Skillcon day 1:
So, day 1 of getting to Las Vegas was definitely more hectic than I would have liked. I, for some crazy reason booked my arrival flight for 7AM (who does that?!) and since the flight departs at 7AM, that means I should get to the airport at 5:30 or so, to have lots of buffer room for random errors getting through security. Since it's an hour drive to the an airport from my house, I woke up at 4:30AM. I arrive at the airport exactly on time at 5:30 and as I go to drop off my checked bag I see this MASSIVE line for security. You would think the zombie apocalypse was happening in Minnesota with how many people were there. I ask the security guard "What's with the long line?" and she replies with "For some reason, today is the busiest time we've had all year". I walk all the way to the back of the line and just start waiting to get closer. As I finally get to the line where security starts (still 20 minutes to get to security from here) I start panicking and ask the security guard "Can I go to the front of the line? My flight leaves in 20 minutes. I'm not sure I'll make it" he assures me that I have no reason to worry and that I'll make it. I FINALLY get through security and it's 6:58, my flight had started boarding at 6:30. I pick up my bags and immediately start booking it for my gate. Oh, and did I mention that my gate was g19 which is THIRD from being the LAST gate in the airport? As I'm running I get to g3 and hear "last call for Minneapolis to Las Vegas" by the time I hit g14 I couldn't take the running anymore (I dare you to try running with 20 pounds of camera gear in your bag!) and I started to speed walk otherwise I knew I'd throw up. I finally hit g17 and book it past the last couple gates. As I arrive they are literally closing the door to get on the flight and I start going "I'm here! i'm here! Did I really miss it?!" and they said I was just in time and let me board the plane. I've never felt more relief in my entire life.
Lesson learned: an hour and a half early is not early enough to arrive at the airport.
The rest of the day was pretty chill. I met up with Phil and Rowe to chill and hangout. Once we got through the Skillcon doors we setup the Cubicle booth and just chilled for the rest of the day. It was a really boring day because most events weren't going on yet. Imagine trying to make a video about an event that looks like a ghost town. Yeah, talk about pushing your creative talents...thankfully, day 2 is where things actually ramped up and lots of people showed up. So, for most of day 1 Rowe and I just raced 3x3. I probably (at best) won 10% of those races.
Oh, and I some how managed to completely DESTROY my voice on day 1 from all the laughing with Phil and Rowe. By the end of the day nails on a chalk board sounded better than I did.
Skillcon day 2:
The only thing I remember from day 2 was when the hotel alarm went off at 7AM saying "an emergency has been spotted in the building. Please find the nearest stairs and exit" waking up to this sucked. I was in a fairly large panic trying to wake up and figure out what the heck was going on. I immediately grabbed my important bags (camera gear) and booked it for the stairs. I was on the 14th floor so I had to go down 14 flights of stairs which wasn't exactly fun. I get all the way to the bottom only to be told "Oh, it's all good now. You can go back up" the only thing going through my mind was "........!??!!?!#?$$#%" I'm glad there was no real emergency, but man that sucked.
Skillcon day 3:
Now day 3 is where things really picked up. This was the main day for all the tournaments. YoYo, juggling, powerlifting, cornhole, and speedcubing. The room was quite packed and had a lot going on. This was much better for me as a filmer because the more going on makes it much easier for me to portray the event as big and fun.
The speedcubing comp was pretty difficult. Since all of these skill events were in 1 room, that meant all noise was shared. The YoYo people had a stage very close to us and they had their music BLASTING. You could barely hear your judge call "8 seconds" for inspection. It was very distracting and annoying. I partially think thats why my results weren't amazing. I also pulled my usual self and didn't sub 9. I started off something like: 8.55, 9.28, 7.35. And at that point I was like "I got this. This is soooooo easy" and the next solve I hit PLL at probably mid 6 or low 7 and got an F perm, my worst PLL. In the rush to finish the solve I managed to not finish the last two turns and DNF'd that solve. The next solve was 9.66. It was just a typical solve. Average ended up being something like 9.16. Incredibly frustrating to still not sub 9, but it's not a big deal. I knew I wasn't going to be at top competing level for this comp anyways with all the filming I had to do.
When I wasn't competing i was either hanging out with Rowe & Phil, or filming stuff. I ended up having about 70GB worth of footage from this event. Pretty decent amount for a 4 day event. The rest of the night was just spent relaxing and walking around with Chris Tran, Rowe, and Phil. Super fun time.
Skillcon day 4:
Day 4 was a really quiet day. The only events going on were combat juggling and Sepak Takraw. If you don't already know what Sepak Takraw is, it's basically volleyball with your feet. These people are INSANE. When they spike the ball they generally do a half backflip and just nail this thing over the net. It's so ridiculous to watch. Of course, the 4 in our group tried it when matches weren't going on and made complete fools of ourselves, but it was super fun. One of the top tier teams was from MN and part of me really wants to learn how to play. We watched all the Sepak matches and then headed back to our hotel for the night just to relax and hang out.
On a side note, more people should realize how exhausting filmmaking can be. This event wasn't the *worst* I've done, but definitely draining. A typical morning involved me waking up around 6:30-7:00AM to review my notes making sure I had all the shots I needed. Then I would leave my room and lug around my tripod, camera, glidecam, and a drawstring bag to hold my other small stuff. I would have my camera on me all day unless I was sitting for an extended period of time. So from 9AM till the end of the day (10:30-11:00) it's on and off filming which means lugging around my gear and trying to creatively think of the best way to portray the shot that I want. Plenty of people always tell me "oh filmmaking is easy. You really just hold a camera up and record the action". And to that, I laugh. Your mind is in constant thinking when you're filming. You need to be thinking of things such as: do I need to film this in 60 FPS, or 24FPS? would this shot be better with the 70-200, or the 24-120mm lens (or other)? should I be panning or sliding for this shot? Is my exposure correct? What type of action do I need to anticipate for this sport? Should I be handholding or setting up my glidecam? How can I make this shot connect to the next shot? And the list goes on and on. There are tons of decisions that need to be made when filmmaking and this becomes incredibly exhausting at the end of the day. Oh, but wait! I didn't even mention that when you think the day is over and you're back at your hotel ready to sleep, you now have to backup all your footage and then go through some of it to make sure the shots turned out how you wanted. I would typical end my day at 12AM and then hope I sleep well for the night. That's just a little more insight to the things that I do at events such as Skillcon. This was actually a more relaxed trip in terms of filming compared to other ones I've done. I didn't need to be filming the entire day like I do for some. I had pretty frequent breaks, but it still takes a lot out of you to always be creatively thinking.
I really didn't dive into many of the specifics of things we did during the weekend, but it was definitely some of the most fun I've had in a while. Rowe, Phil, and Chris Tran are super fun people to hang with. One thing I've learned about cubing is that I really don't care about the cubing comps as much anymore. Not saying I care less about cubing, but I look forward to seeing the friends much more than the competing. Competing is still amazing, but the friends really make it worth it. This event would not have been nearly as fun without the group of people I was with. With how much fun this weekend was I certainly look forward to all the other cool people I'm going to see this month. Lots of new career opportunities are coming up for me and I'm excited where it's all headed.