Debrief: Pop Pop Con Con

Pop Pop Con Con
October 16 through October 18, 2020

Pop_Pop_Con_Con

Last weekend was Pop Pop Con Con, a free virtual convention hosted by Shaun and Laura Rosado of PopCycled Baubles.

Three days of geeky discussions helped to fill the gap of conventions cancelled by the global pandemic, and it was a really fun event overall.

All of the weekend’s panels can be found on the PopCycled Baubles YouTube channel, and the videos from the panels I participated in can be found below.

I want to thank the Rosados and all of the panelists for a great weekend, and for experimenting with the path forward for events like this in the future. The entirety of the convention was hosted and run on Streamyard, including the transitions between discussion panels, video bumpers, and scrolling chyron banners. It was very well crafted.

I keep saying that this is the way new and smaller conventions should be run. There’s no need for renting physical space with this, and it would certainly help to build an audience and get the convention on its feet in the first few years.


The New Normal – VOD

1984

Far Beyond the Stars

D&D Tips and Tricks (Player Edition)

NuTrek

Sci Fi Westerns

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Pop Pop Con Con

Pop Pop Con Con
October 16 through October 18, 2020

Pop_Pop_Con_Con

I’ll be contributing to another genre convention this year.

With the global pandemic, so many fan conventions have been cancelled. The fun of great conversation and hanging out with friends is something that I miss. In an effort to help fill that gap, Pop Pop Con Con will be happening over the weekend of October 16-18, 2020.

Pop Pop Con Con is absolutely free, and will assemble fans of anime, movies, comics, TTRPGs, and more. We’re going to be discussing a ton of fun topics with a laid back atmosphere.

The event is being hosted by Shaun and Laura Rosado, longtime fans and owners of PopCycled Baubles. Along with putting on this show, they’re also celebrating the re-opening of their online store.

The event will be hosted online on the PopCycled Baubles Facebook page, YouTube channel, and Twitch channel.

The schedule of events can be found on the PopCycled Baubles website, and the specific panels that I am sitting are listed below.

Friday, October 16th

PPCC-1-VOD9:30pm – New Normal VOD
Premium Movie Rentals: COVID-19 has changed how we do a lot of things, even going to the movies. Will Premium VOD become the new normal? What does the movie industry look like after COVID?
Panelists include Nathan Laws, Gary Mitchel, and Jenna Busch

PPCC-2-198411:00pm – 1984
It’s been argued that 1984 was one of the single best years in the history of movies. Is it true? Why? Let’s find out.
Panelists include Kristen Nedopak, Eric Ratcliffe, Gary Mitchel, and Calvin Watts

Saturday, October 17th

PPCC-3-DS93:00pm – Far Beyond the Stars
Deep Space Nine was a groundbreaking moment in Star Trek and in TV history. We’re going to talk about the best Star Trek series you’ve never seen and how it changed the world.
Panelists include Sue Kisenwether, Nathan Laws, Kimi Hughes, Michael Williams, and Will Nguyen

PPCC-4-DnDPE8:00pm – D&D Tips and Tricks (Player Edition)
Being a player can be tricky and sometimes it can feel overwhelming. We’re going to talk about the best tips and tricks to ensure you get the most out of your TTRPG experience (can be used for any Tabletop RPG).
Panelists include Dodger, Jeff Mueller, Nathan Laws, and Michael Williams

Sunday, October 18th

PPCC-6-NuTrek6:00pm – NuTrek
Trek has entered a new golden age of content. With Picard, Discovery, The Lower Decks and new movies on the horizon, the world of The Federation has grown by leaps and bounds. What hit? What missed? What’s next? Let’s talk.
Panelists include Sue Kisenwether, Callie Wright, Nathan Laws,  Michael Williams, and Calvin Watts

PPCC-5-Western7:30pm – Sci Fi Westerns
In the last 20 years, the Sci-Fi Western has become a regular staple and the cornerstone of a genre that tends to produce excellence. From The Mandalorian, Firefly, Westworld and Wynonna Earp, we’re going to talk about the Sci-Fi Western.
Panelists include Corrine Vitek, Bethany Kesler, Donald Maher and Brandy Roatsey

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Debrief: Dragon Con 2020

Debrief: Dragon Con 2020
September 3 through September 7, 2020

 

 

Dragon Con 2020 is done.

Obviously, it wasn’t the situation that we wanted, but the Dragon Con social media team did phenomenal work to develop a platform that could deliver the convention experience at home. Alongside the convention staff, several track directors and their respective staffs were fantastic in both building content and stoking the fires throughout the weekend.

This convention gave me a chance to get comfortable with video content at home, and it gives me plenty of ideas going forward to develop ideas and content going forward. It was also good to touch base with my geek family, and even though it wasn’t in person, it still offered me the chance to catch up with them in an era when so many of us are isolated.

 

Thursday

Typically, Thursday would include breakfast at the local Waffle House, picking up our badges for the weekend, and introducing hundreds of newcomers to the convention via the Dragon Con Newbies events.

Instead, the convention got started here with a Zoom recording with the irregulars from the American Sci-Fi Classics Track. In what was scheduled as a one-hour event, we sat much longer and swapped tales of our various shenanigans and favorite memories from the convention.

It was a good way to catch up and almost feel home again.

 

Friday

Friday started with some browsing of the Dragon Con Goes Virtual channels before settling in for a chat about the second season of Lost in Space on the American SF & Fantasy Media Track.

The panel was moderated by my long-time friend Lindy Keelan, who I met during our time at The Scapecast. We were joined by Kevin Eldridge of The Flopcast and Nathan Laws of The 42Cast, and the panel was a great discussion about the season, the series so far, and what might be ahead for the family Robinson.

The next panel for Friday was one that I recorded before the convention with the BritTrack and the crew of Earth Station Who. Mike Faber, Mike Gordon, Mary Ogle, and I joined Caro and Rob to talk about where to get started in Doctor Who.

It’s a large topic to tackle, especially since the franchise has been around since 1963 in so many various ways, but this was a fun and informative discussion and I hope that newcomers and long-time fans find it useful.

 

Saturday

Saturday started with a bit more Dragon channel surfing and a trip at 88 miles per hour with the 35th anniversary of Back to the Future.

I teamed up with Michael Williams, Shaun Rosado, James Palmer, and Joe and Gary to talk about this film, its franchise, and the legacy that they still maintain in science fiction. It got deep at times and was really fun.

Later that night, I popped back into the Classics Track for a look back at the Marvel films that preceded the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Michael Bailey, Jessa Phillips, and Keith R.A. DeCandido also joined the party as we tried to cover the history of Blade to Iron Man in one hour. We needed so much more time.

 

Sunday

Sunday brought me back to my podcasting roots on the Digital Media Track with a topic that Mike Faber and I have been talking to people about for quite a while: How to get started in digital media.

The video is available on the track’s Twitch channel, and (with Mike and myself) included Matthew Malis, Sean Weiland, Tyra Burton, and podcasting newbie Channing Sherman. The goal now is to get Channing to record a podcast. Because he really needs to get his content and character on the airwaves.

 

Monday

Monday brought three more events to round out the weekend.

First up was a pre-recorded panel about Doctor Who that is similar in style to the classic Roll-a-Panel.

With Sue Kisenwether, Jm Tuffley, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Keith DeCandido, and me, Caro spun the wheel and let fortune drive the discussion through the universe of Doctor Who.

The second panel was a discussion on mathematics in science fiction.

I joined Darin Bush, Deanna Toxopeus, Sue Kisenwether, Gary, and Joe on a journey through how our favorite genre uses and abuses one of our favorite technical topics. This is another one that could easily spawn multiple discussion panels.

Finally, the convention came to a close for me with the Dragon Con Newbies team and a quick discussion on Dragon Con TV about coming to the con in person next year.

I joined Kevin Bachelder, Kim McGibony, and Sue to cover some of the basics. We also invite anyone interested in Dragon Con to visit both the website and the Facebook group to get information from a group of helpful convention veterans.

 

General Notes

As I mentioned before, the biggest benefit to going virtual was that we could have some semblance of a convention this year. That’s key in a time where we’re all siloed and unable to physically convene in celebration of our favorite works.

The other benefit that really stands out is two-fold and focused on the fan tracks: First is ingenuity and creativity, and second is continued access.

Each of the fan tracks had to decide how to best present themselves this year to a virtual audience, and many of the ones that I was able to follow this year did so through widely available platforms like YouTube. Using Zoom or Streamyard, these tracks were able to bring experts and fans together and stream their panels to the world. Those panels remain available for as long as YouTube stores them, and they remain an example of both creative problem solving and what the track has to offer for newcomers.

It’s a win-win.

That path was forged by Joe and Gary with the “quarantine panels” that they have done for months leading into this event. Search this site for “Quarantine Con” or visit their YouTube channel and see. In my estimation, those two are the MVPs of this event.

I’m not just trumpeting that to, as Michael Bailey would say, “wax their car”. It’s absolutely true.

 

And that brings me to the things that would improve this system going forward.

First, there was too much divergence on where content was available, and that was confusing for the man-on-the-street who just happened to wander in. My perspective on this comes from the fact that I have a Roku device, an XBox, and a television that can run apps. That means that I can stream YouTube and Vimeo from my couch.

I could literally attend Dragon Con this year from my couch.

The convention’s core programming (Dragon Con Main, Dragon Con Fan Tracks, and Dragon Con Classics) was available in one location (dragoncon.tv/virtual). Those streams were hosted on Vimeo and mirrored to a Roku app, but that app was broken for the first day and did not transmit the Fan Track channel.

If it hadn’t been for the broken code, the Roku app would have been perfect for that intent. But, it also limited who could simply switch on and watch since not everyone has a Roku. Ideally, going forward, a Dragon Con streaming app should be available on multiple platforms for more universal access.

A contributing factor was each track’s individual programming. Some tracks used YouTube, which is universally available for anyone who can click a link. Others were limited to Facebook and Twitch, which are fine for attendees who were on their computers or could use one of the streaming sticks (Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick, etc) to mirror the computer to the television. But Facebook and Twitch are not available on the Roku, and that was a deciding factor in which Dragon Con Goes Virtual content I chose to partake from.

An argument of “well, you wouldn’t have watched anyway” won’t fly here because I have watched several other panels this year that I usually don’t have the time to watch at a live event. One that stands out is the Star Wars droid-building presentation. Others were puppetry panels, including interviews and a Puppetry 101 discussion, and Michael Bailey’s presentation on Green Lantern and The Flash.

I also have a long list that I want to see because they’re now stored on YouTube for the foreseeable future.

An easy solution to that hurdle is to require every streaming track to have a YouTube channel. It’s not that far of a reach since everyone was using Streamyard and Zoom to broadcast, and those tools have the built-in capability to stream to YouTube.

If a track director has a question on how to do it, we obviously have several experts available to share that knowledge. I’m sure that we also have experts who could tie those YouTube videos into the apps (like the Roku one) to make one-stop-shops for people.

The second big stumbling block was the schedule. The main schedule for the three Dragon Con TV channels was available in the Quick Start Guide and on the Eventeny site for the con. The fan tracks, on the other hand, were buried behind a link hidden in plain sight in the Quick Start Guide. That schedule was a Google Sheets file which was not formatted well.

The schedule should have been more accessible and legible. So much content for this con was hard to find because of this stumbling block.

And, again, ingenuity and ease of access, I’ll point to an example: Kelley at the American SF & Fantasy Media track set up all of her panels ahead of time. She sent emails in advance to the panelists with their links to join the Streamyard recording, and she set up each YouTube livestream in advance so anyone subscribed to her track’s channel would have a ready list of what was going on at what time.

All anyone had to do was select the video and wait for it to start. Joe and Gary did the same on Classics, but I noticed it first from Kelley.

Both of these issues popped up while the con was in motion. Fixing them going forward would greatly improve the experience in the future.

 

Wait. Going forward?

Yes. Because there is some serious potential here for “off-season” programming and contingency planning for the future. Each of these tracks can literally produce panels at any time with this infrastructure, thereby keeping the interest alive throughout the year outside of Facebook groups and localized meetups.

Joe and Gary have a huge library of material to choose from – Dragon Con defines a sci-fi classic as any genre property over ten years old that is not taken by another track – and they have proven that there is interest beyond the scope of their mandate with panels on representation, social issues, and more.

Classics, SF & Fantasy Media, BritTrack, Digital Media, Star Wars, TrekTrack, Space, Science, Skeptics, Animation, Puppetry, the literature tracks… that’s just off the top of my head. All of these tracks have an evergreen presence because there’s so much to talk about. Doing panels year-round (even on a monthly basis) baits the hook for people who might want to come to contribute in person.

The potential is nearly endless.

 

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed Dragon Con Goes Virtual, and I applaud the teams that made it happen. This wasn’t an easy choice, I’m sure, but they did fantastic work under the circumstances.

My deepest gratitude goes out to the staff, the directors, the pros and guests, the volunteers, and the attendees for this event. As one of the local news stations reported, the programming was accessed over 600,000 times by fans from over 49 nations.

That’s not insignificant.

You’ve done good work, gang. Congratulations.

I’m looking forward to see you in person next year.

359 days to go until next Dragon Con.

 

Until then…

Dragon Con 2020: Gone Virtual

Dragon Con 2020
September 3 through September 7, 2020

 

Dragon Con!

It’s an annual tradition for me, but thanks to COVID-19, it’s not going to be in person. And, as someone who personally has risk factors for the infection and lives with people who have risk factors, I’m okay with that. It sucks, but it’s understandable.

Dragon Con is going virtual, including three official video channels – Main Programming, selected programming from the fan tracks, and a classics track of panels from past years – as well as copious amounts of fan-generated content from the various tracks.

And all of it is free. No badges, no memberships… just tune in and get a taste of what Dragon Con does every year.

 

This year will be my twelfth time attending and my fifth year as an attending professional. I have done some work already with pre-recorded content, and I’ll also be on some live panels as well.

The main schedule is available in the 2020 Quick Start Guide. The Quick Start Guide is the overall guide to the convention that is given to each attendee every year. It includes a link to the large scheduling spreadsheet of fan panels, which points you to the channels where that video content will be hosted.

 

Note: All Dragon Con schedules are tentative until the convention ends on Monday. Even then, things are a bit suspect. As things change before the convention, I’ll update this post.
Revision History:

    • Rev 0 – 03 Sep 2020: Initial post.
    • Rev 1 – 04 Sep 2020: Added Doctor Who and available videos for Friday
    • Rev 2 – 07 Sep 2020: Added available videos for the weekend
    • Rev 3 – 11 Sep 2020: Added the Thursday video

 

9:00p: Shenanigans and Tails of Dragon Con! (4 hours)
American Sci-Fi Classics
Streaming live on Facebook (Event)
It’s here! It’s here! 2020 tried to stop us, but it couldn’t as Dragon Con Goes Virtual! As always, the American Sci-Fi Classics Track starts off on Thursday, because why wait for Friday? To kick things off, Joe, Gary, and a gaggle of the Classic Track Irregulars gather to tell the untold tales of Dragon Cons past. Well, untold until now. Now they’ll be totally told. So get your virtual con badge, an over-priced slice of pizza, settle in for the silliness, and remember to let Streamyard have permission to use your name, so the panel can see your name on your comments!

 

12:00p: Lost in Space – Season 2 Revisited (1 hour)
American Science Fiction and Fantasy Media
Live on YouTube
Trials and tribulations finally bring the Jupiter Two and the Robinsons back to the Resolute only to deal with robot slavery, mutinies, and all the mixed up trouble that only ‘Dr. Smith’ could get into.

2:00p: Doctor Who: Where to Get Started with the Earth Station Who Podcast (1 hour)
BritTrack
Pre-recorded on YouTube
Earth Station Who Podcast joins the BritTrack to chat about where new fans can get started with the Classic Doctor Who Series, New Series, novels, comics, and audios!

 

2:30p: Back to the Future 35th Anniversary (1 hour)
American Sci-Fi Classics
Streaming live on Facebook
The Avengers were wrong! This movie is awesome, and scientifically accurate, of course.

8:30p: Pre-Dawn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (1 hour)
American Sci-Fi Classics
Streaming live on Facebook
We look at Blade, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and more.

 

3:00p: Getting Started With Digital Media: The Ups & Downs (1 hour)
Digital Media
Live on Twitch
This panel will help newcomers and veterans alike find the ins and outs of creating both audio and video podcasts, on multiple platforms.

Video available at Twitch.tv

 

10:00a: Doctor Who Potpourri (1 hour)
BritTrack
Pre-recorded on YouTube
Similar to “roll-a-panel,” Doctor Who panelists spin a wheel and get a topic with only five minutes to answer!

11:30a: Making Sci-Fi Add Up: Math in Classic Sci-Fi (1 hour)
American Sci-Fi Classics
Pre-recorded on Facebook
All slide rules must be peace bonded for this panel.

2:00p: Dragon Con 101 (1 hour)
Dragon Con Facebook and Instagram channels
First Dragon Con? Confused or overwhelmed? Savvy con attendees will share their tips and tricks for making your experience an awesome one.

 

Debrief: Dragon Con 2019

Debrief: Dragon Con 2019
Atlanta, GA – August 29 through September 2, 2019

 

 

Dragon Con 2019 is in the books! I had a better time this year despite the larger crowd numbers. It’s hard to predict how the crowds are going to ebb and flow from year to year, but you could feel the 85,000 attendees like the pulse of the con this year.

We also did tons of good works this year for the Atlanta chapter of the American Heart Association. $110,000 is a lot of money, and I hope it goes a long way to helping a good charity with a good mission.Read More »

Debrief: Dragon Con 2018

Debrief: Dragon Con 2018
Atlanta, GA – August 30 through September 3, 2018

 

 

Dragon Con 2018 is in the books and, as always, it was a fantastic show. Crowds were a little lower this year, coming in at an estimated 80,000 against the anticipated 85,000. The vibe seemed a little off this year, but it still provided a chance to catch up with some friends and family.Read More »

Dragon Con 2015

 

Dragon Con 2015
September 4th to September 7th
Atlanta, GA

dragoncon_logo

 

It’s just about time for what I fondly refer to as a family reunion. Every year over Labor Day weekend, Dragon Con, my favorite fan-run convention, invades Atlanta with 65,000+ geeks from across the genre spectrum.

If you plan on being at the party, this is where I plan to be. Stop by and say hi!

 

Dragon Con Newbies Walking Tours
Thursday 2:30p-5:00p (Marriott A601 – A602)
Want to learn the best ways to get between the hotels? Did you know there’s a food court? Come on a walking tour to find out and meet other newbies.

Dragon Con Newbies Q&A
Thursday 5:30p-6:30p (Marriott A601 – A602)
First Dragon Con? Are you confused or overwhelmed? Several long-time con attendees will share tips & tricks and give you a chance to ask questions.

Dragon Con Newbies 101
Friday 10:00a-11:00a (Hyatt Regency V)
First Dragon Con? Are you confused or overwhelmed? Several long-time con attendees will share tips & tricks and give you a chance to ask questions.

Jaws: The 40th Anniversary
Friday 7:00p-8:00p (Marriott M303 – M304)
This movie is legendary. We’re gonna need a bigger track room.

Classic Sci-Fi Roll-A-Panel
Sunday 10:00a-11:00a (Marriott M303 – M304)
A random roll of a 20-sided die determines this lightning round of mini-panels about classic sci-fi that we didn’t have time to cover this year.

Back to the Future: 30th Anniversary & Costume Contest
Sunday 5:30p-6:30p (Marriott M303 – M304)
Where this celebration is going, we don’t need roads. Hoverboard over for our Back to the Future cosplay contest!

RevCast Live!
Monday 11:30a-12:30p (Hilton 203)
Commentary, criticism, & comedy about movies, TV, & all corners of geeky genres and culture. A sci-fi convention in your pocket. Join them as they wrap up Dragon Con 2015!

 

See you in one week!

For more information about Dragon Con, visit the official site at DragonCon.org.

 

Schedule for Dragon Con 2014


Now that the full schedule has been released for Dragon Con 2014, I can tell you where I will be as a panelist for this year’s con.

 

Thursday

I will be arriving to the convention area on Thursday morning, and will hit up the registration line to get my badge and program. After that…

4pm – Dragon Con Newbies Meetup and Hotel Tour (Marriott A601 – A602)
Want to know the best way to get from one hotel to another? Need to learn where the food court is? If so, come on this walking tour and find out! I will be helping to coordinate this with Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, and Kim McGibony.

5:30pm – Dragon Con Newbies Q&A and Social (Marriott A601 – A602)
Meet fellow first time con attendees and many long time attendees in a casual setting. Ask questions and learn about the awesomeness that is Dragon Con. Again, I will be helping to coordinate this with Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, and Kim McGibony. This event is schedule for 2.5 hours, but it is not required that attendees stay the entire time. Come and go as you want.

 

Friday

10am – Dragon Con 101 (Hyatt Regency V)
Connect with fellow newbies and get helpful advice/tips from several long-time con attendees to get the most out of the Dragon Con experience. Again, I will be helping to coordinate this with Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, and Kim McGibony. This event is scheduled for 2.5 hrs, but it will be a come and go type of panel. I will be leaving about halfway through for the next event on my schedule.

11:30am – Farscape Revisited! (Hyatt Centennial I)
Check in with the stars who played favorite characters. This year’s guests are Gigi Edgley (Chiana) and Lani Tupu (Pilot/Crais). I will be facilitating the discussion with the fans by standing in the center of the room and holding the wireless microphone.

4pm – Quantum Leap 25th Anniversary (Marriott M303-M304)
Every Scott Bakula show and movie is really Sam, still leaping. Discuss. I will be joining panelists Keith R. A. DeCandido and Tegan Hendrickson.

 

Saturday

10am – Geek Year 1984: Classic Sci-fi Roll-A-Panel (Marriott M303-M304)
A 20-sided die decides which classic sci-fi TV shows or movies from 1984 this panel will geek out about. For this randomized goodness, I will be joining a large cast of geeky experts including Joe Crowe, Kevin Eldridge, Tegan Hendrickson, Michael D French, Michael Gordon, Melinda R. Mock, and Phantom Troublemaker.

5:30p – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: No Time For Love (Marriott M303-M304)
Celebrating the 30th anniversary of Short Round, Club Obi Wan, and the runaway mine cart. I will be joining panelists Elizabeth Jones, Jessa Phillips, and Shaun Rosado

 

Sunday

8:30am – Batman: 75th Anniversary of Justice (Marriott M303-M304)
It’s an early morning panel! Cramming a month of awesome things about the best superhero ever into a one-hour window. I’ll be joining panelists Mike Faber, Michael Gordon, John S. Drew, Geena Phillips, and Will Price… along with a large cup of coffee.

 

The rest of the con will be spent catching up with friends and family, watching the costumes that never disappoint, and celebrating all things geek for four days. See you there!

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