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Membership rate through the convention.
Young Adult (17-21)US$$100
The 70th World Science Fiction Convention
August 30-September 3, 2012   Hyatt Regency   Chicago
Page Contents 1. Venue
2. Entrants' Registration
3. Presentation
4. Constraints on Presentations
5. Masquerade Orientation and Tech Rehearsal
6. Categories and Skill Divisions
7. Judging
8. Tips for a Successful Masquerade

Masquerade - Participation

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The Masquerade will be held in the Hyatt's Grand Ballroom, which seats about 2,000 people

Stage. The presentation space on the stage is likely to be about 24 feet deep by 38 feet wide by 32 inches high. The room is 17 feet high, so the available height should be about 14 feet. There will be stairs to reach each side of the stage from a curtained passage, permitting entry or exit from either stage right or stage left. (Stage right is to your right on stage as you face the audience; it is the opposite of the audience's right.) We do not plan to have a center stage stair. We expect the podium for the Master of Ceremonies (MC) to be at the front of the stage, far to one side.

Green Room. Entrants wait in the Masquerade "green room" to go on stage. We plan to use Columbus sections E-F as the Masquerade green room. It is 59 feet long by 38 feet wide by 10 feet high and should seat at least 100 persons. The nearest bathrooms are public ones just outside the entrance to the hall. We expect the green room to be available to entrants all day on Saturday but it will not be a secure space until it opens officially, so valuables should not be left there at other times.

We expect to open the green room at least two hours before curtain time. After appearing on stage, entrants are welcome to return to the green room to relax, or to take a seat in the audience.

Ruling Dimensions of the Hall. Despite the dimensions of the stage area, the ruling width for costumes or props to be brought into the ballroom in one piece is the 7-foot-wide double door into the Grand Ballroom and the ruling height is the 7.5 feet height of most doorways. Entrants planning to use costumes or props too large for the ruling dimensions should discuss their needs in advance with the Masquerade Director.

Entrants' Registration
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Use the registration form (DOC) (PDF) on the Chicon 7 web site and attach the form to an e-mail to

. Please fill in as much information as you can ahead of time. You will be able to update or change information until the on-site Masquerade registration desk closes. In addition, paper forms will be available at the on-site Masquerade registration desk, which we expect will be available near convention registration from about 2 p.m. until about 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and from about 9 a.m. until about 11 a.m. on Saturday.

All members of each entry must check in at the Masquerade registration desk during those periods and all must sign a Masquerade release form.

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Green Room. Come to the Masquerade green room when it opens officially. Check in with the person at the check-in table. You will learn your number in the running order and will be assigned to a den for entries just before and/or after you, where you will be in the care of a Den Mom. Go to your den, introduce yourself to the Den Mom assigned to you, and take a seat. Please stay there until it is time to go on stage.

Den Moms. If you need anything, let the Den Mom assigned to you know. We plan to provide light refreshments and to have a manned repair table should a costume need repairs. The repair table provides glue, safety pins, needles and thread, tools, and so forth. It is for last-minute repairs, not for building or completing a costume.

Your Den Mom will see that your photo is taken by the official Masquerade photographer and the photographer taking reference photos for the judges. We expect that official photos will be available for purchase by you and other convention members, possibly the next day. Your Den Mom also will take you to the workmanship judges should you decide to have your workmanship evaluated (see below), and will get you to the stage at the right time and in the correct order.

On Stage. Backstage, there will be stage "ninjas" at the wings to help you up and down the stairs, move props on and off stage, and catch you if you stumble. We need to know how much assistance you need, especially if your vision is obscured by a mask or by not wearing your glasses, or if your costume limits your range of movement. The more assistance you need, the earlier you should let us know (preferably at the Masquerade registration desk).

There also will be stage ninjas at the front and sides of the stage to try to stop you from stepping off the stage by mistake. If you hear someone shout "Stop!" during your presentation, do so; you are in immediate danger of falling off the stage! However, if you dance, run, hop, skip, or jump so fast that the catchers cannot stop you, you are responsible for your own safety.

The young fan entries (see below) will appear first during the Masquerade and the judges will immediately make their decisions before the adult entries appear on stage.

Constraints on Presentations
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The Masquerade is PG-13; there are likely to be children in the audience. Flagrant nudity is not permitted. Remember, "No costume is no costume."

Safety and Weapons.

Safety is our paramount concern. There will be absolutely no flame, fires, sparks, or other flaming on stage. If you are a dragon, plenty of fake and safe "flame" is welcome. Other special effects must be clearly described to the Masquerade Director and to the stage manager and tech crew at the tech rehearsal in order for us to determine whether they are (1) legal and (2) safe. Strobe lighting, for example, has the potential to be harmful to members of the audience. Smoke or fog machines could set off the fire alarms.

If your entry includes displaying a weapon, the Masquerade Director must clear it ahead of time to ascertain that it will not harm other entrants, the judges, or the audience. No sharp edges or points will be permitted. Weapons that shoot or eject projectiles will not be permitted. If you intend to point a weapon at other members of your entry or at the judges and audience, you must demonstrate in advance to the Masquerade Director that the weapon Does Not Work.

Weapons permitted in the Masquerade that otherwise are not permitted at the con must be carried into and from the green room in secure wrappings and be peace bonded.

Finally, entrants may not throw anything at the audience.

Presentation Time Limit.

Each entry is limited to one minute (60 seconds) on stage. After one minute, your lights and sound will fade or we may use a large hook to remove you. Entries with three or more participants are asked to discuss their presentation plans with the Masquerade Director in advance. Fen tend to be easily bored. A good costume and presentation can be ruined by taking too long on stage. A good presentation takes sufficient time for the judges and audience to see your whole costume and then ends.

Recorded Material.

Music and/or narration or dialogue as part of your presentation must be pre-recorded (except for a script to be read by the MC). Provide your recordings on CD or CD-R (not CD-RW), or as a file on a USB drive. We cannot accept tape cassettes. Two copies must be handed in at the Masquerade registration desk as early as possible so that the tech crew can program sound for the show. The copies should contain only the music and/or speech you want played and Nothing Else; please do not provide a commercial CD and ask us to play a specific band. We strongly recommend that you bring several copies of your recording, to provide a back-up should one fail. We also suggest bringing copies in more than one medium (e.g., a CD to back up a USB drive), just in case. Label your recordings with the entry title and your name. We do not plan to return them after the show, so please do not turn in anything of continuing value.

No Live Microphone.

There will be no microphones available to entrants; the only person permitted to speak from the stage is the MC. The MC will be happy to work with you in reading a short script or to interact with you during your presentation; however, remember that you have only one minute on stage. The MC will have only a small light on the podium under which to read scripts. Please provide your script in black double-spaced type on white paper using at least 18-point letters in a plain and easy-to-read font. Put the title of your entry and your name at the top of the script.

Other Constraints.

Entrants may not use substances, including make-up or costume elements, that could turn rancid or be smeared on or stain other costumes. All parts of your costumes must leave with you. This is known as the "No Peanut Butter" rule.

We discourage the use of radio controlled or other wireless devices as part of an entry. We do not know what sort of interference will exist in the hall during the show. It would be unfortunate to base your entry on something that doesn't work when you are on stage.

Each person may appear in only one entry. If you have more than one entry, you must find other Chicon 7 members to present the other one(s).

Never Surprise the Crew. Entrants should surprise the audience. Never surprise the crew! No exceptions to the "never surprise the crew" rule will be permitted and entrants who attempt to do so will be disqualified.

No Constraint on Hall Costumes. We want to see your costumes. Therefore, there is no prohibition against presenting costumes on stage that have been worn in the halls before the show or at other conventions. If you have won an award at another international-level competition (a prior Worldcon, Anime North, or Costume-Con competition), we ask that you use your best judgment about whether to enter in competition or out of competition. If you're not sure, ask us. However, entries that have won Best in Show or Best [in Skill Division] in an international-level competition, or that present purchased or rented costumes, must appear Not in Competition.

Masquerade Orientation and Tech Rehearsal
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The date and time for a Masquerade orientation for entrants will be set later. In addition, all entrants will take part in a technical rehearsal on stage on Saturday before the Masquerade. This is an opportunity for the stage manager and the tech crew to work with you to assure that sound and lighting support your presentation. Entrants need not wear costumes for the tech rehearsal; however, you should wear the shoes you will use for your presentation and any parts of your costume that might impede your movement or vision or both. Please bring a part of the costume that represents its dominant color(s) for a lighting check.

Tech rehearsal times on Saturday are tentatively schedule to be between 10 a.m. and 12 noon and from 1 p.m. as needed. Entrants will choose their rehearsal slots at the Masquerade registration desk on a first-come, first-served basis. Entrants who do not participate in the tech rehearsal will not be permitted to participate in the Masquerade.

Beyond the tech rehearsal, we encourage entrants to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. We hope to make available somewhere a space with the stage dimensions marked out that entrants may use on a first-come, first-served basis.

Categories and Skill Divisions
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The Masquerade will use two entry categories, Original Design and Re-creation, and the four skill divisions recommended by the International Costumers' Guild: Young Fan, Novice, Journeyman, and Master.

Entry Categories.

Original Design costumes are costumes whose design is the creation of the contestant, even though it may be inspired by an SF, fantasy, mythological, or other source.

Re-creation costumes are duplicates or design adaptations of the published work of someone other than the contestant. Their design is copied from a film, television show, theatrical presentation, illustration, comic, work of art, or other medium showing at least one good view of the work copied. Examples of re-creation sources include but are not limited to games, graphic novels, Japanese media, paintings, photos, movies, and TV shows. Some judges might not be familiar with your source. Consequently, re-creation entries require documentation of the source in the form of at least one image of the work being copied or adapted, which must be turned in at the on-site Masquerade registration desk Please do not submit original images, books, DVDs, USB drives, or any valuable items.

Skill Divisions.

Skill divisions are intended to ensure that both novice and experienced costumers have a reasonably equal chance to win an award. The division system is not intended to provide recognition; the awards themselves do that. It exists merely to promote fairness. Outside of any single competition, division ranking is meaningless.

Chicon 7's skill divisions are:

Group entries should compete at the level of the group's most experienced member.

An entrant may choose to compete in a division that expects higher skill levels. If in doubt about which division to enter, consult the Masquerade Director.

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The judges will consider both entry categories and skill divisions in making their awards. The Chicon 7 Masquerade's philosophy is "excellence deserves award"; there are no predetermined minimum or maximum number of awards the judges may make.

"Presentation" Judging. Some judges will be at the front of the audience watching the entries as they present their costumes. They will look at the costumes as well as how they work with the presentation, choreography, music, and/or script. Judging by them is mandatory for all entries except for costumes entered Not in Competition.

Workmanship Judging. Other judges will be in the green room before and during the show to evaluate the workmanship on costumes, or parts of costumes, voluntarily brought to them by entrants. They will evaluate your entire costume or just the parts you think are best. This is where exquisite attention to detail may be recognized. Please let these judges know what you are most proud of in your costume. Tell them about how you made it. Please provide documentation to help them evaluate your work. They will have only limited amounts of time to review your work and documentation, so keep the documentation brief. Photos, design sketches, screen shots, and brief written descriptions of your work are recommended.

If in doubt, let the workmanship judges evaluate your work even if you're not impressed by it. If you don't, you deny them the opportunity to give you an award!

Awards. Awards will be presented when the judges have reached their decisions. Their deliberations usually take some time; this is not like "Dancing with the Stars." If you're competing, we urge you to stay in the area and be prepared to be called back on stage for an award. Awards will be announced by skill division and will include both awards for stage appearance and for workmanship. We anticipate that award certificates will be available on Sunday at the (former) Masquerade registration desk. In addition, other fannish groups may have awards of their own to bestow.

Tips for a Successful Masquerade
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Before the show, get some sleep!

Before the show, please eat. If you want to faint after you've been on stage, fine; however, we don't want you to pass out from hunger or low blood sugar in the green room or on stage.

Before the show, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

Remember, this is a costume show, not a talent competition. Never bore the audience.

Don't forget to enjoy yourself. Have fun!

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