ACen off the mini-VAT computers, Otakon off Alan Chase's computers, and AWA off the real VAT computers. Something I may consider trying from here on out is since I tend to drive and not fly to the conventions is to set everything up on my own Shuttle PC (which has a NetStream) ahead of time and bring it along to simply plug into the projection setup. Honestly though, what is most needed is for me to make the effort to get things organized and prepared beforehand- something I haven't done the best job of in the past and desperately need to work harder at in the future.
As far as the activities/games go- we have been trying out new things to involve the audience and to keep them entertained so we're not always doing the same old things. Last year we tried out having people sing along and changing things up by using video game sources (in Suberunker's 'Wedding Rings') instead of anime, this year I've so far tried having the audience members try and dance, which I though worked reasonably well (we also wanted to have a group come up and do the Haruhi dance- but believe it or not, there was not a copy of it on any of our computers to be able to use... ;; ). There was actually another game I wanted to do- but I screwed up and left the references necessary to do it back in my hotel room and didn't get the chance to go back and get it so I wasn't able to run it. We shamelessly stole the Skittles game from Brad and Koom's panel, and I don't regret doing so as it was just as entertaining the second time around IMO- but for liability and safety reasons (not to mention how many Skittles I saw the hotel staff have to clean up off the floor the next day when the room was cleaned up...), we don't plan on doing it again.
It has been mentioned that several people have been throwing around ideas for new things to try. We're very open to suggestions and new ideas- we certainly can't (and don't) think of everything- but it's important as far as improving the event that those ideas get brought to the attention of those of us running the event one way or the other. If you have ideas for it, irrelevant of anything else, -please- don't hesitate to get them to us. If you're not comfortable contacting or sending them to us directly, send them through either Julius or Dan (Outlawed) or anonymously.
On the in-jokes issue- yes, it is definitely something we need to work to keep to a minimum. It's part of the reason why I pretty much flatly refuse to have any of the people I'm friends with or who are good friends with the panelists participate in essentially any of the games. And it's something I need to work on myself, obviously- in many ways it would be better were I -not- as familiar with many people & in-jokes as I am because it would be far easier to avoid them- that was an area where Greg had a definite advantage, and another area where having GoH's as panelists helps a lot. Again, this is something that can likely be mitigated to an extent by having as much as possible laid out ahead of time so there isn't the room for things to degenerate into in-jokes.
As to the content of the material showed during the event, I'm not going to argue that we need to keep it at a bit lower of a rating level. The Dr. Tran video that was probably the most problematic was something that I called for to be shown after several of the audience members (who amusingly given the in-joke issues I actually -didn't- know) wanted to see it and I needed a way to kill a good bit of time to try get the playlist set up for the next few games. I apologize for it- I realized a short way into it that it was likely over the line and inappropriate, but was at the same time hesitant to stop it in the middle.
However- I have to defend showning Haloid. Yes, it was obviously more video-game oriented than anime- but there is at least one very popular and oft-shown video that is -also- far more video-game oriented than anime- with one difference being that it was made by an AMV editor and not someone outside of the community. In my opinion, in many ways Haloid is an extension or side-bar to AMVs- it in many ways is similar to traditional ones, for example in that timing to music was critical. The difference being of course that it was completely set up from scratch (or close enough, yes, using the company's models, etc.) and planned out instead of using existing footage or material. But, so does 'Greed vs. Envy' and to a large extent 'Failed Experiments'- and as one of the panels focused on, there is at least a small movement toward creating original 3D content in AMVs. But (at least to me) more importantly than all of that- the audience as far as I could tell overwhelmingly loved it. When choosing things to show during the IE, that it entertain the audience should be what's most important- I have to say 'should' because obviously in several cases we failed in this during this year's event- but Haloid was one instance where I firmly believe we chose wisely.
The tradition of reserving seats for the editors at the event is one that can certainly be revisited- though to an extent I'm not sure whether it's that much of an issue, seeing as how the editors are generally some of the first to arrive at the event anyway and would therefore likely be sitting there anyway.
A final point to address- I don't consider the Iron Editor Challenge as being a 'panel'. It's an event- panels are supposed to be entertaining and generally educating. Events are supposed to be entertaining- and are only occasionally educating. I doubt people attend an event like one of the band concerts, the Masquerade, or a game show expecting to be educated any way other than incidentally (like perhaps learning about an anime they hadn't heard of before through something shown- which several people this year did from people asking me about some of them). On this point I'll be quite honest- making sure that the event's attendees are 'learning something' is quite frankly going to be one of the last things I (and I would imagine the other staffer/coordinators involved) worry about while planning and running the event. Being inclusive of everyone is definitely something we need to work on- but our event is not a panel, and honestly I'm not going to be worrying about educating anyone at it. There are already a number of very well-run and educational panels that cover pretty much everything you could want to learn about AMVs at ACen, trying to educate people more about them in the Iron Editor other than perhaps showing them ones they've not seen before would be in my opinion redundant and unnecessary. Educating people is not a bad thing in any way- I just don't feel that it is within the scope & intent of an even like the Iron Editor Challenge.
In closing- many of the problems stated were things that do definitely need to be addressed, and the blame for a greater number of them than I would like falls on my shoulders. For my part in the problems, I apologize, and I will do my best to correct them in the future. I'm glad that people are pointing them out and- more importantly- making suggestions as to how to correct the problems. While I was aware of many of these problems already, having additional reinforcement that they are indeed an issue and having more perspective on how to address them is quite helpful. As such, I hope that those who have ideas and suggestions would not hesitate to let either myself or Omar know about them, either by contacting us directly, through someone like Dan & Julius, or by making them in this thread- I would ask though that any suggestions made in other threads or the likes that you please let us know about them, as if we don't see the suggestions or ideas we obviously cannot implement them.
-Bob 'Ashyukun' Babcock
-Electric Leech Production
-AMV Iron Editor Challenge Host (ACen, Otakon, AWA)
Posted 26 May 2007 - 02:21 PM
I am always willing to trade ideas however. My staff has come up with many good ideas that we have had a chance to try out and I don't really mind sharing them, since I would love to see Iron Editor succeed and possibly grow into a major event at a convention (one that would require a room the size of Main Programming.) However one thing I notice is that people really love free stuff. Over the last few years I have noticed the amount of free stuff being given out seem to dwindle. I realize it is of course an expense to get stuff to give away, but for some reason, it really seems to draw in attendees and even if it is something small like candy canes or something like that being thrown into the audience they really like it. I know before I joined staff I would eagerly try to get up front to take on a name every anime challenge, even if the prize was something small.
Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:58 AM
Posted 25 January 2008 - 08:13 PM
Ashyukun, I can't make it to all the cons you do, but if you want or need any help with some off-season planning, I am ready and willing to help as much as I am able.