The European Road to BlizzCon is the climax of series of gaming tournaments. It's focused on games released by Blizzard - Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm and World of Warcraft. This prestigious gaming event took place from 3 to 4 October 2015 at the O2 Arena in Prague. The goal of the best players is the qualification for BlizzCon which took place on 6 and 7 November 2015 in Anaheim, California, where the champs from Prague stood up against top players from other continents.
Apart from the fact that I enjoyed it like hell, for me, the Road to BlizzCon was a source of many new ideas and it has given me a useful experience.
How did I come up with the idea to go there? A couple of weeks before the Road to BlizzCon began, I became interested in getting a ticket. Unfortunately, they had been already sold out. From time to time, the organizers released a few extra tickets online, but they disappeared within minutes. I let it be, and about a week before the event, a friend from the town of Kladno wrote me if I wanted to go because we hadn't seen each other for a long time (six years to be precise). I said that I clearly wanted to go with him and our mutual friend from Brno, but that I didn't have a ticket. He promised to get one for me. It turned out it wasn't possible though. A few days before the Road to BlizzCon the friend from Brno contacted me and he gave me his ticket because he was sick. I felt a great relief and joy. When we saw the queue, we were terrified. But the real stress began when we approached the entrance. They had walk-through metal detectors, hand-held metal detectors and baggage scanners, of course... When in Prague, I'm permanently armed - the fact that my backpack contains equipment worth several thousand crowns justifies my decision. My toys are worth quite a lot and I really didn't want to throw them in trash. However, I took the risk, put everything into the bag, moved the zip to the other side and headed to the scanner. There was a lady. I put the backpack on the security belt and after the beep, she asked what was the iron bar at the bottom of the backpack. I replied that it was a console for two cameras and began to unzip the backpack to show her. She said it wasn't necessary and that she just needed to know what it was. Phew... I went through with the whole arsenal, including knives. This really doesn't happen every day. I took a few steps and suddenly, I was stopped by a sheriff in combat clothes holding a walkie-talkie. He scared the hell out of me, but I stayed cool, 'cause after a quick replay of the whole situation in my head, I figured there wasn't anything that could lead them to the contraband in my backpack. The chief of security came to me and asked me about the camera tripod sticking out of my backpack. He told me I couldn't take it with me, so I asked whether I could put it somewhere safe 'cause it's my making-money tool and it was expensive. He made clear that normally he doesn't do these things and he doesn't care, but he gave it to an employer at the information desk for safekeeping. So much for my initial infiltration.
The event comprised a great number of so-called cosplayers. These are people who are crazy about computer characters and wear exact replicas of their costumes. Some cosplay costumes are kind of homemade while other ones are so incredibly professional that there is no difference between them and those that can be seen in the games. The most successful ones were made by a French costume designer who gave my friend a job of a security guard in Pilsen; we work together from time to time. Long story short, they negotiated a preferential right to take photos for me. That means I had all the cosplayers to myself and I could take pictures of them. A blue robot costume (Tychus of the Blizzard game Starcraft II) weighed 60 kilos and it was based on a wetsuit. It sure wasn't easy to wear it and the guy wearing it wasn't very comfortable due to its ability to hold the heat inside. He's as big as me and he said that it was almost impossible to spend the day in this costume. For these reasons, I let him off the hook after a short while. The French guy was the author of three costumes I took pictures of: Tychus, Tyrael (the angel from Diablo III) and pandas from World of Warcraft. His company specializes in creating tailored costumes, and they did a great job. The cosplayers looked so good that they weren't allowed to participate in the competition for the best cosplayer. We even had a deal that they would let me put on one of the costumes, but, in the end, this didn't happen due to an issue with a backstage pass.
I was offered cooperation - they asked me to send them the photos in 2D with a few 3D samples. Another offer came from the boss of the French costume designer. Her nametag was saying "Manager for External Events" - a real Blizzard manager, that can be useful. We'll see what the future brings.
Maybe you won't believe me, but I attracted people's attention in the same way the cosplayers did - with one difference: they didn't feel the need to ask me to take a picture with them. Nevertheless, they were coming to me to ask me about my job... There was this American guy that really got me. He came to me and said, "What the hell? Is this stereo photography?" I said that yes, that I was taking 3D photos. In a high voice, he answered: "Wooow that's f**king amazing!" I said only: "Hell yeah!"
I had loads of images to work on. I took about 800 of them. It was tough... I made a selection, labeled them, chose the ones that could be used, assembled the collection, edited the photos, assembled them into 3D and tweaked them. From what I've seen, there are a few seriously epic pieces...
Finally, I would like to add that a lot of good things happened during this photo shoot. I met tons of interesting people and maybe got a few good contacts. Also, I f**king loved being there. It took a while before I finished the collection 'cause it's really not easy to put such a thing together, but I dare say it rocks!