animenorth 2007

May 25th to May 27th, 2007
Metro Congress Center
Toronto Ontario

This year's card will be Anime London 2.0 cards listing the new sections of interest as Anime London goes web 2.0.

With a new to me laptop, hopefully I can keep up to date and connected to the website to be able to update each night.

You can check out the review wiki as well as the preliminary reports that were written nightly after returning to my room. I will hopefully flesh out the reports as I go through each day's photos and videos.

Friday

Preliminary report

Fridays at Anime North yield as many pictures as Saturday even though it's only half a day. Expect me to be busy, busy busy with con pictures.

Caught the 8:30am bus out of London early though there was already a lineup. Surprisingly we all fit on one bus. Priestess was also boarding after waiting in vain for a frined to show. All told there were 7 or more people heading to Anime North on this bus. None but two and myself had any clue how to get up to Anime North.

I help direct a trio of girls to subway station then went back to check on Priestess. She had someone picking her up so I hurried to catch back up to the three girls. I meantion the trip was long and they should take a break. TTC has no washrooms that I know of and prices of what food there is is steep at none of the stops along the way. I ended grabbing a transit map for them and noting the stops and busses to take.

I finally for to Casa Nina, a bed and breakfast I have been using for years for both Anime North and Fan Expo. It was to my surprise that owner was planning to sell the building. This news is sad that this may well be the last time here. The place is always a warm atmosphere and Sandra my second landlord and friend.

I unpacked my clothes and tried to see if I could get a wireless connection. No luck. Still I'm able to write my report for one time while stuff is fresh in my mind. I'll have to check for wireless conneciton somewhere nearby so I can upload.

I made quick rounds in the neighbourhood for WiFi spots with little results. The local library was yet to have WiFi while they didhave internet access. Second Cup has WiFi for a price. The local internet has no wifi spot. It did give me a chance to see the neighbourhood with their front lawns in full bloom.

I headed out about 2pm for Anime North to the long bus ride. Having read the newsletters I headed to registration after a much needed pit stop at Tim Hortons. The line up at the time for pre registration was long compared to no lineup for registration at the time. I immediately begin to check out the wrestling demo near the registration. Somehow in that short time, my con badge vanished in a matter of minutes. I retraced my steps to no avail. Lucky with the lack of registration and the staff who I just registered with still there, I was lucky to get another badge. Any other time, I would have been fubar. I t did leave me with settled feeling which caused me to be parnoid about my badge and my gear.

I manage to meet with one masquerade staff which directed me to the table to were I could get a wristband for Saturday's masquerade. I decided to then go through the artist alley to see old friend's of the 4 Koma Project. With funds being tight I could not run 4 Koma at AnimeNorth this year. Instead I handed out blank pages with the instructions that they could just do some 4 komas with friends and keep the results. What I might do is those artist's can post their 4 Komas on their sight and I'll link to those 4 komas.

The dealer's room was it's usual busy state. With the initial lineup gone, the path to the dealer's room snaked with posts and ropes. A single person in a wheel chair approached while I walked through the maze. I lift up the barrier so he didn't have to take the long way through.

My search for a Ermine plushie from Mahou Sensei Negima proved fruitless. Though it di yield finding Dragon Mango's booth. It was good to talk to Mark Spague once more in person. I mention the possibility of resurrecting the podcast with the success of our past president with Kung Fu Action Theatre. Though at this time, it isn't the top concern at this time.

I got a burger at Harveys. Though there was a long lineup, it moved quite fast. I devoured the burger and headed to the Doubletree for the skit night.

Later on I managed to catch some of the cosplay chess going on before the Skit Night. Skit night, being my first time at this event resembled moe a dance number of Anime North than performance of skits. Still it was entertaining and brief. The host was witty and more up to the genre of Anime than the hosts of past with the exception of last year's host. It was also a time to work out the whiteout problem with last year's video. I found the AE setting of spotlight got rid of the problem without the neutral density filter I had but forgot about. My switching of tapes and batteries were more clumsy but there was less pauses between skits to quicky change both tape and battery. O coures, this adds one more level of editing to be done later.

With Skit night being so late, it was pointless to head back to the Artist's Alley or the TCC. I went over to Tim Horton's for a coffee then waited for the bus. Once again, I met Nightko and this time we were able to catch the bus together. He pointed out an error in last year's con report. The problem of having to wait until after the con is over to remember everything. At least the new to me laptop has helped in this.

About 1 AM, I made it back to the house where I was staying. I transferred the day's pictures and video to the laptop and backup hard drive. Having backups in two locations is the smart thing since no telling what can happen at a con or with your equipment. I have had flash cards fail so making daily backups at cons is a MUST. With fatigue setting in from a busy Thrusday running around getting things ready to go to the con, I was more than wiped and simply crashed on my bed.

Saturday


Preliminary report.

Saturday is the busiest day of the con. With the masquerade and other events, it will be a busy day.

Up to 2 Am, writing last day's report and I only got to Skit competition before I gave out and passed out on my bed. Morning I got up and switched batteries to top up for today's events. Breakfast was wonderful. I know now that trying to keep up to date reporting is quite useless. With over 280 pictures for Friday, I could never process them over night.

I found I could not upload as I had hoped at the local library asI had hoped to do since I didn't have the right info to do so. So much of the con (pre)report will have to wait until my return to London. I headed out later than I had hoped to do.

I reached Anime North about noon and first order of business again as coffee. I tried to take in a bit of the artists alleythen head later to Suzumiya dance. I ended missing it since they held the dance competition first. No doubt videos it will be on Youtube. With the Masquerade being earlier this year things changed. By the time I left the ballroom, the masquerade setup in the hallway was underway.

I manage to get some good photos of some of the contestants before heading to get inline.

With the lineup at the time short, I decided it was best to head to get something to eat. Once again, I ate at the Dragon Sushi for a bowl of wonton soup and yakitori. It was a real treat for me.

The lineup grew modestly though the lineup wasn't as long as it looked since the inside line wasn't compact. Clouds made way for blue skies.

Masquerade

After the masquerade the cosplay chess group was headed to round two and the photoshoot which I had suggested was in full swing. The problem of con staff standing in the way for the group shot was annoying since to get the entire group required me to move back. It took a several times to get one guy out of the shot. Even standing on a chair proved pointless as people decide to sit on the chairs that was the dividing line for photgraphers.

Outside there was still good light for photos, I did go inside only to find the dealer's room closed but Artist Alley was still strong with a few missing booths. Artists rarely get a chance to see the con so I can't blame those who at least took the chance. With so little funds this year, it was hard not to spend money in the Artist Alley. I did take some cards and thought of scanning them for a page with links of those I thought were good.

I miss the artist alley more for the friendship I built over the years with 4 Koma Project and other art challenges. Hopefully next year my finanaces will be in better order so I can enjoy one part of the con which I think many miss out on. I have never been much time to enjoy guests or other events.

Still there were some great costumes hanging around and even artists had some great costumes. With things wrapping up early, I headed back. I met up with Noghtko again and with my daypass was able to save him a subway token.

Masquerade

The lineup went quick and it became more of a scamble to get a good location to tape the masquerade. What really impressed me was seeing a number of people using camcorders on tripods instead of cameras.

It seem a lot less flash this year and I don't think that it had to do with people having to tell people. I hope that people had learned from experience that flash doesn't work nor do they get the pictures they want. I do wonder if I manage to influence people to switch to a better way. It is more likely the influence of Youtube than me.

I as rule check with those behind me if the tripod interfered with their view and struck up a conversation with the guy behind me with HD camcorder with tripod. It was good to talk shop with another experience photographer and to share tips and failings. This guy was part of the Otakkuthon staff and the way it sounds their con is more close to the original Anime North setup. Anime North is Anime North and nothing other than itself can take it away. Still the passion of the new smaller cons that have sprung up matches the original flavour of Anime North. I hope that Otakuthon has good success but not to grow too far from it's roots.

I was a little surprised to see Gord Rose back as MC. After all, the word was he retired from the position but then he loves his job.

The masquerade ran smoothly except for some lighting and audio glitches. Lights would have been good for introduction of the judges. Still the stage was fairly lit well, when it was lit. The washout of people was less than I had expected and using the spotlight exposure setting wasn't necessary.

I wasn't without a few gaffs furing the taping though less so than last year's con. No following to closely to what was on stage not switching batteries and tapes smoothly enough between skits. Starting mid tape since I had recorded the Skit masquerad ethe night before threw me off. Roughly, the battery and tape would end about the same time. This time it was every half hour I had to change a tape or battery.

Sadly it ight take a while to get to the footage of Anime North. I'm taping a friend's wedding next weekend.

End of the masquerade was hectic as usual which is why I (and most of those I saw with camcorders and tripods sticking to ilse seating. it allows for better unobstructive view and a means of getting camera and gear quickly out of the way so others can leave.

Sunday

Sundays are always relaxing for me since most of the main events are overwith and time for quality time to shop for deals in the dealer's room.

I got up early since Sandra who runs the Bed and Breakfast had to be elsewhere about 11. Breakfast was great as usual. I decided to partially pack my gear and was concerned that tape 1 was no where to be found. I did fianlly find the tape. It had tucked in a spot where I put it in my bag.

Lawrence West Station on Sunday mornings was another photoshoot opportunity as a trio of DeathNote cosplayers including one of the few Light cosplayers. Odd since the costume was little more than a suit with DeathNote book and apple. I met with Ishikat again who wanted his picture with me. In spite of the fact that it's the cosplayers and fans who make this site what it is, I guess I have reached celebrity status with the fans. Maybe because I don't judge fans or cosplayers. After all, if you're spending your time being creative in this world no matter how good or bad it may appear, I think that is a thousand times better than the same age group of youths who spend their lives being destructive.

Okay, hitting Tim Hortons every time I get to Anime North isn't addictive .... it's necessary since I was up writing the preliminary reports for the previous day. It was also alot of con goers at Tim Hortons. I got a call from one of our members, Verheter on my cell. It was her first time at any anime convention and wanted to connect for lunch. She had some problems with getting down to place but it was comicial moment that when she called saying she just got off the bus and trying to discribe where she was, that it was one of those moments which I can't really say was comical nor serious as she was discribing where she was and then seeing me walking towards her ... talking on the phone.

We ended heading to Dragon Sushi which ticked me off that they didn't have Yaki Tori. I ended talking to Varheter then taking in more fo the con.

I stopped by Ill-intent's table in the artist alley where Risu-chan was finished the final panel for the Japanese 4 koma. It was a real loss not foing the 4 koma this year but it was no way I could afford it to the extent as pervious years. Hopefully the concept of comic(strip) jam will catch on. Sadly this year, I could not carry the torch. I did hand out some blank pages to some of the artists to try on their own. With any luck, I will have links to their attempts and another reason to visit their sites.

I stopped by Dragon Mango's booth if anything to buy another bookmark. I spent the rest searching for the BEST price for another volume of Shrine of the Morning Mist. I got volume 2 for American price plus 10 percvent discount.

I did pickup a lot of the artist's business cards and will be scanning those a constructing a page as a service to those in the artist alley.

This is actually how the doujin cons (kettos) work in Japan with program book with table layout and business card size ad rather than just one page they get at cons in North Amercia ... if their lucky.

Spending time inside meant lost opportunities outside as when I fianlly returned ... it was pouring. I broke out my rain gear and headed for some food. I didn't bother stopping people along the was because it was hard enough for them to keep dry.

I decided to walk through Doubletree to see what was going on, only to find a friend's cousin without a ride home. I called my friend that I was helping to get him home by loaning him some cash. The rain had stopped so I ventured out to check out what cosplayers were left. By the time I reached the TCC, it was mostly closed and when it finally closed I decided it was best to head back to Bed and Breakfastto pickup my gear.

Once again since I had a day pass which allows 2 adults and 4 children to ride under ONE pass, I gave a couple congoers a break as well as Priestess, a past Anime London member, a break. I stopped off at St. Clair West station as the rest headed southward.

I manage to transfer some stuff between packs and consolodate my free posters to one roll. I bid my landlady of many a con. With the possiblity of this being the final con I might be spending there, I hugged her goodbye. Now I'll have to find the second best place to stay in Toronto.

The irony to meet some many people I just met at the con again that I met on the bus leaving the con was odd. Priestess had lost her way again to the bus station. I JUST missed the 7:30 bus. My friend's cousin was also there and he did make it back. Verheter was also amoung the lot.

What wasn't was a group of congoers plugged along the wall where there was a ledge and electrical outlets. I managed to transfer the day's photos onto my laptop and external harddrive. It was a treat to meet AnimeNfo gang and was surprised that it is a Canadian effort. We chatted about hosting fees until their bus was called.

Another was a girl with Apple laptop searching for wireless connection. Unfortunely the rumour fo free internet was false. She shared her expereince about the con as well as mine. I was lucky to find some older cards to be able to hand her one.

The bus ride home was spent resting and reading my new book which I finished easily. I parted ways only to meet up with another past member then the rest of the anime con goers came up from behind and talked some more. I headed to my stop across the street and waited for the final bus.

Tired as I write and trying to catch up to 3 days of material. 4 hours of DV video, nearly 2 gigs of photos as I filled up every memory card in spite of buying an extra 512M SD. It was tiring for me throughout the con. Even still I will try to get things up in a timely fashion. I can be out of fashion alot these days but with over 800 photos I think that people are realizing just how much work this all is. It's a pleasure to do it since some many put an effort in being creative. I sometimes wish to cosplay or be invloved on their level but then I wouldn't be able to take as many photos or meet nearly as many people.