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Behind the NoBrandVerse
Posted Mar 31, 2009 - 11:30:47

Duct Tape BoySo, it's been a while since I talked about the NoBrandVerse in my blog, and I figured I should spend the time to explain exactly what thinking goes on into our plot lines and the overarching universe we've created for No Brand Con.

Over the years I've taken the role of our unofficial continuity czar. The funny thing is, the first year we had a storyline was the one year that I had absolutely nothing to do with running No Brand Con. It's a long story, but I took the 2004 convention off from being staff (although I was still there -- and had a great time). That's the first year we had a real storyline, and it was probably one of the better ones. I was a part of staff in 2005, but I had nothing to do with the plotting of that storyline as well (although I retconned several events like Wilson Oakes's death afterward).

Due to the difficulties in the complex 2005 storyline, most of the convention's staff was cautious when it came to doing another storyline though. There had been a lot of characters, and the attendees who hadn't followed the story online found themselves a bit lost. Because of this, 2006 had almost no pre-convention story. For the 2007 convention I convinced the con staff that we needed to go back to having a plot for our characters. We needed to simplify it though, and make sure everyone would understand what was happening at the convention.

So, I came up with a system that the other plot writers have since followed.

First off, the story should be primarily told through videos. In 2005 much of the story was told through direct interaction on the forums. While this created some awesome interactivity and ARG-like elements, it meant that anyone who didn't actively participate in our site's community wouldn't even realize the story was happening. Just going to the front page wouldn't tell you anything. Videos go on the front page easily, and are hard not to notice. Additional story explanation and participation can be provided on the forums, but the primary plot shouldn't be there.

The videos, in cumulative total, should be between 5-10 minutes. That way they can be easily shown prior to Opening Ceremonies. This way everyone attending the event where most live portions of our story take place know the full background. We also make sure that every character gets a small blurb in the videos so first timers not familiar with our characters know who the heck is who for the current plotline.

The general plotline is actually conceived and discussed long before anything is committed to film. Usually the Events Head is in charge of coming up with the actual story, but they may ask other people to help. Which characters will appear is decided early on (Do we use Executron as the Villain or do we come up with someone new?), as well with how it will integrate with the theme (in 2007 it was only tangentially related, in 2008 and 2009 it was/is completely integrated). Availability of performers is often considered for which characters will appear -- for instance Science Teacher Lady doesn't appear in the 2009 story because Leah wasn't available for filming. (The Original) Greenboy also barely appeared in 2008's videos because Topher was busy with work.

Because things can change, storylines get rewritten on the fly. Resolutions can completely change from their intended result, and I'm never quite sure where they're going to end up.

For the last few years I've done all the editing. For 2008 and 2009 I didn't/don't do the filming or pick the shots, but I craft the final videos and have established our current visual look. So, don't blame me for unending four person shots or the lack of a tripod in some of those videos... but feel free to blame me for the goofy digital pans on still shots and the music.

We've already started the 2009 storyline, so you should get caught up if you aren't. Episode 1 and Episode 2 are both rather entertaining in my opinion. I hope people actually like these, as I sure do like making them. I happen to be fairly proud of the terrible special effects that took me a couple of hours to do.
- Traegorn

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I really need to check in with you when I'm planning on being in Eau Claire, because last year it was fun getting a phone call "hey we're filming a video today, meet us at Davies!" I've only been back like twice since the summer though, so it's a moot point.
I love guy #4 to be honest. He is awesome.

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