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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Anime North

Alright, some AN stuff.

To recap, I help organize and run an anime con called Anime North which was held last weekend in a hotel (the Doubletree), and a convention center directly across the street (the Toronto Congress Center).

Spent most of Wednesday helping to move stuff from storage or people's houses to the hotel and the TCC, which always takes a lot longer than you think it will. We need more people with vans to help out with this. The problem being that as this is a volunteer-run con, not everyone can (or can afford) just take half the week off to help. I'm pretty lucky that way.

To date, the con has run from Friday afternoon to 6 PM Sunday, but this year, to try and help allivate the long line-ups at registration, we had a Thursday night pre-reg check-in. On Thursday, anyone who had pre-registered (no new memberships were being sold) could come to the hotel and get their badge and other items, and so avoid having to stand in line Friday. We were expecting maybe a few hundred, and got over 700, so this experiment was a success. So much so, that we're planning on getting more space at the hotel on Thursday and running a big video room next year. Argh. We're on the way to becoming a four-day con.

I spent most of the con at the TCC office, keeping things running properly there. The TCC contained registration, the Dealer's Room, Artist Alley, Art Room, Gaming (Video and tabletop), and the Contest Stage (for staged events that only need seating for a few hundred people). The Doubletree contained almost all of the Programming events (panels, videos, workshops, autographs, anything with the guests, con suite, and the Main Stage for the Masquerade). So once the initial set-up was done, most of the complicated events were at the hotel, and the bulk of the staff was there to deal with it. Too much bulk actually, next year I've got to get a few more people who know the ins and outs of the con over at the TCC to help me out, so I'm not run off my feet again.

Aside from a brief blackout on Friday before any events officially started (thanks to a power glitch echoing our famous Masquerade Blackout of 2004), things at the TCC ran pretty well. There was always problems cropping up but we managed to get them handled, albeit with a small amount of yelling on my part.

Dealer's Room and Artist Alley did their usual huge business. The DDR machine was constantly in use, and the lineup at reg were long, but manageable. Thank God for USS Hudson's Bay, a SF club that comes in every year with 25 people or so to help my brother at reg. I don't know what we'd do without them.

I rarely got across the street and saw almost no programming at the Doubletree, the price you pay for running the thing. The big snag at the Doubletree was a water pipe breaking on Saturday (for reason having nothing to do with the con), and blowing up a giant AC unit, with the power surge knocking out the elevators for a few hours. The elevators came back, but it's going to take the hotel several weeks to fix the AC, so the guests room were a little stuffy Sunday.

Because of the elevator, the Masquerade started late (duh!), but the pre-show was well received, and it actually ended on time! We capped the Masquerade this year at 80 entries. After getting 140 last year it was time to turn it into something manageable, and if was one of the best-run we've had. We spent a pretty penny on the Main Stage Av and staging this year, but it was well worth it. The video feed to one of the large video rooms downstairs even worked.

And the dance was packed and ran till 3 AM. One of the amps blew a fuse, but that just meant the music was deafening rather than brain-tumour-inducing. Why do DJs insist on turning it up that loud?

We've gotten great feedback from the guests as well. We had a bunch of voice actors who work in the same studio, but almost never see each other because of differing schedules, so this was a chance for them to socialize together.

Anyway, it's taken me most of the week to get my strength back after running on adrenaline for four days straight. I'm glad it's over, but I've felt strangely out of sorts the past few days, like I should be doing something. Like work, maybe.