CosplayCosplay is a big part of the convention - culminating in our big mainstage cosplay contest on Saturday.
Mainstage Cosplay Contest RulesWelcome to our Chicago Cosplay competition for Anime Midwest! Cosplayers in Chicago should come join us for an epic weekend! All winners, including the Best In Show (Grand Prize) and Best In Each Category will receive free admission to next year's convention, and possibly additional sponsored prizes.
While we make every effort to have the complete and final rules published, we may need to make adjustments or modifications to the rules at any time to improve the clarity of the rules or the operation of the cosplay events.
Mainstage Cosplay Contest Categories
Mainstage Cosplay has two categories: Performance & Workmanship. Entries may choose to compete in one or both categories if they qualify, or they must appear as an "Exhibition" if they do not qualify for or do not desire to participate in either category. There will be one winner chosen per skill level in each category as well as a "Best in Show." There may also be honorable mentions or "shout outs", however they will not receive any official award or prize.
- Workmanship - Entries are judged on both the overall appearance of their cosplay, and the quality of the construction of the costume. Purchased costumes may not compete in this category, but outfits do not need to be worn by the creator so long as the costume creator is present at the convention and judging. Contestants are encouraged to bring reference pictures and in-progress photographs to show the judges during the prejudging before the on-stage presentation. Groups or individuals that are doing performances for the Performance category may request to be judged on Workmanship as well, but no one can go on stage a second time to be judged separately for Workmanship.
- If an outfit includes a combination of created and purchased items, any purchased pieces must be disclosed to the judges on your entry form. Judges will determine your eligibility, which generally requires that at least 75% of your costume has been created or altered in a significant enough of a manner. Judges have the exclusive ability to determine a costumes eligibility in the workmanship contest.
- Performance - Entries are being judged on their acting, memorization, representation, and presence. In short, how well they can act like a certain character, or how well they perform a skit, how well they present themselves in their cosplay, etc. Purchased costumes may compete in this category. Groups or individuals that are doing performances for the Performance category may request to be judged on Workmanship as well, but no one can go on stage a second time to be judged separately for Workmanship.
- Exhibition - Exhibition is for those who do not wish to compete, or for those with purchased/commissioned cosplays that do not desire to perform. Because convention staff members may not win, they are included in this category. Contestants in this division are ineligible for any awards.
- Inexperienced: If this is your first Cosplay experience or you have never won a "Best in Category" Cosplay award, this is your division.
- Experienced: If you have ever won a "Best in Category" Cosplay award, you, my friend, are experienced.
- Master: If you have won two or more "Best in Category" Cosplay awards, you are a master. A higher level of cleanliness, creativity, and overall mastery of craft will be expected in this category.
If you are uncertain which division is best for your entry, our staff can assist you! ^_^
You may choose whether or not to come onstage with the stage dark or lit up. However, we will not change the lights during your skit, they will be on the entire time once you begin. Keep this in mind when preparing your act.
Please remember we do not supply participants with any of the following: make-up, make-up applicators and/or removers, paint, etc. Please come to the convention with everything you need to complete and/or assemble your cosplay.
Audio GuidelinesAUDIO WILL MAKE OR BREAK YOUR SCRIPT. IF YOUR AUDIO IS NOT "GREAT", YOU WILL NOT DO WELL.
- Sound for your entry is not required but is highly recommended for the Performance category. You should plan to record any dialog for your entry if you have multiple people as there is only one microphone available. We will never give you more than 1 microphone. Any words spoken from stage will not be heard by the audience.
- There will NOT be audio editing software/machine on site. Please have all audio prepared ahead of time.
- For pre-recorded sound, we highly recommend you work very hard on getting quality audio. Record multiple times, if necessary. Every individual should be the same level of volume. You can easily make even bad audio sound great by importing your sound into Audacity and running the compression effect. You will have to play with the settings and do it five or six times until you understand what it does, but it may help. We CAN NOT answer questions about how to make your audio sound better, this is just a tip. Consider finding a friend with experience in audio.
- We will only accept submissions in MP3 format on a flash drive. Not accepted: cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, etc. Bring your laptop or other backups of your audio files.
- The pre-recorded music/dialogue submitted to the Masquerade staff must be 2 minutes or less. There will be no exceptions to the "2 Minute" rule, unless you request permission prior to the convention. Any entry over the 2:10 mark will be stopped at that point.
- All audio must be turned into the tech department on Friday before the cosplay department closes.
Mainstage Cosplay Contest Rules
- Run-through and judging blocks are essential to running the contest on time. If you miss these, the show will be late and disorganized, therefore we do not make any exceptions.
- Run-through is mandatory! If you miss it, you will be disqualified. Disqualified contestants will not be allowed on stage.
- Be on time for your judging block. If you miss it, you will be disqualified.
- If you make 75% or more of your income from crafting or sewing, or you are performing in a semi-professional to professional capacity you may not compete for an award. See director for details.
- If your cosplay/prop/performance has won a “Best in” award at a convention of similar size or larger, you may not compete with it.
- If your cosplay/prop/performance has won a “Best in” award at a smaller convention, you may compete with it.
- If your cosplay/prop/performance has won 2 or more “Best in” awards you may not compete with it regardless of convention size.
- Judge’s Choice and Honorable Mention awards do not count toward your number of awards won to define your division and eligibility.
- Performance content that is a direct duplicate of an existing performance will get you disqualified unless you credit your source. See cosplay director for details.
- Passing other people's work off as your own original work whether it be crafting, designing, or performance, or not making 75% of your cosplay is considered unethical and will get you disqualified. If in doubt, always inform the judges, even if not asked.
- Run-through may take 2-3 hours, and judging may take time too. Expect this to take up a lot of your Saturday of the con.
- Be careful onstage! Running-tackle-hugs (glomping) might not be very safe.
- All Cosplay participants must be registered attendees of the convention.
- Staff members, and immediate family, are not eligible to win in any category, though they can earn honorable mentions / "shout outs".
- Presentations have a required minimum of 30 seconds to be on stage in any competing category. That way, the judges have enough time to actually do their job and see/judge your cosplay or performance.
- Presentations may not exceed 2 minutes, 30 seconds in duration, unless you have received permission by our department head. Plan ahead. If your skit is affecting the flow of the program, or is running excessively long, we reserve the right to interrupt and end your performance. If your skit is so interrupted, it will not disqualify you from winning any of the awards, unless you refuse to leave the stage.
- NO blatant nudity/adult related content. This event is rated PG-13, and we are a family-friendly convention. Please use some discretion with your character, props and presentation. Also, please keep bad language to an extreme minimum level.
- The following may not be worn for competition in any workmanship division: purchased costumes or rented costumes. These may be entered on stage in the Exhibition Category or Performance Category but will not be eligible for workmanship awards.
- Youth participants (ages 13 and under) can be accompanied by a parent/guardian (they must have a con badge). This isn’t a requirement, just a suggestion, especially for children 10 and under. ^_^
- Your entry must be finished before you get to the Masquerade room. No sewing, gluing, spray painting, welding, or other construction work is allowed backstage. However, final assembly of large pieces and/or props and unexpected repairs will be allowed.
- Participants will be required to sign a liability release and a release for use of video and photo images.
- For safety reasons, the following are not allowed:
- Live animals
- Substances which might damage or soil
- Aerosol sprays
- Projectiles of any kind.
- No pyrotechnics will be allowed including but not limited to: fire, flash powder, explosives, smoke bombs or fireworks.
- Entries that could potentially damage the Convention Center facilities, other participants or the wearer will not be allowed.
- Illegal weapons of any kind are not allowed.
- Prop weapons used as part of the costume are allowed with restrictions. You are expected to act responsibly with your weapon. If you decide to carry a weapon, by attending you accept any legal and financial responsibility for damage your weapon may cause to persons or property.
- Entries with electric power requirements need to be self-contained. There will be no access to electrical outlets on stage.
- Surprise the audience, not the Cosplay staff. If you are planning something completely different, let us know well in advance. All information will be held in the strictest confidence. Also let us know well before the masquerade starts if there are any last minute changes to your performance! ^_^
- Smoking is not allowed in the Convention Center. Contestants who leave the building for a smoke break may lose their turn to appear on stage.
- All contestants must be able to move their costume on their own. So please no 80 lb wings or giant mecha unless you can walk up stairs in it.
- There will be only one microphone available, and NEVER more than one. Any and all music and/or skit audio must be pre-cut, pre-recorded and turned in (in MP3 format) on a USB Flash Drive at sign-up. Bringing back-ups is strongly encouraged to ensure you have working audio.
- People can only enter as part of one costume our group. If a person has made multiple costumes, they must be entered as a group, otherwise you must select only one to compete in the Workmanship contest.
- If your costume is made almost entirely by someone else, they must be present to win in workmanship and the prize will go to them.
- It's okay for entrants in the inexperienced category to have help from a relative/friend, but they should have made most of the costume themselves. The helper must be present and in attendance, in case the judges need to ask them questions directly, and for verification.
- Audience are not allowed to run up to the stage area for any reason.
- Audience members should be courteous and respectful. Please do not boo or shout negative things to masquerade contestants. ^_^
- The cosplay director, or judges, have the right to change your division to a higher division to create a fair competition. Consider this an honor. The director and judges also have the right to not give out an award for any reason they see fit.
The Cosplay Director has the right to eliminate any entry from the competition on the basis of taste, danger to the audience, building or yourself, violation of any of the above rules, or any other reason deemed sufficient.