I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gone through this experience: watching a painfully long, mind-numbingly boring group cosplay skit with bad costumes, cheesy lines, and woeful music editing.
Sometimes I start to wonder — will skits ever be as awesome as the ones from 2006, when Toei Animation Philippines held what was the biggest (and is still the biggest) group cosplay competition in the history of Philippine cosplay?
I’m pretty confident that another of those big, bad babies is around the corner, and I hope by then local cosplay groups have set themselves up to do a better job, and merit a slot on one of the most hotly contested finalists shortlist on the local cosplay scene. With that in mind, here are five things every cosplay group should consider when putting together the ultimate cosplay skit.
Your group is only as good as your worst member.
Sure it’s a group cosplay competition, but you have to work on your costumes individually, right? Wrong. Groupmembers — especially the more technically proficient ones, should do their best to help with the costumes of their fellow members as one ugly costume will ruin the completed group’s visual impact.
Some judges (as well as some events) score group cosplay competitions based on the worst costume and not the best, which means that one epic costume will not the save the asses of the eleven other fail ones. Other events like to drop both the highest and lowest scores and then average the remaining scores (similar to scoring figure skating competitions or beauty pageants) to ensure that the groups do an equally good job on all the costumes and not just one or two.
Pre-production is key.
Make sure that you have a solid script or choreography, as this will lessen dead air during your skit, as well as minimize onstage gaffs. Nothing turns off an audience faster than a group that appears to be half-assing their way through a skit.
Also make sure that your music editing is crisp and clean and formatted into many different files to accommodate different media players the event staff may be running at the con. It would be more advisable to burn the music on to a CD rather than use a USB dongle, which could get lost or be infected with a virus; it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Learn the importance of editing.
Even if you had a million erstwhile ideas for brilliant choreography or the perfect script, don’t cram them all into a single skit. Not only will this extend your skit’s time well beyond the required length of performance (usually just five minutes per group in many major cons), it might also backfire on you and lose your audience’s interest on account of too much information.
Keep your themes short, sweet, and sassy — a brilliant and witty short skit will win you more fans (and more judges points) than a long and drawn out one that just bores people to tears.
Practice makes perfect.
Practice your skit as much as you can. Set your rehearsals well in advance to make sure that as many members as possible can attend your practice sessions. Fix your blocking to make sure the performance will fit in the confines of the event’s platform or stage.
Have several different versions of your final music cut prepared so you can choose which one is the best for your performance. If you can, use stand-in props to approximate your fight choreography, but not damage the actual props you will be using for the competition proper.
Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
Last but not least, always have a contingency plan. You never know what will happen on the day of the competition. Bring at least two copies of your music CD. Bring tools and parts to repair your costumes and your props with. Take along a small first aid kit in case somebody makes a mistake during your onstage fight scene. Get plenty of rest, food, and water prior to, on the day of, and after the competition.
And if everything just isn’t going your way, then simply have relax and have fun. Remember why you got into cosplay in the first place — it’s about the fun, not the competition. Good luck, kiddies!