Animation on Display 2016 February 17, 2016Posted by coolmikeol in Events.
Tags: 2016, Animation on Display, AOD
Animation on Display (AOD) is a weekend convention celebrating anime, video games, cartoons, and other fun and geeky stuff. AOD 2016 took place on February 13 & 14 at the Santa Clara Convention Center.
I attended this year’s Animation on Display, and once again the con changed venue location, this time from the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, CA, to the Santa Clara Convention Center. What was also different was the fact that it also my first time staffing for a anime convention. I want to be more than just a attendee, I want to also be able to contribute towards an industry which I’d like to support more than just watching anime and buying merchandise, your typical consumer. By deciding to staff, I change my perspective a bit about how conventions work, and also gain more work experience, especially in customer service. A theme for myself I made this year was “change”, to try and experience new things, and to not be afraid of uncertainty. I’m leaving my comfort zone to help myself grow physically and mentally, and I feel that having multiple experiences will help me for my future, whatever that may lead to.
Day 1 – February 13
I woke up at around 5AM to get ready for the day ahead. As staff of the registration department (people who gives badges to attendees/info desk), I was scheduled to start at 8AM. Because I live about an hour away from the convention center, I knew I had to leave no later than 6:30AM to make it on time for my shift, pending any delays on the road. For my own enjoyment, I prepared a anisong playlist on my iPod Touch for the long drives, which I blasted in the car to help me stay awake. I arrived at AOD at about 7:15AM with no issues with traffic or directions, and was able to find parking fairly easily in the convention center’s own parking complex. (Parking is free there!) I stayed in my car for a bit, preparing myself for a busy day, confident that my customer service experience working at a bookstore for a few years would help somewhat. During this time, other cars were arriving quite frequently into the parking lot, but the people coming out of these cars were definitely not anime con goers. They were clearly part of some sort of dance/gymnastics event that I figured was being held either at the convention center too or at a nearby hotel. It was a bit odd thinking that AOD was going to mix with non-anicon people, but I sort of expected this as I happened to look up the convention center’s events calendar on their website and saw some sort of other event being held at the convention center at he same time as AOD. (It was I think a body builders event? I don’t remember, I’m just recalling things. Didn’t see any of that throughout the entire weekend though.)
Entering the convention center, the first thing I noticed was a bunch of people in a group clearly for the dance event in line for getting food and/or something else. This was right in front of AOD’s second floor area marked with a giant AOD banner. (I parked on the roof of the parking complex which enters into the second floor of the convention center.) I walked into this area and saw how small it was, which had all of AOD’s video rooms, panel rooms, maid cafe, and con operations rooms. Going down the escalators and walking a short distance forward is where the other main area of AOD was, containing the Registration, Dealers Hall, and Main and Music Stages. Since I was early for my shift I used the time to take some photos of the area before attendees arrived.
At around 8AM we started to set up for registration. I felt a bit awkward during this set up time, because no one was really giving any specific instructions, but some people were helping out and doing things already knowing what to do. Eventually, after putting everything on the tables were ready to go, we were to choose to either work the side for at-con reg (paying for badge at con), or pre-reg (paying online). As I had no actual experience working with money for a job, I gravitated toward a seat on the pre-reg side. Learning the system (we were using Eventbrite and the app for it on iPads) for checking people in and giving them their badges took a little bit of time to learn, but it was easy in the long run. At 11AM, I had my first break so I went off to explore the con as much as I could within my hour break.
Went back to staffing at 12PM and worked until 3PM where I went to grab some free lunch, paid for by staffing.
After my shift for the day ended at 5PM, I hung around a bit more for a few photos and to check out the dealers hall a bit more.
I also tried to video chat with a group of my friends back home to show them AOD. We couldn’t use Skype, so we ended up using Google Hangout. Apparently the video on their side was so pixelated that it was hard for them to see well. I was using 4G to stream it, which used about 100MB+ of my data. Not too bad in my mind as I usually don’t use too much data any other times, but my battery life was draining faster than anticipated, so the call was about maybe 45 minutes long at most. I left AOD right before 7PM, arriving at home about 50 minutes later. I was tired and had to return to AOD for a 9AM shift, so I fell asleep I think at least before midnight.
Day 2 – February 14
I got back to the Santa Clara Convention Center just past 8AM. I wanted to come very early so I could take photos of the area around the convention center. Just across the street from the convention center was Great America, a theme park, and right next to that is Levi Stadium, where the San Francisco 49ers play and where the Super Bowl was held just one week ago.
I returned to Registration at 9AM to start my 5 hour straight shift, the last of the con.
After my shift I did some last minute shopping at the Dealers Hall. I originally did not plan on buying anything, but a big Super Mushroom from the Super Mario series caught my attention. I also picked up a Gundam model kit as my friends were suggesting to me to get one for our model kit building day we were going to have in the future. After sitting in my car for a bit trying to make sure that there wasn’t anything else I wanted to see at AOD, I left the convention center at around 4PM for home.
I think that this year’s AOD went smoothly, even if it felt less eventful than last year. I believe this is due to the venue change, as the Hyatt last year gave a better backdrop for cosplayer’s photoshoots and generally more open space to roam around. The advantage that the convention center has would of been space, though since it was being used by other events at the same time, the upstairs and downstairs portions felt separate from one another, as if you had to leave one building for another.
Staffing for a small con like AOD is a good start experience for staffing cons in general, as it’s not too overwhelming for someone new to doing it. If you didn’t know, AOD was the first anime convention I attended way back in 2011, and I’m glad that it was the first con I staffed too. I’m the kind of guy who gets sentimental, so it means a bit to me in that regard. Staffing registration was a good learning experience for me, as it was the first time working with money. I didn’t mention it during the Day 1 part of this post that when I got back for my 12PM shift, I started working the At-Con reg side. It wasn’t too different from the pre-reg side, but with the added element of handling money. Counting, giving change, etc., was part of the job, though I made a couple of mistakes, like taking my eyes off money that was on the table. In the end, I feel that I learned a bit about money handling, even if it wasn’t too much work. It’s more than I do at my usual job at least.
Photography wise, I knew that I would not have the time to wander around taking photos as I usually do. Normally I’d set a goal amount of photos to take, but for this year’s AOD that did not come to mind knowing that I was staffing. Part of the reason why I decide to staff is if I know that the con does not have much for me to see. If that wasn’t the case then I’d probably not staff and do my “job” as casual photographer/blogger.
Overall I enjoyed my time at AOD, both on and off the clock. Sure, there may have not been too much to see or do if I was a regular attendee, but with Staffing as part of my agenda, it balanced out well with the free time that I did have to check out the con. I would definitely consider staffing again for next year and beyond, though that will depend on my own personal agendas around those times. Staffing at cons won’t be limited to just AOD, as I think of this as a stepping stone towards other cons bigger than AOD. This will probably give me more of a reason to check out other cons not just in my backyard, but maybe all around the country. That is a nice thought, being able to travel and work in anime conventions, with the plus side of touring the cities that they are in. These new experiences are opening up new opportunities for me, ones that I feel help me regardless of the direction that I will ultimately go in towards the future.