Vividcon

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Convention
Name: Vividcon
Dates: 2002 - present
Frequency: yearly
Location: Chicago
Type: fan con
Focus: vidding
Organization:
Founder: astolat
Founding Date: August 16-18, 2002
URL: Vividcon Website / Vividcon LJ Comm


Subpages for Vividcon:
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Contents

Vividcon is a convention held annually in Chicago since 2002, devoted to the practice and appreciation of vidding. [1] The convention is organized by and primarily for vidding fandom.

History

Vividcon got its start at Escapade in February 2002 when astolat noticed that vid programming was starting to crowd the schedule, and people still wanted more -- more vids, more discussion panels, more "teaching" panels.[2] Interest in vidding was soaring as digital vidding became more accessible and online distribution of vids became easier; more people were seeing vids and wanting to learn how to make their own.

So since Escapade and other cons couldn't accommodate the higher demand without giving up some of their core programming, astolat started thinking that maybe it was time for a con devoted entirely to vids and vidding. She got a group of people together and started planning a con for that summer.

The original concom consisted of astolat, Carol S., elynross, Katharine, Kat Allison, Killa, Laura (aka Wa), Margie, Shoshanna, snoo, and tzikeh.

astolat remained the con chair through 2005; during that year's con, she passed the reins to elynross for the 2006 con.[3] In 2011, elynross stepped down as the con chair and the role passed renenet.

In 2010, the concom published Vividcon Background and Policies, which offers more insight into the con's history and its current operation.[4]

The Llama

The Vividcon llama

Vividcon's "unofficial" mascot (which shows up everywhere) has been a llama from the very beginning, for complex reasons that boil down to "the original concom really liked the idea of a llama as the con's mascot".[5] The "base" llama is black and white, drawn sitting with a videotape under his front hoof -- because when the con started, those many years ago back in the olden days of 2002, VCRs were the height of fannish technology for both getting source (whether taping yourself, or buying professional source) and for distributing vids. Within a year the shift to DVDs was well underway, but by then the videotape was part of the llama's image, and has remained a part of the con's logo ever since.

The llama appears on the program book each year, altered slightly to reflect a current movie that's captured fannish attention that year (among his incarnations have been Pirate Llama, a Hobbit Llama, a Sith Llama, a Super Llama, a Potter Llama, and an Iron Llama, and "Llama Who"). The only year he wasn't connected to a movie was Vividcon's very first year, when he was rainbow-colored to reflect the con's other visual symbol. He's also on almost all of the con's CafePress store merchandise, including not only the annual llamas but also some different ones, including Samuel Llama Jackson.[6] In 2012 the llama is KatLlama[7], a play on Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games.

Starting in 2004, the videotapes under the llama's paw on the program books began to have titles tied in to the theme, although not directly. For example, Sith Llama's tape is "The Bad Seed". KatLlama's tape says "Battle Royale," and her slogan is "May the vids be ever in your favor!"

Fan Comments

  • "Okay, first of all, I wish to register a complaint. Everyone told me Vividcon would be sparkly and fun and instructive and welcoming to nonvidders, and it was all of these things. But no one warned me that it would also be a weekend of PAIN. A weekend of watching glowing new art created from ALL MY DEAD SHOWS. Firefly, dead. Angel, dead. Wonderfalls, dead. Dead, dead, DEAD. Oh, my shows. *weeps*" [8]

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Policies

Adults only

Because there are no restrictions on content, Vividcon is an adults-only con, and no one under 18 is admitted (this includes infants and toddlers).

Vids is vids

From the beginning, Vividcon's policy has been that "vids is vids" -- vids would never be segregated because of content or theme. That is, gen, het, and slash vids would be freely mixed together in vidshows; vids with mature themes (sex, violence, or anything else) would be freely mixed with vids suitable for small children.

The onus is on the vidwatcher to close her eyes and sit quietly during a vid she doesn't like, to keep from disturbing her neighbors who are enjoying it.

This was unusual when VVC started up; most vidshows prior to that tended to be somewhat segregated, so that content is "pre-filtered" for the audience (e.g., MediaWest shows gen vids, adult (het) vids, and slash vids all at separate times; and many slash cons prefer to show only slash -- or at least slash-friendly gen -- vids).

No warnings

Vividcon has always had a policy of no warnings on vids. Again, the onus is on the adult vidwatcher to shut her eyes if she sees something that disturbs her.

After the Vividcon Background & Procedures document was released in June 2010, this policy became a matter of much discussion, with some fans arguing in favor of the con's current policy[9] and others arguing that the con should adopt warnings; Vividcon policies Section V, yhlee, June 28, 2010, accessed July 1, 2010 (now offline)</ref>. As of 2011, the no warnings policy became a policy of no public warnings:

We neither provide nor require public warnings of any kind on vids. In response to needs expressed by some members in 2010, Vividcon has set up a system to provide private vid warnings upon request to help attending members with triggers better enjoy the vidshow experience at the con.[10]

Quiet, please

Vividcon tries to present vids in a theater-type environment -- dark and quiet. The con's policies reflect that:

  • No talking during vidshows
  • No singing along during vidshows
  • No dancing during vidshows
  • No using electronic devices during vidshows
  • No leaving or entering the room while a vid is playing

Applause (and chatter) between vids is allowed, but is expected to be cut short if the next vid starts playing.

The gigantic exception to this entire list is Club Vivid, the Friday night dance party.

During the first year, the "no leaving or entering" rule was enforced for full vidshows; you could leave only in an emergency, and once you'd left the room, you couldn't go back in.

This policy was also shaped by simple logistics -- with so much expensive equipment, the doors to the vidshow room were/are kept locked at all times. There's no way to enter a vidshow unless someone inside lets you in, so entering the room during a show would mean not only the disturbance of opening the door (letting light in) and making noise while walking in and finding a seat, but also knocking on the door first and distracting those watching the vids.

But for obvious reasons, that policy was uncomfortable for many people, and the next year the concom adjusted it to "you can only leave or enter between vids". Anyone wanting to enter an in-progress vidshow pushes a button next to the door, and a small receiver in a volunteer's hand flashes a discreet red light to let them know that someone wants to come in. During the pause between vids, the volunteer opens the door and lets them in.

Scholarship

Starting in 2004, Vividcon has offered a "scholarship" to bring a fan to the con who otherwise might not be able to come. Anyone can nominate someone for the scholarship; recipients are chosen by the concom. Recipients may or may not be vidders.

The selection criteria vary, but generally it boils down to: what does (or will) this person contribute to the vidding community? That may mean making vids, providing commentary (feedback, discussion, beta), making recs, providing infrastructure (e.g., creating vid communities, archiving vids, creating links resources); it may apply to an established fan in the field or to someone just starting out who shows great potential (in any of those areas).

Previous recipients include feochadn, Judy Chien, halcyon_shift, thefourthvine, and wistful_fever.

Auction

Since 2004, Vividcon has run a fund-raising auction every spring. The auction is open to anyone, whether they're attending the con or not (this applies to both vidders and bidders). Vidders volunteer their services, including a description of what they'll be willing to do (such as fandoms and musical genres), and people can bid to win those services.

Winners get a vid made to whatever specs they and the vidder agree on, and each winning bidder receives a DVD with all the auction vids on it (these DVDs are not available to the general public). The vids also air at the con in a special show on Sunday afternoon.

All auction proceeds go into the con's coffers to help offset the costs of running such a tech-heavy con, which helps keep registration prices down.

Challenge

In 2003, the con started having a Challenge show. This is an anonymous show -- not even the concom knows who's submitted what (one person knows because they have to take and burn the submissions, but they keep it strictly confidential). Each challenge is based on a theme, which vidders can interpret however they want. The vids are shown during a combined vidshow/panel -- after the vids are shown, the lights come up and the attendees begin discussing them, both how they worked as vids and how well they met the challenge. There's also a fair amount of trying to guess the vidders, although that's generally carried out quietly among seatmates.

At the end of the panel, challenge vidders can identify themselves if they wish, although they're not obligated to.

Challenge vids are included on the con DVDs.

Challenge themes to date[11]:

  • Dreams
  • Luck
  • Milestones (2005 was the 30th anniversary of vidding)
  • Faith
  • Fuck You
  • IDIC
  • Transformation

Club Vivid

Club Vivid started in 2003, and has since grown to include a pre-party buffet and an evening-long bar. (Attendees pay a flat fee in advance for access to the bar, after which they can order as much as they want without any additional costs.) The con's function space is opened up into one giant room, with a dance floor in the middle and screens at either end showing the same vids.

The dance lasts four hours, and is hugely popular with the attending members; pretty much everyone attends, and some take the opportunity to dress up, either formally or on the costume side of things (fancy dress is not required, however! Many fans attend in regular street clothes.)

The vid lineup is a mix of premiering vids made specifically for Club Vivid (many/most of which get included in the con DVDs) and older vids suggested by the membership in advance.

Vidding Library

The convention also maintains a collection of fanvids donated by vidders on DVD that is made available to attendees during the event. Some of the vids date back to the VCR era and have been recorded onto DVD for preservation.

Vid Review

With the original concom coming from the Escapade con and vid tradition, Vividcon immediately adopted the Vid Review idea from Escapade (originating with Sandy Herrold). On Sunday morning, a two-hour panel is held to discuss the vids that premiered the night before. Since VVC is all about the vids, Vid Review is held unopposed -- fans who don't want to attend have the morning free. Although some fans prefer not to attend, the room is usually packed.

Different people moderate it every year (there are generally two moderators), and the focus and structure varies from year to year depending on what the mods are hoping to accomplish. Some years are a broad overview, touching on as many vids as possible to get a feel for what people did and didn't think worked in them; other years focus on themes or showcase particular aspects of vidding (e.g., POV, use of color, use of motion, use of musical complexity, literalism v. metaphor, song choice) by talking about a few vids that illustrate each.

While the moderators guide the discussion, the attendees do most of the talking, giving honest opinions about the vids they saw whether or not the vidder is in the room.

In 2005, the members of the Vividcon mailing list were offered a poll asking them which they preferred: a single vid review panel that varied from year to year according to moderator preference; a single vid review that alternated between a broad and a narrow focus from year to year; one 2-hour broadly focused vid review panel and a second 1-hour in-depth panel afterwards; two 2-hour panels running simultaneously, one broadly focused and one in-depth.[12]

The preference was for two panels run separately -- one a broader look at a larger number of vids, and one an in-depth look at a small number (generally 2-3). Since then, Vividcon has held Vid Review at 10am, and In Depth Vid Review at 1pm (after the lunch break).

Controversies

It's really a slash con

During the first year's con, some gen fans, exposed to far more slash vids than they were used to seeing, perceived a strong slash tendency at the con. When the vids were later added up objectively, though, no such bias was found; the mix was fairly even among gen, het, and slash, in accordance with the concom's attitude of "vids is vids is vids".

The concom is a clique

This was mainly a first-year issue[13], caused by a number of factors.

  • Most of the concom did know each other beforehand, and had spent six months working closely together, so were very obviously comfortable around each other.
  • Since it was the first con, the concom kept in very close touch during the con, trying to minimize problems.
  • The first year's attendance was low -- 62 people, including the 11 staff members. The group-ness of the staff members was hugely noticeable in such a small crowd, over-emphasizing their comfort level with each other.
  • The first year's con suite was a disaster -- it was a regular room, not a function room, and too small to hold more than a dozen people comfortably. The concom tended to hang out there to be available to the entire con, but with such a small room, the effect was to fill up the space and make it *less* available to the members.
  • Use of terminology like feral vidder and approaching vidding as a fandom in itself rather than an aspect of other fandoms turned some fans off.

Since then, the membership has doubled; the con space, particularly the con suite, has improved; and the con runs smoothly, letting the concom mingle more with the crowd instead of huddling together to solve problems.

The cap is a lie

There's a feeling in some quarters that the con's low-ish cap (100 people for several years; raised to 110 people in 2007; raised to 120 people in 2009) is artificial, possibly designed to foster competition for registration slots to keep interest high.

In fact, the con didn't even reach its cap until the third year (2004); it took five months to sell out that year. The cap has been reached faster and faster every year since then, and has been raised twice to accommodate the membership.

Most years, enough people have to cancel their memberships to allow people to move off the wait list. In 2011, enough people canceled that the con didn't hit the cap.

Like most cons, the cap reflects both desired size (there's a big difference in feel between a 100-person con and a 300-plus person con) and hotel realities; function space and fire codes affect how many bodies can fit in a room. To add a significant number of people, more physical space needs to added as well, either by finding larger function rooms -- usually by finding a new hotel, which is a large undertaking -- or by expanding programming to include another "track" with an additional room. (Which, again, changes the feel and scope of a con.)

No one new can get in

Because there's a strong continuity in membership, and many regular members are vocal about the con and their attendance, there's a perception that the same people attend every year and take up all the available slots.

In fact, every year has seen an influx of dozens of new people, and each year a good chunk of the returning people are attending for only their second time. Fewer than two dozen people have actually attended every single Vividcon.

Number breakdown

According to a rough breakdown from the 2008 registrar[14]:

These numbers are not necessarily completely accurate; I pulled the best information I had for each year, but I didn't always have the most final versions of things.[...]
Still, it's a reasonable approximation, and gives an idea of how the con has been growing and changing.
  • 2002: 62 people at the con, including staff (62 first-timers)
  • 2003: 69 people at the con, including staff (added 33 first-timers)
  • 2004: 109 people at con, including staff (added 49 first-timers)
  • 2005: 116 people at con, including staff (added 33 first-timers)
  • 2006: 121 people at con, including staff (added 28 first-timers)
  • 2007: 119 people at con, including staff (added 24 first-timers)
  • 2008: 124 people at con, including staff (added 27 first-timers)
So it looks like the first few years, we were adding significant numbers of new people every year, roughly 50% of the con each year, and lately it's been down to a steadier 20-25% per year.
Of a total 720 bodies that have ever been at the con, 257 have unique identities (fixing for any duplicates or name changes I could find) -- roughly 35%. Of those 257, 18 are or have been staff members for at least one year.
Of those 257 individual people, it breaks down like this, in terms of years of attendance (not everyone attended in consecutive years -- someone who's attended four times may have come in 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2008, for example):
  • 7 years: 20 people
  • 6 years: 19 people
  • 5 years: 23 people
  • 4 years: 21 people
  • 3 years: 25 people
  • 2 years: 39 people
  • 1 year: 110 people

Reg dates are exclusionary

In 2008, a fan noted that the Saturday registration day, combined with the fast sellout time, meant that Orthodox Jews would be unable to register for Vividcon with any chance of getting in (they would have to register late, and be put on the wait list).[15] As the question was asked the day before registration went live, it was too late that year to do anything about it.

In 2009, however, the concom shifted registration to a time that was after Shabbat everywhere in the world, while still being on the weekend everywhere in the world, without anyone needing to be up at 2 or 3 AM to register. This resulted in reg opening at midnight on the U.S. east coast, with no apparent distress to the membership -- the con sold out in roughly five minutes.

Accessibility

2010

Triggers

2010

VVC by Year

References

  1. http://www.vividcon.com/#about, accessed 7 Aug. 2008
  2. In her commentary on the Escapade 2001 vid show, Shoshanna outlines several other factors that led vidders and fans of vids to create their own convention: disruptive convention audiences and an ever narrowing focus on slash programming and vids that dealt exclusively with slash relatonships.
  3. Acknowledgments page from the VVC 2005 program book.
  4. Snapshot of policies dated July 2013.
  5. For a peek inside the llama's mysterious origins you can check out the Vividcon website 'easter egg', accessed March 30, 2011; reference link.
  6. reference link.
  7. introducing our 2012 llama tribute!, accessed August 1, 2012; reference link.
  8. thuviaptarth, Vividcon Premieres Show - Initial notes - 1, dated August 18, 2004; reference link.
  9. thoughts on warnings, jarrow, June 30, 2010, accessed July 1, 2010; reference link
  10. [1], accessed August 1, 2012; [http://www.webcitation.org/6I7d0JYHq Snapshot of policies dated July 2013.
  11. Vividcon programming FAQ, accessed March 22, 2009; reference link.
  12. Email sent to the Vividcon mailing list, dated April 15, 2005. Accessed March 22, 2009.
  13. Unless I just haven't heard about the clique-perception problem in other years? --Arduinna
  14. From personal email dated July 7,2008. Accessed March 22, 2009.
  15. kita0610, Question for the FL, posted February 1, 2009. Accessed March 22, 2009; reference link
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