Tuesday, 30 August 2016

ConBravo: Digital Art + WebComics

This is a sub-post of the whole convention, covering “Webcomics Q&A” (Fri) and “Digital Art 101” (Sun). Quotes are not exact, any errors are my own, enjoy.

By the time of “Digital Art 101” on Sunday I’d found my stride for recording panels, so I’m starting with that. The panel at 1pm had a very long line, but everyone got in, and it ended up being Q&A style with the following panelists: Andrew Gregoire (AG)* ; Tammy (T) ; Vitaly Alexius (VA)* ; Meeshka (M)* ; Alison “Oceantann” (AO). (*: means also in webcomics later)

Photo Order: AO, M, VA, T, AG

Q1: The best way to start? Program and tablet to use? Personal preferences?
T: Whatever you start with is fine. Some use Bamboo. Don’t have to start with expensive stuff.
VA: Go with Photoshop. You can also buy a used tablet, some sell for pretty cheap.
M: Photoshop, I’m from the old generation when we used to bootleg it.
AO: I used a Bamboo for 13 years, just switched.
AG: I don’t recommend Touch, can get a little annoying. It costs $600 more, than you’ll want to turn the touch feature off.
T: I lean [on the screen], and sometimes if it turns on by itself, it’s annoying.
AG: I don’t like the disconnect of my hand being here and the cursor being on the screen somewhere else. Love seeing my hand and the line I draw. For programs, I use Photoshop mainly but recommend Manga Studio as a cheap alternative. I use it for some things. (Around boxing day it goes on sale?) Sketchbook Pro is good, like $49, but not great for text if doing comics. Nice to have perspective tools.
T: “Krita” is another one I use, it’s still in alpha or beta. Functional program that you can also animate in.
AG: And I think GIMP is like open sourced Photoshop. There’s some web based photoshop as well, I don’t know what it does, if it gunks up layers eventually.

Q2: How do you deal with backgrounds?
VA: I have about five terabytes of photography. At every comic con, I go out and take pictures of stuff. Build up an archive, some of them I can use in comics, or use as a reference in making comics.
T: I don’t see it as a background, but as a part of the whole picture. Wouldn’t have a character in a background; I’d consider the chair or table as part of the subject, then a wall behind that. That kind of helps me.

Q3: Favourite thing to draw?
AG: People, I like drawing people and life drawing. Sitting in a cafe and seeing crazy characters in this world. I’m a creeper?
AO: Some great people in history also did that.
VA: I like backgrounds, putting as much as possible into them, cityscapes or water falling or that.
M: I was inspired by Boris Viahayhill(??). Muscular men and women in fantasy settings, heavy metal. I want to draw very detailed things on people, like bums doing squats.
AO: I like drawing cute anime things. My favourite artist was (missed it). Drawing things that make people happy. That makes me happy.
T: I like drawing my characters, the girls.

Q4: Do you find a disconnect between digital and traditional? How do you work with that?
VA: I started with oil painting. Style was very similar to Lawren Harris of ‘Group of Seven’, so when I came to Canada [from Russia] and saw him, I thought “I have to change my style”. That’s when I switched to digital, with high resolution and detail style, high contrast.
M: I started traditional, with oils and acrylics. Switch to digital was easier to expand, don’t have to worry about how expensive that stuff is, when you need to preserve the oils you have. I now find traditional very lacklustre, more flat versus what I can express digitally. Which is more robust, can make mistakes and experiment more.
AG: Good having the Ctrl-Zee.
AO: Ctrl-Zed.
AG: Ctrl-Zed, and I’m Canadian too, oh dear. It’s amazing. It can be a crutch. Doing traditional made me more sure about the lines and flow, I got more confident with drawing by the end of it. So when I did have the transform tool and poly lassos, those are simply extra tools to push my drawing - I already had the confidence. That’s my disconnect.

Q5: Do you tend to build stories around art, or art around stories?
VA: For me, the art first. Take a bunch of pictures, an abandoned building with my friends, then I look at them, and paint, and the story comes out.
AG: Most of my stuff is one shot humour comic. I write ahead of time, then do the art to supplement the joke. But when I start drawing the comic, I put the word bubbles in first, so that I don’t cover up the art. I have a friend who does all the art first then thinks, I’ll put in a joke, which for me is totally backwards, but he makes it work. Helps avoid talking heads.
AO: Story first, a feeling, then try to create it. I can’t even think of how to do it the other way around. Make a story given the character? No, she’s just there looking cool.

Q6: Any advice for getting better at composition?
AG: Draw. No, that IS the biggest general thing. I like drawing people in cafes, but not just people, a doorframe around them, or the table. Things that emphasize the main subject matter, which is the person. I find just drawing everything helps.
T: Another thing that really helps - book about Cinematic Storytelling. More for animation, but it teaches you about certain principles that help. Like compositional rules, there were three key ones.
VA: I have a warehouse studio with a green screen. So I pose actual models in the scene.
M: I’m really bad at this because my art’s on steroids the last few months. Expand the canvas, I’m going to freeform! (No, you have to plan this!)
AO: There’s the rule of thirds, and I like having three things. Like a girl, whose two hands and face make a triangle. But yeah.
AG: Composition has been studied for hundreds and hundreds of years. Find great books, study old paintings. Golden Ratio, and you don’t always want something in the centre screen, shifting it off gives space. It’s all guidelines anyway, if you can break a rule and make it good.
T: You can also break it down into shapes. Make a small drawing, somewhat light, the darkest being in front. Basic shapes of whatever you want as a precursor to the illustration.

Q7: For creating characters, choosing the palate, what colours?
Polynomials are blonde females
AG: Usually depends on the character. Angry character, maybe more hot, unless it’s an angry ice person.
T: I’ll pick up a palate from a picture - is it a rainy kind of day? I typically stay with warmer colours. Complimentary colours will always look good together, use the colour on the opposite end of the colour wheel for shadow.
VA: For me, each character has a colour attached. Like the captain is purple, royalty. Orange person is always scared of stuff. Michelangelo would paint things out in black and white first, I do the same. But in layers. I’ll add a different layer on top of B&W to see what looks better, green or a blue one.
AO: Can sometimes use template colour palates.

Q8: On individual creativity versus outside trends. A dichotomy, jump into the pool with everyone first?
AG: I think that’s a personal thing. Style and the like? It evolves over time. So if you like drawing a certain way, and if others like drawing in that similar way - how you treat lines and paint will be uniquely yours even if you’re influenced. Style always evolves.
VA: When you start out, experiment in all possible mediums. Whichever one you like the most, stick with that.
AG: But challenge yourself too. Break out of your comfort zone every once in a while so you can progress and get better.
AO: For a while, I tried to do things that were really popular. Like posters in the dealers room with shinies, but I realized I really sucked at it. I thought, I like cute things, I’m just going to do this.

Q9: Are there things you really want to be able to draw, but haven’t been satisfied with?
AG: Yeah, that definitely, yeah, you’re going to have those days where you don’t seem to draw anything well. Just keep drawing. To draw a motorcycle, I’ll draw 60 of them until I can do it without a reference. “Horses on spiral staircases in a crowd are the hardest things.” Keep drawing them. You’ll pick out cheats, shapes you need to describe it. Draw the thing you don’t know how to draw, over and over, until you know.
VA: Yeah, pretty much just practice.
M: No matter how long you’ve been practicing, with me hands is my vice. It violently enrages me that I cannot draw a stupid hand. Pages and pages, and I still don’t get it right. I pout and cry in the corner for a bit, then sketch again next week. You go back and forth, there’s those days.
VA: Maybe find an instructor in your town, who you can hire to help you draw that specific thing. Every day in Russia for 4 hours, I had to paint really specific stuff. Now I can do that no problem.

Q10: What do you find tricky?
AG: There’s lots of complex stuff in animals. (“Horses on staircases”)
T: I don’t draw men very well.
VA: Animals, but anything I don’t have a practice in. If a client thinks of something absurd.
AO: Old people? And animals.

Q11: More on composition, I’m not good at setting up a shot, getting characters where they need to be. I looked at Columbus movies, freeze framing that, it’s supposed to be good for cinematography. In your opinion, do you think that helps art?
VA: Definitely copy the masters. In Russia we’d go to art galleries, copy this painting, figure out how it works.
AG: I would put on Pixar films and recreate “The Incredibles” in a sketchbook to see how they approached composition and editing. As long as you’re not turning THAT into a piece, and are using it to learn, copying is fine.
T: In classes we’d freeze frame movies, you’d have five minutes to draw something. With the time limit you can’t do detail, just get shapes and the idea.
M: What I started doing was, rather than starting from an art perspective (which didn’t occur), I tried to apply principles of photography. There’s so many more resources in a concrete, direct way. Tried taking that more familiar knowledge, applying it to what I do now.
AO: I didn’t go to art school. Props to you, I feel like I was lazy and should really do that.
T: Art school isn’t super necessary. All the resources are available to you.
VA: The internet now!
AO: It’s the discipline I would like to have.
M: You are surrounded by people and support there.
AG: Art school is great for networking, I got most of my jobs from animation. But it’s not necessary because of the internet and social media.
M: When it comes to practice, while we do have resources online, art in an art school? That time is dedicated to practicing, and you have a mentor pushing you. Even if people don’t feel it’s useful [at the time], you’ll know practice is work, and it’s hard. You have to keep pushing your brain, and art students can maybe take that for granted. Get support from people who know better and can point you in the right directions, who have more mental bandwidth.

Q12: Opinions on the ‘Starving Artists’ idea?
AG: You shouldn’t be one, if you have talent and money you don’t need to be broke and living in squalor. I think it’s a negative thing that a lot of people take advantage of, like companies who throw an art contest for logos designs. I get upset by that, hard working people who get taken advantage of, it’s something art people will have to group together and deal with.
AV: For my commissions, I looked at this website, recently closed. Projects there, is a rate for professional artists. I go by that. I’ll try to find the link again, see my deviantart.
M: Bit of a rant coming, so sorry. Companies take advantage of musicians, composers, the whole guilting “If you love what you do, you’ll do it for free”. Don’t be afraid to give them the finger. Remember the “Oregon Trail” game, where you can die of exposure. Also, know you are on an economic scale affecting the people around you, and setting the precedents. There’s this race to the bottom mentality, with certain vendors who will take official art through a photoshop filter and sell it for $5, and people don’t realize what the guy’s done. Have a realistic outlook, but if the average market rate is $500, don’t charge $50 because you’re desperate, it’s your new bottom standard. Becomes harder to climb there. If it’s a charity and you’re all in the same ship, okay, but if other people are getting paid, be careful.
T: Be careful of “free internships” too. Places hire you for free labour and disguise it as school credit or exposure. They want to take advantage of you and use your work and not credit you. At least get minimum wage.
Audience Member: Look at yourself as a tradesman and a professional.
M: Turn things back at an interviewer. Would you do this for 40 hours for free? There’s no “so much experience” gig that has ever led anywhere. Behind your back they’ll say “this guy does it for free”.
Audience Member: Idea of “why pay $500 for something you did in an hour”? Because I could do it in an hour, not several days!
AG: Time is worth money.

Q13: What’s average time worked on a piece, and the longest time?
VA: 60 hours is average for painting. Longest was 11 months. A city painting.
AG: I can draw a comic in half an hour; it’s not good.
T: Sometimes, really fast. In animation, you have to draw fast and efficiently. A sketch in maybe 15 minutes. I’m not great at rendering, so maybe a day, two days sometimes.
AG: One time I was doing 75 seconds a week, 2 minutes a week, pumping it out, I had to get good fast. Hand drawn? I like to keep it to 25 seconds per week. You have to break a character down into parts, practicing, to make it good.
AO: I’m not sure. Ever since I got my sitique(??) companion, I work in the passenger seat of a car, so I’ll do 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there. So maybe 6 hours? 12 hours?

Q14: What do you think is the best method to get faster?
AG: Study animation. Seriously, you have to be fast in animation, there’s so much drawing. And it goes back to practice, you get faster the more you do it.
T: Don’t fuss over small details, they won’t be that noticeable in the end. With an illustration, maybe, but overall they’re not going to be staring at someone’s hands. Think about the overall. Don’t think of a person as a neck with a head and body, think of the whole thing at once.
VA: Find someone who can draw fast in animation, and throw money at them.
AG: Start general, then go specific, you’ll get faster that way. There are times when I’m thinking I have to get this eye right, and then I haven’t even put detail on the body. And in the end it looks terrible, but this one eye, man!
M: If it’s quick, I’ll be saying I hate it, I hate my life, throw it out or the digital equivalent. It’s practice, like language or reading.

Q15: Drafting makes flat, non-detailed images. How to add depth to an image?
VA: Textures, lots and lots of textures. Go with a camera, and take pictures of rocks. Then apply it in Photoshop.
AG: Things in the back will be lighter than in the foreground, and foreground colours. You want thicker lines closer up, then as you get further back, treat your lines and subject matters lighter.
T: For drafting, I’m assuming CAD, I’d suggest more 3D oriented. Look at perspective to add the depth, that’s going to make the most impact. A benefit of colouring or editing features.

That was it - locations were given for where to find people, if you wanted to come by their tables. “We have cards too, I can give you an email addresses, you can stalk us, you want my chequing account?” As I noted at the top, some of these were the same artists as had been in the “Webcomics Q&A”, which is below.

*****

“Webcomics Q&A” was at 10:30pm on Friday. My note taking was more haphazard, I often didn’t note who was answering, and have pieced together the panelist names after the fact. Panelists and their comics were: Chris Grady (CG) “LunarBaboon” ; Andrew Gregoire (AG) “ARG!” ; Don (D) who used to do comics, if you recognize a full name tell me ; Vitaly Alexius (VA) “Romantically Apocalyptic” ; Meeshka (M) married to VA and helps with art.

Photo Order: M, VA, D, AG, CG

Why did they start?
CG: started for therapy, going through tough times.
D: was reading Channel8 and Cyanide/Happiness, looked kind of fun. Also therapeutic based on a stress at the time.
VA: noted that in Soviet Union (where he was born) the only thing not banned was Robocop, a US dystopia. So his writing was dystopian, dark humour, finding light in dismal situations.
AG: started as a journal, therapeutic, then some people found it funny, so he continued.

CG said he stopped watching TV [to find the time]. Kids in bed before 10pm, a matter of what can be made in the shortest amount of time, with less detail, that will still resonate with people. “I have to go really simple.” He changed his style, in some way that’s helped. His day job of teaching he likes to keep as a day job.

D was asked why he doesn’t make comics any more? At some point, the ideas became too big to fit on a few panels, “so I thought I’d try animation”. It became a medium he had more fun working with.

The hardest part? 
AG?: The writing. So tired and having to think of ideas.
Someone said as long as you’re not offensive or making fun of a group, it’s fine. If you don’t like dick and fart jokes, you’re lying! (Personal Aside: I don’t. Seriously, no, strive for better.)

Ever wanted to change something, but thought it would upset fans?
D: Nope. I take the audience’s opinions into account, but it’s good to explore different things and not be limited. One time I tried colour and people went nuts.
CG: My father started as a parent father, but I didn’t want to write about that all the time. Sometimes it will be dark or sad, but in the end, you have to think about why you’re making this comic. Is it just for those people? Most of us make comics to bring out what’s inside of us.
Related: Sometimes you have to make yourself happy. It’s always the most negative comments that pop out, but that’s not the majority of your following. Many are silent. Also, if you think it’s just okay, people love it. If you think it’s great, they won’t like it. [Go figure.]

When you get into a rut?
AG/D?: I just write, everything, as if I’m a college professor who’s an expert on something that I know nothing about. That gets me out of it.
CG: If you’re so down, how do you make anything? Hard if you make a humour comic. But if I have trouble getting out of bed - write about that. Want something people can relate to. Sometimes it’s really hard, but you have to turn it into something.

M?: As a creative person going through treatment for bipolar, I was stuck in the same thing. Music lyrics was dark and morbid, then had a manic phase of putting out poem after poem, then a block and a rut. And I would go hysterical and 5 months would go by and I’d only write the dumbest thing. What helped was getting into the mindset. Picture how your life will be. See yourself in a happier scenario, pull yourself into a better life. Write a lousy self insert that you never publish?
VA?: If inspired by reading Russian Harry Potter fanfiction? Sort based on that, as voted by readers. If I want motivation for humour, say. Which helps me find things in my own universe. 

The balancing act. Anything you do to get into the mindset?
AG/D?: That exercise, pretending I’m a professor lecturing.
CG: If I don’t have the idea already by the time I sit down, it’s not going to happen. I can draw and ink, but that’s it, so I’ll have some [plan] from the subway home. Or if you don’t have it in you, that’s fine, don’t put out something you’re not proud of.

Anything made it hard when you first started? Blockage, but you did it anyway?
?: Tons of passion at the start. Some who put Google analytics on the site, then if the numbers don’t come in, they get obsessed. Don’t, concentrate on doing something good. “At some point, I just stopped caring about it.” I enjoyed making this.
?: Surround yourself with people that are going to support you.
M: When I was 17, I was convinced I’d do art full time. Had trouble breaking in, my ex said, “you know, art isn’t really a real job”. I should have kicked him in the ass; I stopped art. I’m back, with this guy.
?: Any time there’s a person telling you “be realistic” don’t listen to that.

Assuming traditional art start? More digital art?
?: I had to get a tablet where I could see my pen line. I know some don’t need it.
CG: It’s easier on the screen and kind of fun, but I still prefer it by hand.
VA: I switched after about 3 weeks of doing it with the tablet, now I can’t stop.
For software, all mention Photoshop. MangaStudio (usually on Boxing Day they go 90% off, $50). Sketchbook pro. Flash.

Any issues with originality, people saying you stole stuff?
?: One did a comic that was similar to mine, the execution was different. It’s going to happen all the time. I DO usually google my punch lines - was this funny before? If I see it, I don’t do it.
?: It’s easy to create a humour meme comic now, everyone can do it, so it’s about delivery and execution, putting your name on it. As long as you’re sincere and not trying to copy. (Referenced April Fools joke 2016, many comics did the same pail-of-water gag simultaneously claiming someone else copied them.) “It was great to see in the span of 16 hours, a meme come to life, get overused, die, get resurrected, and then die again.”
?: If you’re doing a slice of life comic, my life IS like a million other peoples’. But the unoriginality can make it popular. Relatable. Every Pixar movie is about Love.
?: Disney took stories out there [public domain], created character designs, then trademarked.
?: There’s more of the laziness happening, but we have more access to things now. We didn’t have the luxury of the internet 1000 years ago, we’d probably have seen [similar things] 1000 years ago because people like sharing.

Anyone putting stuff out there will be influential. Do you ever feel responsibility for the message being put out there? Social conscience, racism?
?: Yeah, it definitely comes up. I wrote a joke that was probably insulting to the trans community about four years ago. I’ve changed, I look back on this comic and think it’s bad, I took it down. I may make fun of sexist and racist people.
CG: I think about it all the time, there’s volumes of books that my kids are reading. I try to put in messages I think are important, but also be as honest as possible. You definitely think about it. What you say is important.
VA: There are hidden messages in my comic. [in-universe] against people who cannot connect to the internet with their mind, so they’re separated. Tools in fantasy can be used for giving us a message.
M?: I’m half native, I grew up with pressures, I struggle with self-deprecating humour. Some people outside the community who see a joke may not understand, while people within understand it the most. Trouble is, if they see my joke as the stamp of approval, where they can also say that, and no. It’s context.
?: People who share comics with your username and sitelink cut out, loses context. Maybe they’ll look for the source before jumping into “I’m offended by this”? If you understand your audience and yourself, you shouldn’t have to censor yourself, but I don’t want to perpetuate something that has stereotypes outside the community.

The usual proverbs “Art imitates life.” ... “If you don’t know what to write, you write what you know.” ... “Comedy is Tragedy plus time”. Anything in life hit too close to home? Too personal? Did you keep going?
?: Yes. Keep going.
VA: “My work revolves around that.”
CG: If it hits too close, like one comic inspired by something my wife said (“getting on a train”) I switched it so it’s me instead of her, and brought the joke full circle so it didn’t feel as honest. Basically “I remixed it”. Can change who said what [and how].
VA: [speaking of inspiration] Warning label in a purse “this may cause cancer in the state of California”.

The biggest influences to your art, got you to your style?
Responses: Anime. Animation (Disney, Batman Animated Series). Poetry. Calvin & Hobbes - sweet but also dark and real and intelligent.

Much based on Patreon now - issues with getting money from audience, feeling obligated?
?: I guilt them every chance.
CG: I make some money. “The more ways you try to make money with your comic, the less time you have to make the comic.” I don’t feel like I make my comics for the patreon people. I hope the support is because a dollar to them is nothing.
?: Definitely a business side to it, and you need to be somewhat savvy.
D?: YouTube partnership, took years to grow my brand, that was my risk. At first no money.
VA: I did 20 ComicCons a year, but with always flying (or taking train) from one place to another, no time to create.
?: Invest in yourself too. Advertising through Project Wonderful. Once I started making some money there, I could put what I WAS making back into the creation. Need some good content to start.

What pushes you to continue creating?
D?: I’m a storyteller. Revolves around the feedback of other people. If I enjoy it myself or have a video idea, I’ll talk to myself or use a mirror. I’m the most important audience, so as long as I enjoy it I can continue.
AG?: I pitch to a small group of people. If one or two of them go “Hah” I’m good. I get burnout pretty easy. So this, and conventions, or reading comics at the booth is great. Genuine laughter, tells me I am funny.
CG: After 4 years of this I feel way better the mornings when I’ve made a comic than the ones when I don’t. Someone saying “this comic has changed my life”, or even just making someone’s day. I find that I do need the audience. Or it just becomes a diary.
VA?: By reading my comic people can realize they’re in a terrible relationship, and they can get out of it.

Draw inspiration from?
Kids. Relationship with wife. To make fun of myself.

That’s how it concluded - please let me know if you spot a massive misattribution, or can attribute something I questioned. Thanks for reading through, more recap posts to come, follow this blog or the Main ConBravo post for when the links go up.

Monday, 29 August 2016

ConBravo: Q&A Video Games + Anime

This is a sub-post of the whole convention, covering Reviewer Q&A 2 (Sat) and Let’s Talk Anime & Youtube (Sun). Quotes are not exact, any errors are my own, enjoy.

“Reviewer Q&A 2: The Video Game” at 2pm Saturday featured most of the video game reviewers I’d encountered earlier at the Reviewer Autographs, plus or minus a few. In specific we had: Shane Luis from Rerez (RZ), Adam Koralik (AK), Erika Szabo (ES), Dex the Swede (DS), and Tom “Heisanevilgenius” White (TW).


Photo Order: TW, DS, ES, AK, RZ

Q1: Any things as you reviewed that seemed good, but then you realized were not?
RZ: Shane said he got a camera for a great deal, did an entire two hour recording, then found all the footage was 55 frames per second. YouTube can only handle 32 frames, so entire episode got scrapped. Camera was from Taiwan, he called the person he’d got it from, and they’d moved.

Q2: What was your first game ever?
ES: Started at age 5 or 6, first game was Yoshi - Mom didn’t realize it was Nintendo, not SuperNintendo. Then Zelda, “A Link to the Past”.
TW: Played since age 3, don’t remember, it was Commodore 64.
DS: Remember my age 3, it was SuperMario World.
AK: Me too, played it at my cousin’s house, begged mom for the game. People in the playground talking Genesis in early 90s, I was wondering about Space Invaders. It was awkward.
RZ: My first console game was Atari 2600’s “Dragster”, push a button, the car goes. Then blows up. First for PC was “Cross Country Canada”, where you got a truck. Aside, “ICON Computers” in 1980s were unique to us, made in Kitchener, sent all over Ontario. They were destroyed, like the Avro Arrow, because of worry that kids’ information was locked on the computers. Guelph, Ontario still has some, and the guy who created “Cross Country Canada” worked there; you can talk to him. Ask him why there were prostitutes in that game. ICON computer code was even used for Blackberry phones years later.
TW: And “Robot R&D”?
RZ: Yeah, you could make robots and they couldn’t do anything! Everyone wanted to play KidPicks back then.
DS: That sounds so wrong. KidPics?
RZ: It was like Corel Draw. Oh, I get what you’re saying now.
DS: You were the last horse to cross that bridge.

Q3: Heard of Math Circus?
TW: Yes, but I wasn’t good at math, so I never wanted to play it - I was worried that I’d learn. “MathRescue”, “WordRescue”, I hated playing all of them because you had things like SuperMario teaches typing. Educational but not very fun.

Q4: Doing something on Special Education Dreamcast games?
AK: I have a full set. I was more open to something more obscure like Japanese games, except Sega was going after people on YouTube. Less now, but still. There is one about Sega taking over the world but you need knowledge of Japanese.
Audience Member: Going to do a retrospective?
AK: I do all game consoles in a generation, and my experience with them. Never done it with handhelds, will eventually. He was the only person in the world to have an N-Gage when it was relevant.

Q5: Ever been confused for other reviewers?
AK: Once for ProJared, that guy was real weird.
DS: Someone thought I was peanutbuttergamer once.
RZ: At this convention, someone thought I was Shane from DigiBro(?) gaming.

Q6: If you had one review that you would strike out of existence, what is it?
TW: The episode hated most accidentally DID get wiped out. He would have liked to salvage the jokes and redo it; it was improvised. A review of “Dusty Diamonds All Star Softball”, known as something else in Japan, where you build an all star team. The American version has the same five faces whereas Japanese includes an eyeball monster and Dracula and an amazing amount of depth. It wasn’t good; made for 20 minutes of video on 5 minutes of content.
AK: Kind of regret, but not really, “Yakyuken Special” for NES. A Japanese game where you play Rock-Paper-Scissors against girls, and when you win they strip. No strategy and heavily censored but they took down our WHOLE channel over it. Then said they can’t fix it but would give a new channel, had to restore things, lost about a year.
TW: Also a video called 32 Likes in one, 32 games in one except it’s only, like, 9; they had different names three times. “Mario 1” “Mario Legend”, etc; I rushed that video to get to MagFest, it was not good.
ES: More from a technical standpoint, “Tales of Xillia” review. She likes that game a lot, but was just a talking head. “I was pretty new”, lots of camera cutting possible which I do now. I can’t watch some of my older videos. Many things you think back on, how to address people on my channel, it changes over time as you find yourself, little by little.
RZ: My one is “Worst Console Ever”. It has a million views, but if you look in the background, the light cable is right by my head. Didn’t think to move it. And when recording gameplay it changed resolution, and every time it did I couldn’t use the footage; the review’s also not good technically.
TW: Technical things are not what most people worry about.
RZ: The cable is orange! It sticks out, I see it every time.
ES: You’re your own worst critic, right? That’s how it goes.
(Someone notes when things look okay in a tiny window, then you upload and see full screen and damn.)

Q7: Anything you’d want to do, if you could?
DS: “Life is Strange”. Would love to talk about it but my channel isn’t fit for it.
TW: My main thing is weird video games.
ES: Will watch others play horror games, but not myself, get scared way too easily.
AK: Don’t have an answer.
RZ: Games that are mediocre. Need it to be really good or really bad. Played “Hatred” and made a positive video, but I regret playing after because 5 or 6 hours straight you feel sick. Saying “I’m going to kill your family” and then you do in the next level, it’s not happy.

Q8: What’s something obscure, weird consoles?
ES: Crystal Console.
DS: All turbo graphics in OEG, I don’t have those.
TW: A game that’s probably crazy expensive, video and board game ran the same time; you move pieces then go into the game, depending.
AK: I have an Apple Pippin. Did you know Apple made a game console, Amiga CD32? From Commodore, successful in UK, not allowed to be sold in US. This dude had a boxed Canadian version, only maybe 10,000 were ever shipped.
RZ: I’ll limit myself to 3. One from a coffee machine in Japan, an ISO can play games on it.
DS: Can’t you review the coffee machine?
RZ: There’s that, then the system “Game Kid” and “Game Girl”, Sega Master systems which are pink and black and blue. Made a master system but didn’t want wires so has an antenna, hooks into the back of a TV. Only released in Brazil?
AK: Still officially supported by them.
RZ: Third, only released in Brazil called the Szabo. A video game console with mobile phone components, EA to activation release games on this system. Everything’s in portuguese about this thing and download only. Craziest little system.
?: Lots of porn games in Brazil.

Q9: What’s the most valuable game that you’ve owned?
ES: I did have Earthbound, complete in box. And ChronoTrigger with maps, complete in box. But I also like my dual stick controller.
TW: I have “Misadventures of Tron Bonne”. Didn’t know it got really expensive, heard it’s going for $300.
DS: Can’t think of one I have.
AK: Panzer Dragoon Sega. Worth $500? Have a full Dreamcast set too, was collecting in 2008 & 2009, nobody cared. Guy told me it’s now a $200 game, not $5. There’s “Diamond Vector”(?) which is not valuable because no one knows it exists. Original Xbox, most is worthless but some exclusives, one in South Korea is “Zillergame”(??). Another “Diamond Vector” only released in Singapore I bought for $20 is worth $200 - and many original fans argue with me that it does not exist. “I’m happy to ruin the market for everybody.”
RZ: I had, but got rid of it yesterday, the rarest PSP game, “Hilton Ultimate Team Play”. Bought it for $5 at Cash Converters, it’s a 3D environment simulator for teaching people how to work at a Hilton Holiday Inn. People who work there got judged on how well they did in the game. Only 500 ever released, never sold in stores.
AK: Regarding weird promotional things, Toyota dealerships would have a Dreamcast disc that would talk about the car. Those are impossible discs to find.

Q10: Any formula for scripts?
AK: I don’t do it.
RZ: I try, it sounds like a robot. I talk, then I work around it.
DS: I hate scripts. It’s not that I hate what I write, it’s that I hate writing.
TW: I love writing. I love every aspect except for editing.
DS: That’s the best part! Everything’s coming together!
TW: Yeah, in the last 2 minutes, depending on video length. For the question, I wouldn’t say I have a formula, it’s kind of chaotic. I want to preserve the unpredictable nature of things I review. I start writing while on break at work, then go through and fix up, add more jokes, sometimes I’ll be in the middle of recording and will fix lines I don’t like. But I put a lot of work into writing.
ES: I have to agree, I absolutely love it. I’ve also worked with a journalist. If I don’t have a loose script of bullet points, I tend to go on tangents, so I’ll cut at those points. Game, music, art, separate all with cuts, my head’s just too disorganized. I like to edit too; it’s a bit of a tedious process.
TW: I love one liners in a video that I can feel proud of. “Mahjong the Lady Hunter” is an arcade game in Japan - they have strip mahjong like we have poker. The main character is BatMan, all the women are jewel thieves, one level looks like a bathhouse. One woman’s wearing a towel, BatMan bursts through the window - forced to accept this reality.

(* I asked my question here as I did in Q&A #1:
*Q11: What keeps you going when you’re feeling down or frustrated?
DS: As soon as you start doing one part, you kinda keep on going from there. The most important part is just go. Don’t procrastinate, don’t watch “Steven Universe”.
TW: I get burned out so many times, hard drives fail, a laptop got stolen. I have no idea how I’m doing this.
ES: I’ve had burnout happen. No matter how bad, it’s hard to find the drive; it’s finding your roots and why did I want to start. How did I get here, how does this shape me. Think about it like that, it’s a good chance to be as creative as I want to be too, even if I want to take a break.
AK: To eat, pay bills, and not die.
RZ: I just enjoy making videos, editing is my favourite thing. Went to school to be a video production person, made a TV pilot that didn’t go anywhere, and couldn’t get the actors back (hired with a friend). So started getting in front of the camera, and every episode, I don’t get sick of it, like building the story and narrative, and search to find something. About the only thing I don’t like, is if I need to say specific numbers or historical references. I will do it 157 times until it’s right, and even then it’s not.
DS: During work in progress, do you get a song stuck in your head?
RZ: Yes.
DS: Bubble bobble was terrible.
RZ: Rerez2 also a channel for new things. Everything in the background is from Earthbound; if Nintendo found out they’d sue but it’s what I hear when I’m working. I do it for fun, not on the main channel.

Q12: What about copyright?
AK: Nintendo loves to go after people on YouTube for content. Did a “Jurassic Park” movie once, some random company came after me for a sound effect. Took down the whole video. It’s an annoying thing you have to deal with.
TW: What I generally do is upload unlisted, then know if I get flags from a bot. If I don’t think it’s worth fighting, I’ll take out the bit. My movie reviews will usually get hits. Sometimes I’ll fight the claim in private then release it for everyone.
DS: Only had one claim, not for a song, it was for the “Donkey Kong Country” TV show. Most say mirror the footage to avoid a claim, I didn’t do that, it got Content IDed right away. About a year later, yanked - it’s still up but I don’t get anything for it.
ES: It’s annoying when it’s after the fact. I don’t put up audio, I ask musicians on BandCamp if they’re interested in working with me. For actual footage, I find it works to have two layers, one a smaller box drop shadow, the other blurred, tricking YouTube’s algorithm. I don’t have video issues, it’s audio that’s more of a problem. Have another channel, Sharp Objects for film reviews; Godzilla had similar problems.
RZ: My biggest issue was “Millennium Duel 5”(?). I was going to do a bunch of positives, played the whole game, streamed a bit - and they claimed it. “I can’t make an episode, you’ll claim everything!” So I called AlphaMega and everyone I knew from Final Bosses, and we did a hit video against Konami. The positives in them going bankrupt. They couldn’t claim that, we didn’t put any footage in there! Was one of the biggest videos, but I didn’t really enjoy that, just couldn’t make the episode I wanted.

Q13: What’s changed from start to today in software you use?
DS: Adobe Premiere since the beginning.
RZ: Same. Audacity for audio.
ES: Was with iMovie, I don’t know why, simpler days. Now PremierePro.
TW: SonyVegas since the beginning. It’s good if you haven’t done anything before and want to learn as you go.
AK: Started with Pinnacle Studio, now I work in Premiere.

Q14: When recording consoles, how to resolve old resolution issues?
DS: Sometimes if I stretch the image, I figure it’s good enough.
RZ: A box I bought on Amazon for $20 switches between. It’s the quick and dirty way. Emulation is a good way to capture early games. To upscale, so a little pixel isn’t really big but is a block, software costs $700. (US dollars? Welcome to Canada.)

(I started to fade at the end here, didn’t record who said what)
?: Don’t buy really expensive hardware when starting a channel, you can have content and then get more later. Look at PewDiePie, it’s the personality and effort that matters, video quality can jump up or down.

Q15?: On mods for consoles?
?: Most are pro, no reason unless you’re a real purist. Can now do things that you couldn’t in the past.
AK: I have the Japanese DiskDrive DD.
?: EverDrive 64 allows you to play direct from cartridge.
?: There’s a SuperNintendo game where box art is this guy with a banjo.
ES: I have a theory that’s the character in the game reminiscing.

Someone asked for opinions on “Tales of Esperia” as things were wrapping, and it was given a thumbs up. Thus ends the Reviewer Panel #2 - but Erika Szabo would return! Just below, in fact.


*****

On Sunday at 4pm was “Let’s Talk Anime & YouTube” had panelists Tristan “Arkada” Gallant (TG) and Erika Szabo (ES). It was also “question and answer” style. I was a couple minutes late, so I missed the first question (or two)... when I arrived, there was some talk of Anime as a product and the switch to YouTube. Picking up after that.


Tristan (TG) & Erika (ES)

Q2: Considered doing more analytical based reviews?
TG: Thought about it, but don’t consider myself that kind of person. Any more in depth than ‘did I like it, should others watch it, should it be watched’ feels like I’m talking out my ass - other people do it much better. The few times I have gone that way, it’s a 25 minute video no one watches. If something popped out doing weird research, it’s been kept in the script. Talking about sound is an area I’m very bad in, don’t have a big music background. People yell at me, saying all dubs are horrible.
ES: My focus when reviewing anime or video games is more experience based. There’s also memory series’ when I recall specific memories within video games; had a dysfunctional upbringing. I like to analyze but do it in different ways, find emotional relevance within medium.

Q3: Thoughts on series “No Game No Life”?
TG: Only know it exists. It better end. If we have to buy more manga, please no, we get that with everything else.
ES: Don’t know enough about it yet.

Q4: How nasty do people get when they disagree with you?
ES: Very nasty. Put up a video 3 days ago, now everybody hates me because I like the new Berserk (2016). People are very loud and passionate even if they’re in the minority. Hate in general you’re going to get, and people who disagree are much much louder than those who like your stuff.
TG: Too true, and whenever I get those negative comments they hit hard. Because you know the hard work you put in. It’s just an opinion - that helps ground me. If there’s a way to have a conversation, okay, but you can tell when it’s a troll and not worth it.

Q5: Ever started a review and rethought?
ES: One of my favourite things is what people don’t know or hidden gems.
TG: Back with reviews no one watched, I didn’t care, it’s my show, I do what I want. Everyone wanted to know about stuff when it was current, if you don’t do it then, people wonder what are you doing with your life. So you can touch on it, but do stuff from the 80s that no one else is doing.
(Shoutout to “Baccano!”, “Shin Sekai Yori”.)

Q6: Preferred genre?
TG: I like to review slice of life. It’s not all moe junk, it’s a relaxing thing.
ES: For me, more speculative fiction. Cyberpunk, SciFi, since reading Neuromancer in high school. “Kaiba”’s a good example.

Q7: Any genres or trends or themes you don’t get?
TG: It’ll sound weird, but fan service. Not regular fan service that you can’t escape, but I have no reason to watch "Monster Musume". Fan service for the sake of fan service, I have nothing to talk about there.
ES: Feel really similarly, there’s not enough I’d want to say about it.

Q8: Anything that’s surprised you, broke expectations in a positive or negative way? 
TG: Was not expecting “Shirobako” to be as good as it was. Someone told me the end of “Your Lie in April” before I watched, so that why I don’t sing it’s praises. Maybe with a better first impression? Blame twitter.
ES: Sometimes get stuck in my nostalgic side, (missed title). “Tales of Hearts” RPG I didn’t like, it was unhappy yet I was excited going in. Didn’t connect the way I wanted. But fans are so devoted to their series’, it felt wrong to be negative in my review. J-RPGs is a genre I love.
TG: Tales of Asteria? Vesperia?
ES: Shame the multiplayer didn’t work out that well, what I want is playing with other people. Loved the first Xillia. “Tales of” games I have too high hopes going in.

Q9: Top song from any game or anime soundtrack?
TG: “Forces” from Berserk. Done.
ES: So chaotic, but anything by the “Follin Brothers”(?), intricately made NES compositions. Also “depth of the system”(?) or “Bionic Commando Rearmed” which still sounds true to the original.

Q10: Would you collaborate with a bigger name even if creative differences?
TG: If there were differences, the chances are the video wouldn’t be good, no matter who it is.
ES: At the end of the day, it’s not worth it if you’re not proud of what you make. I’m less of a perfectionist than I used to be, letting go of that makes me more confident, yet content is precious and important to me. “I’d rather work hard and get success slowly than have it rushed with content I don’t believe in.”

Q11: Fictional anime world you’d want?
TG: “Angelic Layer”. I’ve been asked this before.
ES: I think of “Digimon”, because I want a digimon so bad. But first season - don’t want tamers or fusing because that’s really creepy. But as a kid I wouldn’t do homework, I’d draw fictional digimon and foxes. Or “Skies of Arcadia”.
TG: I want to replay that so much! Also had to buy “.Hack” myself know it was going to be expensive.


Q12: The “Fair Use” disclaimers included to start videos, any issues?
TG: The ‘Fair Use’ does absolutely nothing, it’s there for the sake of being there. Doesn’t stop content claims, they’re automatic, doesn’t stop personal claims, they don’t watch they grab claims from tags and descriptions, and a Japanese company won’t respond to English emails. The system is skewed against us. It’s a crap shoot, you have to hope and pray you won’t get too many strikes on your channel. A ‘content ID’ claim which is totally harmless can turn into a strike if people are bad. The worst contender we call YamYams, it’s Yam with a bunch of numbers, anime licensing from Italy. Only own video rights in Italy yet come onto YouTube and claim it.
Audience Member: Any music strikes?
TG: I won’t use audio from any clips, and keep it short. Algorithm looks if clips are longer than 10 seconds. Openings are hard if you want to show more, so I had a hard time with needing a [full] minute.
ES: There are ways around it with video editing. Create two layers of the same footage, the front smaller, then blur the back.
TG: You can also try mirroring it, with kanji people won’t notice. Though with numbers or English text they will. Start a new channel, upload there first, it won’t stop manual claims but can figure it out that way. It’s time consuming but can be worth it.

Q13: Being reviewers, do you find it easier or harder to enjoy simplicity?
ES: Simplicities, I don’t know, my problem is with this is the public eye. It was a very private thing for me growing up; playing “Final Fantasy Tactics” to get away from my parents arguing. Though public is a place where you can make connections and build yourself. Being able to express this, at first is really scary, and sometimes continues to be - you feel like you’re the only person. But it feels good to establish that connection, and realize you’re making an impact on people’s lives. Takes away from “these things are mine” and gives back to the community and that’s a very fulfilling thing.
TG: When I started, out of high school in the middle of nowhere, had no one to talk to. So ranted in front of a camera for a while. All I’ve done is wanting an outlet. Now have lots of different people to talk to but still like to do the videos. It’s more concise than conversations, where there’s lots of tangents, going for hours. Also, it’s now there, I can say I made a video if I can’t remember things.

Q14: Most expensive thing you collected?
TG: “Kanokon”(?) DVD box set, not in print any more.
ES: Don’t have it any more, but Earthbound, complete in box.
TG: Why sell that?
ES: It’s hard, only usually do with collectors. Have lots of anime VHS, love it, DVD have “Evangelion” platinum original. Never getting rid of that.
TG: Don’t, don’t.

Q15: If there was an anime or game to erase, so don’t have to think about it, what?
TG: Not only erased from my mind but everyone? “School Days”. I need to get everyone though so they don’t bring it up to me.
ES: (?Madam?) or “Pupa” for me.

Q16: What programs do you use to video and audio edit?
TG: Entire Adobe suite - everything at some point. Mostly Premiere and AfterEffects in combo with Photoshop for effects.
ES: PremierePro and then Photoshop.
TG: We don’t use Macs, but if we did, probably FinalCut.

Q17: Favourite anime opening if no music, only imagery?
TG: I’m sticking with “Hacking to the Gate” from Steins;Gate. Even if you remove audio from my Top 10 List they’re still really good.
ES: I don’t want to answer - I really like the Trigun opening but want to keep the music. Cowboy Bebop, same thing.

Q18: The new “Steins;Gate”, scared or excited?
TG: Apprehensive. It was a very closed story. I’ve seen the movie, don’t know why it’s not released yet, they didn’t answer me (when asked at con in Boston). The movie’s okay, but the best about the original anime was being enclosed. Without that, it’s not going to be as good. Will play it; could have sworn it’s on Steam.
ES: We don’t have that in our games store, and on Viga it’s so expensive. I am reluctant to mess with contained things.
TG: I pretend sequels don’t exist [if story reopened then not closed].

Q19: Any anime or games you dropped in only a bit of time?
TG: “School Days” first time I watched? You go, I’m thinking.
ES: I’m thinking too.
TG: Game would be “Tales of Zestiria”, played it on my stream 2.5 hours, interested in the story but couldn’t take the gameplay.
ES: “Deception IV”. Thought I’d like it, wanted to, but didn’t. Traded it in, think it’s not my type of gameplay - combo-ing traps. Hadn’t played original.
Audience member: You have to be a bit sadistic.
ES: Kinda am but maybe not to that degree?
TG: A couple years ago I dropped “Cross Ange”. Recently got a DVD/BluRay pack from a ‘friend’ who likes to torture me, expect a review.

Q20: Thoughts on Jojo?
TG: Problem is I’m in the middle of Stardust, not even on Diamond. Still trying to figure out how to review, separate into different videos?
ES: I feel I wouldn’t even do a review, it would be text.

Q21: Any J-RPG series that you’re annoyed has never left Japan?
ES: Yes, but luckily there’s reproduction cards so I can play “Bahamut Lagoon”.
Audience Member: What about untranslated, not even fan translations.
TG: (I missed a piece) $60/game but you’re only releasing this so watch the full thing, I don’t do it justice.
ES: I don’t know which ones have fan translations at this point. There’s “Sin and Punishment” where dialogue wouldn’t matter but I want it here. That one probably did [have a fan translation].
TG: I like occasional visual novels. One time I want to play Key, they only did Clannad. “Fate Stay/Night” was only half finished but is now complete.

Q22: For Erika, as a girl on YouTube, how often are there creepy commenters or bans?
ES: Every day. Through social media too, on my FaceBook fan page, Twitter less so. People take photos of themselves sitting on their bed. (TG reacts) Fully clothed, but still, weird. I see it but try and move past it. It’s a shame being a woman on the internet, people thinking that’s okay, and we won’t be affected by it. When I think of those people I feel sad in the end - I feel proud of my accomplishments, what are you doing with your life? Maybe a bit of spite. If anyone is mean to anyone in comments, I’ll delete, there’s no reason for that.
Audience Member: And bans?
ES: I’ve had to ban people, people openly telling me they’re obsessed with me and stalking me. Which is tough, I’m a friendly person and want to be me. When you’re honest with yourself, that it’s for self protection, then people think you’re horrible - “I thought you were really nice” - it makes me really sad. Negative comments suck, they can overpower a lot of the community. Keep it live. I want more women on my channel too, more variety.

(* Aside: That’s crazy. Internet ppl, get your act together, it's humans on the other end. This next question I asked:
Q23: If you could go back and tell your earlier self something going in, technically or otherwise, what would it be?
ES: Don’t be such a perfectionist.
TG: It wouldn’t work.
ES: It probably wouldn’t work, um - oh, that’s something I’d take out. Do a better job of cutting. If I could have told myself not to have long spaces of time talking, to cut into more pieces. Snappy content. Editing is so essential. I do a bit of scripting with bullet points to keep focus; some I want to redo from tangents. It’s a learning process.
TG: I don’t think there is anything. Mostly because I kind of know myself, and if I got this message, I would freak out and cause a chain reaction leading to not doing reviews and then I would never get the message. I would change things, yes, but not drastically, nothing so drastic as to send a message.
ME, Follow-up: Doesn’t need to be a change, maybe about the people you’d meet?
TG: I would still start freaking out. Telling myself I’d be playing D20 Live with Chris Sabat? But that was fun.
Audience Member: I got hit in the head with the big dice.

Q24: In the graveyard of anime, via copyright lapse or non release, anything to resurrect?
TG: Two months ago I’d say “Denno Coil”, it’s now been picked up.
ES: Did “Kaiba” ever get done?
TG: No.
ES: I’d want that.
TG: What are worth something and haven’t been picked up - I had a list about four years ago, pretty much everything has been resurrected... anything past Season 3 of “Sergeant Frog”, there you go.


Q25: How many hours of the week for reviewing?
TG: Depends on the week.
ES: And the kind of video.
TG: And how lazy I am. When “Overwatch” came out, nothing. Other weeks I’m an insane maniac, 15 hour days, 7 days in a row. It’s very time consuming when you consider scripting, filming and editing, and then all the social media is a lot. And rendering and exporting! That’s after watching the show; if it’s HunterXHunter, that’s 150 episodes I blitzed in a week and a half.

Q26: In the context of anime seasons, what’s been your favourite of any year?
TG: Last year with “Shirobako”.
ES: Not many anime will make me cry every episode. Because so similar to my childhood, “Your Lie in April”.

Q27: Outside of your Top 10/25 Lists, anything released that you would want to add?
TG: (didn’t catch it, something about Funimation not working, see videos)
ES: I do J-RPG lists, I think I got everything for the Genesis. But SuperNintendo I would alter; it’s hard when you have to narrow down to 10 or 5. I’d expand. Did top Cyberpunk for anime two years ago; something I want to observe more?

Q28: Any anime you consider underrated?
TG: “Baccano!”.
ES: That, “Shin Sekai Yori”. “Kaiba”.
TG: “Mushi-shi”.

Q29: Ever had a friend hype something and you’re more ‘I guess’?
ES: Yup.
TG: Yup. “Busou Renkin”.

Q30: A sports anime to watch, whether you’ve seen it before or not?
TG: “Overdrive”. Nobody’s heard of it, it’s a cycling anime from the early 2000s, watched it in high school. If not that, “Bamboo Blade” on kendo.
ES: I don’t follow sports anime, so I’m out.

Q31: Any video editing tips other than making final product more efficient?
TG: Cut out the silence. If you have a script that you’re not good at memorizing, and have no prompter? When you finish, leave a space before you start moving, then cut from there to where you stop moving. When you cut the silence, you don’t want head movements.
ES: Yeah, pacing is super important. In cuts, and how it sounds.

Q32: When you begin reviewing, ever lose the joy or passion? If so, what reignites it?
TG: Stop watching anime for a bit. Or if you find something you think you’ll like - hold onto it, and when you’re in those slumps, that’s when you watch it. Otherwise, stop doing things for a while. A good friend from England has burned himself out entirely, used to watch everything now hasn’t for a year.
ES: I’ve had those burnout periods, two on my channel. That’s why as a hobbyist I can watch some horror or read books to balance it all out. Do other things you enjoy doing. Something that grows into a hobby, build that up. I believe in skill building and knowledge building, and knowledge is power.

And that was everything! Thanks for reading through, more recap posts to come, follow this blog or the Main ConBravo post for when the links go up.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

ConBravo: Reviewer Q&A 1+3

This is a sub-post of the whole convention, covering Reviewer Q&A 1 (Fri) and Reviewer Q&A 3 (Sun). Quotes are not exact, any errors are my own, enjoy.

At 6pm Friday, I went to “Reviewer Q&A 1: The Silver Screen”, for reviewers of movies and similar content. It featured Derek the Bard (DtB), Calluna (C), Leon Thomas of Renegade Cut (LT), Diamanda Hagan (DH), AniMat of ElectricDragon505 (AM), and after a flight delay Rantasmo (R).


Photo order is: AM, DH, R, DtB, LT, C

Q1: For Leon, about the Revenant review and actor performance.
LT: Sometimes you get the Oscar for many, many performances; it’s your time.

Q2: For Hagan, anything so offensive personally that you wouldn’t review it?
DH: “Never. I literally go out of my way to challenge myself.” There is a film that’s come close to mentally breaking her, an evangelical Christian drama about snuff and porn called “Remake”.

Q3: What’s the worst thing you’ve ever reviewed?
C: What gave her the most trouble was the pilot to the 70s Spiderman series, a Patreon request. It took two months, as it was really dull, which took time to write jokes for.
LT: “I typically don’t do movies I dislike”, if they don’t light a fire the work suffers, because he wouldn’t care. Objectively, the “Atlas Shrugged” trilogy, it’s really dry and there’s a reason they’re critically panned.
DtB: Hard to choose one genre. For book, “Orphans of Chaos” by John C. Wright (who became a Sad Puppy); teachers as supernatural magic aliens is disturbing stuff. For movie, between “Troy” (terrible if you know anything about the Illiad) and “Sherlock Holmes (2010)” by Asylum (manages to get every single thing wrong). For cartoon, Dino Squad.
DH: Funny story about ‘Sherlock Holmes’ - went to the museum at Baker St, they hire a guy to talk to you in character as Holmes. I said I was upset the gift shop didn’t have the Asylum one with the dragon. After explaining, he said “Sounds better than the damn one with Robert Downey Jr”. I have never wanted a conversation recorded more in my life.
DH: Regards question, what’s the criteria for worst? Quality? Ethically many things are horrible but are really entertaining. If “worst” means “strike from the universe” then that would probably be “Children of the Living Dead”, nothing good there.
AM: “Where the Dead Go to Die”, it feels very unfinished, animator didn’t have animation background, didn’t have a story. (Hagan sent a link of the trailer to RapCritic, within 30 seconds talk devolved to NO NO NO NO.) Or “Food Fight”, 40 million dollars down the drain.

Q4: What’s your favourite movie? For Leon it’s Blade Runner.
AM: Disney’s Fantasia. Masterfully crafted animation with music.
DH: Time Bandits.
DtB: Hard to pick one. “In the Mouth of Madness” (at his wedding, he even met Sutter Cane’s agent by chance) or “John Carter”.
C: She goes through favourites every two years. If only one left, probably “Wizard of Oz”, one of the first she remembers, or “Spirited Away”. Also likes “The Cat Returns”.

Q5: How has YouTube changed from when you started to now?
DtB: Hasn’t been able to produce a review in over a year because of copyright strikes. They compound. He started with Blip, and while they did give a YouTube partnership, he kind of ignored it. When Blip went away, he found a lot of things he’s done, YouTube doesn’t like, which has only gotten crazier through the years. Don’t do anything involving Toei!
AM: Just today I got a copyright strike for the Peanuts movie. I shouldn’t, it’s still fair use, but it is a hard time. I have to mix and match my trailers and audio to avoid the system like a ninja.
C: It’s inconsistent across the board.
AM: Definitely hard; worse for “Let’s Play”ers.
C: Never had Blip, and have had every problem. Manual, automatic, people claiming images, can’t use screenshots for Game of Thrones because HBO. 12 seconds of footage of the “Carmen Sandiego” theme song got 20 claims from the same company. And Japanese is different too, my Rayearth “Let’s Play” resulted in an email 4 weeks later in Japanese Legalese. Just do your research and be flexible, upload privately first, and adapt depending on what it does. At least YouTube can remove background music and keep my audio, so that’s good.
R [arriving]: I’ve never had a video taken down, maybe since I never use audio from the original source.
DH: Never taken down either but have had some blocked, including “Passion of the Christ” and “Vegas in Space”. It’s very strange. Some things are blocked only in America. A review with Tom White of “The Ray”, out of Indonesia, is blocked only there because she used a 5 second clip in the middle, to show part of a hallway fight scene. But it still got hits from the country.
C: “Swan Princess” review, the studio that owns it is now in Japan, so it’s blocked everywhere except there.
DH: Once got a notice “this video is blocked in only 200 countries”, so there’s basically 8 who can see it, mostly tiny islands.

Q6: On crossover and collaboration videos, who are your favourites to work with?
DH: Everyone has strengths, weaknesses, brilliant things. Today I filmed one with LT.
LT: My show isn’t conducive to them, but I’ll do them for others.
DtB: (missed it sorry), his stuff is always hilarious. The Porn Critic, who doesn’t do videos any more, but could take normal lines and make them sound dirty. Toxic Avenger Four.
C: Filmed one at MagFest, still editing. Two people that cause her to break character, which is a good sign, are Luke Spencer (Rocked Reviews) and Yomarz.
R: Did one with Lindsay Ellis recently; enjoyed all the ones I’ve done.
AM: [like LT] reviews isn’t really made for crossovers, did do one with Joey for Smurfs movie.

(*I asked this question :) *)
*Q7: What keeps you going when you’re feeling down or frustrated about yourself or your work?
DtB: I’m only just getting back after YouTube issues. A compulsive need to scream at bad things on the internet.
DH: “The main reason I do it and did it in the first place, I love telling people about weird films.” In university she would show friends, getting two heterosexuals to watch communist gay porn.
LT: Money, it’s my full time job, need to pay the bills. The other reason is that art existing in a vacuum, where you’re the only one enjoying it is fine - but with a shared experience I like getting the feedback to enjoy it more.
AM: Motivation is in talking about what he loves. About animation, and really good films like “Zootopia” or “How To Train Your Dragon 2”. And seeing fascinating production stories, and wanting to talk about them. “When I start a project, I put my focus into it, so it’s mostly the passion about what I’m talking about.”
C: Getting people to check things out. First an English major in college, wrote nerdy papers, then I could write videos. It I really like something I gotta tell people. And the fact I do four different shows helps, if [copyright] issues in Sailor Moon is pissing me off I can work on Game of Thrones.
R: It’s like if ‘x’ thing is popular, I have to review it, determine what my opinions are on it.
C: Then Patreon requests are interesting.
R: Find the thing you want to get out there, and want to say.

Q8: For Rantasmo, regarding a movie.
R: Has toyed with things that don’t have gay, but wants to exhaust his genre first.

Q9: For Hagan, where did the idea come to be a dictator of a small nation with minions?
DH: Originally was just an evil reviewer. And most others would sit, so she stood, many wore glasses, so she took her’s off. Minions were a one-off joke in video 3 that people liked, the gas gun was an ad lib, ultimately “Haganistan” became part of the canon.

Q10: What was the most difficult review to write?
LT: The hardest in that it was the longest was “Mulholland Drive”, well over an hour, a month and a half to do. Hopefully back up on YouTube soon.
AM: Hardest in recent memory was “Zootopia”, in what to criticize. Spent days wondering what was bad, gave it a 10/10.
R: Positive ones are always harder to write. “Here’s a bad thing, joke joke” while different ways of saying something is good is tricky.
DH: Depends what humour she can find in it. “Hack” movies are ridiculous but hard to review because of how they’re constructed. Her “Vomit Gore” trilogy was planned as a single review, but as a form of comedic self harm, she got 8 or 9 pages on the first movie alone. That wasn’t a fun experience.
C: 70s Spiderman pilot [again]. Rewrote the script 3 or 4 times, was so dull.
DtB: A couple were very problematic. Live show plan was original DarkStalkers cartoon, but beyond “this show is bad, here’s how it messes up the game” there’s nothing more to say. The writing for “Troy” was difficult because it was written at a LARP convention, while doing the filming - the only way to manage it with friends. Kept improvising and adding to the video while filming, then leave to go be vampires, then back to filming, then go to be a wizard. “It was a mess, but I was so passionate about my hate for it.” Later had to reshoot a shot, wondered how to shoot a minute of dialogue without bothering to put on pants.

Here Q11 was a Magfest joke by an audience member, explained by DtB. The gag is to stand up, say “big fan!”, hold the person’s gaze, and then ask a big open ended question. “What are your thoughts on 'Bus'?” The gist of the question in the end was things are in production hell, but were scripted out before the YouTube strikes problem.

Then Q12 someone asked DH to obliterate this copy of (some DVD), which she did.

Q13: What is the strangest piece of information you’ve come across when doing research?
R: Cheerleading was once exclusively done by men. Bellydancing was similar.
DtB: When reviewing DinoSquad, he had to look up how evolution worked in order to emphasize how they get it wrong in the video. There’s no dinosaurs in human genetic linkage.
AM: Animation wise, learning production history of “Looney Tunes: Back in Action”. It started as “Space Jam 2”, kept working despite no Michael Jordan, then “Spy Jam” with Jackie Chan, finally there was no creative freedom in the result. Also the history of “Food Fight”, a simple idea that’s a disaster because the director had no idea but was the company boss.
DtB: Did two reviews of “Teeth of Beasts”. His first said some unkind things, and a friend put him in contact with the director. He discovered they had to keep rescripting because things didn’t fit the sets, certain things were only available certain days, the editor destroyed the master copies too early - second review covered that.
DH: In an evangelical christian cancer drama. God decides to make a girl his instrument, so her dancing turns people christian. The director was a cop killed in “Terminator” and the devil is played by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stunt double. Weird connections.
C: Watching behind the scenes for Scooby Doo Wrestlemania, all of them did the Scooby voice, one delivery was so straight. In a movie itself, John Cena speaks Luchador (and there’s a bit in here about surfing while unconscious I didn’t catch).

Q14 was a follow-up to Calluna about “Surf’s Up 2” and wrestling. She doesn’t really know wrestling but may look into that.

Q15: Those who take requests, what’s the strangest?
DtB: Doesn’t take requests.
C: Spiderman again!
DH: There’s “Equestria Girls” and New Zealand had “Weresheep” but the weirdest was an Iraila teen movie “Sing Clara”.
LT: “Chicago”. He doesn’t like that movie (and most musicals) and warned the requester “if you like it, I don’t think you’re going to want me to talk about it”, but it turned out okay.
C: She tells her Patreons, give THREE options, so she can pick the best. Yeah, Spiderman was the best of three.
R: Has had “Dorian Grey”, “Yaoi Fangirls” and creator of “Utena” but hasn’t done enough for something to be strangest. Did have one asking about “Broadway” but that’s kind of a broad topic, like “Latin America”.

Thus concluded the Q&A!
*****

But there was more on Sunday! At 2:30pm “Reviewer Q&A Chapter 3: The World” which had Derek the Bard (DtB) and Rantasmo (R) as above but also “The Dom” (TD) from England. We started with a nice picture of Nash with bunny ears. Here we go again.


Photo Order: DtB, TD, R

Q1 [distilled]: What media do you think brings real insight to a subject?
R: Doesn’t know if he has insight, but Sharknado is a more competent criticism of climate change than Birdemic.
Audience Person: Except then you get [actress] Tara Reid thinking their science is real.
TD: Obvious answer is kids cartoon shows like “Steven Universe”, ladled with topics.
DtB: “Hackers” is an absolute genius way of representing how nerds think, though not how computers work.

Q2: What is currently the favourite stuff you’ve done?
R: A video a while back, on Baldur’s Gate controversy with transgender. Had a lot to say, even though went in thinking he had to weigh in, and writing took a long time.
TD: Probably “Coraline” episode, balance of sketches that worked for once, didn’t pain me to read or watch them, and was a good book. “I’m vastly critical of my own work.”
DtB: “I don’t like a lot of my work.” Matches his standard of the time, but those standards increase. There’s “Wolf” review but YouTube blocked it in North America so he took it down. That or “Gattica”, happy with that and got a running gag, in that it bombed to an unbelievable degree of failure that it almost set a metric. “There’s no justice for Gattica”. Favourite filmed but not released, a “Critters 4” review with Nash at ConBravo a couple years back; real life got in the way, never finished it.

(* I’m pretty sure this next was my question )
Q3: What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome in your work, either one time or constantly?
DtB: YouTube’s copyright system.
TD: Usually the scripting; there’s funny available, just have to find it.
R: What I have to say has substance, which can be a challenge at times.
DtB: Agrees there’s trouble writing, but nothing is worse than shooting, doing twenty hours of editing, fixing it, encoding twice, putting a final version up, and then within an hour getting a YouTube strike. Don’t do Japanese ANYTHING. Toei is litigious.
TD: I was hit by Studio Ghibli at one point.
DtB: Toei flags most, but some stay. He likes to think he said something funny enough this time, so they decided “This one can stay up”.

Q4: With the loss of Blip, how has the transition been?
DtB: I had no dedicated Blip audience, it was embedded on other sites. YouTube is a great way to build a system, but it’s psychotic and run by androids.
TD: I was never on Blip, know it did screw over a large percentage, now sort of getting back on track.
R: I was on both at a certain point, so not as hard for me.
DtB: You got an automatic YouTube partnership coming out of Blip that others couldn’t, or it worked like that for me.
R: There’s many hits from Saudi Arabia and he has no idea why.
DtB: They do download the most gay anything.
R: I know that homosexuality is illegal; there weren’t that many comments on it.
TD: I want to show all my friends so they can be mad too?
R: Having a certain number of dislikes traffic wise doesn’t really hurt, but can turn some away. May turn it off.

Q5: When you decide to review, how often do you rewatch?
R: Depends what it is.
DtB: Agreed, if a cartoon show, watch episodes through once, only need to get the gist. For a movie, once without notes, then second time I know where to make the notes and what to talk about. “Hilariously, the movies I hate, I’ve watched more.” Had to watch “Troy” four times, third time was with person scripting with, fourth was to make sure he said enough mean things.
TD: Only watches the film once, but with editing, feels like seeing it more. Doesn’t watch afterwards.
R: “I don’t watch something in it’s entirety more than once.” One watch, and review based on that.

Q6: What about “50 Shades”?
DtB: There’s lots of specific stores you could go to, to see a movie that would be better produced about that material, and they’d charge a lot less.
TD: Not everyone knows, but it’s deeply offensive to BDSM, vastly misrepresenting. Not speaking from experience.
R: That’s the opposite of my subject matter, so I don’t know much.
DtB: Does seem a little straight for you.

Q7: How has the review culture changed in the last four or five years?
DtB: Back in the day - since 2010 - there was a lot of people. It was Nostalgia Critic to start, and people who began surrounding him. On ‘That Guy With the Glasses’ (TGWTG) forums.
R: To an extent.
DtB: [to Dom] You were just doing videos and decided to apply.
TD: Pretty much.
DtB: There was someone who got into the system when someone else sent an application. Leeman Kessler of “Ask Lovecraft”. He contacted me wondering “who is this Linkara guy, and there’s this Skype chat with 80 people”. The community’s been very condensed over the years. People flooded to Blip, and as they started restricting, things died down, there were fiascos, it’s becoming more dispersed. People aren’t as close as they used to be.
R: Losing Blip did close things off.
TD: Biggest issues, being taken seriously and the saturation of the market. The former’s been better, the latter seems worse.
DtB: Oh no, back in the days, everyone in the forums had a show, there was a whole sub forum, things didn’t get lost.
TD: Doing YouTube now, it’s been said is like throwing a glass bottle with a message into a sea made of glass bottles with messages.
DtB: People search shows with cartoons in it, you end up at the top of the list. So every video has to be decent, every show will be someone’s first.
R: Production value has become more important.
DtB: With less and less excuse for having poor production.

Q8: What was your most difficult review to work on, and the reason?
TD: (missed it - the book was surprisingly awesome). Then “Roger Rabbit”, necessitated changing the very nature of his show to accommodate it.
R: (spaced out again), what more can I say.
DtB: “Troy”, scripted at a convention where we also did LARP. (See question in Q&A 1 that referenced this.)

Q9: For Rantasmo. About a video from 2 years ago regarding gay visibility in Children’s Media, are we anywhere close yet, consider updating?
R: Probably won’t update that particular video as he doesn’t do broad genres as much any more. There will be a “Steven Universe” episode; we’re slowly getting there.
Audience Person: Recalls “Braceface” which had the gay character, and then another one, so they had to meet.
R: They brought that show to the US but not the episode with the gay character. Regards original question then, no, moving away from broad genres.

Q10: Your knowledge of video games?
TD: Ehh.
DtB: Depends on the system.
TD: Console? PC? I’ve been known to game.
R: I play them.

Q11: When scripting what you don’t like, do you feel you get too nitpicky, attacking things you would overlook in a different show?
DtB: Did that for some early book reviews, which is why they won’t be reposted online. “Scent of Shadows”, while not a good book, had me comment on the author being a Vegas showgirl. “I cannot believe I wrote that ... that’s beyond the pale.” Try not to do that. One movie review led me to talking with a director, who had a book on the subject of the difficulty of making the movie.
TD: Has the opposite issue, needing to excuse things in ones he does like. “For the bad ones I think I’m tough but fair, for the good ones it’s equally unfair but more positive.”
R: Said something about Rose McGowan’s acting he wasn’t fond of, experimenting in being bitchy. Not a good look for him.
DtB: Many started with negative reviews because that’s what [James] Rolfe and [Doug] Walker were doing. It’s taken time for the community to find it’s footing, and a review style that’s not rabid.
TD: Notes he fell into that trap. “Am I allowed to be nice?”
DtB: It’s where the energy and enthusiasm come through more in my style.
R: Since taking the word “rant” and putting it in my name, things have changed.

Q12: Dream crossover or guest star?
DtB: Jeffrey Combs. Don’t care if he’s just sitting in the corner creepily eating popcorn for the entire review.
R: Louis Virtel (sp?), really smart and funny. Asked him for “Showgirls”, he was interested, but wires got crossed. Would be cool some day.
TD: Doug Walker. It’s achievable.

Q13: What inspired you to start, how did you differentiate from that?
R: Lindsey Ellis. There was a TV show that doesn’t exist any more, “InfoMania”, it targeted woman and gays which informed his show a lot, then Lindsey’s style of reviewing.
TD: “I was kind of doing the show before it was a show.” It was the personification of what he would yell at his friends, ‘they can’t change that!’, so when he did a film degree, it made sense to combine them. Perfect situation.
DtB: Nash. He’d rant to Nash and Kathryn about books he read with insane plots, and they’re like “wait, what?”. Nash had started doing his show, and he said you have to start a show too - that’s what people are doing now.

Q14: Which reviewer is your favourite [to watch]?
DtB: Lewis [Linkara]. I try to keep up with his show, it’s funny.
TD: I try with everyone, specifically Nash. I can have his going when I’m setting up equipment for my show. And I love Rantasmo’s show.
R: Nostalgia chick stuff, Loose Canon.

(* Me asking again)
Q15: For The Dom, about dealing with dyslexia while reviewing.
TD: Specialist schools helped, spelling is still atrocious. Reading out loud can stumble over words; fine reading otherwise, and for his own scripts, it’s okay as he also spelled them badly. Not an issue when reading for pleasure.

Q16: Can you think of a remake that contrasts and gives insight to the original?
DtB: “New Ghostbusters” taught me how much of a scumbag Venkman is.
TD: (title unheard), missed it when they were just zapping the bad guys.
R: From “Last Airbender”, gathered how not to make a movie in general. By contrast, liked “Lady in the Water”.

Q17: Reviewing - as analysis or product? Whether something’s good, or more philosophically? (sorry, that garbling is my fault)
TD: Depends on reviewer. What’s a good balance? Only giving facts has danger of getting boring but you don’t want to end up forcing an agenda.
R: Ask do you have something of substance, versus “this was good” “this was bad”.
DtB: Preference for reviews that are entertaining. Then can learn something but enjoy the entertainment, what someone has managed to say with how they’re funny.

Q18: Craziest thing a fan’s ever given you?
R: Don’t know I’d say fan, but yesterday someone tweeted me a picture of his butt, that’s the most harassing thing. For objects I don’t have anything.
TD: Jerky tentacles from Japan, from a US fan stationed there. Have yet to try, but not out of date until 2030.
DtB: Can’t think of much. A model of the ‘Clean Couch’ from “Spirit of the Century” game was given to Big Mike and the rest of us. A fan did buy me a wand at a convention, that was pretty boss.

Q19: Personal passion products?
R: Working on a visual novel, hope to submit.
DtB: Have a list of things to review but no specific - wait, there is. In the works for years, a project discussing trends in urban fantasy cover art. He created a system, like a woman on cover, with backless dress, looking backwards, plus a flaming weapon, with some sort of animal, gets “X” number of points. With the point scale 1-12 you’d know the quality of the book you’d read.
TD: Pitch of an ultimate crossover idea, in far off future.
DtB: Also movie “Bus”, trying to turn into a documentary. Or mockumentary.

Q20: Any media of objective quality some can’t appreciate, or so bad it’s good?
TD: Sees objectively fine stuff every day.
R: More the latter than the former, appreciate camp to a great degree. Showgirls is really fun. Southland Tales wasn’t good in the way it was trying to be, but I enjoy it a lot.
DtB: A few comedy shows friends watch. “Arrested Development” I don’t find funny. Interview office style I don’t like.
R: Parks & Recreation? Start with Season Two. It was trying to be “The Office”.
DtB: I like “Mitchell and Webb”, some people wonder why.

Q21: Something learned about yourself by doing your show?
TD: “I’m a smug git. Not a great revelation.”
R: His way of speaking has improved, feels more comfortable talking in general. You see how little energy you have and how much you really need to appear enthusiastic.
DtB: Learned to be a better performer, and more comfortable speaking in front of large groups.

Q22: What percentage of your online persona is a character, does it blur?
DtB: For starters, I’m not actually a wizard.
TD: What? I believed in you!
DtB: Initially was trying to portray more of a character, in some areas ripping off Lewis. Decided he wasn’t good at it, now turns existence of ongoing plot into a joke. Lampoons anyone trying to bring in plot, it’s him talking about his opinions and feelings. Will put on a different outfit with a silly voice if it’s not that.
TD: Intention was to be different from the character, being weird, but now thinks the person on screen is less of a jackass than real life. Opinions are definitely his, if he doesn’t notice it, he can’t say it.
R: Rantasmo is an exaggerated version. While basically the same, it’s nice having that barrier, being more than just the person in the screen.

Check them out on the Internets! DerekTheBard everywhere, The Dom is more popular now than BDSM sites, and NeedsMoreGay is Rantasmo. (“I’m impressed you were able to get that.” “It wouldn’t be a very good porn site, like CouldBeBetter.com”)

Thanks for reading through, more Q&A to come, follow this blog or the Main ConBravo post for when the links go up.