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Author Topic: Pawpetshow will return in 2016  (Read 9474 times)

Cheetah

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Pawpetshow will return in 2016
« on: 02.12.2014, 18:09:13 »

Hi everybody!

The EF20 Pawpetshow has been one of our most ambitious projects to this day, and thanks to everyone's unshakeable patience, it turned out to be a huge success. However, the three hour delay that those who wanted to see it had to experience was just the tip of an iceberg of internal problems we had to face. And fiercly determined to deliver the best performance against all odds, it brought more than just a few cast and crew members to their mental and physical limits - including myself. I had to make a promise to my friends that I will do everything in my power to prevent our team from mentally burning out. So we sat down together, did our homework, and we made a list of prerequisites that need to be fulfilled in order to run the kind of show we love to play without killing ourselves in the process. And with quite a bit of sadness, we had to realize that it does not seem like those criteria can be met next year. And since I neither want to lose my sanity nor half of my friends, I have to announce:

There is not going to be a Pawpetshow at Eurofurence 21.

We're definitely not breaking up, or abandoning the show. But it will take more than one year to face the challenges that next year will bring. We're going to take the extra year to get reorganized, and we're determined to bring the Pawpetshow back at Eurofurence 22 in the year 2016.
« Last Edit: 02.12.2014, 18:11:21 by Cheetah »
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Cheetah

Cheetah

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Re: Pawpetshow will return in 2016
« Reply #1 on: 02.12.2014, 18:09:20 »

Since the question will inevitably come up what those special challanges may be, here's a little peek behind the scenes for you:

Moving the Main Stage Area to the Convention Center.

The main stage area is going to move to Convention Center Hall A in 2015. This means, that literally everything becomes an order of magnitude more complicated within the stage deparment. A room and a stage of this size requires entirely new concepts, making the experience we gained this year with the new stage in the Estrel Hall essentially worthless. The new setup will be a tremendous challenge for our stage team to operate as it is without the Pawpetshow involved. It will require more than a dozen paid professionals to get it set up in time, and entirely new dimensions of safety regulations, liabilities and technical challenges will come upon us. In the first year, we absolutely need to limit the complexity to an amount we can handle with confidence. This time there will not be a pre-built stage environment that we can use as a base. The Convention hall is just an empty space, and building a Pawpet stage essentially doubles the complexity of the main stage setup. It can be done, but it takes extra experience we don't yet have.

Coping with Limited Function Space Availability

And as if things weren't already hard enough, we won't be able to start setup before Monday evening because of competing business conventions filling up the preceding slot to the last minute. Stage construction will have to go on continuously for 48 hours without interruptions in order to get the setup finished in time. Hired professionals will work in three shifts to get it done.  The pawpet stage is the part with the lowest priority, and if they ran out of time for any reason, the first bit to suffer.

Funding Challenges

We managed to hit the Estrel's room cap in our very first year. That's a great achievement, but it also means that we will definitely not experience the same growth spurt again next year. The costs however will go up significantly, and out budget will be very tight . The Pawpet Show stage alone will add more than ten thousand Euros in setup and hardware costs, and after that, there might not be enough money left for an actual show on that stage. So we'd rather save the money for the pawpet stage setup in our first year at the ECC, and use the remaining Pawpetshow budget to improve our next show.

Loss of rehearsal facilities

Unfortunately, the workshop in Hünxe which has been our home base during the last three years, will no longer be available for us next year. Until we find a new affordable space within driving range of the majority of our team members, there can not be a new production. Finding a good rehearsal space is very difficult. It can take months or even years, because there are so many requirements to be fulfilled.

Reorganization of the Production Process

We've come to the conclusion that our production process needs to become more predictable, and that we need to reduce the workload at the convention. We need a better administration of tasks, more precise effort estimates, and definitely a more detailed design process. We need to know the status of the production at any time, and many design and construction processes need to start much earlier. We need to change our rehearsal stage setup to more closely resemble the real stage setup, so we have a much better idea about the mechanics of every single scene, and we can preproduce the support structures for props and backdrops ahead of time. All this takes time to implement, and it can hardly be done under the pressure of an already running production.

Reducing timetable dependencies at the con

We are thinking about re-scheduling the Pawpetshow to Friday evening to reduce the possible impact that a delay might have. It also gives us the opportunity to have a proper closing ceremony on Saturday night, and even gives our own team the chance to properly celebrate the last evening. However, we can only do this if we are absolutely sure that we can spare that one extra day of emergency buffer space. And for that, we first need to re-design our production process as described above - and that will take longer than the time we have until EF21.

Giving everyone a rest

I've given up pretty much all my other hobbies in favor of Eurofurence and the Pawpet Show. I've let down friends and family to attend meetings and rehearsals, I didn't have a proper birthday party in a decade, and my blood pressure is approaching lethal values. I need a break, and I'm not the only one. We've never been that close to burning ourselves out. Some team members have already announced their resignment, or at least a time out. They're right, we all need to take a step back, and tend to ourselves and our social life again for some time. We're going to stay in touch, there will be meetings and workshops throughout the year, and we are going to work on the new show. Just without that insane, soul-crushing crunch time before the con. It's essential to reduce the pace or we are going to lose our volunteers - and our sanity.

Reinforcing our Team

Adding more time is one thing, but we also need to reduce the total workload per person. Some of us just have too many things to do at the same time. Sinking between 500 and 1000 work hours into a project every year for more than a decade will wear out even the toughest enthusiast. We need to grow our team, so everyone can have more predictable, more specific tasks, and we can get stuff done earlier. But finding new volunteers who fit in and who have the necessary skills and motivations, is very hard and takes a long time. "Keepers of the light" was a great showcase of what we are capable of, and maybe we can recruit new members at the convention, who knows?
« Last Edit: 02.12.2014, 18:20:44 by Cheetah »
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Cheetah

Tungro

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Re: Pawpetshow will return in 2016
« Reply #2 on: 02.12.2014, 18:25:06 »

Can I just take the opportunity to thank everyone involved in the PawPet Show, past and present, for the amazing amounts of work that goes into these shows! Thank you so much! There's an awful lot of people involved, each contributing a lot of their personal time and effort, money (budgets only cover so much) and making some huge personal sacrifices to put on a few hours' long show once a year.

You deserve a break!

When conventions grow and grow and grow, sometimes things don't scale unless you take a step back and look at things afresh. From your post, I can already tell you've got plans, you've still got the drive despite being burnt out, and that can only mean one thing - a bigger, better show for 2016.

Thank you specifically for the detailed post explaining some of the challenges that I am very sure most people wouldn't have realised or appreciated in the past. It's glimpses like this that show just how much effort staffers, volunteers and even those not directly involved, put in to entertain others.

I know it's easier said than done, but if there's anything I can do to help, please let me know! And I'm sure that's a sentiment many others would share too.

I look forward to what you guys come up with for 2016 :)
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Suicune

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Re: Pawpetshow will return in 2016
« Reply #3 on: 02.12.2014, 20:39:31 »

It's sad that there will be no show next year.
But better no show than lots of waiting times again. These really screwed up my own timetable and I was sad I couldn't attend the big blue dance this year. It wasn't even possible to take it with humor anymore.
Use the time you get to make everything run smooth next year :)

CleanerWolf

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Re: Pawpetshow will return in 2016
« Reply #4 on: 02.12.2014, 20:50:09 »

That is a tough but reasonable decision.
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Daggerjaw

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Re: Pawpetshow will return in 2016
« Reply #5 on: 03.12.2014, 18:39:54 »

I understand your decisions you made as well the rest of the team. All points are valid. I especially understand the point that you guys need break. A lot of years have passed, a lot of ideas have been made a reality through creativity a lot of people. I can really applaud you and say you did amazing job for the community thus far. Things change, time changes. I really hope you guys will recover, as well as I am looking forward to enjoy the rest of the schedule once I am there.
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JonathanO

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Re: Pawpetshow will return in 2016
« Reply #6 on: 03.12.2014, 20:21:10 »

i can relate i have a con i organise ust a lot of work . i hope you can recover, a break is nesecary to not go insane.

lets make a blast on ef 21 without the pawpet show  ;D
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Quincy the Raccoon

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Re: Pawpetshow will return in 2016
« Reply #7 on: 04.12.2014, 23:41:55 »

With or without the PPS, it's always fun at EF, every year again!
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Jorinda

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Re: Pawpetshow will return in 2016
« Reply #8 on: 10.12.2014, 09:54:55 »

That is a tough but reasonable decision.
I agree. Sometimes it is better to give up one task, and thus have enough energy for all the other tasks, instead of adding more and more tasks until someone breaks down.
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Quincy the Raccoon

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Re: Pawpetshow will return in 2016
« Reply #9 on: 12.12.2014, 21:36:40 »

On the other paw, it's still too bad that there is no PPS in 2015... I know, it was always a long sit (with lots of fun and laughs) but yeah... I sure will miss it next year and now I have to think how to fill the gap between the time that the PPS would run and the time of the big party afterwards... But will the dance start earlier this year (filling up the PPS gap) or just at the regular time (12:00 in the night, right?)
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Carbine

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Re: Pawpetshow will return in 2016
« Reply #10 on: 16.12.2014, 02:50:06 »

A very reasonable decision. The PawPet show this year was amazing, some rest is well deserved.
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Ralphie Raccoon

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Re: Pawpetshow will return in 2016
« Reply #11 on: 06.01.2015, 18:17:55 »

Er, not to sound mean or anything, but no PPS means a giant hole in the events schedule. Are there any plans in place for a replacement event yet, hopefully of similar levels of epicness and awesome?  ;D
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Quincy the Raccoon

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Re: Pawpetshow will return in 2016
« Reply #12 on: 06.01.2015, 18:25:15 »

Er, not to sound mean or anything, but no PPS means a giant hole in the events schedule. Are there any plans in place for a replacement event yet, hopefully of similar levels of epicness and awesome?  ;D
How about a extra round of the furry game show like a quiz or something?
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Suran

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Re: Pawpetshow will return in 2016
« Reply #13 on: 06.01.2015, 18:31:34 »

The return of the Pet Auction is certainly no option.
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Ralphie Raccoon

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Re: Pawpetshow will return in 2016
« Reply #14 on: 06.01.2015, 18:33:06 »

How about a extra round of the furry game show like a quiz or something?

Sadly I don't think that will be long enough to fill the hole. Plus I think it would be nice if we could have something new and unique. Maybe a stage show of some sort, with fursuits instead of puppets?

I'd start a suggestions thread, but I don't want to jump the gun in case the Staff already have something in mind.
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