The panel covered AX 2000 through AX 2010. The general format was that for each year they'd talk about how the con went in regards to AMVs, talking about the long and generally sucky history of the AMV panels and any interesting stories about the AMV contest. Then they'd show 1-3 AMVs from that year, _usually_ non-winners that they felt were underrated, since the winners are generally well represented in other panels.
(Apparently they've had the AMV room for years longer than i or anyone else i know realized, although only recently did it start getting both the support and advertising it deserves, which is why we never heard of it before. In 2004 they had an "AMV room", which had no video and no audio. Then in 2005 they had a room with video, but no audio, so they held the microphone in front of the laptop speakers while the videos were playing. [Edit: Except as i've been informed below it wasn't a full AMV room for most of those years, just a single panel.])
As i often do for such things i started taking notes. Then we got to the year of drama in 2002 at the Long Beach Convention Center, which i had heard stories about before.
So they discovered the day of the AMV competition that there was some kind of incompatibility between the way the AMVs had been rendered and the way the video system displayed them that caused extreme stuttering of the images. I can't remember exactly what the issue was, something to do with interlacing perhaps? In any case, they eventually ended up deciding that they needed to re-render all the videos.
Unfortunately they didn't manage to reach this conclusion before everyone had been seated for the show. (I'm not even sure if they discovered the problem until seating had started.) So as the organizers were debating what to do the audience was getting more and more restless. They did all the usual silly stuff such crowds do, and then people started throwing paper balls and paper airplanes around and such. And finally someone (who i believe was sitting in a balcony?) threw a very well made paper airplane that flew across the room and embedded itself in the screen. The giant $10,000+ screen.
The new little tidbit i learned was that the creator of Read or Die was there at AX 2002, and was in the Guest of Honor seating in the very front row, so he got to watch the paper airplane fly right over his head and impale itself in the screen. And there is an episode of Read or Die, supposedly written after that AX, which we were told features almost an identical scene. Hmmm :) Of course it might be even more amusing if he'd actually written the scene first and then watched it play out in real life right in front of him :)
But in any case, that story was cool enough, and i missed enough of the details trying to type on my phone, that i decided to start recording audio instead. Which means i can now provide a somewhat accurate transcription (aside from bits obscured by crowd noises and the occasional"um" or "so" or such that i omitted) of the much cooler story from 2007. It's cooler because not only was i there for this one, but it's apparently never been told publicly before. I assume they won't mind me repeating it, since they did tell it to a room of approximately 250 people.
"Moving on to AX 2007. Now as you may have figured, we're not exactly above pointing out our faults here. And obviously as you may have gathered things got better. Because we've got the AMV room. We've got one kick-ass AMV competition now right? Cool, right. So now obviously things got better, but there's still one more year of suck to go over before we start turning that corner."
"So AX 2007 was at Long Beach. The same location as AX 2002. I swear that place is cursed. Yeah, so now basically to paint the picture for you, many many many concerts were booked so that every single possible scrap of time available in the main events hall was used. Well this was not exactly a good idea because concerts almost never end on time. So concerts, because of prima-donna performers and what-not, each subsequent event kept getting pushed back, pushed back, pushed back, pushed back. And the AMV was at the end of the day here. So it's an hour until midnight. Contractually the convention was obligated to close at midnight. The AMV competition is a three hour event. So we had to find a way of ending at midnight, or else suffer massive overtime pay on the July 4th holiday. So the coordinator at the time decided to eat a bullet by pretending to lose the discs."
[shocked silence, followed by a lot of groans]
"So yes, I have revealed the secret of what actually happened at AX 2007. So basically it ended up being a total repeat of AX 2002, because that meant the event was postponed until morning! Well at least the event was good, because there were some really really awesome videos in there. And i'm going to show one non-winner...."
There were lots of other interesting bits, but those were definitely the two highlights of that panel.