And now back to our regularly scheduled distraction. Got a few things I could write about, but I’ve been so busy with editing video footage they would take a lot more time to write than I really have to spare. On the plus side, all my convention video is edited and up bar 2 panels that I’m not entirely sure I want to post online anyway. As a whole, I’m pretty happy with how the footage turned out – the good thing about Minami is since it’s held in a hotel instead of a university campus, there’s not as far to walk from each panel. That, and the smaller space means less confliction – only had one major filming issue over the course of the weekend (technically more, but by Sunday I barely cared enough to show up myself, much less try and film multiple panels).
It’s actually a little strange that I choose to film so much at cons, because filming isn’t something I had much interest in growing up. Most people I know who handle the media aspects of cons at least had some interest in photography or media before they threw themselves in. I on the other hand, just do it…because I can, I think.
The first convention I ever filmed was my second Amecon in 2007. I was talking to a co-worker on the nightshift who was interested, and he offered me the use of his video camera so I could record the weekend. I agreed – and lugged down this very heavy, very old and very bulky camcorder. Over the weekend I went through a good 9 cassette tapes, until I brought them home…and realised I had no idea how to process them. My friend tried to do it, but his process was apparently unavailable now due to how old the camera was, and all of that footage never saw the light of day.
Despite that, I had the convention filming bug, and told my parents how much I’d enjoyed filming the convention instead of just wandering around. That Christmas, my Dad got me a small handheld camera so I could keep doing it, but with a much lighter camera that could fit in my bag – and used memory cards so I could actually watch the footage.
This little camera (which I affectionately referred to as ‘Homi’) was great to start with. Doing small videos of skits and random events had never been easier. But when I tried to film anything long…it became a nightmare.
First off, it was a handheld, and holding it for any length of time took effort, even if it was small. Plus, the longer I held it, the shakier my hands became. As an additional issue, I was only taking 15 minute clips at max due to the current YouTube restrictions, and it took a good 30 seconds each time before the camera was ready to film again. And after 30 minutes of this treatment? The camera would often freeze, forcing me to rip out the battery and reset the whole thing, praying I didn’t miss too much of the panel.
About a year later, I deduced that the problem might come from overheating. Stuck in my hands for hours couldn’t be helping, so I invested in a tripod. This at least got rid of the shakiness, but didn’t solve the freezing problem. Even had it taken into the shop for evaluation, only to have it returned with a befuddled ‘can’t find anything wrong with it.’
By this point I was trying to film a lot at conventions – I’d been doing it for nearly 3 years and it was clear my camera wasn’t up for the job. To be honest, it probably just wasn’t built for long periods of use – at the end of the day it was designed to be a handheld, not a piece of endurance kit.
So, 2 years ago after New Years, I went on the hunt for a new camera. It took several hunts, and many a time giving up, but I finally found a camera that had everything I wanted. ‘Pan-chan’ became my new best friend at conventions – only had a 2 hour battery life, but could film while plugged it, something that Homi could never do, and increased the battery life ten-fold in certain situations. The downside? Pan-chan is a really high quality camera. So high, I have to process everything I film through movie maker and reduce the quality way down, or face hours upon hours of the YouTube uploading screen as it crawls through the progress bar. To be fair, this necessity does mean my footage is getting smoother and better quality.
These days however, I find myself in a weird position. I’ve been taking video for such a long time that even committee members of cons are aware of me – I’ve donated my footage to ‘official’ videos multiple times due to camera failure on their behalf or just wanting more footage – but it’s not particularly high quality. I talk too much during filming, the tripod gives screeching noises when I move it, the thing I’m trying to film is often out of focus or off screen. After 6 years it’s hard to tell if I’ve actually improved. Especially now that there’s competition.
Yes, when I started I was pretty much the only person posting convention footage that wasn’t the skits and performances. In the last few years though, a Scottish duo have come on the screen. Team Neko. Who have a better camera, more concept of how to film a video, and have made their mark on the convention scene as well as making sure all their work is copyrighted with their logo. Been around half the time I have, but already dwarf me in terms of subscribers and viewings.
That’s a stupid thing to be jealous of, I know. Especially since I’m not doing this to make a name for myself, or so I can say I have experience working with cameras. I started doing it so I would have a copy of the workshop panels for myself. My own little cosplay and anime video-library that people could look back on and enjoy. The few people who do watch my videos have always thanked me – many of them are busy running events of their own so have to miss the things I film – and are glad to have the opportunity. Plus I may be leaving this year, I should be glad there are more people out there pulling their weight in the community to record conventions.
I guess I just feel underappreciated sometimes. My work isn’t great, but I work hard to film these conventions. Many a friend has commented that the only times they see my it’s with a tripod in my hand rushing to get from one building to another, or darting between rooms to check on my cameras because both are set up in a double-filming attempt.
But then again, nobody asked me to do this, and nobody would be upset if I stopped. I do it for myself, and I should keep reminding myself of that fact – posting the video online is just my way of showing what I did that weekend and sharing things that other people couldn’t see. If I wanted recognition, I would have far better kit, a logo and would be getting my brand out there far more than I am. Feeling upset that I’m not getting attention when I’m doing nothing to warrant it other than posting videos online is being upset because I’m lazy. I don’t have a brand, I don’t watermark my video – if you want it, take it, I’d just appreciate a word of thanks when you do.