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Acksonl (CA)2

// March 18, 2012

Acksonl
Toronto, Canada
Cosplay Gen: Can you tell us a few introductory words about yourself?

Acksonl: I work for a large Canadian retailer during the day, fight crime at night, and shoot cosplay on weekends.

As a kid, I’ve always loved playing around with moving images; I guess it all started back when Microsoft released Movie Maker. However, over the years I’ve transitioned over to the use of Apple computers systems because it fulfilled more of my editing needs.

My first convention was Fan Expo in 2002 or 2003, which is held in Toronto, Canada. I mainly went to see the guests, and was really never into the whole cosplay scene up until a year ago. At heart I’m a Trekkie/Trekker. I cried hard when I met Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager) a few years back.

As for filming gear, I get asked this question a lot; I usually carry around my Canon EOS 5D Mark II and a Canon EOS 7D along with a camera stabilizer. Many cosplay enthusiasts who have seen the videos consider purchasing a digital SLR camera with video capabilities to make their own videos. However, I don’t recommend doing so unless the individual is comfortable in handling one and understands the fundamentals of a digital SLR. A digital SLR with video capabilities is very different than a standard PRO/SEMI-PRO camcorder. Any person who has had experience using both will tell you the same. I don’t really want to get into details but I recommend going online and doing research before investing in this technology.

Cosplay Gen: Your videos are mainly oriented towards cosplay and you even have some costume showcases, why is that? What does cosplay mean to you?
Acksonl: Before I started shooting convention videos, I use to do a bit of cosplay photography and a bit of wedding photography on the side. As soon as Canon released its first pro digital camera with video capabilities, I immediately sensed the opportunity to take cosplay documentation to the next level.

Cosplay Gen: Your videos have a very artistic feel, compared to normal coverage videos; where do you get all those ideas and how do you convince the cosplayers to cooperate?

Acksonl: I’ve seen many convention videos posted on the internet where it normally involves a cosplayer being interviewed by someone, which is also how I got started in filming my first anime convention at Anime North 2009. After I finished editing all the footage, I came to the realization that what I did was very generic when it came to video documentation of a convention. I’ve also noticed that many talented cosplayers weren’t that comfortable speaking in front of the camera. With that in mind, and with experience shooting weddings and some inspiration from Stillmotion (a popular wedding photo/video studio), I decided to combine contemporary cinematic wedding video techniques with the art of cosplay.

Getting cosplayers to pose for the videos isn’t too difficult, just approach them and ask kindly like every other photographer or congoer. Sometimes they may decline because they need to get somewhere or are just not in the mood, but for the most part, cosplayers are more than willing to participate briefly at a convention. Getting cosplayers to go offsite to shoot around the city for a couple of hours is another story.

Cosplay Gen: What sort of things have you learned since you started doing these videos, and what sort of tips can you give for people who’d like to start doing something similar?

Acksonl: It can be tempting to fall back on whatever techniques you know will work time and time again, but videos will get stale fast if you always do the same thing. You need to be able to find a way to bring something new to every new project and try new things. Admittedly I can be guilty of this on occasion, but finding new materials by filming different cosplayers and locations helps keep things fresh. Experimenting is the key! In a way, shooting video is similar to shooting photography, except you deal with a moving image; there are more elements you can incorporate into the shot. Over time, as your portfolio increases from experimenting, your videos will become more dynamic.

For those just starting out, it’s always best to do ample research, so that way you have a better understanding of what you need. Also, having a good idea about what, who and how you want to shoot will help you narrow down what you specifically need to get the job done.

Running off and buying things just because it works for someone else, might not work as well for yourself. Again, it all depends on the individual and the goal you want to accomplish.

Cosplay Gen: Do you have any bigger plans for the future, such as a documentary or a much more comprehensive video?
Acksonl: As it is just a hobby, I have committed quite a substantial amount of time and resources. I plan on continuing shooting similar types of videos in 2011. Currently I do not have plans to deviate too much from what I am currently doing.

Cosplay Gen: What sort of problems did you run into when filming? Can you share with us an awkward or funny moment?
Acksonl: I’ve found that filming at conventions is becoming harder as I gain more viewership. As much as I would love to converse with watchers I meet at cons, it takes away from time I spend filming.

For more amazing videos visit Acksonl YouTube Channel.

// Interview by Cristian Botea

2 Comments

  1. DH says:

    I think it’s great opportunity to share CMV from Poland :)http://vimeo.com/27122900

  2. Jay says:

    Thank you for this interview! I am not really into cosplay myself but I really appreciate Acksonl’s work.

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