The following is the log of my experience at the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo 2015. I haven’t been to this particular convention since the reunion of the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast in 2012. Unlike that year I was not working as press. This year I was mostly on photo duty for our friends at Nihongogo, doing my best to photograph the many cosplayers attending the convention. This is the second Canadian convention I have attended as press. Usually I’m in U.S. doing these things so to be doing this at home is still a bit strange to me.
As always, the opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the other staff/contributors of Selective Hearing, our partners and/or affiliates.
Day 1 (Thursday April 17, 2015)
I drove myself to the closest C-Train station to my house around 15:45-ish. Given how horribly expensive parking is in Calgary there was no way I was going to park anywhere in the downtown core. It was cheaper to just leave my car in the ‘hood for a few hours.
I noticed significant number of people on the platform for the southbound train. Many of them I could tell right away were heading to Stampede Grounds. The look of the people who attend these events is pretty obvious sadly.
As I was waiting for the train a dude noticed my Chrome Soma bag with the seatbelt release. He then proceeded to show me his My Little Pony belt buckle. Oh Lord. Yes, I met a Bronie. He was quite fond of his belt buckle and the fact that he was a Bronie. I feigned interested and hoped that he would go find someone else to talk to. Which he did once we boarded the train.
I got off at the Victoria/Park Stampede station and thankfully Bronie guy did not follow me. I headed to the first destination on my list and that was media check-in. I wandered around the BMO Centre for a bit and the first thing I learned was to not ask the security guards where any of the rooms are. They’re nice folks but they seemed to be paid to stand and look mean rather than be guides around the building.
So I just asked any blue shirt staff member (I watched the YouTube help guide beforehand) for directions and eventually I found the room, well not really a room but the table where I was supposed to drop off my business card and all that. Once I got my lanyard with my pass and some basic questions answered I proceeded to find the line for my normal convention wristband.
Now some of you may ask why I would need a normal convention goers wristband if I already had the press pass? Well I bought my 4-day pass way before I got press and according to the rules of photo ops and autographs a wristband is required if you want to do any of the fun stuff like that. And it makes sense, you can’t be walking as press expecting to be allowed the perks that other people have paid for.
So it’s only fair that I too go through the process properly so I could get my photo ops and autographs too. After all, I have to do stuff for myself outside of the cosplay photo hunting that I’m assigned for.
While I was waiting to get my regular wristband I quietly LOL’d at people complaining about standing in such a long line. I stood in line to get into a NMB48 mini-live and handshake event in the middle of a typhoon with a broken umbrella.
All those people whining about standing around on a beautiful and dry spring day with the sun shining down on them really have no right to complain if they haven’t been through that kind of adversity. At least in my mind they should have STFU right then and there. And to be honest the line moved very quickly and the process of getting a wristband was extremely efficient. When I got mine I asked if there was an easy way of taking it off without damaging it.
Unfortunately the answer was I was probably stuck having it on for the entire weekend. Well that will make getting ready each day an interesting experience. The wristband doesn’t look waterproof. Is this to encourage one to join the ranks of the ranks of the unwashed masses?
I know that is a stereotype, but anyone who has been to a convention of this type knows that minority of people are around and are spreading their scent for everyone else to enjoy.
Given that it was Thursday and there weren’t many people there the prospects for a decent amount of cosplay was low at best. So I took the opportunity to get a little bit of shopping done. I stumbled upon some pretty cool giant mugs, and from what I was told they have the capacity to hold an entire bottle of wine.
I asked the vendor if I could take a few pictures and then after a long decision making process chose two mugs to take home. One Sailor Moon and one Hydra logo mug. And with that one purchase my prospects of quickly capturing the few cosplayers around went out the window. I just had too much stuff to carry now that I had two giant mugs plus all the other stuff I got when I registered.
I did manage to capture a couple of Daft Punk cosplayers. I’m not sure if I thanked them properly after I was done taking their picture, if not. Thanks very much, your cosplay was pretty damn cool.
And that was the end of Day 1.
Day 2 (Friday April 17, 2015)
The second day started late in the afternoon. I wasn’t scheduled to be around until 15:30 so no sense of urgency to be onsite was within me. Well at least I thought until I got on the train. Luckily there were no Bronies anywhere within sight so thank God for that.
The southbound trains were packed with people so I had to wait it out a little to get to the Stampede grounds. It’s funny to see Calgarians try to get on to a crowded train. There was such chaos and utter disregard for fellow passengers on display. So different from what I have seen in Japan in a similar situation.
Anyway, I eventually got to the Stampede grounds and to the Big Four building for my first 2-shot of the convention. This one was with Mick Foley. After wandering around for a bit I did find the right entrance and saw that the 2-shot was set up in a similar manner to an AKB one. Just on a much smaller scale.
I was looking for the guards asking for bag checks, pat downs and checking of the hands for bodily fluids. There was none of that. There were also no dudes with stop watches. What I did see was similar to the last time I was at a 2-shot for Calgary Expo and that is the star in a seat and you stand on either side of them. You do a quick pose and done.
The thing that was new to me was that you had to pick up your picture and scan out before you could leave the photo op area. On the way out there were protective sleeves on sale for prints at $5 a pop.
After getting my photo op done it was cosplay hunting time. I figured it would be dead considering that it’s still a workday and most who can afford to make some intricate costumes would still be slaving away at their day jobs.
But thankfully, there were some around both outside in the Stampede grounds and inside the various venues. I managed to get a few to strike a pose so primary mission slowly being accomplished.
I expect Saturday to be the most productive photo day.
Day 3 (Saturday April 18, 2015)
The day started very early for me. Having learned some lessons from Day 2 I showed up to the convention early to make sure I had time to make my photo ops and to get a good lay of the land in regards to lining up for panels and such.
My first photo op of the day was with Ming-na Wen. It was supposed to start at 12:15 but was delayed by 45 minutes. The reason? Nobody really explained but apparently the line was somewhat of a cluster so we were shifted back and forth to make it more orderly and such. It did bring back memories of the awfulness of line shifting at Sakura-con 2011 except nobody had to go up and down floors.
Even though it may sound like I’m griping the fact is nothing will be as bad as that “lineup”. My Hello! Project peeps from back of the day know what I’m talking about.
I was however, glad I had nothing else planned until 18:00 but I felt bad for those who were to do the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. group shot since this was cutting into their time as well. Eventually the line started moving and after that it was business as usual. For Ming-na Wen the staff asked if we would do a friendly pose or a fighting pose. Hey! Variety. Always good. I chose friendly pose. That definitely made up for the long wait.
After getting my picture taken I exchanged my cancelled Stan Lee photo op for one with Hayley Atwell later in the day. Might as well make use of it right? A refund is nice and all but if there is someone to take a picture with might as well take advantage of it.
Given that I had about 6 hours to kill I wandered around cosplay hunting and looking around at the mass of humanity that descended upon the Stampede grounds for this event. I managed to get some decent cosplay shots I think. There was a father/son team who dressed up as the Aliens from the Alien movies. Their costumes were so well done and it was difficult to get a pic of them since they were so popular.
Since I am the photo rookie on the Nihongogo team I learned that cosplay photography is a lesson of patience and waiting for the right moment to snap a pic. You can see how cool these costumes were, so it was worth the extra time to stick around for them. As the day progressed I continued to seek interesting costumes to take pictures of and in that regard I think I mostly succeeded. It definitely is a lot harder to get someone to stand still in a massive crowd, frame the picture and then snap away without being in the way.
Around 15:30 I lined up for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel featuring Ming-na Wen (Agent May) and Brett Dalton (Agent Ward) and made my way to the penalty box area of the Corral when we were allowed in. I set up shop with my fellow press folks and fired off a few test shots to make sure I had the proper settings on my camera for a proper exposure. (Look at me using all these big camera words as if I have a clue what I’m talking about.)
The panel itself was interesting and very funny. The 45-minute running time went by as if it was nothing and the fans were left wanting for more. Always leave them wanting more right?
After that it was off to get my 2-shot with Hayley Atwell and then back in line for the cosplay contest at the Corral. Once again, I was seated in the penalty box area ready to aim and fire off pictures.
There was a bit of an issue with disabled person who had two rather large flagpoles on his wheelchair that blocked our view of the far stage. The photographer next to me moved up a bit so he could get proper shots. I was fine where I was for the most part.
It was my first time watching a cosplay contest so I really had no clue what was going on. But there were many great costumes that were wonderful homages to their source material. I didn’t recognize all of what was on display but that was okay.
2 hours later I returned home with 600+ pictures to filter through.
Day 4 (Sunday April 19, 2015)
After staying up into the wee hours of the morning narrowing down my pics for publishing I did not to expect to wake up when my alarm went off. But since I had one more photo op to do I got out of bed and headed to the convention.
It was a sunny Sunday and not as bone chilling cold in the morning as the previous day. There were not many people on the grounds when I arrived at 11:30 and that made for an easy trek to the Big Four building to do my photo op. By this time I had the procedure of how it all worked down so no need to waste time searching for the right lineup.
My final photo op was with Trish Stratus. Once I got that done it was off to cherry pick whatever cosplay pics I could get for the day and to do some last minute shopping.
As I was leaving the Stampede grounds for the day I ended up getting a call asking if I was available for a media opportunity with Trish Stratus and Amy Dumas (a.k.a. Lita) Not one to pass up the opportunity I headed back to the convention and checked in for the interview.
Normally I am prepared for such things ahead of time but I had absolutely nothing I could ask these women that has not been asked a million times before. And going to my peeps rendered few helpful results. So I winged it. I winged it big time.
The interview started with me asking a serious wrestling related question and then specific questions for both women, and then the interview went in a strange sideways direction. Not in a bad way, but in a good way as we kind of went over time by pretty much bullshitting the rest of the way. Anyway, that interview should be up here and on Nihongogo within the next few days or so once I figure out what to transcribe.
What I expected to be a very short day turned out to be an almost all day affair. But it was worth it for the Team Bestie interview alone. I would like to thank the media relations team at Calgary Expo and of course Trish Stratus and Amy Dumas for the interview.
And that wraps up my Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo coverage. Well the long version of it anyway. If you want the short & sweet version that will be up on Nihongogo later.