Justin Pineda

Cosplay Videographer : Justin Pineda Media // Submission Form

Can you explain about your Quarantine CMV concept as well as how you came up with the concept?

Cosplay Quarantine is a cosplay music video project where cosplayers from all over the world share and submit their at-home cosplay footage to me, and I compile them all together into a video. Similar to how I edit normally for a convention CMV. This project started in response to conventions cancelling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What went into my mind during that moment was that “while the pandemic may have cancelled conventions, it should not cancel cosplay music videos”. Around mid-March, I thought of an idea for a way for cosplayers to showcase their craft in the comfort of their own homes. You don’t necessarily need to have a convention in order to produce CMV content. And that’s where the early ideas for Cosplay Quarantine began. My goal is to release an episode of Cosplay Quarantine every month until conventions open up again.

What was the response like online from when you first announced it?

I first brought up the early ideas for Cosplay Quarantine on my personal Facebook account. My close friends strongly supported the idea. It got enough praise that I decided to finally make it official towards the end of March. I got nothing but a positive response from the community. I had cosplayers who I worked with at the conventions I traveled to submit cosplay footage to me. Some of the feedback I received about this project was it helped spread positivity to the community and kept cosplayers active and confident during this hard time.  

How was the process doing this for that first time? What were the challenges and how did you overcome them?

The first episode of Cosplay Quarantine was definitely a huge learning experience for me. The first challenge for this project is that I’m putting my camera and gimbal away and relying solely on the cosplayers to produce their own footage. Everybody is different when it comes to video recording. Some people may not know how to operate a camera while others are very experienced with shooting video. In order for this project to be successful, I wanted to make sure people of all skill levels are able to easily record and submit. I know not everybody is going to have a fancy DSLR or mirrorless camera in their disposal. That’s why for this project, I went with the one device that people carry around with them every day and that’s their smartphone. Smartphone cameras have come a long way since the first iPhone. Today’s modern phones can produce very stellar video quality that sometimes, you can hardly tell them apart compared to a very expensive camera.

As for content, I gave cosplayers the freedom to submit any kind of video during the quarantine. The only limits are their creativity…and to make sure it’s appropriate on YouTube (haha!). Whether they want to show off the cosplay they worked so effortlessly on or to produce a skit or dance cover, I encourage cosplayers to submit any kind of video they want. Another challenge for me was how cosplayers shoot video. Just like the camera situation, not all cosplayers are going to know about lighting, composition, or shooting b-roll. For someone like me who has never gone to film school, I can totally understand how daunting and intimidating filming video is. I still remember my very first CMV. I try my best to help those who are in need of filming advice and offer some quick filming tips on my submission page. For those who are hesitant about filming for the video, I say to give it a try. You’re only going to get better the more you do it and being able to find ways to get better. That’s how I personally learned my way through filming and got to where I am today.

Tell me about the next episode, is it gonna be different from the first, what are your plans?

For Cosplay Quarantine Episode 2, I encourage those who are submitting to take full advantage of things you can do at home that would prove difficult for you to do at a convention. Show off some fun home activities. One area I learned and observed from the first episode is that we are no longer limited to a convention’s venue for these kinds of CMVs. I feel filming at home yields more dynamic forms of shooting that I feel conventions struggle to offer. Cosplayers could perform several home activities such as cooking, cleaning, sewing, playing video games, playing with their pets, or exercising to name a few. There’s only so much you can do at a convention. But I feel filming at home opens more possibilities and broadly encourages the creativity of the cosplayers.  

How did you get involved in making CMVs?

I started producing cosplay music videos back in late 2016. I was actually recommended by fellow YouTuber Convention Reviews (He no longer does convention content but runs an amazing travel channel called “We Wander”). Back then, I used to do con reviews and hallway cosplay photography but decided to expand my horizon with cosplay music videos. The one event that really got me on the map for CMVs was at C2E2 2017. The sheer amount of amazing cosplayers and the amazing videographers who I met at that event motivated me. Since then, my passion for creating cosplay music videos continued to grow and as of today, I’m at over 60 cosplay music videos.   

What advice would you give your younger self about cosplay videography (or conventions in general)?

(laughs) There are a good amount of things I did in the past that I beat myself up on to this day. The first advice I would give to my younger self is don’t worry about your gear. It’s all about the content and how you use your equipment to its full potential. I remember back then I was so obsessed in trying to find the best gear to produce content. What camera bodies and lenses to buy and what kind of stabilization I should use. But I was so obsessed with the gear aspect that I forgot about the other important factor in making a great video and that is content.

My second advice I would give my younger self is remember to have fun and enjoy yourself while I’m at a convention. As my passion grew for making these kinds of videos, I felt that I overexerted myself to such a high degree that at the end of a convention, I was completely burnt out. I was so focused on trying to make the best content that I sometimes overwhelm myself and get stressed. I was one of those perfectionist people who was afraid of failure. But with the help of some good friends, I, for the most part, was able to get out of that kind of mindset.

Who is the most influential person in your life and why?

As a cosplay videographer, I drew inspiration from several of the big name cosplay videographers such as Rescue The Princess, Close Quarters Cosplay, Atomic Network, Byron Yang, Legend of Micah, Sneaky Zebra, Kevin The Director, Acksol, and MineralBlu. The style that they express has always kept me inspired to try out new dynamic forms of filmmaking.

What is your greatest struggle right now?

As of today, I feel my greatest struggle and for so many other people in the community is just getting through this quarantine. Personally, before this quarantine began, I was planning on hitting several of the big name conventions such as Sakura-Con, Anime Central, Anime Expo, and Dragon Con. I’m doing my best to try to keep the positivity strong during this hard time. I’m hoping with Cosplay Quarantine, I can reach out to cosplayers from all over the world and send the message that this pandemic shouldn’t take away their passion for cosplay and that we are in this together.

Is there anything we didn’t cover ?

For cosplayers who want to participate in my Cosplay Quarantine Episode 2 video, I extended the deadline to the end of the month (May 31st). Submit your at-home cosplay footage for it to be featured in my video. If you miss the deadline, worry not! I will be releasing an episode of Cosplay Quarantine every month until conventions open up again. You will have plenty of opportunities to submit!