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This is how you survive a Comic Con

A survival guide

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NYCC 2022 on a Friday

Going to a Comic Con is the pinnacle of a geek’s fandom. More than a simple gateway for all things comic books, conventions are now bastions for everything you can find in pop culture including anime, gaming, television, and film. Surrounded by a throng of cosplayers, celebrities, exhibitors, and geeks, it’s a paradise, a surreal experience.

Back in 2018, I attended my first New York Comic Con. Having just moved into the city, I was little more than a tourist, gleefully taking in the sights and sounds. There’s nothing brighter than a geek’s grin. It was the first time I felt one with a larger community who understood my quirky tastes.

Now, five years and three conventions later, I’ve grown a tiny bit wiser. Though the touristy sparkle has since left my eyes, I still approach each show with the same level of excitement while navigating the labyrinth of a show floor perhaps more adeptly than when I first started.

I am, of course, not an expert at everything at Comic Con. However, while other people might tell you the best way to haggle down a price for an extremely rare comic book or charm exhibitors into bringing out some secret stock, I can tell you how to make the most of your experience, especially if it’s your first time.

Never go over your budget.

This is one of the first lessons I’ve learned even before going to a single Con. While I was in line for a ticket to my first event, a more seasoned goer shared a tip with me, in hopes of saving me a lot of hassle going into my first time. “Set a budget, and never go over it,” he said. I never got his name, but his tip is one that I always hold close to my heart (and my wallet) before every major event. So, thank you, kind stranger!

A Comic Con, particularly the show floor, has dozens of exhibitors ready to peddle their wares. Most are definitely worth pulling your wallet out for. However, it’s exceedingly easy to lose track of your expenses amid all the sweet loot you’ve already bagged. Before entering those hallowed halls, set a budget that works with what you’re willing to part with.

Also, keep browsing. While one booth might offer a 20 percent discount for a sweet book, another might offer you 30 percent off. Unless it’s an item that’s flying off the shelves, there’s no harm in coming back once you’ve looked around more.

NYCC 2022 on a Sunday

Plan and pick the best day to go.

Most Cons happen across multiple days leading to a weekend. Not every Con offers all days with every pass. Some, like the New York Comic Con, has tickets that correspond to each day. Regardless of whether you have a four-day pass or only for a single one, it’s important to know which days are the best to go to.

Obviously, if you’re looking for the most excitement, the first day — which, in the New York Comic Con’s case, is Thursday — is always the best day. A lot of the more hardcore fans take the time off just to go to the Con. On a similar note, other goers can’t skip work, so you’re looking at a relatively smaller crowd. Also, nothing has sold out yet. At the very least, you’ll only hit daily caps, and you’ll have to go back another day.

The in-between days, Friday and Saturday, offer a different type of excitement. In my experience, most of the big panels and signings happen on either day. A lot of people are off work, so the crowd is identifiably larger. You’ll likely find yourself standing in line a lot more. It’s a trade-off, but it’s likely worth it if you want to experience the most that the Con has to offer.

Finally, Sunday, the most underrated day for goers. Because a lot of people go on either Friday or Saturday, most are way too tired to go on Sunday. It’s also historically called family day because families take their kids on this day. It’s a more laidback experience with smaller crowds. Also, because this is the last day, exhibitors usually want to get rid of their stock a lot more quickly. Expect bigger discounts and easier negotiating. This year, I even nabbed a new mechanical keyboard for 50 percent off 20 minutes before the Con ended.

Bring your own food.

After walking around the floor for half a day, the last thing you want to do is stand in line for another hour for a bite to eat. Besides saving your wallet from more expenses, you’re also saving your feet from the pain by bringing your own food to a Con.

Get something easy to eat, too. Free benches are scarce with everyone else resting their feet. An easy bite, like a sandwich, means you can easily eat while sitting on the floor or standing up.

Similarly, bring your own bottle of water. Walking around all day, especially when it’s hot, can dehydrate you.

Take photos but ask respectfully first.

Another constant of a Con is the huge crowd of cosplayers. From easy, ready-to-wear suits to impressive builds, it’s always a sight to see while walking through the show floor. Don’t worry; they appreciate the attention. If you find a costume or character that you’re particularly enamored with, you can stop them and ask for a photo. You might even get a chance to talk to them about how they made their cosplay.

Of course, ask for a photo respectfully. There will be particularly revealing costumes out and about. While they appreciate the attention, a cosplayer with a skimpy outfit isn’t a goer’s permission to be weird.

Also, you might bump into famous personalities on the floor. Again, approach them respectfully if you want a photo.

Buy more than just collectibles.

While this connects to the first tip, the absurd variety of goodies at a Comic Con needs its own bullet point. The main show floor is filled with the standard fare of geeky delights like Funko Pops, posters, and — of course — comic books. As tempting as they all are, there’s more to love at the Con.

For example, the New York Comic Con has an Artist’s Alley, another hall dedicated to acclaimed and independent comic writers and artists. Signatures are naturally on the table. However, it’s a lot more memorable to grab remarques (custom sketches on a comic book’s cover) or even commissioned art from your favorite artists. I even got a mini portrait of my cat from webcomic creator Hannah Hillam!

Another interesting purchase is a ticket to an external show outside of Comic Con. Not every event can happen inside the halls of the convention center. Some special events, like parties and bigger exhibitions, can happen outside both the venue and the usual times allotted for the Con.

 

It’s cliché to say this, but the best way to enjoy a Con is to just have fun. Outside of the event’s schedule, no one can really anticipate how much fun they can get out of a multiple-day convention. If you find yourself wandering on a show floor, just take in the sights, and revel in the fact that you’re with people who understand.

Deals

5 realme travel essentials for holiday vacation

Upgrade your holiday trips

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For some, Christmas season isn’t only about gift-giving or bonding with friends and family; it’s also about going on holiday trips as they make the most out of the long break.

That’s where these five realme gadgets come in handy, giving your vacation trip a colorful upgrade.

realme 10

realme 10

The brand’s recently-launched flagship comes equipped with a Helio G99 processor, has a 6.4-inch 90Hz super AMOLED display, and a 5,000mAh battery with support for 33W SUPERVOOC charge.

The device runs on Android 12 and realme UI 3.0, and has 8GB RAM and up to 256GB storage.

Capturing memories is a breeze too, with its 50MP main camera and 16MP selfie camera.

Available in Clash White and Rush Black, the realme 10 retails for:

  • PhP 12,999 for the 8GB+128GB
  • PhP 14,999 for the 8GB+256GB

realme Buds T100

realme Buds T100

 

Music is a must for long road trips, so one should complement the listening experience with a fitting pair of wireless earbuds.

The realme Buds T100 feature 10mm dynamic bass driver, 88ms super low latency, and a total playback time of up to 28 hours.

The accessory has AI Environmental Noise Cancellation (ENC). It is rated IPX5 for water resistance.

realme C33

Whether looking for another reliable smartphone or just a spare phone, the realme C33 should do the trick.

It has a 6.5-inch HD+ LCD display, 5,000mAh battery to keep you company for long hours, and a 50MP camera.

It’s priced at only PhP 7,499 so now is the perfect time to get your hands on this budget device.

realme Pad X

For those traveling with kids or simply want to avoid boredom, the realme Pad X (6GB+128GB) can definitely keep you entertained.

Powered by up to a Snapdragon 695 5G processor and coming with a 10.95-inch 2K FullView display and Dolby Atmos quad speakers, the tablet provides an immersive viewing experience on the go.

The Pad X comes with a stylish 7.1mm Ultra Slim design. It is available in the Glacier Blue and Glowing Grey colorways.

The base price is just PhP 15,999 or if you want to opt for the 5G variant, the cost is PhP 24,999.

realme Watch 3

Lastly, the realme Watch 3 will help one burn those Noche Buena and Media Noche calories with ease.

The wearable boasts clear Bluetooth calling, all-day health monitoring, and over 110 sports modes. These can be accessed through its 1.8-inch bright display.

The realme Watch 3 retails for only PhP 3,499, one of the best fitness companions for this price point.

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Hands-On

Make moments tangible with Instax Square Link

Time to print those core memories!

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instax square link

Life looks pretty in squares — that’s how Instagram shaped our favorite moments in the past decade.

With every core memory uploaded in our social media feed for the world to see, there’s still something poignant about keeping a hard copy of your favorite moments. It feels nostalgic to be reminded of the good things in your life.

That’s what the Instax Square Link delivers. The newest instant printer comes in square, as compared to its previous siblings in the instax link lineup.

The sweet spot

The previous instant printers come in the usual mini film prints, and a wide, rectangular one. Having a square format provides a sweet spot for instant prints since it’s neither too big nor small.

Even the design of the device itself looks almost square, albeit taller. It sports the usual big button in its center that powers up the device, while there’s a smaller circle on its top-left part for linking the device to your smartphone.

It’s still as straightforward as it gets, whether you’re already familiar with previous instax printers or not. You simply click the big button until it lights up, link it to your smartphone and confirm the serial number found on the bottom side of the device, and do all the magic inside the app — which you can download via App Store or Play Store.

instax square link

New device, new features

The instax Square Link carries all the good things from the previous instax printers through its dedicated app.

You can still make personalized stickers, continuously print your best moments with just a press of a button, and collage and edit your photos in frames. They’re pretty much the same features you can find on the instax Link WIDE and instax mini Link 2.

instax square link

However, instax introduced new features that make printing more exciting. Now, instax takes AR to a new level by allowing users to print with personalized AR effects, accessible using a QR code.

It also included a feature where you can chat with a friend or loved one and have the conversation printed as text bubbles to add a more personal touch for those who are in long-distance relationships.

Printing your favorite moments

instax square link

While the new features are a much-welcome addition, I still stick to what Instax is good about. At its core, it’s still printing your favorite moments and of course, sharing them with the people you love.

Back then, I would print my photos and keep them to myself — inside photobooks and boxes that would never see the light of day unless I’m feeling nostalgic.

Being surrounded by new people encouraged me to be more giving, rather than just being selfish with my memories. And instead of constantly seeking validation and sharing my favorite moments with the world, I now love the idea of being intimate and sharing my core memories with only a handful of people.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

instax square link

The Instax Square Link is still an instant printer like its siblings. If square formats are your thing, this is easily your GadgetMatch. For wide, rectangular prints, there’s the instax Link WIDE.

And if the original, mini-sized film prints are what you’re after, you can never go wrong with the instax mini Link 2. Whatever formats you want, there’s an instax for you.

The instax Square Link comes in Ash White and Midnight Green. It’s available in all authorized Fujifilm instax dealers nationwide and Fujifilm’s online flagship stores.

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Entertainment

IN PHOTOS: Dubbing with Netflix, HIT Productions

Plus a quick glimpse of the Netflix PH office

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Netflix HIT

Have you ever been curious about how the whole dubbing process works? Netflix, along with HIT Productions, was kind enough to give us a quick tour showing how our favorite Netflix shows are dubbed in Filipino. 

HIT Productions prides itself as “The Philippines’ top audio post production house and recording studio for advertising.” And they have the clientele to back up the claim. Other than Netflix, they’ve also worked with plenty of notable brands. These include but are not limited to Jollibee, Mitsubishi, Coca Cola, and many more. 

They’ve partnered with Netflix on many shows and movies. For this particular tour, they showed us how they dubbed Season 4 of Stranger Things.

Different rooms for the talents and director

Dubbing Director Cheska Aguiluz

Heading in, I was fully expecting a Sound Booth like setup – you know, the ones we normally see in TV shows and movies. HIT has a different setup. They have the director in one room and the voice talents in another. The rooms are situated right across each other with sound engineers manning both rooms. 

The communication between the director and talents still happens real time, and they see each other through an iPad.

Each room has a monitor that displays the scene that’s being dubbed. The talents’ audio goes straight into a computer that’s in the same room as the director. 

Netflix HIT

Multiple talents will be in the same room at one time. This depends entirely on the scene that needs to be dubbed. They take turns dubbing with sound engineers adjusting the height of the mic each time to make sure it’s optimized for each talent. 

Although, they did mention this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, there will be scheduling challenges, but they’re able to work through it.

Netflix HIT

The actual dubbing back and forth is fascinating. They go through each line meticulously, making sure the cadence, the breaths, the tone, and the emotion matches that of the original actors. 

Recording a single episode will take days. And that’s just the recording. The next part is just as tedious.

Painstaking editing

Netflix HIT

The level of precision applied in the voice acting and directing extends to the cutting floor when the recordings go through post production. 

Here, sound engineers go through each scene, switching between the original scene and the dubbed recordings to make sure they match. This includes how loud or soft the voice is as well as adding effects to mimic the room environment sound of each sound. 

What makes the whole process tricky is a lot of it is guess work. I asked if they are given a cheat sheet of the effects used by the original production. They said that rarely happens. That means they rely both on their sharp ears and years of experience to make sure everything matches.

After post production, an entire episode goes through a quality check. If anything sounds off, it’s back to post processing again. 

HIT says in a month, they’re able to finish roughly around three to four episodes. Of course, that depends also on the length of the episode. Stranger Things Season 4, for instance, typically lasts over an hour. With some episodes even running as long as feature length films.

Trying out dubbing

Netflix HIT

Head of Localization Rudolf Baldonado

After a look at the voice acting and post production process, HIT took us to a room where some members of the media got to try dubbing. Here, Head of Localization Rudolf Baldonado, led the way. 

Baldonado explained that the most important part of the whole process is the script. Localization, as you may have surmised, is no easy task. There are so many things to consider: What words to use to match the movement of the lips, the general direction for each line, and making sure all the lines make sense when delivered together.

A couple of voice talents showed us the ropes first, recording a scene from the Don’t Look Up film. Baldonado, who also helmed localization for Trese, noted that mimicking the original actor’s voice is less important than delivering the right tone and emotion for the line and the scene. 

Netflix HIT

During the recording, he also noted that dubbing is more about voice acting than actual voice quality. How well you convey the right emotion is more important than whether or not you sound pleasant or not. 

Sit down with the voice talents

Netflix HIT

To wrap up the tour of the HIT Productions office, we sat down with the voice talents and the rest of the team that worked on the Stranger Things Season 4 dub. Here’s everyone who joined us: 

  • Christian Velarde (MIKE)
  • Albert Silos (WILL)
  • Steve Bontogon (DUSTIN)
  • JM Canlas (LUCAS)
  • Steffi Bontogon (MAX)
  • JM Torres (VECNA)
  • Nelieza Magauay (ROBIN)
  • Ericka Peralejo (SUZIE)
  • Cheska Aguiluze (Dubbing Director)
  • Rudolf Baldonado (Head of Localization)

Many of them shared their experiences and lessons learned while working as voice actors. 

A lot of the echo the same thing that Baldonado mentioned earlier. That the ability to understand the character’s emotion and act it out through your voice is the most important skill in the craft.

Netflix HIT

What stood out to me the most though, is how each of them seemed like colorful characters on their own. And they deserve just as much recognition as TV and movie actors. 

Quick Netflix PH HQ Tour

After the session at HIT Productions, we were taken to the headquarters of Netflix Philippines. Some interesting things to note: 

  • The meeting rooms are named after Netflix’s shows and films
  • There are areas designated for quiet time 
  • The place is spacious with many areas for quick, breakout meeting sessions
  • It’s filled with books and other ornaments that have to do with Netflix shows
  • Free-flowing drinks! 
  • This writer would like to spend a work day or two in the area (Thanks in advance, Netflix!) 

Here’s a photo dump:

Netflix

Netflix

Photo c/o Netflix

Netflix

Squid Game meeting room | Photo c/o Netflix

Photo c/o Netflix

Photo c/o Netflix

Beverages | Photo c/o Netflix

Pantry | Photo c/o Netflix

Netflix

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