Chapter 8, Part 1: Brony Videos and Animation

(Please note that any images used in this post are by the artists listed. They are placeholders and I hope to have art expressly drawn for this book to replace these images. If you are interested in submitting something, please see this post.)

SPOILER WARNING! THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS CONTENT THAT IS IN THE SERIES.
IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED, WATCH THE SERIES NOW!

Chapter 8:
Graphic art and new media, a Brony’s canvas

The show just looks good.

This is a common explanation by many Bronies as to why they like MLP:FIM.  The show is animated using Macromedia Flash 8 by Studio B (DHX Media Vancouver) in Canada, as well as having the Top Draw Animation studio in the Philippines.  Although Flash has been used for animated series before, it was often used as a cheap way to fill in alternate-media animation gaps.  In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, the flash animation was criticized when it was proposed as the media for the show.  However, when demo clips of animation were shown to Lauren Faust and her creative team, they were pleasantly surprised at the range of motion and expression that these animators could create in Flash.  This high level of Flash customization just for the show adds to its sharp image quality and seamless animated sequences.  According to artist Sabrina Alberghetti,  each episode takes several weeks to animate after a month or more of storyboarding.  Unlike other animated shows, there is also a layouts stage that assists with posing, colors, etc. (41)

Flash animation is visually distinctive due to the sharp lines which gives a smoothness and depth to the animation and smooth fill is also used.  It sometimes looks like constriction paper cutouts in the background.  This style is made using ‘vectors’, which are simply a smooth arc-based outline that has a distinct coloring used to define each character.  Flash art is also advantageous because images have a small file size when saved.  These art files contain data to redraw these images at any size as well.  Due to these advantages, flash has assisted the fandom’s ability to create art that replicates the show’s look for both static and dynamic content, as will be described throughout this chapter.

Part I: Videos
Fans that have learned to use Flash can easily trace  vectors from the show, thereby cutting the ponies out from the show’s background images.  The ability to edit vectors means that the show’s animations can also be cut and re-made into other videos, including looping actions, syncing mouths to voice-overs, and adding characters into scenes that weren’t in the original show.  The use of vectors also allows fans to create their own fan animations that, through Flash,  look like they belong in the show (if they are skillful enough). Flash also allows for easy extraction of fragments of scenes, such as short 1-10 second clips that are looped as .gifs.   To give an idea of how many fan clips have been created, createdIambrony.com reported that as of January 2012, there were 6382 animated pony GIFs in their database.

My favourite looped, simple animation used to be of Rarity as she was infinitely dragged by her horn across land and brush, day and night on the search for her ‘talent’ and gemstones ([1] & [2] WARNING: sound).  In fact, it was so massively used that a tumblr was made that gathered all the animations and images of Rarity’s horn leading her on, called http://raritybeingdraggedtoherdestiny.tumblr.com/.   In Season 2, I was greatly amused by ParallaxMLP’s fan animation loop of Sweetie Belle scooting along the floor, bored out of her mind.  Behind her scooted an inserted animation of Derpy Hooves, looking amused, derpy, and way too adorable.  It wins my seal of approval.  Watch it here.

Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for Bronies, the list of fan submissions goes on.  Bronies have combined their music with their ripped, looped, and original flash animations to make music videos! Any and every song out there (both Brony music and the real world’s offerings) can be made into a Pony Music Video (PMV).  The only requirement for PMVs is that Ponies are either in the song or in the video.  These types of clips on Youtube number even more, and greatly inflate the Brony presence on YouTube.

A simple example of a simple PMV uses a  clip of DJ Pon3 bobbing her head to the beat of any song of choice.  To do this, fans isolated her animation from the background.  They then modified the animation speed so that she can move to the different Beats Per Minute (BPM) in any song desired.  The same has been done with the show’s Discord shuffling animation.

Video clips from the My Little Pony: Friendship is magic series have also been used to remix professional works such as trailers for movies, creating popular culture referenced PMVs.  Examples of this type of video are PonyCraft 2 by StubbornlyObsolete (Video & Sound), which takes the audio from the StarCraft II trailer and syncs it up with pony clips.  There have been over 1.2 million views on this video, and it has received many honors for its high quality workmanship.  Another trailer made with the MLP characters was a remastered Watchmen Trailer (Video & Sound) using ponies.  This was quite popular not because it had ponies, but because it was about the Watchmen, which was dark, yet it had bright ponies well synced to the trailer, as well as being a great piece of work.  Dozens (if not hundreds) of these types of PMVs have been made, and some of these fan works have even been noticed by the mainstream professional works’ creators, such as Edgar Wright for covers of  Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Hot Fuzz.

Surprisingly, even the Hub Network has made a pony music video.  In May 2011, when the Brony movement began to begin to gain momentum, the Hub aired a promotional video  called ‘Equestria Girls’. It was based off the song ‘California Gurls (sic)’ by Katy Perry, and the substituted lyrics that Pinkie Pie sung promoted My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic.  In addition to the song describing the pony way of life, it also contained references to the fan base.  For example, the Disc Jockey character of  Vinyl Scratch was shown in the video, and was  officially called ‘DJ P0n-3’ by Spike.  The  Brony fandom was addressed by name in the video as well:

…Our Bronies (Hey there!) hang out too

(Come on, Bronies!)

‘Cause they know we’re awesome fillies …

The fans saw this as a wonderful gesture of acknowledgment of their fandom and dedication to the show, and the video was widely distributed online.

Also on Youtube are fan voiceovers.  These are also called called dubs or fandubs, where an entire episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is dubbed over with different voices to change the tone of the episode.  There have been whole episodes dubbed this way – some for comedic value, and others to make the show scarier.  ‘Friendship is Witchcraft’ is one such spoof which uses the original animation and applies voiceovers that tell a very different tale of ponies that don’t believe in magic, but witchcraft instead.  Robots are also integrated into the pony world, disguised as ponies who threaten to take over the world.  Though the voice actors don’t mimic the real voices from the show, their characters are still very dynamic (save Rainbow Dash, who acts like she’s a Pokemon).  I was far too amused by this show, but I am sure that if you didn’t watch the original series first, you wouldn’t appreciate the whimsical nature of this fandub as much.

Some of these feats are amazing, and take days, if not weeks or months to create.  Voiceovers are what I would considered to be the largest potential growth market in the Brony community, as they take a long time to do – with finding voice actors, making time to record, edit, time, sync, and render videos before they are ever released.  I would expect  many more of these to be created and released in 2012.

Finally, there are fan films, where both the animation and the sound (voices / music / sound effects) are all done by fans.  These are also just beginning to develop.  Some are simple fan animations of a character moving its wings, or blinking.  They are usually created in Flash, the way that Studio B does the real show animations.  Others create longer videos that are either partially animated or show storyboard progression of a tale.  Then, there are fan animation studios.  The pinnacle of the Brony fandom, these dedicated Bronies from Bronytoons are a group that create fully animated short films based off of the MLP: FIM series.  Their first completed film is entitled Luna’s Lament, and its six-minute story arc follows a discussion that Luna and Celestia might have had once Luna returned to earth.  It is extremely well done, and would almost be considered a background scene that would be in the show after the second defeat of Nightmare Moon.  Not only is the animation and the story well done, but the voice actresses also did a wonderful job and the entire video is of extremely high quality.  I also believe that in 2012 there will be a lot more fan films flooding the YouTubes with their awesome, and I can’t wait.

Next up… video games about ponies?!

Footnotes:

41.) Source: http://mlp.wikia.com/wiki/Animation

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About isaunter

I'm 30 years old and I have been living in the District for six years now. I love all things geek: from tabletop to video gaming; from computers to manga. I am a brony. I wear glasses, have short hair and sport a dragon tattoo (gasp!). I enjoy wearing tall socks and short skirts, and tend to dress more goth and Lolita than chic. It's just a fun thing.

Posted on February 21, 2012, in Chapters and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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