Summer of Sonic 2013 Round-up

Summer of Sonic, the one event in every Sonic the Hedgehog fans diary, was held this past weekend over in Westminster and boy, what a convention!!

This year, my adventures started without any sleep. My mother had been rushed into hospital that afternoon (and is still recovering), so the time I had planned to pack for the weekend had been cut short. After returning from the hospital, it was then time to pack.

This year, I was fortunate enough to be assigned to the tech desk – this is where all of the stage audio gets routed for podcasting and streaming onto the Sonic Show live feed. This is also where the main Sonic Show video camera is based and where the super-talented Bmn controls all of the visuals that appear on the monitors that are dotted around the convention hall.

As I was helping out with the audio feed so that it could be broadcasted to RadioSEGA, I decided to pack every cable that I could find, every splitter, convertor – if I could lay my hands on it, it went into the suitcase!

Fast-forwarding to the morning, I planned to leave home around 8am knowing that my journey to London only takes 2 hours, thus arriving around 10am. That would have been if it hadn’t been for the torrential downpour and lightning storm that caused the whole of the A11 / A14 / M11 to half speed. The spray on the roads were so bad that you practically had to put your foglights on to been seen from behind. 10am became 10:30am which then became 11am and I still wasn’t in London.

I had been using my phone as a satellite navigation device. Problem was that I hadn’t picked up the cigarette lighter plug that allows me to charge my phone up while I’m driving. Got to the North Circular Road (A406) when my phone died, leaving me stranded – or so I thought! Thankfully my iPad still had life in it and allowed me to continue on to my destination, Westminster Central Hall.

Arrived at Westminster Central Hall around 11:45am meaning my 2 hour journey had almost doubled, only to find that when I got there that there was nowhere to park. The only parking around the place was resident only and having spoken to a passerby, was informed that the traffic wardens are usually scrupulous about parking offenders. Despite being right in the heart of London, the nation’s capital, I struggled to get any phone signal. Eventually, my iPad woke up and was able to phone another staff member’s mobile phone using Skype as my phone was still dead at this point.

Once luggage had been dropped off, I was off to find somewhere to park. The maps on my iPad seemed a little confused as to what a car park was but eventually settled on the Q Park in Trafalgar Square. Now, I don’t know London very well so I wasn’t sure how far away it was or where to go to get there. What I didn’t expect was to do something I’ve always wanted to do. This was to drive past Buckingham Palace, down The Mall and through the archways at the end! I’ve only ever walked down that way once and seen it many times on TV so was excited to have actually driven down there! (small things, small minds :P)

Having parked the car, back I went to assist with the setting up of the day. When I arrived, I had noticed that a couple of people, Michael (Stiv), Kieran (Envy), Mark (Sonicmark), and Chris (Blitzchris), [I have a feeling I've forgotten someone!] had started to pack the goody bags that were going to be handed out on the day. I went over and helped them pack them, with Andy (TallGuy) joining in when he arrived a little later. It took around an hour or an hour and a half to pack these goody bags with a Sonic hat, an event programme of the day and a 75% of All-Stars Racing Transformed Steam code voucher. I was told that there were enough bags for 1075 people!! I’m no stranger to goody bag packing as I assisted with the t-shirts from the Camden Centre and the bags in Brighton.

Once goody bag packed out, it was on to testing the audio. I bought a sound mixer not long before the convention and this was setup by Bmn and the stage team (Multiplay) for the day. Bmn, Jay (Egge Man) and I spent a fair amount of time trying to think about which cables went where and which cables were the bast solution for what we were trying to achieve. As the mixer was very new, (this was it’s first power up!), we weren’t sure how it worked completely. I remember hearing Bmn mention that, “I’m not getting any audio through this channel”, before we had worked out that we hadn’t pressed the “Main Mix” button on that channel, or turned the right control room dial to activate the faders! However, all came right in the end :)

Once the testing had been done, I’d managed to have a little play on the new Sonic game that hasn’t been released yet, Sonic Lost World. This was my first experience playing on a Wii U console, so I was missing the alerts that popped up on the tablet controller. Oh well! Not only was it a Wii U first, but also the first time I had actually played one of the games on show at a Summer of Sonic event. I don’t normally get the chance before the day the event and the queues on the day are far to long to actually wait for them!

With all the sound checks done and my gaming session over, we knew that we were ready for whatever the next day through at us.

Leaving the hall, I met up with Tru (CapnCloudchaser) and Jack (P Nut) who had been waiting outside the venue. I have to apologise to them as after saying hello and walking towards them, I ended up speaking to Jay (JayZeach) as I needed to work out who was staying in which hotel, having booked more places than I personally needed.

After working out who was staying where, the evening was ours to enjoy before the big day.

People who know me when I travel, know that I don’t know how to live out of a rucksack, so the first thing we did was to take some of the luggage I had removed from the hall and dump it in the car that is still parked in Trafalgar Square. Jack, Tru and I decided to find food as I hadn’t eaten much that day and that led to wandering round, passing pubs and restaurants which served food that I eat, being fussy. Not long after we left the hall, Gavin (Gavvie) and Mena had arrived at the hall as Gavvie had finished work late, to help out with whatever was left. With not much left to do, he was invited to join us on our quest for food. Sam, interested in what was happening as no-one had really organised a pre-meet, messaged me to find out if we were doing anything and was invited to join us.

On arriving in Trafalgar Square, we had noticed a rather large rooster, painted blue (Sonic blue). I still to this day have no idea why it is there but it’s that big that you couldn’t really miss it!

Re-tracing our steps, we found a place called The Spaghetti House that served a number of Italian based meals. I do like a good spaghetti bolognaise which I ate with a coffee on the side. To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend their coffee. The cup was small and despite putting around 7-8 sugar sachets in it, the coffee was still disgusting. The meal was nice and after eating we made our separate ways to the hotels.

I’m assuming I had slept as I don’t remember doing so. I had managed to leave all the lights on and the TV blaring the BBC News Channel when I get a phone call from Tru asking if I was coming. Turns out I had forgotten to set any sort of alarm clock and was grateful for the call.

Having woken up, it was off to the nearest McDonalds for breakfast, that Jack kindly treated me to. I do enjoy a couple of Double Sausage and Egg McMuffins in the morning, so long as there is no cheese in it! After breakfast, it was off to the hall for the main event.

While walking to the venue, we see a black car pull up in front of us. Looking through the windscreen, I saw both Nigels, Nigel Dobbyn and Nigel Kitching, along with Jun Senoue and another couple of people I didn’t recognise. They had appeared to have missed the turning so ended up directing them to the hall. On arrival, there standing in the queue was RadioSEGA’s unofficial mascot and true hero, Tim dressed up as Segata Sanshiro. I just had to get a photo of him in his costume to share on the RadioSEGA social feeds, which he allowed me to do.

Entering the venue, the first thing done was to make sure that everything was still where we had left it, following previous unfortunate events in previous years, and to re-set up all that was taken with me the night before. Then disaster struck. Once I had signed into Skype at the tech desk, I discover that our friends over at Sonic Radio, who host our radio feeds, had been victim to a cyber attack which led to the radio server being taken offline. Fortunately, we pay for a server that hosts the music that you hear when a show isn’t being streamed so Tasos (Whooa21) and I were frantically redirecting all of the listen links to there and setting up the system that would broadcast to the masses.

With the day under full swing, my job this year wasn’t to run around making sure all of the attendees were happy – this time I had a more important role, to make sure that the RadioSEGA feed was up and was audible. Last year, RadioSEGA was invited to stream the audio but it didn’t have enough attention paid to it, nor were we using the right equipment, but this year we had learnt from our wrong-doings!

One thing I like enjoy, probably the most about Summer of Sonic, is not the games or the stage music but meeting up with friends who I haven’t seen since the last Summer of Sonic event and meeting friends that I’ve only ever spoken to online. I was honoured to have the privilege of meeting David (KC) and Tabita (Mrs. KC!) this year who had flown over all the way from Portugal. Not only did they come to visit but David had custom made a RadioSEGA Nintendo 3DS soft case. Not only did I get to see one up close, having seen it posted online but he gifted me one of them and for that I’m truly grateful. I feel bad that I didn’t have anything to give in return! It was great to meet up with Greg, Marcus, Claire, Terry (Page), Clare (soon to be Mrs. Page!), Tyler, David (Awinnerwasyou), Lynne, Nyazi and Kevin again along with a number of people who I haven’t mentioned!!

My favourite part of the audio section was listening to the Megadrive Band. They played a number of Sonic music from the games as well as personal non-Sonic favourites like music from Golden Axe and Streets of Rage. If you get the chance to listen to their music, you won’t be disappointed. It was fantastic this year to have musicians on stage that aren’t directly linked to SEGA in some professional manner. It helped to show that this event was a fan created event for the fans.

The cosplay contest returned this year and the costumes were great as always. I was asked to help with the judging again this year but had to pull out as every time I thought I had 5 minutes, there was something going on or about to go on stage. A lot of work was put into creating Excaliber Sonic / Gold Knight Sonic from Sonic and the Black Knight – I would guess around the same amount of effort as the Werehog from the contest last year in Brighton. Personal favourites were the little Sonic from Black Knight that won the contest, Fang the Sniper / Nack the Weasel, and of course, RadioSEGA’s unofficial mascot – Segata Sanshiro.

As with the cosplay, the art competition returned this year too along with both Nigel Dobbyn and Nigel Kitching. I actually had the pleasure of speaking to both of them this year and they are fantastic people. I can’t remember if I have met her before but I also met Feniku from deviantArt this year. Personally, I would love to draw artwork. The best I can do is to copy something that is right in front of me, whether that is a model or another picture. Nigel Dobbyn told me that I should continue to use these methods to practice drawing which should hopefully lead to drawing something from memory, saomething I shall not forget!

To finish the day, Jun Senoue – Sound Director and Crush 40 musician – entertained the crowd with rock renditions of music that we all know and love from the Sonic games while two other members (I’ll add your names when I know who you are!!) were invited to sing along. As Jun and Johnny, although Jonny wasn’t there this year, are great musicians, Jun this year hadn’t prepared an encore – something that the crowd were chanting for! While Rory was saying the final words to close the event, he foolishly (?) uttered the immortal words, “there isn’t anymore unless you want me to sing Robotnik’s Tea Party”. From that moment, fate was sealed as Pete (TitansCreed) lead the crowd into chanting for Rory, although we wanted him to sing it anyway (!), and Rory obliged.

It’s hard to say if this year was better than the previous years as they all have their charms. It was another fantastic day and something that couldn’t go ahead without the dedication of everyone who runs it, all giving up their time and money to make the day truly special. My thanks go out to SEGA as well as if they hadn’t created the games and the characters, and if they hadn’t supported the project that has now run into its sixth year, then there would be a convention to help out with. <3

PS: I’ll add some photos soon. Watch this space!!

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Space Harrier Jazz

About a month ago, I opened Garageband on my Mac and started experimenting with sounds. This led to me recording a twelve bar blues accompaniment with a swinging style baseline. From here I thought, “Hang on, that sounds familar. Why not try it with Space Harrier”; and so Space Harrier Jazz was born!

“So, why are you telling us about this now and not a month ago?”, I hear you ask.

Well, as I normally do with recordings and remixes, I have an idea and then upload it to SoundCloud as a “Work in Progress” track. This unfinished track caught the attention of SEGA Nerds as my SoundCloud feed is linked up to twitter and facebook. You can read the article by heading over to:

http://www.seganerds.com/2013/04/07/fan-stuff-chill-out-with-some-space-harrier-jazz/

As a way of saying thank you to them for promoting my music, I decided to allow them to have the initial exclusive on the track (although it was available from SoundCloud), before I posted about it here.

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Sonic Fan Music Festival 2013

Following the success of the Sonic Fan Music Festival last year, Sonic Radio in collaboration with Sonic Wrecks, RadioSEGA and SegaSonic Radio will be hosting another event this year featuring 12 hours of music from 8 DJs within the SEGA and Sonic community.

Taking place on the blue blur’s birthday itself, June 23rd, look out for the return of the top 20 countdown of which you can nominate and vote on the most popular remixes of this year.

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Foreversonic on Newgrounds

I don’t know how many people are aware of my music on Soundcloud. Friends of mine are members of the Newgrounds website and it seemed logical to not only follow them over there but to add some of my creations too.

If you would like to follow me on Newgrounds, head on over to http://foreversonic.newgrounds.com/follow

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Voting for the Police Commissioner

So, delivered through the door the other day, came three white voting cards in relation to the new Police Commissioner for our area.

I have absolutely no idea who these people are relying on my vote. I have no idea how many people are standing for election or where they come from,  what their values are or what they plan to do that our current police force fail to pay attention to.

Every day I see cyclists riding on the footpath with no lights on or any care for the pedestrians they crash into.

What are these people going to do about the cyclists that fail to stop at a red traffic light; cars that fail to switch their lights on when it gets dark; motor cyclists that can’t tell which way the arrow is pointing on a one way street; drivers that think that the footpath is an extension to the road; or drivers that think that driving at 35mph in a 20mph zone is OK because there’s nobody to stop them.

There are posters dotted around the streets that claim that “criminals hope that you don’t vote” but I don’t see any reason to do so. I have no idea who I’m voting for or what difference my vote will make. Chances are that whether I vote or not -  whether I vote for candidate A or B – it won’t make the blindest bit of difference.

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Finally Fixed Linux Permissions Issue

You may have noticed that this blog has been rather quiet as of late.

A while back, when configuring another part of the server, I seemed to have messed up the file and folder permissions that allowed me to post and upload things.

This has now been fixed on here and on another WordPress site that I’m hosting and so it should now be, “business as usual” :)

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