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Animation on Display 2017 March 22, 2017

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
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Animation on Display (AOD) is a weekend convention celebrating anime, video games, cartoons, and other fun and geeky stuff. AOD 2017 took place on March 18 & 19 at the Santa Clara Marriott.

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This was my 6th AOD, and the second year of staffing at this small animation convention. I could tell that this year’s con was going to be smaller than the previous year’s one, based on venue size from a previous staff meeting, so my expectations were low for it. It also didn’t help that one of the main guests of honor couldn’t make it at the very last minute. Anyways here’s my experience of AODSF 2017.

For all photos taken at Animation on Display 2017, please check out my album on my Flickr here.


Day 1 – March 18th

I woke up several minutes before 7AM, which made me scramble to just get ready to go and drive the approximately 45 minute commute as my shift started at 8AM. I had set my alarms to go off at 6:30AM, but I don’t remember hearing them go off. That or maybe I snoozed them and went back to sleep. Either way I didn’t have time to give myself time to get ready at my own pace. I did at least write up a list of things I needed to bring along with me the night before, so that I wouldn’t forget anything and make it easier to account for them too.

I arrived at the hotel just as the 8AM hour approached, luckily there was no traffic on the freeways. I grabbed my staff badge among other things and headed over to Registration to set up for the day. Unlike last year, the area we had for registration this year was better as it was a dedicated registration counter, complete with a back room for all our supplies and our own personal belongings. We wern’t sitting right next to sunny windows either so I didn’t have to worry about overheating.

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From 8AM to 2PM, it was working time at the Registration department where the lines would come and go but never reached overwhelming levels. I could understand the relatively smaller turnout, as there wasn’t many big events going on, especially with the cancellation of Lotus Juice due to Visa issues at the arriving airport the day before. That’s also why I decide to work this con because it makes it more worth it, financially and work experience wise.

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Continuing from my last point, I would not staff big cons or cons that have events or things I want to see, as I go into event photographer mode. I want to see everything and capture as much as I can with my camera and skills with it, as my goal has always been to use photos as a mosaic or pieces of a puzzle to create a big picture of the event to an outside audience, to give them a similar experience as what I felt. During my first six hour Registration shift, I watched as countless photo opportunities in the form of cosplayers pass by. I knew it would be harder to take cosplayer photos later because they may leave con, get tired and go on the side, get taken by other cosplay photographers, etc. The first opportunity is usually the best one for cosplay photography in my opinion. You just don’t know if you will see that cosplay/cosplayer again.

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I had a break between 2PM and 3PM, so I made most of my time by eating lunch I picked up earlier at the hotel lobby via staff food voucher, then going around to tour the con. While browsing the Dealers Hall, I bought a Pokeball cushion to add to my growing couch collection of pillow plushies. I also swung by the Console/Arcade Gaming room to get info and sign up for the Overwatch tournament, as it was the main event I was looking forward to for this year’s AOD. However what I didn’t know, was that this tournament was being played on PS4 rather than PC. In the program it didn’t mention what platform version was being used so I assumed PC, though the room is labeled “Console/Arcade Gaming” so maybe I should of figured it from that. I even brought my own gaming mouse for this event, similar to how people bring their own controllers for other games. I play Overwatch on PC only, so I felt that trying to play the PS4 version would not bode well for me. I would still have my game sense, but not my control sense. Playing FPS games on console is not my forte. I left the game room disappointed as I headed back to Registration for my 3PM to 5PM shift.

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As expected, my last shift of the day was fairly uneventful. During the periodic drought of customers, I hopped onto Fire Emblem Heroes and 3DS. At 5PM I anti-climatically said my farewells, grabbed my stuff in the back, and headed out to what was left of the con.

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I mostly wandered around after, seeing that most cosplayers were either resting on the side or were with other cosplay photographers. I tend to not want to be a bother to people who look busy or tired, so I resigned myself to take venue photos. I also checked out the Overwatch tournament a bit, as I was just curious how people played it on the PS4. AOD’s Overwatch Tournament was 3v3 on Ecopoint: Antarctica, single-elimination. The first game was pretty close, but the moments were definitely not on the scale as PC ones are (for obvious reasons).

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I left afterwards to grab dinner at the hotel lobby again, this time of a bento box as the main meal. I don’t know if I was just hungry or if the food was just really good, but it was a satisfying dinner at the very least. I stuck around a bit longer to see if there was anything I wanted to see/do last minute, but decided to call it a day and head home at around 7PM.

Day 2- March 19th

I woke up at around 6:30AM, this time being able to have some time to get ready instead of rushing. As my shift started at 8:30AM, I left around 7:30AM to head over to Santa Clara, stopping once to get some gas at a Costco on the way. I arrived on the dot for my first 3 1/2 hour shift for reg, where it was pretty much dead besides the occasional waves of people.

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During the down time at reg, I played Fire Emblem Heroes, Pokemon GO, and managed my 3DS Streetpasses. It was a good use of time as I used it to level up / do quests in Fire Emblem, catch some new 2nd gen Pokemon as I haven’t really played it in a while, and attempted to beat one of the requirements in one of the final racetracks in Slot Car Rivals.

At noon I had an hour break so I went around con to see what was going on, picked up some lunch, and also bought another pillow plush at the Dealers Hall, this time of a 1-up mushroom from the Mario series, something I’ve been looking for to match my super mushroom I bought at AOD last year.

Between 1PM and 3PM I worked at reg for my final shift of the con. It was as slow as ever so it was back to the mobile gaming grind for me.

At 3PM con work was finally over, but at the same time the con was almost over as well. I walked around con, but at this point I was unmotivated to pursue taking photos. Most cosplayers were not in (my opinion) ideal photo taking conditions (resting on the side, bad lighting, grouped up with others, etc.). I did stop by the gaming room and played some PS4 Overwatch for the first time, but of course I was having trouble with the controls. By 3:30PM I was already in my car thinking about if there was anything else I should do at con before leaving. While I came to the conclusion that there was nothing left that interested me here, I decided to at least use the restroom before commuting back home. As I started to walk back to the hotel from the parking garage, a guy ran out one of the side doors with some staff members on his tail yelling at him to stop. A nearby armored cosplayer who saw what was happening joined the chase, dropping pieces of his armor and belongings as he ran towards the runner, towards the parking garage. As I entered the hotel, I heard that he stole from the Dealers Hall. Whether or not he was caught I’m not sure. After using the restroom I went back to my car, again thinking about if there was anything more for me at con, which there really wasn’t at this point. I felt bad that I didn’t even attempt to take any pictures/video of the earlier incident, as a photographer that is. I left AOD at 4PM, with random thoughts swimming around my mind about this whole weekend.


Overall Thoughts

Thinking about my AOD weekend as a whole, I’m not too satisfied about it to be honest. While I was at con all weekend, part of the reason why I wasn’t happy was due to things at home.

Besides me missing opportunities for photos throughout the two days due to staffing, everything else about the con went smoothly for me; Con location was relatively easy to get to, the weather was nice, I found some things to buy at the Dealers Hall, free hotel food was good, and no problems with staffing at Reg.

Right before the con weekend started, a close relative of mine had to go to the hospital, and even during the weekend she was still there. The problems stemming from it weighed on my mind even though it was being taken care of, for the most part. This was probably the first time while I’ve been at a con that this situation has happened for me, and probably what affected my ability to try and enjoy the con when I could.

As for next year, I do plan to attend AOD again, and probably staff as well. My next con will be good old FanimeCon in May. I do have some new ideas I want to toy with for that con, such as making new business cards specifically for my photography and have some sort of custom laminated badge to wear and identify myself as a photographer.