Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pacific Media Expo 2012 Convention Report

My friends cosplaying as League of Legends cosplay, including the
legendary Katrina (in Pink Hair), who has 28 photo shoots with me as of PMX 2012.
Southern California is a huge megalopolis that is full of diversity that spans a wide area. The high population density and the gigantic population mean that there are a number of conventions happening over the course of the year. The convention that caps a long season of comic and anime conventions is non-other than Pacific Media Expo. I started attending the convention in 2007, and this year was my first year working as a convention staffer. Having been in the con world for a very long time, I have had experience working from the staff level to executive level, being the Co-Chair of Anime Expo 2012, along with being Board Treasurer and Interim Chief Financial Officer of SPJA. Here is report of my adventures in Pacific Media Expo 2012.

Fashion is a huge focus of PMX
I first arrived in the Los Angeles International Airport area at around 12:30pm, proceeding to park in the LAX Hilton’s garage. To my shock and utter disappointment, there was no parking available in the hotel. I proceeded to park in a Wally Park around two blocks north of the hotel. This issue is out of Pacific Media Expo’s control since they have started relegating more and more of the hotel parking to valet parking. It is understandable since it brings in much more money for the hotel, but it is still frustrating considering that I was sleeping in the hotel for 2 nights. There is plenty of airport parking for Pacific Media Expo and the upcoming Anime Los Angeles, it is just a matter of convenience and how early are you willing to wake up to get a prime parking spot.

For longtime attendees, the layout of Pacific Media Expo is very similar to how it was in the past. The basement floor is home to the console gaming and card gaming room. The first floor has a main cosplay gathering area at the bottom of the stairs, and behind registration is the main live programming room, the main events room, and the dealer’s hall. Behind the hotel is the food truck area. The second floor consists of the second half of the convention, holding a majority of the workshops rooms, live programming, video rooms, registration, convention operations, programming operations, maid cafĂ©, autograph rooms, pocky room, and many more. The third floor is home to the four open-air areas that were home to the cosplay gatherings. There layout was logical and it took around 1 hour walking around to be completely acclimated to the convention layout.

We like having fun!
As a staff photographer, I had to cover panels, workshops, and events by taking photos of each event. I had my trusty Canon 70-200mm f2.8L II and Canon 50mm f1.2L lenses that pretty much covered all the photos I needed for the conventions. As with most hotel conventions, the fluorescent lighting created a “yellowing” effect on the photos. This was mitigated by adjusting my settings for more natural white balance to bring out the photos. As a staff photographer, I had several highlights of the convention. The first was attending the “Cosplayer’s got Talent” competition, it was a joy to cover and I ended up staying for most of the event. The second highlight was the fashion show with outfits from Dolldelight, Alice and the Pirates, Baby the Stars Shine Bright, h. Naoto, and many more. The last was taking photos of a distant cousin holding a packed panel; I am talking about Dante Basco. His panel was very interesting, and I tried to get as many great photos of him as I could.

Dante Basco!!!
Being in the con world as long as I have, I have also built quite a reputation as a cosplay photographer. Between the events, I took hallway shots of cosplayers. Some of them I know through social media, such as Facebook, others are total strangers I have met several times before in the Southern California convention circuit or met for the first time. One of the difficulties in the LAX Hilton was the crowded hallways during the convention, having a really long lens meant I had to get creative to ensure that I don’t block people’s way while keeping the shots interesting. I also had ten photo shoots; most of them were unplanned impromptu shoots. I would first like to say that I was disappointed I could not do a shoot with Kristen and Christine, the latter having the record for the longest photo shoot out of the 180+ shoots I have done, with her Gentleman Alliance Shoot in PMX 2011. On the other hand, I had many shoots with familiar friends, such as Katrina, Kalai, Megan, and Jennifer, while some of my other friends experienced a photo shoot with me for the first time. The mix of the familiar and the cosplayers new to photos shoots with me made for an interesting combination. Since those that know me know how fast and energetic my shoots are, and the new ones getting used to my fast-paced style.

Tales of the Abyss, one of my
favorite Tales game.
Objectively speaking, this Pacific Media Expo ran very well and is probably my best PMX experience of the many years I attended the convention. Friday moved a little slow, but it gave me some time to catch up with old friends in the cosplay community and the cosplay photography world. The Saturday crowd was energetic and jubilant, with an amazing amount of beautiful cosplay. To my surprise, the Sunday crowd was also large and it made for a hectic Sunday. Even with the big crowds, the registration line never got long. The attendee’s spirits were high, with nary a bad word about the convention staff. All I heard were people singing the praises to the wonderful staff. Probably the closest that PMX had to a problem was the delay in the Fashion Show, which in turn pushed back the Dante Basco Panel and Closing Ceremonies. The food trucks were amazing; I never knew that Filipino Food could be mixed in such interesting ways. There was also Carl’s Jr. a block away should I fill my cravings for burgers and fries.

One of the things I noticed was how tightly knit the Pacific Media Expo staff was. I became good friends with many people, and by the second day, many of the staffers already knew me by name. While I did have quite a workload doing my staff work, it always felt like home stopping by the Programming Operations room to relax and take a breather. It was great seeing many of my Anime Expo staffing friends, while making many new ones in Pacific Media Expo. We were treated well, and I definitely would love to come back again should they invite me to stay in their ranks.

Overall, Pacific Media Expo 2012 was my favorite convention out of the many years I attended this event. Seeing all my old friends again made the convention feel like a second home. The layout of the convention was familiar and very easy to grasp. The convention definitely grew in attendance, there were more people than I remember last year, and it made for lots of fun and interesting photos. Luckily, I was able to cram in some amazing photo shoots between my convention staffing work. This was my first experience working at an event that was not named Anime Expo, and I was welcomed with open arms. I will remember this memorable and fun experience. Next year is the tenth anniversary of Pacific Media Expo, and I expect it to be a blast.

Kris Zoleta started working in Anime Expo as a staffer in Manga Library. He worked in Staff Service in Anime Expo 2006 and became the manager of Manga Lounge from Anime Expo 2007-2010. He was serving on the Board of Directors for the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation as Treasurer and Interim CFO for the 501(c)(6) non-profit behind Anime Expo, and he was Co-Chair of Anime Expo 2012. He works in the con world and is one of the most recognized cosplay photographers in the West Coast. 

Pacific Media Expo 2012 Page 
Dolldelight Web Page 
h. Naoto 
Alice and the Pirates 
Baby the Stars Shine Bright

Don't recognize her? Check out my Nisei Week, Anime Los Angeles
or my PMX 2011 convention reports.


Anonymous said...

I know that girl in the bottom, I think she goes by the AoiMizuho name.

KrisZ said...

She is Christine Choi, she is not shy about hiding her cosplay under another identity. She is a really good cosplayer, I didn't have a chance to get a shoot with here at PMX :(