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Behind the Choice Awards

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Check 'em out people, here's the latest:

Emotive Press Event
IGDA VIP Luncheon
The IGF and Game Developers Choice Awards

I may be posting up a session or two over the weekend, but if not I'll definitely have some new stuff up come Monday!

Choice Awards Coverage

I have no idea what my rationale was last entry when I mentioned posting up a summary of how I cover the IGF and GDC awards, but it's not too complex so I'll give it a go.

Basically all I do is park myself right smack dab in front of the stage - camera, pen, program, voice recorder and drink in hand. In past years (2006 and earlier) I've had to also tote my laptop along as well since I was still using my teeny Sony Cybershot with a 512MB card that I had to pull, download (thankfully I have a Sony laptop with a built-in reader) and erase to clear up room for more pictures. The 2GB card in the Rebel XT I use now doesn't have this problem. I also didn't have a voice recorder to tape acceptance speeches before this year, although for some reason I only thought to record the ones given by the Pioneer, Lifetime and Ambassador awards. Why? No idea. I am stupid.

Taking photos of the stage I use both flash and non-flash. Since the external flash takes time to recharge, I continue to snap photos but have the ISO and aperture settings preset so that the picture still comes out vibrant but not overly exposed. As you can see in the example pictures, the non-flash version looks a lot more natural, but sometimes I need a flash version to pick up facial features that are obscured by shadow (like if the person is wearing a hat). I also leave the camera on manual focus so that it doesn't get confused by the animated background of the big projection screen (a mistake I made last year) and focus on that instead of the people.

Taking photos of people receiving the award I generally break into three or four separate instances: 1) approaching the stage 2) receiving the award and shaking hands/hugging 3) acceptance speech 4) exiting the stage (victory salutes)

After the award is given out, I mark down in the program with my pen who the winner was in that category. This has become harder each year as the programs are printed on glossier and glossier paper that doesn't like to hold ink very well. But I've managed. I also switch the voice recorder off so that I have each speech in a separate file rather than having to pick my way through two hours of continuous recording. (Had I been smart enough to record everything this year...)

Actually posting up the pictures after the show is over is another tough aspect to the coverage, besides initially snapping them. This year, I took a whopping 363 photos of the entire ceremony (last year I only ended up with 237). There were 23 awards handed out, which means I took roughly 7-10 photos per recipient (yes, 363 / 23 actually equates to around 16 but I also take many photos of MCs and Hosts). Why so many? Well as I mentioned before I want flash and non-flash versions, but also because some may come out blurry as I'm doing the focus manually, so I make small focus adjustments for each photo I take during each instance (described above) to hopefully get the right setting. Even when I'm a little off though, the effect is minimized when the photo is shrunk from its full resolution. Lastly, when you're capturing people speaking, you are more often likely to capture them in a weird facial expression than a normal one. Here's a good example.

So I have to go through every photo and hand pick the ones I want to include in the coverage gallery, which you can imagine takes some time to do. Once I get them all chosen, batch resized and renamed, and uploaded to the gallery, all I have left to do is write up my review of the event, based heavily on the years past (I've attended the awards show annually since 2002).

And that's it! Hope you found that err... somewhat informative. Time for me to start enjoying the weekend I suppose. See you Monday if not sooner and have a great weekend yourselves!
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