Comic Con @ Home Website
Create Your Own Con Experience
Welcome to the first part of my SDCC experience! This is volume one of a multi-part series, so check back tomorrow for part two!
Ahh Summer, this time last year was about the time that I would be posting press coverage of my latest local convention, but like most things to come out of 2020, this year was a bit different. Like most events, conventions, including the largest one around, San Diego International Comic Con, were victim to the worldwide cancelations. However, they weren’t going to let that prevent them from creating fun experiences for all fandoms to experience from the comfort and safety of their homes. This year was the first year that fans had the opportunity to “attend” the event for free, attracting a significantly larger crowd that previously wouldn’t have considered the possibility of being able to go. Even though SDCC was canceled very early on, this year, like most others, was going to be filled with first time attendees, families, and returning guests ready for their once in a lifetime experience alongside fellow fanatics and some of their favorite creators. Although it is certainly not the same con experience that you would only get at the largest convention in the world, they created a fun atmosphere for fans to hear from some of their favorite creators, get in on exclusive merchandise from some of the largest brands in the world, show off their cosplay/artistic talents, and connect with other attendees at the first ever Comic Con @ Home.
Going to SDCC has always been one of my biggest dreams, and I certainly hadn’t planned on going to it this year, but on the brightside, this year’s altered at-home con is that this is the first opportunity I’ve had to “attend.” As someone who would have been at on average, at least four conventions by this time last year (you can check out some of my previous con coverage here), I have been really missing the exciting atmosphere, the independent artists (many who rely on these conventions to make a bulk of their income and network their brand), and the experiences that only come from panels and the energy off the con floor. Since no one will be attending any in-person events in the foreseeable future, I am going to be breaking down this year’s SDCC @ Home from the comfort of my home. I will be highlighting the setup, accessibility, issues, benefits, panels, some of the latest news, and my experience from the perspective of a full-time geek. I will also be rating some of the different aspects as I go along Without further ado, let’s get into it!
- Accessibility, Setup, & Getting Ready…
Among some of the first large events to be canceled due to COVID-19, was Comic Con International, so the creative minds on the SDCC team along with the larger brands and sponsors that make up this CC powerhouse had a lot of time to plan, adapt their experiences to an online setting, and allow fans to easily enjoy event safely & to the fullest.
The original date was July 22-26th through an entirely online format. The daily coverage was streamed on the IGN website here, and in addition to the daily live streams, panels were streamed on Twitch, YouTube (including a lot of pre-recorded skit-like reveals of upcoming shows), Amazon Prime streaming services, and a few other sites throughout their various platforms. The attendees were encouraged to sign up and create a custom daily schedule of their own to bounce from panel to panel as to not have their interests get lost in the hundreds of daily listings and events. For those more interested in casual viewing of their select panels, signing up was not necessary.
From my experience, many people who wanted to see the panels live would gravitate towards Twitch as their main streaming service of choice, but any time I tried to use it, I had a lot of issues including unexplained crashes, glitches, and delays. Many of the panels uploaded to YouTube have amassed millions of views, with the comment section giving a space to fellow fans and enthusiasts to discuss (excluding the numerous videos that they have disabled the comment section). No matter how you look at it, they provided their audience with a wide variety of platforms making it more accessible on multiple devices and to view on whatever service the fandoms were most familiar with.
The process of signing up and selecting panels was very easy, and made keeping track of the panels that I was interested in attending simple. Each day, I would receive reminder emails from the con providing me with the schedule for that day and at the end of the day, I would get to review my experiences with each of the events. There was also nothing stopping me from adding additional panels the day of, or after it had ended. Once each day’s worth of panels had ended, the link was provided for each of the streams and/or the recorded interviews and reveals within the individual descriptions. The emails and instant updates were especially helpful for those like me who completely forgot what panels they signed up for and when they were.
The schedule was run through a program called Sched, and I can’t recommend it enough. Coming from someone who easily loses track of time, having reminders and my full schedule easily accessible in the palm of my hand was so helpful and overall made the experience more enjoyable. Out of all of the issues that I ran into over the course of the con, the sign up, website, and using my account was not one of them. I hope going forward more conventions use this as a tool to adapt their experiences to online platforms.
Hands down, one of the best parts of this experience is being able to go through the panels and a majority of the convention experience after the event had “ended.” This was especially convenient for those who had to work during the time of some of the largest panels, and over the course of the last week, I was able to spread everything out and have a few different panels to look forward to each day. Although I ran into some issues with the panels as they premiered (and some of the prerecorded ones later on), this setup was clean, easy to use, mobile friendly, and now that the con is over I still have full access not only my personal schedule, but the entire lineup of games, celebrities, reveals, panels, premieres, and more. You can find that link below:
As with in-person cons, there were plenty of cancellations, changed schedules, and issues within the panels themselves, but I feel that it kind of feeds into the feel of a traditional convention. It would be boring if everything went exactly as planned, rolling with it can be part of the fun. That being said, there was of course, a large sum of issues that wouldn’t arise in an in-person environment, but that’s pretty par for the course for the first SDCC to go fully virtual. I’ll get more into the issues/ pros and cons that fans ran into a bit later on.
Account, Schedules, and SDCC website performance:
That’s it for now! Check back for the next part tomorrow…