This BlizzCon 2013 report was written by Brent Allen Thale on November 13, 2013. Please do not use these pictures for any commercial purpose or post them on any web site without written consent from Brent Allen Thale, the copyright holder.
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BlizzCon 2013, the awesome extravaganza of all things associated with the games of Blizzard Entertainment, returned to the Anaheim Convention Center in sunny Anaheim, California November 8-9, 2013! BlizzCon skipped 2012 while the company redoubled their efforts to bring its fans more new content this year, and we were not disappointed with several new game announcements. Leading off was the new expansion for the megahit online game "World of Warcraft" called "Warlords of Draenor", bringing new classes, items, and levels to the venerable land of Azeroth that I inhabited daily from 2004 to 2009.
Other announcements included more information on Blizzard's upcoming trading-card game "HearthStone" and online battler "Heroes of the Storm", as well as the new Diablo 3 expansion "Reaper of Souls". Unfortunately I didn't hear anything about the oft-rumored new MMO that is in the news every once in a while codenamed "Titan", but I'm sure Blizzard will release it if and when it meets their always sky-high quality standards. It's amazing that BlizzCon is hosted by just one company and still attracts tens of thousands of dedicated fans, many of whom attend for completely separate reasons. For example, there are large portions of the show floor dedicated to competitive gaming where players fight each other in Blizzard games like WoW and StarCraft. I'm told one Korean StarCraft 2 player won over $100,000 after annihilating the very tough competition!
But enough about games! We here at The BAT Cave travel to cons for one reason alone, to photograph as many awesome costumes as possible, and BlizzCon is a fabulous venue for that. This con tends to attract fewer cosplayers than other more general cons like San Diego Comic-Con, but the costumes that are at BlizzCon tend to be very intricate and elaborate, with fantastically detailed armor and huge weapons. We were not disappointed, we saw many inspired costumes, including BlizzCon 2011 costume champ (remember the Adjutant?) Avery Faeth's Garona HalfOrcen, who attempted to assassinate our young Prince Anduin, Kamui Cosplay's Protoss Wizard which ended up winning the official Blizzard costume contest, and the World of Warcraft "South Park Guy" attracted a lot of laughs wherever he went.
I never cosplay at conventions because the physical demands of carrying camera gear are not compatible with wearing a good costume, it's just too grueling. However, we did bring along a fresh face in the cosplay world, seven-year-old Tobias making his debut as child Prince Anduin Wrynn of Stormwind! Anduin was a staple of old-school Alliance WoW, but apparently in recent years he grew up ingame and is now a teenager going on his own adventures, so I think this is why child Anduin was only recognized by a few people. However, those who did get it thought it was funny and we ran into his cosplay father, King Varian Wrynn, and teenage Anduin as well which was pretty neat.
Due to some logistical difficulties (I was in a crowded restaurant in New York's Central Park) and slow clicking on my part, we were unable to actually purchase tickets to the convention, this is quite a common problem since tickets sell out pretty much instantly, so if you don't have a team of twitchy clickers hovering over the purchase ticket button the instant it activates, you'll probably go wanting. So, we were forced to hang out outside the convention center where tickets aren't required since fortunately most of the cosplayers have to move through this area to enter the convention center itself so we try to rope them in before they vanish into the pitch-black interior of the actual convention area. This strategy worked pretty well, although we did miss a few high profile costumers like Cynthia "@Predzor" Hall in her awesome Malthael costume, who we spotted striding quickly back to her post but were unable to catch, but there's no point in crying over spilled milk.
We spotted several cast members from the hit Syfy show "Heroes of Cosplay" slinking about, but I didn't see an actual video crew recording them, so I'm not sure if we'll see a BlizzCon episode of the show soon, although that would be pretty cool. Holly "Commander Holly" Conrad walked right past us, but we were too slow to grab a shot, and she seemed to be at BlizzCon in support of other cosplayers and not actually in costume herself. Another HoC star, Monika Lee, was in her new Diablo 3 Demon Hunter costume which looked great, but she was surrounded by an intimidating entourage of tough-looking dudes so we didn't get a shot of her either. Impossibly perfect New Zealand cosplay beauty Jessica Nigri, who I don't think is a HoC cast member but has appeared on the show, was in costume Friday as a mysterious hooded Blood Elf, and she very courteously posed for us outside the convention center. With all this Heroes of Cosplay action, my money is on some BlizzCon footage getting featured on the show soon!
People always notice our camera gear at shows and ask us about it, so I feel obligated to talk about it on this blog. We kept it fairly simple this year, using the Nikon D7100 as main camera with my old Nikon D7000 as backup. I was testing out the brand new Sigma 18-35 1.8 DC HSM lens for Nikon on the D7100, which is the first-ever constant-aperture f/1.8 zoom lens made by anyone! I was impressed, it is really razor-sharp and I had no problems with it, except I had to put a Lee Neutral-Density filter in front of it to knock down the blazing bright Southern California sun, which prevents the lens-flare-reducing lens hood from fitting on the lens. Even so, I was happy with the Sigma even though we don't shoot at f/1.8 very much since we bring our own lighting. Speaking of which, this year we used five Nikon flashes total, three on a Joe McNally Tri-Flash bracket inside a Westcott Apollo Strip Box, necessary to get enough light to compete with the bright sun. It worked pretty well, we had them all controlled by the PocketWizard ControlTL system, which lets me wirelessly set and trigger flashes from a little gizmo on the top of my camera, it's awesome. Our other two flashes were inside an Orbis ring flash adapter attached to my camera and in a SaberStrip, which we used as a rimlight.
We did have one major equipment issue, immediately after shooting the "Undead Valentine", a miscommunication caused the Westcott Apollo with the three flashes inside to fall to the ground, breaking the little plastic feet that hold the PocketWizards to the flash bracket. Fortunately this happened near the end of the con and I bet I can get the feet fixed for fifty dollars or less, so we came away from that episode relatively unscathed and we didn't lose any work.
One of the fringe benefits of BlizzCon is that it's literally right next to DisneyLand, so it's an irresistible temptation to head over to Walt's classic park and hit up some of the rides, which we did on our bonus day of Sunday. It was as crowded as ever, but it's fun to see what's going on with Mickey and friends. The new thing we saw this year was the "Cars" section at California Adventure, which was being built during BlizzCon 2011.
Musical group "Blink 182" closed out BlizzCon 2013 with what I'm told was a rollicking show that satisfied many fans, however I am convinced that the perfect musical guest for BlizzCon is "Weird Al" Yankovic, who is more family-friendly and just a more fun choice overall than the hardcore rockers Blizzard seems to prefer. Weird Al for BlizzCon 2014, starting now! Who's with me?
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