I wasn't able to experience everything the convention had to offer, particularly as I had to commute to and from the convention each day, which wasn't really much of a problem, I just missed the evening events. I would have to say I had an overall good time at Gatecon, the panels were fun and the selection of guests was quite extensive in comparison to previous cons I have been to and for the price of the ticket.
As a native of Vancovuer, it is naturally the best and most convenient location for me to be able to attend. Plus, with many of the Stargate guests also being based in Vancouver, it allows them a greater opportunity to attend the convention while also being able to see to their working commitments, thus providing a deeper potential guest list for the con.
names to attend ?
Richard Dean Anderson is a no-brainer. As he told me when I had the opportunity to talk with him, as long as he's moving he'll be doing events like Gatecon. I love the vast majority of the guests I have seen at the Stargate cons I've been able to attend and, with this being my first opportunity to see Martin Wood on stage, I must insist he be a fixture at any con from this point forward. He has an awesome stage presence and can make even the mundane aspects of film making an interesting experience. It's awesome to see the guests who have a lesser exposure than the headliners, such as Patrick Currie and Tom McBeath but more Goa'uld System Lords is never a bad thing, either.
With the exception of Harold's, I preferred the Hilton Vancouver at Metrotown (where Creation typically held their cons) but it might be too expensive for a Gatecon to run and it doesn't look like it would suit the photo op set up employed by Gatecon. Maybe with a few tweaks, the Sheraton could be a nice home for the con.
anything that could be improved on ?
I mentioned in another thread the general chaos which was felt on Friday and Saturday and I certainly have some ideas which may alleviate some of the issues which came up.
First and foremost, there was no real "schedule" for the show, just an abstract idea of panels and the time they were intended to take place. While the panels themselves are subject to the "subject to change" disclaimer, which is perfectly understandable the lack of a detailed schedule made it impossible to plan anything before the con in order to manage the time efficiently.
The biggest offender of this was the photo ops, which the only information we had was that with the exception of the System Lords and Richard Dean Anderson, the guests who were not scheduled for panels on a particular day would be doing photo ops. This sounds reasonable in theory, but the execution was chaotic at best as guests would just come and go or just not show up at all, which was the case with one of the System Lords on the Friday. Then there is the issue with the System Lord reshoot on Saturday, which was listed as 9:30am on the board at registration, then was TBA on the board at the room and ultimately scheduled for the afternoon.
To this end, I think pulling a page out of the Creation book would greatly improve efficiency and satisfaction for the process. Instead of having all of the guests in a tier grouped in a room, schedule blocks where specific guests will be doing dedicated photo ops and then repeat the schedule in the afternoon for people who chose the morning panels. For example:
Minoru D - 09:30am - 12:00pm - Richard Dean Anderson
Minoru C - 09:30am - 09-45am - Tony Amendola
Minoru B - 09-30am - 09-45am - Roger Cross
Minoru C - 09:45am - 10:00am - Gary Jones
Minoru B - 09:45am - 10:00am - Andee Frizzell
And so on.
So instead of having guests come and go at their leisure, they are scheduled blocks where you KNOW they are going to be in the room and if a guest has a larger number of people taking photos with them, the schedule can be flexible within reason.
I don't know what the set up for printing the photos was, but to say it was a cluster would be an understatement. By the end of Saturday, after having had four photo ops on Friday, I only had one of my photos and it would turn out that my System Lords photo would be lost due to the camera failure mentioned at the beginning of the day. I should point out that at the earliest opportunity, I went to the photo area and inquired about the failure and was told if my photo was affected they would find me but I was never approached or summoned to the reshoot and, since I had only received one of my photos, I had no indication that I should have the photo redone. I would also strongly suggested that instead of generic "tier" tickets, tickets printed for specific guests would greatly expedite the process of buying tickets at the convention, as the woman in line in front of me was buying a large number of tickets and the poor crew member had to manually write in all of the names on the proper tier ticket. Having to do that for each ticket other than the RDA and System Lords tickets slows the process down considerably and just means more waiting in line for the attendees. Where Gatecon absolutely beats the pants off Creation here is not extorting their paying customers with exorbitant and ludicrous "handling" fees for each individual ticket ordered before the con.
While the "mugshot" photo and the information sheet certainly helps to ensure people actually claim their photos, it adds yet another line to wait in, often while the crew is trying to organize the photos they do have in their possession. Again, with Creation, when they are printing their own photos they are available for people to pick up within a few hours of the session. If they are utilizing a local printer, then photos taken on Friday would be available early Saturday and photos on Saturday would be available through-out the day as well as early Sunday.
There was far too much disorganization as well as simply not knowing where guests were or when they would be in the room for a guest list the size of this convention that the execution of the photo ops as well as the lack of communication regarding the photos affected by the camera failure. This was, by far, the largest blight on my experience and in this area I have to give the edge to Creation, hands down. It is definitely possible for these issues to be ironed out and a more efficient and streamlined process, especially if Gatecon intends to continue with such a large complement of guests in attendance.
A minor issue, also stemming from the vague nature of the itinerary, is that it implied that there would only be autographing done on Sunday after the closing ceremonies and there wasn't so much as a list of guests who would be having a table outside the dealer's room. There were guests, Alex Zahara for example, who were unable to stay for the autographing session due to other commitments. This is where a comprehensive, if fluid, schedule included in the welcome package would be of great help to attendees.
So while I respect and appreciate the hard work put into pulling off the convention by the Gatecon organizers and crew, it is this lack of organization and the myriad of technical failures (camera, printer issues, etc.) which put my Gatecon experience below that of the Creation cons I have attended. I hope I have not been too harsh, but if my critique can result in an even better Gatecon in the future then it will be worth it. I truly do wish to see Gatecon have a wonderful future and provide the awesome Stargate family with an opportunity to get together now that Creation is doing away with the last of their Stargate conventions.