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File: 1571128771568.jpg (49.39 KB, 216x368, Applejack_Demeter.jpg)

Wrap-up Nother NonymousCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 36831252

Looking back on a decade of Faust's ponies, I find myself thinking about what originally drew me into the fandom. In my case, it was watching the video of "Winter Wrap Up" -- just the song, excised from the episode (S1E11). I was enchanted, and I walked into Equestria and never came out. But I rarely encountered anything in the show later on that had the magical force of that first video.

What was, and is, so special about it? What was there in this one number that drew me in to a franchise that I had previously classed with Rainbow Bright and the Care Bears as a farrago of meretricious and cynical cuteness mobilized in the service of corporate greed? Here are some answers that have occurred to me.

1. The "Winter Wrap Up" number is quiet, modest, and serious. Apart from Twilight and Spike's getting buried in a fall of snow at one point, there are no sight gags. Nothing funny happens, and there is no laughter. On the other hand, nothing epic happens -- nothing magical, explosive, or portentous. The subject of the song is the absence of magic, which is forbidden to Twilight by local custom ("the earth pony way"). At first appearances, this is a work song.

2. And yet it is mythic and magical. It deals with the fundamental stuff of mythology: the cycle of years and lives, birth and death, the melting away of winter and the coming of spring -- Botticelli's "Primavera" redone with cartoon horses. It is both solemn and gay (in the original sense). It is also magical, because this is a world in which the sun and moon do not rise and set, and the seasons do not come and go, without the intervention of labor and intelligence. Unless the Houyhnhnms work together, the clouds will not part to let the sun's warmth and beauty in, the southern birds will not return, the snow will not go away, and winter will be eternal. Only laboring intelligence can shift the axis of the world. If Disney had animated this number, the birds, ferrets, and bunnies would have been running around chipping in, brushing away snow with their tails, and bringing ribbons to Rarity in their beaks. The MLP number presents us with a fantasy mode of interaction between culture and nature that is less obvious and harder to define.

3. The main (mane) characters are very delicately individualized. Pinkie does not bounce, shriek, and emit balloons and confetti; Rarity does not posture and preen; Rainbow Dash does not boast, compete, and whizz around like a mad beetle. There are hints of these things, but they are only hints. Although they do unexpected and individual things, we have the feeling that these archetypal characters have subordinated their individual peculiarities to the solemnities of a great common task.

4. There is no mugging. One of the most effective and peculiar things about this number is the high percentage of on-screen time during which the focal characters have their eyes closed, as though they were sleepwalking. This conveys a feeling of relaxed automatism — a practiced, age-old communal dance that excludes Twilight. View the video again and watch for it. RD, AJ, and Rarity all finish their initial lines in the spotlight with closed eyes. Rarity, Time Turner, and Fluttershy finish their holiday cheer on the first iteration of the refrain with their eyes shut. The three pegasi blow the clouds away with their eyes closed. And so on. By the end of the number, all the ponies' eyes are closed more often than not. The singers move half-entranced through the ritual pavane like dancers in a dream, contrasting with Twilight's generally wide-eyed anxiety. The pegasi hover over Twilight's final high note with closed eyes and withdraw with closed eyes. Twilight opens her own eyes briefly to look into the empty darkness, then closes her eyes and bows her head as we fade to blackness and silence. What a subtle and amazing effect! It gives surprising power to something as seemingly delicate as modesty. I wish they had reprised it in the sunset at the end of the final song on which the book closes along with the show.

5. The song is one of the best of all the show's songs. Like the best of them (there aren't that many), it has an unforgettable tune and returns again and again to a refrain with a little poetic force. Hearts, hearts strong as horses. Find you've got the music in you. For tomorrow Spring is here.

6. One final thing that deserves saying about this number: it is not only an articulation of the recurrent change of the seasons, but also an allegory of a child facing adult life. Twilight is the child here, looking with wide-eyed mystification at the easy-seeming dance of the grown-ups as they glide through the incomprehensible complexities of adult responsibility. She speaks to the bewildered child in all of us.

What grabbed me about "Winter Wrap Up" was the reverse of the tangy sassiness that increasingly characterized the show in its later seasons as its makers tried to address themselves more and more to what they thought their unexpectedly adult audience would like. It was its purity, seriousness, simplicity, and sincerity in dealing with matters of mythic scope and importance. As the show progressed through the years and the show-makers became more confident and practiced, their own initial wonder at the magical world they had stumbled into faded, and what had begun as art ended as entertainment. As they learned how to achieve effects, achieving effects gradually became the name of the game. There were flashes of the old magic until the very end, but a manipulative flavor gradually crept over the enterprise. A similar thing happened at the Disney studio between 1935 and 1945. After Bambi (1942), Disney and his artists stopped trying to do things they didn't know how to do, and contented themselves with the easier and more profitable undertaking of doing over and over the things they knew how to do very well.

G5 may recapture the initial wonderments of G4, but I doubt it. Such things happen only occasionally. I expect we're in for a few years of Filly Funtasia.
This post was edited by its author on .

AnonymousCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 36831255

File: 1571164675643.png (557.89 KB, 1052x785, serveimage.png)

>I expect we're in for a few years of Filly Funtasia.

This is my fear for the future of the show beginning with G5. No one at Hasbro will have the strength of conviction Mama Faust has. She took a crap budget and a team of writers she hand picked and made a miracle out of FiM. Ever since the company drove her and her vision away, the show lost too much creativity and dedication to a wider audience.

I also agree that Winter Wrap Up was a fine early song and matching animation. It set a high benchmark that Daniel Ingram rarely achieved in later seasons. The same holds true for Rarity's number Art Of The Dress from season 1.

Thankfully Disney has stepped in with Rapunzel's Tangled Adventures. Disney threw more money on an episode of this show than Hasbro threw at a whole season of MLP FiM.

Try these three samples of what a world class composer and incredible singers can really do once the studio bean counters leave the room.

Ready As I’ll Ever Be - Tangled the Series Full Song

Waiting in the Wings Reprise | Rapunzel's Tangled Adventures | Disney Channel

Crossing The Line Music Video | Rapunzel's Tangled Adventures | Disney Channel

AnonymousCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 36831257

File: 1571168564975.jpg (72.38 KB, 1280x720, Luna--The Moon Rises.jpg)

Yes. I didn't know about this show; thanks for introducing me to it. The music doesn't strike me as a lot better than Ingram at his best, but the animation is great. It's still kind of wooden and Flash-y by comparison with full-on frame-by-frame drawn animation, but it rises to 100% in places. The gestures and facial expressions are first-rate. Where these song numbers really overshadow MLP:FiM is in the voices (sorry, gang) and above all in the lyrics, which were almost uniformly leaden and clunky in G4. These are GOOD lyrics.

But MLP could have had good lyrics for a pittance, if they had only taken the matter of lyrics seriously. There are a lot of star-struck poets out there who would have paid money for the privilege of writing for the show. Instead, the showmakers casually opted to let the composer and screenwriters write the lyrics, with almost uniformly dismal results.

I don't think money matters so much any more. With today's technology, creators with talent and vision can produce work almost as good as those Rapunzel numbers at home in the garage. Are any of those Disney song numbers really significantly better than "The Moon Rises"?

The Moon Rises by Ponyphonic (feat. Kristen Calvin, Animation by DuoCartoonist)

How much money did it take to produce that? And how much would each of us have given to make every musical number on the show -- or even just one of them -- as good as that piece of nickel-and-dime fan animation?

What it takes nowadays isn't a lot of money. It's a creative team -- maybe just two animators -- who are captured by a vision and determined to draw others into it.

Oops, sorry-- the byline on this post should be "Nother Nonymous."
This post was edited by its author on .

AnonymousCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 36831258

File: 1571174405183.gif (2.82 MB, 640x288, serveimage.gif)

I remember when I first saw this fan short. It still blows me away with the level of professionalism the people behind it put into the production. Everything about it was top notch.

The sad thing is, most people who put years into making a 3 minute short rarely get much more than raves from the fandom. Unless you get it in front of people who have the power to make it a production, this is about all you'll get. Without knowing exactly how many people worked on that short and how long it took, putting a dollar value on the cost is impossible.

Here's a different project that's stalled for nearly two years despite critical support from damn near everyone who's seen the first installment. Once you've seen it a few times and get over the missteps in the writing, it's a good first effort on a shoestring budget and small team.

SONG IN THE SKY (Cartoon Series Pilot)

Pinkamina WBIY!Im9SILLYXoCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 36831262

File: 1571181303950.png (608.89 KB, 1024x740, 1205063__safe_pinkie+pie_simpl…)

>I expect we're in for a few years of Filly Funtasia.
So... we'll get a teaser, then the show will disappear off the face of the earth, never airing because the rights get tossed around like a hot potato, and we'll only get half a season of episodes 6 years down the line, at which point there's no longer any reason to even watch it?

Nother NonymousCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 36831263

File: 1571181904141.jpg (125.46 KB, 1264x632, Fausticorn_as_God.jpg)


This is a really interesting exchange. It reminds me of some of the conversations I used to have on this site with Time Lord. I can tell that you are a person who knows and cares about animation. I don't suppose you used to be Time Lord before you became Anonymous, did you?

That pilot for "Song in the Sky" is a fascinating specimen. It's effective, gripping, and memorable. There is beautiful stuff in it, but there's essentially no animation in it anywhere. It's a slide show with flat graphics moving against a background -- left and right, up and down, in and out -- without changing their outlines. It's the epitome of anime: all flat graphics, music, SFX, voice acting, and video editing, containing practically no animation except for a few explosions and sinuous wavings of arteries trailing from flying skulls. Making it required a lot of skill and artistry, but almost none of the skills of an animator.

There are two poles to the technique and esthetics of drawn film. We can think of them as Eastern and Western, though many Western animators adopt the Japanese approach and some Eastern animators cleave to the Western tradition.

The Western tradition is summed up in Chuck Jones's dictum that "You don't draw a funny door opening; you draw a door opening funny." This principle is embodied in a training exercse that was developed in the Disney studio and is still commonly given to students of animation: you draw a sack of flour, and then you produce sequential drawings that make it hop, wiggle, creep, and twist onscreen in ways that express fear, amusement, joy, caution, suspicion, and so on. See the flying carpet in Disney's Aladdin. All the expression resides in changes of shape.

At the opposite, Japanese pole, you don't draw a door opening at all. You draw (say) a closed, creepy-looking door. You cut away to a closeup on someone's eyeball while we hear an ominous creak on the soundtrack. You then cut back to a still drawing of the door, now open and looking creepier than ever.

Both modes can be effective, and most animation combines both in various proportions. The Japanese mode requires artistry, but the arts involved are chiefly those of the comic strip and the slide show: striking graphics and precisely timed transitions. The art of the animator, the artist who dances with a pencil and makes drawings move, plays only a small role at the Eastern extreme of this spectrum. Personally, I tend to find most films at that extreme kind of stiff, withdrawn, and annoying.

As for the money issue: the greatest single innovation that Walt Disney brought to animation was that he treated his animators like artists. At other studios in the 1930s, the animators were expected to learn on the job, and they were paid by the foot -- the number of drawings needed to fill one foot of 35-mm film. They never knew whether what they produced was gold or shit until they saw it on the screen in the movie theaters. Disney, by contrast, paid his animators a salary. They got paid the same amount whether they produced or not. If what they produced was no good, it never got beyond a black-and-white test reel of 16-mm film, which they reviewed when it came back the next day after being photographed. If it needed more work, they redid it until they got it right. They learned fast as a result -- and faster still because Disney paid for them all to go to art school (at the local school that he turned into CalArts) and had practiced animators write manuals and give lectures on technique and theory. Of course, if animators produced nothing promising after a few months of this, their contracts weren't renewed; but they went away with a huge increase in skill and understanding, and other studios were glad to hire them on a dollar-per-foot basis.

Artists have to eat, and so they need a source of income. But if what drives them to produce art is a desire to make money, they will produce market-driven shlock. They won't produce great or even good art unless they are internally driven, by what used to be called inspiration. Some god, demon, or muse has to pick them up and shake them like rats until they bleed art all over the page, canvas, or screen.

This is really hard to achieve in a communal art form like animated film. The vision that leaps out in sketchy clarity on the storyboard (another Disney invention) gets diluted, because it has to pass through a succession of hands belonging to people that haven't been possessed by that god or demon. Different arts have to be combined --graphic artistry, layouts and backgrounds, animation, script writing, music composition, music performance, and film editing -- and so other artists get brought in and the original fire gets banked and damped. This is true of almost all film (and other arts of communal performance), but it is especially true of drawn film. This one of the reasons why most animation is crap. In the absence of inspiration, money spent on art will produce nothing but highly polished turds. The dreadful products of the Wolfgang Reitherman era at Disney -- The Jungle Book, Robin Hood, The Aristocats, and so on -- are examples of this. The Mouse Factory didn't recover until Don Bluth left Disney, set up a cheapjack animation studio staffed with ex-Disney people who cared about animation, and shamed them into taking their art seriously again.

Modern computer technology allows small, inspiration-driven operations like the "The Moon Rises" team to produce Disney-quality film. The problem is to figure out ways of supporting them while they do that. Patreon, YouTube dollars, commissions, con sales, and so on represent possible partial solutions. The culture is working on it.
This post was edited by its author on .

AnonymousCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 36831265

File: 1571191187978.jpg (149.7 KB, 960x540, serveimage.jpg)

>I don't suppose you used to be Time Lord before you became Anonymous, did you?
Nope. Never registered a name here.

Animation has always been a thing for me because, before digital graphics and green screens, animation was the most practical way to realize a story in visual form as far as movies and TV went.

I can see a lot of influences in Song In The Sky. Everything from Lovecraft to Hideaki Anno's works. Toss in the mix of modern and older mid 20th century architecture and you get a very interesting backdrop for a story.

The limited animation was part of the problem that could not be overcome due to time constraints and limited animation resources to work from. His second episode will have vastly improved resources due to having hired someone with far more experience with the software he was using to render the video.

Nother NonymousCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 36831266

File: 1571197916157.jpg (43.4 KB, 342x337, Mr_Horse_disconcerted.jpg)

>The limited animation was part of the problem that could not be overcome

Interesting. So-- the pilot wasn't a finished product, but a sort of high-grade animatic? There ought to be a word for that.

AnonymousCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 36831271

I should have linked the guy's YT account earlier. Here you'll find his other early projects along with updates on Song In The Sky. He's pretty interesting and the videos hold a lot of the details behind his creative process and the problems he faced in creating the second episode.


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