We Have Video

The trouble with YouTube is that in order to make the video downloadable in a reasonable period it has to sacrifice a lot in quality. This is not good if you are trying to film beautiful costumes. But hopefully having the costumers talk about what they have done makes up for that. Here are Sandy & Pierre (alias Oberon and Titania).

The Best Dressed Award

As regular readers will know, for many years now I have been handing out a “best dressed” award at the Hugo ceremony. It is time once again for a winner to be announced. There was a fair amount of stiff competition this year. Naomi Fisher is always very elegant. Ellen Datlow, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Kaja Foglio all looked splendid, as did the ladies accompanying John Scalzi, Wil McCarthy and Ed Bryant. Lisa Konrad gets a special mention for having bought her lovely dress in Fairy Gothmother in Camden (and teaming it with boots). However, for sheer princessly gloriousness, not to mention coming with a matching tiara, there can be no doubt about the winner. Ladies and Gentlemen, the 2008 Emerald City Best Dressed Award goes to…

– drum roll –

Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette Kowal's dress

I spoke to Mary briefly about the dress on the night. If I recall correctly it is from the 1960s and was purchased in a vintage clothing store in Portland, Oregon. Those of you into dressmaking can learn much more about it in this post.

Stephen Boucher Interview

Here is the first of my podcasts from Worldcon. It is an interview with Stephen Boucher, the man who started the whole Australia in 2010 bid by foolishly saying “I’d rather chair a Worldcon than…” in the hearing of a bunch of SMOFs. Despite the hail of $20 bills that descended upon him, Stephen won’t be chairing Aussiecon 4. That honor goes to Perry Middlemiss and Rose Mitchell. But Stephen is heading up the Facilities Division, and he has a lot of interesting things to day about the new convention center in Melbourne.

There is a fair amount of background noise on the recording, and that’s despite us going off to a relatively quiet part of the convention center. Hopefully you can still make out what is being said fairly clearly.

By the way, the reason I say I’m “again” looking at future Worldcons is because I recorded an interview with Farah Mendlesohn just before this one. I must bear in mind that I may not upload recordings in the order in which I make them.

[display_podcast]

Video Progress

Given that Simon Bisson was so confident that my video files would be recoverable, I decided to try one or two more file recovery utilities. The one that worked was File Recover from PC Tools. It cost me $30, but it was well worth it as I have so far managed to recover almost all of the missing files, including the Picacio interview and the piece about Stephen Clark’s bear costume. I’m still missing one sequence with the velociraptors and the interview with Sandy and Pierre Pettinger, but if that’s all I have lost I’ll be much relieved.

Celebrity Worship

Via Mike Glyer I found this report on Denvention3. It is always good to hear that people enjoyed Worldcon, but one particular comment stopped me in my tracks:

I go to a panel discussion to hear the panel members’ opinions – not the audience’s. The audience contributes questions, not their own opinions, which is a concept that many attendees did not seem to grasp. (Exceptions, of course, for notable authors or professionals who happen to be in the audience.)

Having moderated very many panels in my time, I’d be the first to admit that there are audience members who need to be restrained from expressing their opinion interminably. However, that’s a small price to pay for a community that values discussion. Being a famous author does not automatically give you a monopoly on knowledge or wisdom. And if Worldcon ever becomes a convention where the point of attending is to worship at the feet of celebrities I for one will stop attending.

Gone

So this evening I thought I would make a start on editing the video from Worldcon, and the first thing I needed to do was up upload the video from the Hugo ceremony from the Flip camera to the computer. So I did a bit of housekeeping, and then transferred the files. I started up the video editing software and looked for something to edit.

All of the previous Worldcon videos that I had saved were gone. The Hugo ceremony stuff was there OK, but the videos from the masquerade, and the video of John Picacio’s art exhibition, were all gone.

I looked in the recycle bin. Nothing. I got out the file undelete software. Nothing. The videos had been completely wiped.

I know what I did. The video transfer software has a folder that it uses on the computer. The missing video files had been stored there. When I tidied things up I moved the files to subdirectories within that folder. And when I loaded the transfer software it found directories that it didn’t recognize and deleted them.

Well, didn’t just delete them, it wiped them beyond all hope of recovery. (I suspect they were overwritten by the newly uploaded files.)

What kind of pea-brained moron writes software that does this I cannot say. However, once bitten, twice shy. I shall not make that mistake again. From now on every time I upload videos from the camera I will immediately back them up to some other location on the hard drive. If you happen to have a Flip camera, I advise you to do the same thing too.

Ah well, at least that’s less video that I have to process. But damn, that was really good footage that I lost.

Essential Books Commentary

The post about the 20 Essential Books panel has garnered a fair amount of interest around the blogosphere. In particular Niall Harrison and Karen Burnham have been busy doing data mining.

I’m sure this is all very interesting, and I’ve been guilty of some of it myself, but I can’t help get the feeling that this is missing the point somewhat. That panel was not particularly diverse (and in part I picked it that way). We all know each other quite well, and to some extent we have similar tastes. We would have got a very different result if we had a panel composed of, say, Timmi Duchamp, Dave Truesdale, Jeff VanderMeer, Tempest Bradford and Jerry Pournelle. And that panel would not have produced a definitive list any more than we did.

And yes, even though the panel all knew each other, we don’t all read the same books. Each of my fellow panelists managed to pick at least one book that I hadn’t read. I’m mostly far more interested in those than in middling overlap between our lists.

Shopping

Central Denver is lovely. Despite the wide roads and grid layout, it is a proper town center with lots of good restaurants and shops, and excellent pubic transit (there’s a free bus going up and down the 16th Street mall). Tattered Cover, who sponsored the goodie bags for the con, turned out to have a beautiful bookstore – photos to follow. I did also try to photograph Coors Field, but my camera, being a loyal Giants fan, promptly ran out of batteries.

Anyway, there was a further reductions sale in Anne Taylor Loft, and the local store, Cira, whose window I had been salivating over all week, turned out to have things that fitted me. I am poorer, but very happy. Gotta rush now. The airport beckons.

Denvention Post Mortem

I’m pleased to be able to report that the general consensus amongst the assembled Old Pharts was that Denvention 3 had dodged a bullet and would be solvent. There are had been considerable worry pre-con, partly because the convention’s finances appeared to be somewhat in disarray, and partly because of an unusually high number of cancellations. However, the convention committee appears to have adopted a fairly prudent policy of “if you don’t know how much money you have, don’t spend any”. At con this resulted in a number of areas appearing to be underfunded (signage being an obvious example). However, it also avoided a potential disaster. There are one or two outstanding issues that I don’t want to speculate on, so I can’t be 100% certain that the con is OK, but right now things are looking good.

One story that does appear to be coming up again and again is lack of communication. Programming and Tech appear to have had an unhappy relationship, and lots of things appear to have fallen through the cracks. The Old Pharts party almost didn’t happen, and even so the room number printed on the invitations was incorrect. I might never have got to the party had I not run into Geri Sullivan pushing a cart load of food and wine on my way there. Another example is specialty ribbons. There were apparently ribbons saying “Past Hugo winner”. Some people got them in their program packs, others (including me) didn’t. Mike Glyer got his from program ops, but their office wasn’t where the pocket program said it should be (in the convention center) and was in the Sheraton, so I never had time to go there. Similar problems happened with things like the “Past Worldcon Chair” ribbon.

Another issue that people have been talking about is the low attendance – generally estimated at around 3,500, or half the number of people who attended this year’s Finncon. Most of the suggestions as to why this happened have centered around the poor state of the economy, and/or laziness/incompetence on behalf of the convention committee. However, this evening I spoke to a local Colorado fan who had a very different explanation. He noted that most American Worldcons take place in cities with huge local populations. For cities like Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles there are thousands of fans who live within a couple of hours driving distance of the convention. Denver is a smaller and more isolated city, so the proportion of locals to traveling fans has probably been much lower. And the poor state of the US economy will be a much bigger problem for traveling fans than for locals.

When I get time I shall read around reactions in the blogosphere and write up a full con report. Tomorrow, however, I get to go shopping in Denver, and fly home to California.