keskiviikko 27. marraskuuta 2013

In the making part treux: The skit

Heidi: We think there are few really good rules when making a cosplay performace. We based our performance around these rules and around a certain bingo that I made before this year's WCS finals (for an IRC watch we had with other Finnish cosplayers). 
Picture by Tapio Matikainen
The rules are:

1st rule: There will be mistakes. Not even good rehersing can make sure everything will go perfectly. So you have to be sure that if a mistake happens you can cover it and no one will notice.

2nd rule: Be simple. If you base your show around symbolism only very few people will understand it. This is  why it's usually easier to choose an anime (/game/series) that you don't know thoroughly. This way you are able to be closer to your average cosplay audience. Of course it may mean that you are unfaitful to your cosplay resolutions but it really helps outsiders to understand your performance. Symbolism is okay when the series is very well known  but I wouldn't count on that.

3rd rule: Audience has attention span of 10 to 15 seconds. So after staying simple you also have to make things happen all.the.time. The shouldn't be any moment during which the audience could get bored. 2 minutes and 30 seconds of swordfigt/dancing/anything repetitive is boring. 

4th rule: Have fun. Really. It's all about having fun!

Maria: Melty and Maxima made it quite easy to follow all of these self made rules. Melty has  a very clear goal in the anime: she wants to make really really really good ice cream. Maxima as a more serious character works really well as her counterpart. Melty's only present in one episode of the anime and you don't see Maxima at all, so it was easy to keep the storyline simple when we didn't know too much about these lovely ladies.

We did try to keep these four rules in the back of our minds throught the whole process!

The Ideas

Heidi: Our main idea was "How can a trip to ice cream shop go wrong?". Melty, by a profession, is an ice cream maker who just isn't that good in it. She struggles, makes huge effort and tries to be the best but rarely manages to succeed. Maxima on the other hand is a soldier but as we all know, even the best fighters need their breaks. Best place for Maxima to rest would of course be an ice cream parlour.

Actually it could be said that our performance is about Murphy's Law: If everything can go wrong it goes wrong. So why don't we make all this going wrong flashy and nice. With some added ice cream.

Maria: We wanted to keep the basic plot of the skit simple and then add small elements around it so that there would be something happening on stage all the time. Those different elements or tricks aren't The Thing about the performance, the plot goes on even without them and even if some trick doesn't work, it doesn't ruin the skit.

Chemistry! Pic by Tapio Matikainen
So for example I had glitter on my cards and the cards floated between my hands and I flung my other cards all over the place when Melty's second ice cream test wen't wrong and so on. 
Dem cards. Pic by Matias Tukiainen
Heidi: After having a simple plot and making all these mistakes our third idea was to have very visible facial expressions as those can make the mood for the performance. I'm not avery good at making faces and always end up looking really silly but in cosplay skits those are vital point so I just go ahead.

Maria: Looking silly and not being afraid of looking ugly at some points is important in order for the audience to see anything and to get any of the feelings. Well the same goes for all the movements, they have to be exaggerated enough. Not too much, just enough. That's why I like doing skits where I don't have to take myself too seriously, it's okay to look like an idiot sometimes.

Thanks to Tytti Levänen for capturing my pout face :3

How the soundtrack was made?

Maria: Less is more when it comes to talking in a skit,  so we wanted to keep it to the minimum. Last time we did a soundtrack a year ago, I bribed my brother to do the short introduction we had then, this time I did one line for Maxima myself. Even though I listen to my own voice for like six hours a day at work, hearing it over and over again while recording the one line was so frustrating! And saying "ice cream" so that it doesn't sound like "I scream" is much more difficult than I thought. 

We thought that that one line was simple enough to be heard and understood but also essential to make sure the audience got the idea of the plot, even if they didn't see my floating ice cream cards. Or all the ice cream symbols everywhere.

Heidi: As Maria had the desponsibility of making props (sword and ice cream and such) I took the challenge of making a decent track for our performance. This was my first time doing that but with the help of Audacity everything went rather smoothly. Our track consist of.. I think eight different pieces of music that have been merged to a one simple track. As our performance was supposed to be something varying from epic to funny it was rather tricky to choose all the songs.

First tune used was from super popular Shingeki no Kyojin full first OP. As I have mentioned, I've an avid fan of Sound Horizon of few years so I wanted to have music composed by Revo-heika in our performance. The other pieces are from Shining Hearts game OST (for example Melty's own character tune) and epic battle music is from Chuunibyou demo koi ga shitai! OST. 

We mostly communicate via IRC, Twitter DM's and share our ideas through a cloud storage service Dropbox (use it, it's awesome!) When making the track I think we had more than 20 different versions of the track. It took us more than two weeks two find the great combination of music and effects (thought the track still isn't perfect).

While creating track is very important we don't want things to be boring so when Ilona once mentioned about making the ice cream -part sound like chipmunks in a helium dose... well, I did it. You may listen it here. Laughs were had.

Music and our wishes for the lights were sent to Tracon staff about three weeks before the prelims

Practising weekend also known as Camp de Lily / Liljaleiri

Maria: As we live 350 km apart from each other and even though keeping in touch and doing all the planning is easy with internet, we of course wanted to practise the skit together as well. We had this same kind of practise weekend last year and it was so much fun that I was thrilled to do it all over again! So Heidi came to visit me for a weekend in Kuopio a few weeks before Tracon and the preliminary.
We both love sweet things,so baking a cake was the right way to start the weekend. Then we talked, talked and giggled about our costumes, the skit and the feelings about the upcoming convention. 
Cake is never a lie!
Since the main stage in Tracon is huge, we wanted to practise the skit outside and here's a few pictures to prove that. 
Sorbet didn't join us in Kuopio so King Cid from Final Fantasy IX was there to take his place.

We practiced the skit for like... well, many times. It was great to first time really see all the movements together and hear the soundtrack connected to all the moves.  We didn't have all the right props or our costumes on, so we did a few adjustments after the practice too. For example I realized I would not be able to knee down with Maxima's dress, or atlest it would not look pretty, so I ended up buying a tall but small table thing form local flea market. (And I did end up kneeling after our performance while picking up all the cards I threw all over the place...)
Thanks mom for the practice place and those super fancy boots.
Heidi: After the Camp de Lily we had some two weeks time to finalize our own parts. Our perfomance is made so that we don't need to interact when we practise ( thought the practise weekend was needed for arragement of the stage). So I had my ow practise and Maria had her own and then came the prelims...

The Decisive Moment

Heidi: The day of the competition dawned sunny... well not really. Its was really foggy and I had to drive 120 km's to Tampere. I almost died. Other than that everything went very well.

Maria: We  brought all the props and stuff with us in the morning and placed them  to the backstage. So much love to everyone who helped us, we would not  have got for example the dry ice if we didn't have so amazing helpers. We didn't forget anything too important and nothing broke before the  skit. 

Heidi: I really like Tracon's main stage. It's big, but not intimidating and stage personel and cosplay organizers are all great, friendly and attentive to competitors wishes. Same goes for other participants (many laughs were had with other teams) and other cosplay competitors. Changing for costumes took like three hours for us and as the timetables had changed a bit, we were quite late for our judging. Luckily they were not mad at us.

Maria: After the judging we had our photos taken and practice time on the stage.It felt really weird to imagine the whole place full of people and to really for the first and the last time see if everything worked as it should with all the props and costumes. Or well we didn't actually test all the tricks during the practice, so there was some excitement for us too. We really would have liked to get on stage like straight away after the practice, but we had a few hours wait before the real thing. 

Heidi:  As for the final performance, everything went faster than we expected. Here's the video:

Maria: I'm still getting chills all over when looking and listening to that, even though you can't really see everything I'm doing on stage. Thank you so much PSUtube for uploading this one, and this video as well! If any of you readers have any video footage of our skit, we'de love to see it! Sent us a link! (And other contestanst, if you want your skits to be uploaded as well, sent me email, I'll contact you with these guys!)

For the future

Heidi: Now that we have gotten our skit on a video we can finally move towards new challenges. Our skit for WCS finals is already in the makings and 2 of 3 costumes have been decided. After our ideas have been accepted we will talk about the costumes and our trip to Eurokangas.

Finally we want everyone to have this. It may or may not be a hint about our final performance:

Click to enlarge!

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