In just 8 weeks, Hyper Japan will host the World Cosplay Summit UK selections for 2015, and we couldn't be more excited! We know it takes a long time to prepare for a big competition like this, but it's never to late for some final words of encouragement and advice, right?
From our experience doing the prelims at Play Expo last October, and our journey through WCS this summer, we've prepared a few pointers that might help all would-be UK reps in November!
• You’ve probably already decided your costumes, so take the time to perfect them. At the end of the day you want to be happy with what you produce so you can confidently display it to the judges - don’t rush it.
• Remember that the preliminary round is a 50% accuracy and technique based competition, the judges will be looking at your finish. So while getting ambitious is fantastic, a simple, yet well constructed costume will usually have an edge over a complex but unrefined build.
• Your progress book is your lifeline. You get a limited time with the judges but your book stays with them during the entire judging process [including the performance]. Put all the important details, thoughts and ideas inside it and make use of photos and samples to help illustrate your techniques. You can use it as a reference while discussing your costume to.
• As well as preparing your progress book, a helpful tip might be to rehearse the points you want the judges to notice. You likely won’t have time to discuss every tiny detail, so break down what the most important pieces are (sometimes even starting from the head and working your way down to the feet is a good way to begin) and disregard everything else, you can back that all up in the progress book if necessary.
• Additionally, it’s worth making notes on who worked on what parts of the costumes. Even if during the judging one member of the team doesn’t want to speak, make sure the one who is speaking divides their time between both builds equally.
• Give yourself ample time to rehearse with your partner, both in and out of costume. work out a contingency plan for anything that ‘could’ potentially go wrong in your performance to avoid freezing up on stage!
• If it can go wrong, it probably will. Don’t let it get you down, keep a positive attitude and remember what you’re in it for. It’s fun at the end of the day, so don’t dwell on the bad stuff.
• Your audio is just as important as your performance, a good quality recording and soundtrack can make a huge difference in your deliverance. Give yourself enough time to create a track that covers all the relevant grounds in your performance - aka any specific sound effects, swords clashing or gasps. It may mean having to act to certain cues but this shows a strong commitment - and lots of practise which will impress your audience.
• If you make use of audio learn your lines and speak them clearly - be visible! Be conscious of your audience and exaggerate any subtle movements. Consider how it looks from the judges point of view at all times. Film your practises and get opinions and feedback from friends.
• You can be working towards your performance, even when you’re technically not working on it… By listening to your audio and getting those mental cues well embedded. (For our prelims performance we lived so far away we couldn’t practise at all, so we individually worked on our cues and movements to learn the performance as best we could alone).
• Remember you are marked on your use of the stage, find ways in which to include the entirety of your allocated space, don’t stick to the centre and don’t be afraid to show your back to the audience if you need to move around.
• Make sure to get in touch with the cosplay organisers of the event way before if you have any lingering questions, whether it’s about your judging slot, your performance, any rules or regulations you might need to follow strictly. It really pays to have your back covered in these situations, where uninformed decisions can result in disqualification or a points reduction.
• Give yourself plenty of time to get to the venue before your judging slot - the last thing you need is more stress of whether or not you’re going to be there on time. If something does come up and you find you might be late - contact one of the cosplay coordinators or staff. There are a lot of things that are out of your control, and you shouldn’t let that ruin your day.
This is of course no means an exhaustive list of "dos" and "don'ts" you're required to follow, but we thought it might be a starting point for those gearing up for the competition.
Remember to take it all with a pinch of salt, too! The WCS experience, even the preliminary rounds are about enjoying yourself and having fun. Talk to the other contestants, take photos, have a laugh and support each other!