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Technical Tips & Tricks considering Cosplay Competitions

Posted: December 11th, 2015, 2:37 pm
by Kaj
Make sure you use the right equipment when recording audio. The powerful sound system in the World Forum Theatre amplifies every flaw in your audio stream, so try to keep those flaws to a minimum. :).
Use a proper microphone with a decent audio interface to record, a proper pair of headphones to hear yourself and a decent set of speakers to review the end product.
The microphone in your laptop’s lid and that thing from eBay for a buck-and-a-half does not suffice, a pair of Beats headphones and your iPhone’s earbuds sound crap and your laptop or bluetooth speaker does not have enough range and lacks punch, even with that tiny excuse for a separate subwoofer. Sorry. :)
Record your audio as a WAV-file (lossless) and make sure that your peak level stays beneath 0 dBFS. You can’t go higher and once you hit this level, your sound becomes distorted and will sound shit. Try and balance it around -3dBFS.
If you aim to do more with your voice or just don’t want to depend on rentals or borrowed equipment, you should look into getting some gear. A decent microphone with a stand and pop filter can be had for €60-150, an external USB sound interface with XLR input is yours for around €60. A nice pair of Sennheiser cans is available for €40-60 and if you lack a good audio system, there’s probably someone in your family or circle of friends who can help you out with that, but a fair pair of studio monitors should be available for around €250.
Recording and editing audio can be cheaply done with Audacity.

Video resolution can be between standard DVD resolution and 1920x1080p, but if you have a static image as a background, please encode it at the highest resolution.
If you want to make it smaller, your video will probably be rejected, because counting pixels isn't everyone's hobby. Square pixels are preferred; while a 1440x1080 video will play OK, we'd appreciate progressive video's all the way. We probably won't have equipment to play 4k-files for a while, so please don't bother.
Don't upscale DVD source materials to something it's not if you don't absolutely have to; it might end up becoming ugly. Just adhere to your source material: the scaling hardware in our equipment will take care of it instead.
There is no limit on file size, but be moderate. There is no need to reserve more than one gigabyte for 3 minutes of HD video. 20Mbit video streams should be more than sufficient to let you show what you want to show and uncompressed AVI-files will not be necessary.
Make sure you use the correct codecs with the correct containers. Your video editing software usually helps you with that by questioning or flat out refusing some combinations.
We prefer AVCHD transport streams muxed with Dolby Digital audio (.m2t/.m2ts), especially if there’s a chance we have to re-encode your video for use in promotional videos, leader videos, bumpers and whatnot. If you aren’t sure, go for something different, but we will flat out refuse videos in closed or retarded formats, like .mov, .rm, .flv, .swf and .3gp.

Proper, well-thought lighting can make or break your act. We will do our best to make it as pretty as possible, but try and do some research beforehand. Get yourself a flood light with some coloured gels or a beefy RGB LED floodlight (you can get a 20W floodlight for €40 these days) and check what your costume (and you) will look like in a certain colour.
If you want to use special effects or lighting: let us know: perhaps we can incorporate it into our system or already have it in our plans.
Black lights can be a problem: to get a decent output, you’ll need a lot of fixtures and we don’t intend to rent those.
Adding lasers to your outfit is a bad idea, stick to LEDs instead.

Other effects:
Glitter is a pain to clean up afterwards, is usually conductive and use of it is therefore prohibited! Breaking this rule is punishable with whatever the technical crew sees fit at that moment, but think among the lines of cleaning the World Forum’s toilets with you personal toothbrush throughout the weekend as a mild penalty. Our lighting fixtures usually have some sort of active cooling on board and if stuff like that gets sucked in, it destroys a fixture that costs thousands of euro to replace. Take care in using things like confetti, flower petals and (but not limited to) small grained particles in general. If you don’t, we might decide to supply you with a hoover to clean up afterwards.
Fire (open flame, closed lanterns or similar), live fireworks, flammable objects and anything that generates enough heat to facilitate combustion is strictly prohibited and will result in disqualification.
We utilise one or more smoke/haze machines to give the lighting some more oomph. If you want more smoke, or none at all, make sure you stipulate this in your script.

If you need more information of have specific questions, don't hesitate to ask. :)