The Summer of Sonic 2009 has come and gone, and a lot of people got to experience a second year of real-life convention goodness. On a personal level, there was a lot for me to prove (and improve) over last year’s debut in Covent Garden’s Dragon Hall. More space. Better seating. More production live feeds. Different guests. So as I write this retrospective on Saturday’s events, I hope the attendees are sharing my thoughts that the day went very well indeed.
As before, the day itself began with a group of main SoS staff rallying around the much-larger Boiler House (at the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane) in a mad scramble to get everything set up. Of course, for AAUK, myself and several others, the event started several months ago – with the week running up to the Saturday was perhaps the most manic. There was a confusion over my Macbook’s VGA output, so a last minute dash to an Apple store the night before was in order, shortly before a car journey into London that would not see us in bed until 3am Saturday morning.
After three hours of sleep and a few quick trips to get some breakfast (never start a day like this on an empty stomach), a group consisting of myself, Jemnezmy, Roareye and my friend Lee finally managed to hit the venue at arund 9am – originally this was the only time Truman would let us in to set up, but AAUK had managed to arrange an earlier time of 7.30am. As I arrived a few staffers were already present, helping with putting up pictures. The place was barren of any furniture, and the game pods had only just arrived, so naturally I started to worry.
Luckily, the tables and chairs all made their presence felt around 9.30am, which really made me realise the sheer scale of this year’s Summer of Sonic. We had well in the region of 200 chairs and a set of tables to accommodate that. It was a mad rush trying to get all the tables set up, modify the floorplan once it became clear that the Art section was going to block access, and ensure that each section was arranged in time for opening.
Our guests had arrived ahead of time this year – Bentley Jones was the first to appear, and he was very excited as he prepared for his two performances that would take place on stage. He arrived with his mum, who was very proud to be taking lots of photos and recordings. Sumo Digital popped in to set up Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing (which, contrary to popular belief, had no recording restrictions – that was reserved for Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, as the code being used was pretty new). Nigel Kitching and Nigel Dobbyn set up in the Comics area, and Dobbyn was savvy enough to bring some art samples to sell. Needless to say, that area soon became very popular.
Once everything was set up, the only thing left to iron out was the VGA connection from my Macbook to the two TV’s installed by the stage. The original plan was to get a projector, but unfortunately the studio organisers we collaborated with couldn’t make theirs available, so we had to make do with improvisations. We gave our awesome David Tennant-lookalike security guard the nod to let people in at 11.45am.
I was at the doors with the other door staff, and was surprised at how many people flooded in. Last year, in a hall suited for 200 people, we saw 300 Sonic fans try to fit into the Dragon Hall. I was quite proud of that achievement. This year, in the space of half an hour, we had pretty much satisfied that quota already!
Some people went immediately for the games pods, a lot of fans rushed to get a seat at the Art tables (which was considerably bigger this year than the two tables we put together in 2008), but many sat around the stage, waiting for the big event to officially kick off. Before AAUK and I appeared to do our introduction speech, we played a special video created by the always-awesome BoozermaN.
This was just one of the fantastic fan-created videos that we played throughout the day, and it was great to see these guys get seen at a SEGA-endorsed event. Mostly though, it was awesome to see more of BoozermaN’s work – I especially liked the sniffling apology and the following “Yay!” at the end.
AAUK and I took to the stage once the video played, and we kicked off the biggest day on the Sonic Community calendar…
To be continued…
Were you at the Summer of Sonic? Did you watch the live feed online? Tell us what you thought of the day in the comments section! Photos courtesy of various attendees via the Summer of Sonic Facebook page.