Saturday, October 31, 2015

The #CosplayCover and the #LEGO #Sigfig #Cosplay #Cover

I didn't want to be a guitarist on the Internet with a camera pointed at his crotch.

When I tested my initial "one man band" setup last year, I decided to perform cover songs, and upload 15-second clips on Instagram. To combat the guitarist crotch shot phenomenon, I made sure these one-take, live performances had multiple video cameras, sometimes including a camera that clips onto the headstock of my guitar -- none of which would be pointed at my nether regions, theoretically.

To actually get people to see these clips, I knew I had to use some specific hashtags. I'd like to think that I'm an "ethical" hashtag user, not spamming keywords but actually using terms that are relevant to the content of my photos and videos. For instance, if I wanted to appeal to the Doctor Who fandom with my unrelated cover song performance, and use fandom-related hashtags, I'd have to dress up like the Doctor.

And so the "cosplay cover" was born. In late summer and early autumn of 2014, I dressed up as all incarnations of the Doctor from Doctor Who and performed mostly unrelated songs (except for the Doctor Who theme song).

During that stretch of time, I also cosplayed Crowley from Supernatural, while covering the relevant "Carry On Wayward Son." During the three day period of Devil's Night, Halloween, and All Saints' Day, I covered three songs from The Crow soundtrack, dressed as the heroic revenant Eric Draven.

These multi-camera cosplay covers turned into a relatively big production for one person to handle, so I stopped producing them.

In early summer of 2015, I upgraded my one man band setup with A Little Thunder for the bass parts, a Boss VE-2 for vocal harmonies, and a DIY LED light show pedal board to give my performances something cool to look at -- all completely portable because all the components are battery-operated. This full-band live sound became immediate, fantastic, and did not require the overall hassle of maintaining an actual full band.

I was still hesitant to start producing cosplay covers again. The process contained too much setup -- lights, cameras, and costumes. The editing process (choosing camera angles) was a bit of a hassle, and video footage from multiple angles tends to use up lots and lots of hard drive space. I really don't like wasting hard drive space. On the other hand, I wanted to share the sound of my upgraded one man band setup on social media.

As a pat-my-own-back-clever compromise, I decided that my LEGO sigfig (and variations thereof) would stand in for yours truly -- sometimes in cosplay. When the current Doctor Who series (season) began in early autumn, I was sure to have my sigfig cosplay as The Doctor, while I recorded one-take cover songs.

Footage from a multi-camera, (increasingly obsolete thanks to 4K video) high definition live performance would probably use up several hundred megabytes, if not a couple of gigabytes per song. The initial edited project, for a 15-second clip, is usually a couple hundred megabytes in size. The super-compressed "finished" project, for a 15-second clip, is usually a couple megabytes in size, like two megabytes or three megabytes.

I only take a few photos when I produce a LEGO cosplay cover. I shoot with JPEGs, I don't bother with RAW format for this situation, and I usually let the "Ken Burns" zooming effect do some magic in Final Cut Pro X. The unedited "footage" is typically only dozens of megabytes in size, total. The LEGO sigfig cosplay cover is definitely a (virtual) space saver.

Like the proper video process above, the initial edited project, for a 15-second clip, is usually a couple hundred megabytes in size. The super-compressed "finished" project, for a 15-second clip, is usually a couple megabytes in size, like two megabytes or three megabytes.

Like last year, I have been able to "cosplay" to try to appeal to the Doctor Who fandom ("Whovians"), as well as the Supernatural fandom, again. For Halloween, I have been able to revisit last year's The Crow cosplay, with little, cutesy, plastic people.

A video posted by Ryan DeRamos (@ryan_deramos) on

I have also been able to celebrate, a bit late, the 20th anniversary of the double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, by the Smashing Pumpkins. That particular 15-second clip consists of five, three-second clips, representing the five music videos from that album. Yes, I only used five photos in the production of that, well, production. Here's a photo that tries to mimic the "Tonight, Tonight" video, with my sigfig cosplaying as Billy Corgan, James Iha, and D'arcy -- and my anthropomorphic drum machine cosplaying as Jimmy Chamberlin.

Having little plastic dudes cosplay as the Pumpkins was a smashing idea! On that note, I hope you all have a Happy Halloween and a smashing pumpkin-spice everything season!


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