Convention Meetups: The Good, The Okay, and The Amazing
One of the fun things about going to a convention is meeting people with similar interests. Nowhere does this occur more than at fan meetups.
For the uninitiated, meetups are prearranged times and locations where people cosplaying, or otherwise interested in the topic, come together to hangout. Oftentimes, these meetups will include some kind of group photo session.
I’ve been to a couple dozen cosplay meetups myself ranging from broad topics (like Nintendo) to specific ones (like Avatar). There are okay meetups and great ones. Here, I explore a couple of characteristics that I’ve found typify an amazing meetup.
1. Location is Optimal for Photography
Convention season often means great, sunny weather. Sun is nice, but direct sunlight can attribute to harsh-looking photos (kind of like the one I took above). In these photos, shadows hide details including most make-up and any kind of fatiguing done to a cosplay.
You may not have noticed, for instance, but Iron Man’s arm has an array of EL wire coming out of the damaged gauntlet.
Filtered light, whether under a large tree or awning, provides a more even playing field for details to pop.
A location with some kind of prop or landmark can, additionally, make the meetup more fun as cosplayers and photographers figure out fun ways to interact with the scenery.
A final note about photography, a location with levels wins over one that does not. Especially for cosplayers that can’t move around that well (*cough*cough*), allowing cosplayers to pose on steps of slight hills are are a great way to showcase everyone.
2. Late Morning Start Time
Speaking of sun, when the day gets too hot, people seek shade and cooler environments. Early morning is great because it’s often cool enough that cosplayers aren’t sweating. Too early, though, and you risk the attendance dropping as people wake up late.
The ideal time I’ve found is late morning.
You get the best of both worlds where the temperature is not yet sweltering and it’s late enough that people are up (and cosplayers have had enough time to get ready).
3. Considering Ableness
Oftentimes, abled people forget about the built world around us (and how often it’s structured without consideration of people who may not be able to get around so easily).
Not everyone can go up flights of stairs or see that there are large obstacles in the middle of a path, for instance.
The above location was great with the filtered light. Where it fell a little short was you basically had to climb up on a high planter to get there. I don’t believe our group had a problem with this, but I could easily imagine a situation where someone in a wheelchair would not be able to easily join group photos.
An amazing meetup, in this regard, is one that is in a more central location that allows for people of all levels of ability to move around freely and easily.
4. Moderator Knows Their Subject
The more a moderator is invested in the subject at hand, the more interesting a meetup can become. Knowledgable moderators can create an array of groupings and interactions that can be meaningful to those in attendance.
Photos aside, a knowledgable moderator can also help educate new people who may be curious about the topic of the meetup.
5. Small Thematic Groupings
Speaking of being knowledgable, the more a meetup is able to focus cosplay photos on small thematic group, the better.
Where the Sailor Moon meetup was huge, for instance, calling out just Sailor Jupiter’s allowed everyone to focus their attention and admiration on this small subset of cosplayers.
Large groups are fun to be in, but small groups can make people feel recognized and special. Everyone wants to feel a little special.
6. Moderator Ability to Act and Improvise
Oftentimes, meetups can be so large and unwieldy that organizers easily lose their voices out of exasperation.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Having some acting experience can go a long way in making sure that a meetup is organized (in a manner that is healthy for the organizer) and fun.
With acting experience comes the ability to project effectively. There are many videos about this, but there is a difference between speaking from the diaphragm versus from the throat.
Without aid of a loudspeaker, speaking from the diaphragm can allow people to more easily understand what’s going on, in a way that’s not so harmful to the voice of the moderator.
Additionally, some ability to improv allows for the moderator to be more fun, dynamic, and to roll with the punches.
Some of the most fun meetups have been ones where the moderator is very much in control, working with those in attendance, and making the most of a set schedule. Because things don’t always go as plan, improv experience can help iron out any bumps a meetup might otherwise have.
Sometimes meetup organizers won’t have a say in various aspects of these meetups at conventions. For those that do, taking these characteristics into consideration can mean the difference between an okay and amazing meetup experience for all involved.
What are other traits of an amazing convention meetup that you would add?