Friday Night Costuming Contest (FNCC) 2016 FAQs

Attention 2016 Contestants
You can find pics of this contest on Dragon Con’s Flickr profile at:

Bear in mind that photos were taken by the Photo Ops team rather than Costuming Track and that they have the entire 4 days worth of pics to get uploaded. Often, they have them posted within a month after con but it may take longer. If pics aren’t up by late November you might consider contacting:

General Information

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Contestant Disclaimer and Registration Form

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General Information

  • Where is the contest held?

    This contest takes place in the Marriott Marquis on Friday Night.
    Judging is held in room A602 . (click here for judging times)
    The stage show is in the Atrium Ballroom starting at 8:30p.

  • Who may enter?

    This contest is open to any and all registered attendees of Dragon Con.

  • Do you have to be a full-time or professional costumer?

    You do not need to be a professional to enter. However, understand that the FNCC is about craftsmanship so the better your skills and creativity, the higher you will place.

  • Can children enter?

    Children may enter or be entered into the FNCC. We love to see our young costumers; but we also ask all youth entries take into consideration that it’s a construction contest and should be set to the proper experience level in relationship to the actual person that constructed the costume. Please register appropriately. If an adult created the costume then it cannot be registered for the youth category: the child is the model.

  • What experience levels are considered?

    We have 7 different skill levels* and awards:

    • Youth – is intended for entrants age 12 and under and promotes the developing talents of our young attendees.
    • Novice – for attendees age 13 and up that are new to costuming or have never won an award for costuming at a major convention that promotes or focuses on costuming. This level is for newbies: the ones that have talents, want to learn more and be judged on their designs and efforts.
    • Journeyman – intended for those that have been working at the art of costuming for a few years and have entered any number of costuming contests in the past. Even if they have been away from making costumes or entering contests for years, they are still considered a Journeyman (or higher) based on past skills and efforts.
    • Professional – for costumers that have repeatedly worked on, entered numerous costume contests at Dragon Con or other conventions that place focus on costuming either in panels or contests. At this level, we are looking at construction skills, design effort, documentation, and presentation of the costume itself. These attendees are usually building and designing year-round and/or may be employed as costumers in their local cities. These costumes are judged at the highest of standards.
    • Best in Show – is a single award that can be given in ANY category that acknowledges how well the design was received or how well the creative effect was achieved. This is a Judge’s Choice Award.
    • The People’s Choice Award – is a single award that can be given in ANY category that acknowledges the audiences favorite costume. This award will be selected by applause.

    *Note: the judges reserve the right to change the skill level for which you are registered if they feel that your previous experience warrants bumping your registration to a higher skill level.

  • Do the costumes have to be hand-made or can they be purchased?

    This is a craftsmanship contest and the costume must be the contestants own work. Therefore, purchased costumes are not suitable for this contest. However, you may use few purchased items that are altered as part of your design. For example: contestant purchases pre-fabricated armor but the cleaning or cutting from the mold, assembling, painting, and/or decorating is his/her own work. Buying armor and simply putting it on would not constitute construction- merely presentation. Continuing the example, personal creation of the under suit, rubber neck pieces, attachment methods, etc. in conjunction with the armor would be considered construction. A good rule of thumb: if the contestant did not personally construct 70% or more of the costume, it WILL NOT qualify for entry in the FNCC. For those costumes, please refer to the contest list on Dragon Con’s main website.

  • Can costumes be entered in more than one contest over the weekend?

    A Costume cannot be entered into the FNCC and be entered into another major costuming event for the same weekend at Dragon Con. To do so forfeits any prizes that the contestant may win. Dragon Con reserves the right to withdraw award at any time during the course of the weekend should the same costume be found in multiple contests. Also, a costume cannot be entered if it has won an award at Dragon Con in a previous year or other costuming specific events at other conventions. If you have entered and have not won OR won but made significant changes to the costume (must be reflected in your documentation,) these costumes can be considered for entry. The final decision will rest with the Judges. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

    EDIT:  Dragon Con has somewhat changed their policy on this. They are now allowing folks to enter their costumes in more than one of it’s major contests with exceptions to winners of a major Dragon Con contest. In other words, if you enter the FNCC and win a prize, it is at that point that a Dragon Con representative (not from Costuming Track) will disallow you to enter other costumed contests.

  • Are entries checked for contestant misrepresentation?

    Yes. Unfortunately, we have had a case where contestant dishonesty regarding their skill level posed an unfair advantage over other FNCC contestants. Since then, we have added filters to level the playing field and ensure that contestants are competing only with those that are within their experience level and category. Our volunteers, judges, and many of our fans are well connected across numerous costuming communities nationally. Contestants claiming someone else’s work as their own or misrepresenting their experience level are EXTREMELY likely to be caught. However, we cannot guarantee that our system works 100% of the time.

  • Can I enter more than once?

    No. Designers entering the FNCC can have more than one model wear a group themed series of costumes as a single entry (Ex: the designer has created costumes representing a group comprised of each character in the Wizard of Oz.) Likewise, a group of designers can enter as a single unit for either one costume (they collaborated on the costume as a group) or in a group display (they each designed their own costume for the Wizard of Oz group.) However, multiple entries are not permitted by any one single designer. In other words, whether Jane Doe enters more than once:

    • as herself
    • in two different teams of designers
    • as herself and as part of a team

    …one of the two registrations WILL be forfeited at the judge’s discretion.

  • Are there awards?

    Yes. Dragon Con is offering $50 in Dragon Con Bucks for Best Youth, Novice,  Journeyman,  and Professional, as well as  overall Audience Choice. A check for $250 and a guaranteed hotel reservation* will be awarded for the Best in Show. There is also an award going out the contestant of the professional category that wins Social Media Favorite where they are given the privilege of skipping the lines to meet their choice of favorite celebrity!
    *This is an unpaid reservation only at the host hotel of your choice for Dragon Con 2017. Just think, no wait-list lottery!

  • Who are the judges?

    The judges are seasoned professionals that currently work in the costuming industry: Kathleen O’Shea David, Freddy Clements, Travis Scott Merrill, Robert Allsopp, and Cheralyn Lambeth.   Together, their expertise ranges from every genre and material type. These judges have served in the past along with other designers from major theatrical companies, film, universities, and commercial businesses.

  • Your Emcees for FNCC 2016
    Your Emcees for FNCC 2016

    Who are the emcees?

    Hosts This year’s host are Tory Belleci and  Kari Byron from Discovery Channel’s Mythbusturs!

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  • What kind of documentation is required?

    Judges need to know how the costume was constructed, designed, and/or created. They want to know what the inspiration was and how much work went into it. Documenting (journaling) your creation process and then bringing disposable copies of those documents to the contest with you is an excellent way to show judges how much of your costume was pre-constructed and how much was by design. Judges will also accept drawings, inspirational photos, photos of the construction process, patterns, a materials list, and fabric samples as supporting proof that you are indeed the creator of the costume. Documentation (in the form of a single word document) must also be submitted online no later than August 20, 2016. You may bring fabric samples with you to the event but make sure it is swatches that you are willing to part with.

  • How do I submit documentation with my pre-registration?

    Upon completion of your online registration you will be given an email address in which to email your documentation to Costuming Track for our judges. We ask that you consolidate all journaling, photos, and other resource information into a single Word document for upload. Please DO NOT send multiple attachments: consolidate them into a single document. We will NOT accept inappropriate documentation nor will we consolidate them into a single document for you

  • Does cost or time factor into the judging?

    No. By the very nature of experience, some people will require more time than others to achieve the look of their costume. Therefore, time alone is not a factor. The FNCC focuses on final results v effort expended.

  • Is there a deadline for submitting documentation?

    As of 2014… Yes. As a matter of fact, we have a 2015 post dedicated to this very question.

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    • Who needs to attend the Pre-Judging and when?

All contestants must attend pre-judging*:

  • Novices must arrive between 5:30p & 5:45p and have 1 minute TOTAL to address the judges and answer questions they may have (this is to include your verbal presentation AND the judges question.)
  • Journeyman are to arrive no later than 7:00p and will have 3-4 minutes TOTAL with the judges (based on the number of contestants entered into this category)
  • Professional must arrive by 7:30p and should be prepared fora TOTAL of 5-7 minutes of presentation and Q&A (based on the number of contestants entered into the professional category.)
  • Youth must arrive by 8:00p and will spend 3 minutes with the judges.

*Notes: contestants will not be allowed to check in prior to their call time listed above. Judging time varies depending on the number of contestants within your skill level (exact time will be announced at pre-judging.) Please also be aware that the judges reserve the right to make changes if they feel that your skills are better suited for a different skill level than the one for which you have registered.

  • Why?

    A couple of different things happen during this time:

    1-This is when the judging actually takes place. Judges use this time to interview the designer and examine their costume and documentation. This is where you will defend your designs so come prepared: your allotted time is to include both your presentation and judges questions (you definitely want to give the judges time to ask questions. Contestants that fail to arrive for pre-judging during their allotted time will be disqualified.

    2-This contest is family-friendly. All costumes are checked for appropriateness. Costumes that are too revealing may be disqualified. While we are not discouraging revealing costumes or costumes based upon creations of a more mature theme, we do request that you consider fully the costume you are wearing and the venue in which you will be presenting it. If you have questions about the type of costume you have prior to arriving at the convention, please feel free to contact us so the staff can make a determination for you.

    3-We must place you in the line-up. There are several factors that must be taken into consideration when ushering contestants on and off stage. We need time to plan accordingly.

  • Where is pre-judging held?

    This year, pre-judging for all skill levels will check in at the Marriott, Room A602.

  • How do I prepare for pre-judging?

    First and foremost, we recommend that you pre-script an introduction – approximately 20-30% of your presentation time –  being sure to draw attention to the key features of your costume for the judges. It is during this introduction that you are judged on presentation.
    NOTE: anything you give to the judges is theirs to keep. We do not have the capability of tracking you down to return original notebooks, binders, fabric scraps, etc. If you want to keep it, take it with you when you leave the judging area.

  • What do I bring?

    Here’s a list of things to consider:

    • Dragon Con badge
    • Bottled water (particularly if your costume gets hot)
    • Safety pins
    • Extra batteries (if your costume requires)
    • Lint roller
    • Hair spray / hair gel
    • Make up
    • Handler (only if your costume involves a degree of difficulty in moving, vision, etc.)
    • Any out-of-the-ordinary items that you may need to prepare and comfortably navigate your costume during pre-judging and stage presentation.
    • No one knows your costume better than YOU. Please bring the necessary materials needed for your costume. Repair materials will not be provided.
  • Will there be time or space to make final adjustments or costume repairs?

    Yes. There will be limited time prior to pre-judging. However, there is space backstage pre-show for contestants to make repairs while waiting to go on stage.

  • What do I do if I am late?

    Please bear in mind that we have a limited amount of time to pre-judge each contestant. The show must start on time. If you find that your name has already been called, we will continue through to the last contestant in your skill level category. Once we have made our first pass we will call all previously unanswered contestant names. The second call is the final call. Regrettably, contestants that are not present by the second call are disqualified… no exceptions. So please be on time and listen for your name and/or contestant number to be called.

  • Why would the judges subtract points from a contestants overall score?

    The judges reserve the right to subtract from the Judges Bonus Points for the following:

    • Exceeding your time allowed with the judges
    • Failure to submit complete documentation by August 20
    • Lack of professional courtesy shown toward fellow costumers
    • Arriving late for the judging

    Overall, you will be judged on the following criteria:

    • Craftsmanship (30%)
    • Documentation (15%)
    • Accuracy (20%)
    • Accessories (15%)
    • Presentation (10%)
    • Judges Bonus Points (10%)

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  • Can I do a skit?

    No. If the focus of your costume is the story behind it, Dragon Con’s Masquerade is better suited for you. The FNCC focuses solely on the skills and effort of the designer/builder, not on the performance of the costume wearer. Bear in mind that if your costume has a “reveal”, that is OK and can be used in this contest, but the reveal must be able to easily be seen in advance by the judges and easily reset prior to going on stage. For example: if your costume is a caterpillar that transforms into a butterfly with a large wingspan, demonstrating the transformation is totally acceptable but you need to be able to easily show this aspect to the judges prior to the onstage presentation. On stage, this contest is primarily presented in a fashion-show-like manner: sword play, dances, skits, juggling… any performance work is disallowed. Open flame or open liquid containers are prohibited.

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  • Where do I register?

    There is no onsite registration. All contestant registration is done online. Just grab your documentation (go here for documentation info) and enter.

  • Should I pre-register for the Friday Night Costuming Contest?

    Pre-registration is strongly advised. There is a limit on the number of entries for the contests and entry is first-come first-served. Besides, if you pre-register you can focus on getting ready for the contest rather than standing in line at the last minute. Also know that we tend to reach capacity weeks prior to con.

  • Do I have to fill out the online registration form to enter the contest?

    Yes. Also know that due to the overwhelming popularity of this contest, we simply cannot accept incomplete registration forms or promissory emails. Thank you for your cooperation.

  • When can I pre-register?

    Each year, we accept online pre-registration from June 1 until August 20 (or until all openings are filled.)

  • I have pictures to support my documentation for the FNCC. What do I do?

    First, compile them into a single Word document (along with your notes) and upload them when you pre-register. Also, please bring disposable copies of your documentation with you to pre-judging – just in case. Should the judges need your hardcopy, they will retain them for the judging process and dispose of them afterward. Sorry, but the green room gets a little crazy near the end of the judging process so we cannot guarantee a safe return of your materials. Please make it easier on yourself and the judges by bringing disposable items.

  • I pre-registered online. Do I need to bring a hardcopy of my entry form with me?

    It couldn’t hurt. We make every effort to ensure that your entry is present at the contest; but, we are human and things can happen. Be prepared should that rare missing registration happen to be yours. Simple screen grabs will be sufficient.

  • Do I get a confirmation?

    Yes. Once you submit your registration, you will be given a confirmation window. It looks like this: FNCC Confirmation Screen Grab

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Contestant Disclaimer and Registration Form

By submitting the registration form below, you are acknowledging that you have read the above FAQs and agree to abide by any rules and stipulations outlined therein. Dragon Con reserves the right to make changes and substitutions including, but not limited to: time, location, awards, emcees, judges, etc. Upon completion of the below form, you agree to email copies of your documentation that clearly shows the judges the construction process of the costume that you are entering into this contest; to the email address that will be provided upon completion of the registration form.

We’re sorry but registration is full for 2016. We will start taking registrations for 2017 in June.