This Is Art New York Comic Con Meetup: Are You In?

As you may already know, we recently hosted our very own This Is Art Livestream party to celebrate the success of our IndieGoGo campaign and to thank our donors and supporters. You can watch the video and read about how we put it together here.

In our webseries, Anne and I tell the story of creating art through the main characters, D and Cami, and their artistic experiences. The art they create is vastly impacted by the people they meet along the way. That is, after all, a huge part of the artistic process. As such, the idea of community has always been an important one for This Is Art. This was one of the main driving forces behind our Livestream party; we wanted to give our community a chance to interact and share, and – most importantly – to show themselves! We were not disappointed. For me, one of the most exciting parts of the event was watching the chatroom scroll as our community – a vast combination of people of all ages, locations, and demographics – got to know each other. That sense of bringing people together is one aspect of art that is always a favorite of mine.

Of course, bring a community of people together and you’re bound to hear a variety of different opinions and ideas. One such idea arose from the community gathered at the This Is Art Livestream party: the idea of a New York City Comic Con meetup.

Anne and I instantly loved the idea the moment it came up in chat, but in the days that have since passed we’ve discussed it and are now growing even more excited at the prospect of bringing our community together in person, especially during an event that represents an even larger community of which Anne and I consider ourselves a part. We would love the opportunity to organize a meetup for new media fans and creators – in other words, the community we are creating through This Is Art! Anne and I will both be at NYCC all 4 days (we’ve got our press passes and we will be there representing This Is Art, of course!), and we’re confident that we could find a time convenient for everyone (ie, not during the Felicia Day panel).

So here’s where you come in. Friends, family members, fans, new media creators, and new media lovers – sometime between October 13 and October 16, would you be down to attend a New York Comic Con meetup hosted by This Is Art? Let us know! If there’s interest, we will be happy to put it together! Simply comment on this blog post, hit us up on Facebook, or tweet your interest with the hashtag #thisisartnycc to let us know!

 

Emily Floyd
@emilythespoon
@followthisisart
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Tips for Livestream Broadcasters


 

Last night, we hosted our “This Is pARTy” Livestream event. We planned this event as a way to get our community interacting with us and each other. We wanted to publicly share our excitement and gratitude with them for all of their support in funding the project on Indiegogo (66 hours left!) and spreading the word. We’ve had over 6,800 views of the project and a thousand of those views were referred by donors. Thank you so much for carrying our banner!

This post will give you some insight into our process for the event.

Originally, we were going to use USTREAM to do the event, but when Emily and I tested it out, the whole system seemed super slow, clunky, and hard to operate. There were a few different chat streams and the one it automatically put you into was not actually the chat room. Most notably, Emily said that the sign in process was confusing. The last thing we wanted to do was discourage people from logging in to the system to start a dialogue with each other, so we thought we’d try Livestream and see if it worked any better.

The entire Livestream system was cleaner from start to finish not only from the viewer side, but from the broadcaster side. It puts everything on the same page (recording monitor, view counter, chat room, twitter, moderator privileges, etc), so that you can easily monitor your broadcast and interact with your viewers without having to move all sorts of windows around the screen. Note: Close down the actual channel when you start the broadcast or you’ll get a horrendous echo. The biggest plus for Livestream was how easy it was to enter the chat room. You start typing, the system asks them for a nickname, and you’re put into the chat room. It doesn’t require any involved account making or registration.

The ease of chatting resulted in viewers of all ages and demographics being able to participate in the Livestream event. It was incredible to see people gathering for the stream a whole hour and a half early. When I peeked in the chat room, folks were already buzzing about what was going to happen and starting to meet each other.

Part of this is because I recruited a bunch of friends from online chat rooms I frequent to come and help us break the ice. This was wonderful, because it made our chat room active when the bulk of people arrived around 9PM EST when we officially started the broadcast. Thank you to everyone who came and “pre-gamed” for the event in the chat room!

In addition, give your supporters their time in the sun. This kind of event gives you the unique opportunity to thank specific people in the chat room who you haven’t been able to thank face to face. Because we’re all about bringing artists and creators together, we also tried to plug their projects whenever possible.

We filmed the whole thing on my MacBook Pro, but in the future, I think we’ll try to use a nicer camera. This would allow us to get a better picture that wouldn’t require us to huddle so closely. As much as I love my cast mates, it made lighting difficult and one of us always had to be far from the mic. Having a separate camera would also allow us to keep the computer closer to us so we could interact more with chat room while filming. Having reviewed our footage, the biggest issue is that I think we need to be closer to the microphone, which is also in the computer. So, those are all things to think about if you’re putting one of these events together.

One integral part of the event was having a moderator in the chat room. In our case, this was Bryan Vu, our webmaster and graphic designer. I chose him because I wanted to involved as many cast/crew as would come and because I know he’s frequented these types of events in the past so he would know what to expect. He’s also based in Texas, so unless he flew out to NYC, he wouldn’t be able to be on camera. We did have a few “trolls” pop into the chatroom, but we banned them as soon as we were able. This is bound to happen with an open event on the internet. It’s just part of the territory. Don’t panic, just deal with them accordingly. Note: When you ban them, select ban IP address instead of ban nickname because they’ll just create a new name and come back.

You’ll also need someone to keep track of interesting questions that folks in the chat room ask because you will be so busy talking most of the time that you won’t be able to follow all the text that’s scrolling by on your own. I also tasked Bryan to instant message me questions that people asked so when we got to the final section of the show, we could answer them. Bryan had a big job that evening, so thank you so much for being an absolutely integral part of our This Is Art team!

One of our less successful parts of the event was our contest. Here are the details:

Anyone who Tweets about this event with #thisispARTy or tags “This is Art: The Series” in their Facebook status (http://www.facebook.com/wa​tchthisisart) between now and the end of the party on Thursday night will be entered to win a digital download of our score and original songs by the amazing Laura Intravia (www.lauraintravia.com).

In theory, we hoped this would help us spread the word about the event and increase interest, but I think it may have been premature. We’re very early in our process for the show and while we do have a growing number of supporters, we didn’t get very many entries to the contest. The biggest factor here was that our incentive doesn’t carry much weight at this juncture. While Laura is a wonderful composer and has a lot of fans of her work, we haven’t completed the scoring process for the show and people don’t have much to go on when imagining how cool that reward might be. In addition, because we’re so early in the process, her fans probably aren’t even aware of our show. In my opinion, this kind of contest will be more successful once we have our episodes online. If you choose to use this kind of reward system for those who help publicize your events via social media, choose an incentive that will have a more immediate reaction and, as always, let us know how it goes!

The last suggestion I have is that you plan the event as best you can. Don’t script it, because then you’ll be visibly wooden and the whole point of this is interaction and spontaneity. We just plotted out sections of the broadcast- Welcome, Introductions, Thank the Donors by name, Clint Interviews Anne & Emily, Emily & Anne Interview Clint, and answer questions from the chat room. With this loose framework, it allows you to know where you’re going and watch your timing, but it will also allow you to move freely with whatever is happening or being requested/suggested in the chat room.

In fact, we are now creating a This Is Art meetup at New York Comic Con because someone in our chat room suggested it. So be open and aware of the ideas your viewers throw at you because they may not only be brilliant, but your audience will enjoy knowing that they had an effect on you. Interactive projects go both ways. You affect your viewers and in turn, they’ll affect the project. That’s one of the biggest joys when it comes to working on the web.

If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments section below. We’d love to hear what everyone thought!

Anne Richmond
@annerichmond
@followthisisart
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Conventions and Community: Can’t have one without the other!

As anyone with internet access and a penchant for geekery knows, last weekend was San Diego Comic Con: the veritable Mecca for all fanboys, fangirls, comic-lovers, gamers, cosplayers, and anyone even remotely interested in nerd culture.

I only recently became a con-goer myself, but even at my very first convention three years ago I recognized right away what I love about conventions: the sense of community and the uniting love of art.

After all, the video games we play for hours, the comic books with which we fill our shelves, the television shows we memorize, and the movies we line up for at midnight are all art forms. Conventions give a chance for artists and art lovers to gather as a community and celebrate the art that brings us together.

Conventions like San Diego Comic Con have such an important impact on the art community. First of all, they provide a rare opportunity for the fans to make direct contact with the creators – through panels, industry booths, and even sometimes on the show floor! Also, big production companies make huge announcements at conventions about their work. Most up-and-coming video games, comic book creators, and even film companies save their biggest news (like release dates!) for specific conventions, and organize their marketing around these conventions. This, more than anything else, is an indication of just how much importance these production companies place in the convention community and in the respect of their fans.

In addition, conventions open up a unique market for an untapped batch of artists – digital artists, costume makers, webcomic creators, and more. Every convention I’ve attended for 3 years has had a fantastic Artist Alley showcasing hundreds of new media artists and fresh talent that are, in my opinion, as important to the industry as the big production companies sponsoring the convention.

And, of course, there’s cosplay. The best cosplay requires patience, talent, skill, passion, and lots of love. How can you see THIS and not call it art?

Emily and Chris in Gitaroo Man cosplay, with Adam Sessler!

Ok, maybe it’s not the most impressive cosplay ever. It’s just me and Christopher Gravenstine (one of the producers of This Is Art) in our lovingly constructed Gitaroo Man cosplay. And it was enough to get the attention of G4‘s Adam Sessler and get us featured on a segment on X-Play about the importance of cosplay in the con-going community!

When you see really well-made, mind-blowing cosplay, it really makes you appreciate how much talent that cosplayer has in terms of construction (which often includes not only sewing, but also sculpture, detailed painting, and a heck of a lot of engineering). It also makes you realize what an effect that particular character (or series, or video game, or comic book) has had on this person. After all, the genesis of cosplay is the instinctual desire we have to bring fantasy universes from the art we love to life.

So what does all of this mean for This Is Art? Well, for one thing, conventions gather together a plethora of artists (both well-known and up-and-coming, across all forms of new media), and we want to know about them! After all, This Is Art (the web series) is a story about the way art is made, and This Is Art (the project) is a community for these artists to share their processes with one another. You’re going to see a lot more of that soon with our upcoming Digital Spotlight Series.

And it means a great deal for This Is Art (the web series) as well. The web series is still a fairly new and innovative form, and conventions have a huge impact on the development of the web series community.

Take this year’s San Diego Comic Con. One of the biggest panels of the con was the panel for the hit webseries created by Felicia Day, The Guild. To quote Marc Hustvedt of Tubefilter, “The Guild panel at Comic-Con is about as close as the web series world has to a Steve Jobs keynote” (you can view his full article here). This year, the cast of The Guild made huge announcements regarding the expansion of the web series into physical world marketing, including a new line of Guild character-themed Jones Soda. This is a HUGE advancement for the world of web series! Folks, this is the kind of stuff normally reserved for major market entertainment! In other words, The Guild is really putting the world of web series on the map as a form of marketable, viable entertainment. At a time when the state of online entertainment is so up in the air (Hulu, Netflix, and Youtube, oh my!), this is ridiculously awesome news for those of us who are excited about the expansion of the web series community.

At SDCC, The Guild panel also unveiled the first episode of their latest season. As it turns out, Season 5 follows the beloved Guild characters as they attend – are you following me here? – a fan convention!

Needless to say, conventions are very important to me and Anne as we continue to develop This Is Art, both as a web series and as a community of artists. We’ve attended them for years as fans, but recently we’ve really begun to understand the impact of conventions, both on the artists and on the fans, and their importance to our new media community.  As most of you know, we’re well into our fundraising campaign on IndieGoGo! We’re awfully close to $6000, and if we accomplish our goal, or (even better!) if we go OVER our goal, one of the ways Anne and I will be using any additional funds (in other words, what doesn’t go directly toward production) will be to take This Is Art to conventions here in New York City and across the country. After all, as I’ve hopefully made clear, conventions are an extremely important part of our community, and quite possibly one of the best ways for us to promote our series and to allow for This Is Art to grow beyond the web! So… ahem… DONATE and you can help us achieve that goal!

This year, Anne and I are excited to attend New York Comic Con, where we will not only be spreading the word about This Is Art, but we’ll also be scouring the convention for innovative new media artists to share with you! And of course, there’s always room for inspiration for This Is Art, Season 2! Who knows? Maybe this time next year you’ll see the This Is Art panel on your NYCC schedule. Ooo, I can’t WAIT for Cami cosplayers…

 

Emily Floyd
@emilythespoon
@followthisisart
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