Dragon Con 2019 Wrap-up

The blue sticker is the bit with my DCTV credentials, on the back side of the badge

Wow, what an event that was. I’m just finished ‘recovering’ from it, but it was a lot of fun.

Overall, as noted earlier, I did a bunch of panels, including my first TrekTrack one.

So a quick breakdown of things by day.

Thursday

First day of Con, it’s often quite busy, as things are set up and get rolling. While I’m a volunteer, I’m also an Attending Pro (that’s like a low-level guest). So I have to drop my gear off at that Hyatt, pick up my badge from guest pickup (Marriott) and then go to Volunteer Operations (Sheraton) to have my DCTV Volunteer credentials added to my badge. For most departments, it wouldn’t matter – if I were on a track, they’d all know I was also volunteering, and so it wouldn’t matter, but with DCTV, we have to go everywhere, and deal with all kinds of random people, and I need the all-access that comes with the DCTV credentials.

The Thursday DCTV meeting, getting to know each other, and going over the basics.

The first of those events is DragonCon wrestling, where I’ve been part of the team for the last 3 years. Our host/producer is out on Maternity leave this year, so we have two long-time DCTV volunteers, doing their first segment as Zoya and Sheila the She-Wolf from the TV series GLOW. As usual, I’m the assistant producer, lighting, and stunt-double.

Friday

It’s a 3-panel day. Because it’s the Good Omens panel, I felt I should wear my first proper cosplay, an Unseen Academicals Ponder Stibbons. Alas, my pants had some… integrity issues, meaning I had to bust out the patches and try my best.

I’ll post the panels later, but Good Omens for the Brit Track, and Backdoors into Encryption for the EFF track, went without a hitch.

I also continued my rule of attending a panel on a new track, so I picked trek track (also to get an idea of the layout of the room). They were doing trivia in a panel called “In a gameshow darkly: Star Trek trivia… but evil“. Anyone that knows me, knows I love my trek trivia, and used to be ‘quite good’ (as in 20-odd years ago, I ruled the trivia on the official startrek.com IRC server, despite being on dialup in the UK and so at a second or so’s disadvantage when it came to typing in answers). I stonked it. It was recorded as a podcast, so maybe I’ll get a chance to post it when it airs.

Later that night was the BattleBots 20th birthday panel. I’d hoped to coax some other builders on with me, but could only get Jason Brown to step up. We did a ok on the Q+A, I think, then we went to an episode airing/watch-party, with a video sent to BattleBots, which got us some coverage.

(yeah, my cellphone camera was a bit shaky, and not the best, but it was a last-minute thing)

Saturday

As last year, the first thing is the Splendid Teapot Race, and this year I made sure all could see, by hooking my trusty Canon HF R60 up to the projector with lots of lovely long HDMI cord. I did some filming of the early bits, and then handed it off to a fellow DCTV volunteer so I could judge and get my bribes (yes the bribes are important!). Some amazing bots and driving here, and it was an interesting event. Video will come later (much later, if last year was to go by). I will say that two things stood out – a great dragoncon PCB and a carpet pattern fuse-bead disc were great little innovative gifts, and there was a signifdicant absense of alcohol.

Then the Indictment of Assange panel. Most people who know me know I’m not a fan of his. I applauded his aim, or at least his initial aim. When he started making it about himself, and then placed himself as interchangeable with Wikileaks, that’s when he lost me, and when he felt he should be above the law, any law, because he says so, then he’s become the very thing he claims to be against. I think people were expecting me to be a bit more… sympathetic to him. Sorry, I don’t compromise my morals for political expediency.

My fellow STR judges
Quite a crowd turned out for it.

Also knocked out a DCTV segment as cameraman, covering the kids costume photoshoot. This was a challenging shoot, as we were in tight quarters (shooting in a busy hallway) and dealing with multiple groups cycling in and out, and getting good shots for ourselves, while not getting in the way of the photographer. And in many ways, I was driving the shoot, because it was my eye to the viewfinder and my ears on the headphones, and so I had to make sure that things worked for editing. It’s a good thing that Will (the producer) trusts me, and Sheena is – as always – the consummate professional.

There was then some partying, and having fun, but not too much because of an early day and an early job in the morning.

Sunday

Yes, an early job, on the Late Show. I put myself up for this, as I wanted to try myself out at the format.

I sucked

I had issues getting the camera set up (I forgot to check my white-balance, for instance – mortified), and because we were being a bit fancier than normal with how it was being shot, I missed some shot directions and misinterpreted some signals (these are usually shot without comms, and so our show director – also the DCTV production director and my ‘boss’ – had to come over and explain things to me more than he should have. I’m very sorry Mauricio.) Here it is, though, my first live-tv work (I’m on the right-hand camera)

This is a 9AM thing, which means having to be up early (or, as the name implies, staying up all night) and then on to a 10am panel on the trek track on the possibility of Quentin Tarentino directing the next star trek movie.

For this, I’d done the most prep I perhaps have ever done for a panel, and cut together a short video taking classic scenes from his films, and giving them a trek feel. A bit of a bummer was having to take out a scene mashing Death Proof with Insurrection, because it was felt to be a bit too gory, especially for 10AM on a sunday, but the panel went well.

I was then drafted into being cameraman for a segment, this time on the film festival. The highlight of the festival for me was the showing of Troll Bridge, but this was fun, and we got to interview the effervescent Ayesha Adamo, who directs the film “We Are the Prototypes“, about …Jedi Cats?

Then perhaps one of the most challenging tasks I’ve ever been given. I was asked to take a camera, and record some B-roll of volunteers doing their tasks, and try and get maybe a half dozen 5-7 second-long shots, because I only have 90 minutes, but try and get to volunteer village (Marriott), the con suite (Hyatt, where I’m based) and one or two other places.

Well, I’m up for a challenge. I got maybe 40 different places, art show, signage, photography, the daily dragon, security/safety all over, the con suite, info desks, the concourse stages, video gaming, line management and help desks for 3 different floors of the AmericasMart (where the dealer rooms are) tech ops in various ballrooms. I visited every building in the con footprint, except the Sheraton. When you ask me to do something, I’ll go out of my way to do it.

Rushing back (I had to) I barely made it for another of my con traditions, a game of NSDM. When I was shooting some B-roll there, I said I might be a bit late, and so they held a spot for me for the game (as head of the UK’s MI-6) but because I ran around and I’m good at slipping through crowds, I got there at the start, and was made head of the 2nd chief directorate of the KGB (internal security)

It was an ok game, but my role was boring, ah well, next year..

10pm and it’s nearly the end of the masquerade, which is the last major DCTV project, so time to celebrate!

So, time for another first, as I am off to my first ever actual concert (yes, I’ve just turned 39 and finally gone to see a band) – the Crüxshadows, with the rave afterwards. It was 4am before bed beckoned.

It’s REALLY dark in there, so my phone was working at its limits.

Monday

Up early, pack out the room, before an 1130 panel on EU copyright laws. Obviously not at my best, not helped by the Hyatt elevators being SO incredibly slow. luckily, I managed to tag up with an Otis repair guy (he stays on site during the con to fix things as needed ASAP) and made it only a few moments late.

Finally, packing up everything DCTV-wise and check we have everything to back on the truck, and done.

Or almost. We had a flat. kinda heartbreaking to see a doorman/valet at the Hyatt trying to lug over a massive compressor to put enough air in the tyre to get us out and to a place to get it fixed (forget the spare, it’s at the bottom of the boot, and we’d never get everything packed again). Luckily it was a slow puncture, and held on the trip home.

And that was dragoncon. With about 80gb of data of photo and video footage taken, i’ll be processing it for a while.