2019 in Review

Anyone else think 2019 felt longer than than it should have?

Normally, by the time I get to sitting down and writing one of these things I’ve got the past 12 months all figured out with a pithy yet thoughtful summary but this time I’m kinda not sure what the hell just happened.

On a world scale, locally, personally… it was really quite all over the place, good and bad. I can’t begin to even wrap my head around all the horrible stuff that has happened in world news, this isn’t really the place for it. So I’ll narrow the focus.

This isn’t so much “the positive” ying to the “end of year rant’s” yang, these end of year reviews are just a way to reflect on the year that was for me and I think it began the same way it always does: full of hope and energy and so many ideas.

I have not made a single dent in this project list from 2018!

But of course, as always, that energy and motivation is soon tempered by reality. Not the world, not blaming anything or anyone else. My reality.

Previous years there was always something that derailed my best laid plans mainly by sapping all my energy (mental and physical). 2018 wasn’t quite that and it was perhaps the first year in a long time nothing happened to me other than make me paranoid that something was going to happen. Which is really messed up when you think about it, not wanting to trivialise PTSD but maybe that’s what it’s been over the last decade.

But as I said last year, I’ve noticed my lack of resilience. My inability to bounce back in a timely manner.

The worst thing to happen to me personally this year was spraining my ankle (again) back in March. Boo hoo indeed I know, but while it did take an extra week or two to heal than it normally does (yeah it was happening every year for the past five years), I can pinpoint that as a minor stumbling block for me because I was just not in the mood for anything over the next month. Yet I’m not blaming the ankle!

That sort of solidified the notion of my inability to overcome things. For all the healing and repairing I had been doing in regards to more messed up shit in past years, I think I was working my way back to “default”, to “good enough”, to “fine”.

Or maybe, despite my ambitions, I was too afraid to do more in fear of getting hurt again.

But before we get too much into a pity party, looking back it didn’t actually fizzle out there…

Avengers Endgame
I went to see this movie twice, once at a PROPER 7:30am screening at Events Cinemas (I forgot to laugh about this in my end of year rant where another place claimed “first in Adelaide” but didn’t start until 8:30am) and then later with mates and it was amazing! Amazing enough to make it a highlight here of course!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BwnTGZgDWKD/
https://www.instagram.com/p/Bwrrolij7K2/

Branching out
I had been wanting to do this for a few years but it wasn’t until this year that I think I properly pulled the trigger and got it going. Doing more on my YouTube channel has been rather uplifting.

I finally settled on a format and colour coding system for my thumbnails too!

The bulk of my career was standard graphic design however a lot of it was also multimedia design. Many of my jobs required a “jack-of-all-trades” sort of mentality and so video production isn’t totally foreign to me.

Looking back and seeing that I averaged maybe a video a month isn’t too bad. I was originally hoping for more output but these things take time to get into a groove and honestly, I don’t want to force it all and risk losing what I enjoy about it.

I must admit to some minor disappointment as I estimated that these videos would do slightly better than they have, I mean I wasn’t expecting thousands of views but going by past experience I at least thought a couple of hundred more views especially with the number of people who follow my various social media, etc. But then again these things take time AND it’s a crap time for anyone new to be starting up on YouTube anyway.

However, I am glad that people have been enjoying these videos so that makes it worth it.

Upgrading
Previously, I had been using mirrorless cameras for all my photography (and still do) and while I loved the convenience of that camera, it wasn’t quite up to the task when it came to what I was hoping for in video.

In late February, I was able to upgrade my equipment slightly…

https://www.instagram.com/p/BuVvS24DxiE/

This isn’t exactly high-end professional but it’s often referred to as “pro-sumer” level because it has the quality of the high-end professional equipment but without all the more complex bells and whistles that allow the consumer to take full advantage of said quality. So it’s not exactly as “filmic” or “cinematic” as an interchangeable lens camera (DSLR for example) but you work with what you have.

Getting it second hand and at less than half the RRP, it was a lot better than what I had. It was originally meant to replace the previous Samsung mirrorless camera I had been using for photography but I didn’t quite like how this Sony handled still images so I still carry both at most events.

This was a bit of a game-changer for me and sparked quite the output.

Riot City Wrestling
I don’t take as many photos at RCW anymore because I prefer to just enjoy the show and the quality from their in-house photogs has been getting better than anything I can produce anyway. But this year I did decide to try video. For the first show of the year…

As well as their final show of 2019…

The first video was actually captured using my Samsung NX mirrorless while the second was on the Sony and you can definitely see the difference the BOSS stabilisation (the lens itself is on a gimbal basically) and the 20x optical zoom can have.

These were a lot of fun to put together but I don’t plan on doing too many more (mainly because I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes). They were simply a way to flex and practice my skills in a more active and energetic environment.

Free Comic Book Day
The closest thing to being the first major cosplay event for the year (in Adelaide anyway), Free Comic Book Day was sort of like a test run or a warm up for the types of videos I wanted to make for ages.

The better sensor, ability to capture at a higher frame rate (so I can slow it down), and the stabilisation are all things we either don’t think of or take for granted but they sometimes make all the difference to the style and mood you want to achieve (let’s be honest, with the right smart phone you can make amazing videos too but sometimes you want archival quality footage).

Cosplay Music Videos
I had noticed a bit of a hole in the local cosplay scene for videography. There were folks that have been producing stuff previously but we were missing the type of video content that was seen interstate and overseas, the type of videos that showcased local fans and talent.

If memory serves, my mate ItsameFigaRo stepped up to meet the challenge when he joined me at his first ever con back in 2016 and has been creating some very cool cosplay and con videos ever since.

Go check out the rest of his channel for lets plays and other videos!

Showcasing Adelaide fans and local talent has always been the goal for me and between the videos myself and FigaRo have been producing separately I reckon we’re doing pretty well with that.

The final ever Adelaide Zombie Walk was bittersweet and so much fun.

I’ll be the first one to admit that I still have so much to learn but I’m also having so much fun doing these and plan to keep going. A big thank you to everyone who has participated so far. I really appreciate the time taken out to assist with these and for allowing me to capture and share your fantastic work and expression of fandom.

Media Pass
For the first time in 10 years of attending conventions, I decided to take a punt and apply for a media pass at Supanova as was successful.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4UaoEdjnJY/

Although I’m not a photographer I’ve been taking photos at every events for nearly as long and offering free access to those galleries (you’re welcome HA) and I’ve been writing about pop-culture events for nearly half that time. Now branching into videography it just made even more sense to do this. And it helped a lot too.

Boys and their toys
Over the last three years, toys and collecting have taken up a major chunk of my time, energy, and finances. It’s very easy to blame that refocus as why my own cosplay plans have suffered these last couple of years but I’m not that stressed about it. However, it was inevitable that there would be videos about toys too.

Bizarre as it may sound, did you know there was a small, if vocal, demand for Sean Fewster and I to take our toy hunting shenanigans on Instagram and expand them to YouTube? Yeah people are strange…

The thing is that’s not the first time we have been toy hunting on the Tube of You. But it was the first deliberate effort, before that I just took my camera with me for shits and giggles…

Mega Toy Fair is always so much fun
Always enjoy setting up shop at the Adelaide Comic and Toy Fair

And there’s more in this playlist

Oh don’t worry, there’ll be more pissfarting around like this in the new year.

The maker in me
As I pointed out earlier, I’ve been unable to really dig in to any of my planned major projects but I have been making and building little things.

One project I put my hand up for (not so much a commission but more a favour for a friend) was this Wonder Woman shield for JusZ Cosplay.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B44gJjkDEgP/

It felt good to make something that cool and impressive again and I was able to finally apply a few new techniques that I had picked up during the “in between” times as I call them.

As for making stuff for myself, well technically, that did happen. In an effort to have a more comfortable cosplay at Supanova instead of going casual (in order to be comfortable for recording video) I threw together this Ghostbuster covered in Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

I already had the coveralls because I originally planned to make a full outfit with proton pack and all but this was enough to get a reaction from so many people. Those ecto-goggles are nowhere near accurate but they were enough to complete the look and the “marshmallow” is just expanding foam.

Although, had I known I was going to be dragged onto stage when I was judging the Saturday Cosplay Competition I might’ve gone with my traditional Master Chief.

To get a little more serious though, one of the roadblocks for my lack of major project progress has been with my weight. Although the last two years has finally seen some good weight loss, it keeps fluctuating. For a few years before that I was struggling to lose the usual winter weight and eventually got to my heaviest ever (which isn’t great considering I’m on my way to 40). But that I am able to lose weight again is a positive sign.

Final ever Adelaide Zombie Walk
It was bittersweet but after eleven Adelaide Zombie Walks the organisers decided to pull up stumps and call it a day. The couple behind the yearly event had become worn out by it and understandably so as it’s quite a massive undertaking.

It also meant the end of an era on a personal level as it was possibly the final outing for one of my most enduring costumes.

Although most of it has changed and upgraded over the years, that is the same vacuformed helmet from the beginning. What began as a gag, turned into laziness, and then a tradition, the bio-hazard suit will always be one of my favourites.

It also felt good to bring this out of retirement if only for a single gag.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2wE7suDOA-/

I love cosplay… and not just mine
Every year I do a personal highlights list but more and more I seem to end up making parts of it public. I don’t do “best of” lists as I find the term a little too loaded and unfair (also, who am I to declare such?) but I do have a favourites list for the year (with the main criteria being something I had to have seen for the first time this year and taken photos – and now video – of it).

There are bound to be cosplays I’ve forgotten or missed due to laziness but if anything else this is a good spread of the amazing work that was on show this year. It’s why I take photos every event and now videos. Because as fans we are so creative and passionate and fun, and that’s what makes getting together and sharing all this so worth it. Again thank you to everyone for sharing your love and passion and fandom with me.


I began this word spew with no idea how to sum up the year, but looking back, 2019 wasn’t as “bad” as I thought it might have been (on a local level at least – on the world stage we’re fucked). I don’t want to dismiss or trivialise the bigger things but sometimes taking stock of everything can readjust one’s perspective.

As angry and despondent as AVCon made me this year, it also charged me to keep wanting to shine a light on the bullshit that people try to get away with. Mistakes are understandable, we’re only human but that’s not what I have a problem with. As I said in my end of year rant, I’m clearly not important enough to influence others but people need to be held accountable anyway for their major fuck ups that harm or exploit others. So if there’s one positive thing I can take from that it’s to keep shining that UV light in the hopes it’ll work as a disinfectant.

I thought my sprained ankle slowed me down a lot more than it did. I was actually productive this year, I was busy, I was creatively fulfilled to a point. I didn’t slack off like I had feared. Sure, still tired and sometimes drained but mainly I simply had not readjusted the way I look at my output.

My energy and focus had shifted, I’ve pointed this out before but it took me way too long to realise the affect it had on me. I’m one person, I have only so much energy to expend, only so much time to use and recover, only so much money to do the things I love. For all the ideas (and I knew full well I couldn’t accomplish them all in 12 months) I forgot to count the things I did end up creating rather than the cosplays I failed to achieve.

And that’s a major shift in thinking. I’ve always considered myself a maker, a creative person regardless of media. I even have that range listed on my various social media but I never realised I forgot to uncheck that specific box deep down in my own mind that said I was just a cosplayer.

And it’s freeing. Despite a bump in the middle, most of 2019 was a good period of growth and creativity. And I have a lot of people to thank for that. If you haven’t noticed many of these highlights involved friends, people I care about, people whom I owe a lot to. They help out, they support me, they are an important part of my life. I do not begrudge those who are longer a part of that because they’ve played just as important role in getting me to where I am but no person is an island and a lot of what I have achieved is a result of the people around me.

Before the year is out I want to express my appreciation to all those who have been kind, been wonderful, and joyful this year. Not just to me but to everyone they encounter. When you spread that to everyone we can all benefit from it.

Here’s to surviving and thriving in 2019 and hoping for more growth and good vibes in 2020!

Something I wanted to save until the end, I have been hoping that this would take off a lot more than it has and the holiday season has made it more important than ever. So if you have been enjoying my output this year then please visit my Ko-Fi and drop a few (maybe a lot of) dollars so I can keep going and continue to improve and create more!

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