» Remix Culture Reviews: Dork

Remix Culture Reviews is a new series where Round Stable writers offer their opinion, insights, critique, compliments, and analysis on fan content produced for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Featuring art, writing, and videos, it will shine a light on what’s current in the pony fan media scene.

In this first installment fenster, DrDinosaur & Isaak talk about Dork, a PMV created by Feedsy who’s also known for Ponies Royale and Mad Mares. Dork offers not only a dazzling visual experience, but also poses questions about the very structure of these beloved ponies.

Continue beyond the cut to read our thoughts and impressions of this PMV.

Dr. Dinosaur: This video was meant to be a experimental motion graphics breakdown of the main six ponies. It took each individual pony and broke them down into shapes and motion to try and get their character across. All set to a pretty upbeat minimalist electronic music.

fenster: The video was inspired by The Very Models of Modern Cartoon Individuals, an article written by our very own Headless Horse, which brings to light the similarities in character design between the mane ponies and how their highlights in design and personality bring them above the mold. The video follows suit on this point through a couple of manners. First off, reducing characters to shapes – The basic body structure of each of the mane six, in terms of their necks/body/etc all follow the same shape and mold in a somewhat simplistic manner. The mane 6 as shapes not only highlights this idea in a different manner, but the different shapes, their unique transitions form shape to shape as well as the shape’s own individual movement are all unique of their own, keeping the video very vivid. In that way, it highlights the other aspect of the article in that it’s the details and actions of the characters that really make them unique.

Also the ponies turning into literal squares is pretty much this too.

Isaak: Technically it’s flawless, but it also tries to tell a story: Feedsy asks a question and through art in motion tries to answer it: “Can the ponies be summarized in shapes and movements?”

By trying to illustrate the characters through comes out feeling alive, all thanks to clever use of simple shapes and animations. It’s really all squares, circles, diamonds which squash and stretch all over the screen! But it makes the most of these simple set of tools, a very clearly defined creative sandbox and maximises its potential. It continuously surprises, playing around with its established rules, changing before our very eyes.

The colors! The colors!

Dr. Dinosaur: This video is an excellent example of motion graphics. Everything flowed incredibly well. I must give special props to the transitions between segments. Many times a motion graphics piece like this just awkwardly moves the camera from one spot to the next. Feedsy took the time to think about how to flow from on scene to the next. Nothing is overdone, and everything fits with each other quite well.

fenster: Yeah, the movement of each shape within each scene works fantastically in keeping a steady flow of action that is easily followable but throwing in new tricks and colors to keep the viewer guessing, very smart.

Several times through the video, characters briefly appear or are highlighted, like the zoom in on Rarity’s cutie mark which pans out, and RD’s flying section. The tempo and action, I think, both respectively highlight important character traits for those characters in their actions. Rarity has a slow strut to bring in the new groovy bass, which to me represents Rarity’s sophisticated glamorous style of showing off, in comparison to RD’s fast flying through many objects showing off in a more lively and free spirited way. These character moments come out amidst the shapes to help redefine for the viewer that these abstract differences can actually bring out meaningful characterization.

Isaak: There are definite points in the video where the idea comes alive: Pinkie bouncing around in the box, the six coming together and forming a literal, genetic make-up of the show. But sometimes I’m wondering what the video is trying to say, what it means. Applejack changes from a circle to a square? Is there a literal meaning to this transformation? (Am I digging to deep?)

fenster: Well, perhaps the artist intended to say that Applejack is the most boring pony, a “square” if you will.

Isaak: Well, that’s really making a statement!

fenster: Too deep? (not deep enough!)

Going back to the DNA segment though, it is by far my favorite portion for its subtle genius. It pretty much exemplifies the core idea within the video but in a very new way that inspires so much thought. Here’s a little Biology for you; DNA and chromosomes are the genetic makeup of a living thing and are usually thought to be the “core” in terms of information that affects they way each person (or Pony, or organism) looks, acts, or just “is” (depending on your views of Genetics and it’s importance). It is sometimes thought to have the “character” of every person held within each base pairing and series of codons. What we see here is that the Mane 6 are represented within the same chromosome as the set of the typical DNA bases (ATCG) bonded to a similar base across the double helix (note that in actual DNA, the bases typically pair up in am exclusive pattern of A-T or C-G). The base pairings line up to form the strands of the double helix as a form of collective storage, where later on the chromosome will eventually be “read” and “translated” so that the information in each sequence of codons will produce some amino acid combination that will turn into the desired result: a protein.

If we take the idea of the ponies forming the bases of the DNA, we can think of each particular codon (codon is a series of 3 bases in which the bases of the DNA strands get grouped into and form the language of Translation) as the base information that has several combinations to form the end products of this translation, namely “episodes”. And it’s these different combinations of bases, or ponies, that give us different episodes in the grand scheme of the overall show.

I've always wondered what Pony DNA looked like I’ve always wondered what Pony DNA looked like

Isaak: So… what does that make the Hub? What is Hasbro? How do bronies fit into this equation?! WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

fenster: Respectively, mRNA, DNA Polymerase, Ribosomes, and it means that ponies is one big biological machine!

Dr. Dinosaur: I understand that this was an experiment in reducing the characters of the show to shapes and motion, but personally I think it failed in this aspect. While everything was put together very well, I really didn’t get a the sense that any particular character’s personality was represented past the colour of the object. I just didn’t feel the characters coming through.

Isaak: :v: Look at how we’re talking about this video. Perhaps that’s the beauty of it: it is open for interpretation. It offers you, the viewer, something to think about and you can respond to it in whatever way you feel like.

fenster: In that regard, this is probably the most abstract PMV in a fundamental “What is a Pony?” way.

Isaak: A fantastic experiment in visual storytelling, for me it ends up being one of the most remarkable works I’ve seen yet. Not just PMV-wise, but overall. It’s pure fun to behold, and it excites me to to end.

fenster: This is one of those PMVs that raises the bar; it’s on a whole new level that rivals real professional Music videos (seeing as how it takes large inspiration from them!).

Isaak: It wears its inspiration on its sleeve, its sources are directly linked in the video’s description. But comparing Dork to its roots shows it’s an evolution rather than a mere derivative. It takes the original idea: making boring shapes come to live, and applies it to these characters that we know and love, giving it personality.

Dr. Dinosaur: What we have here is a motion graphics experiment that did not work out as intended. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. It is an incredibly fantastic thing. I encourage Feedsy and anyone else who reads this to experiment further and do not fear the possibility of failure. This is how artists learn, and how us viewers get exciting new things. And hell, even if your intended purpose doesn’t work out then maybe we get a really cool video that’s just a blast to watch.

Remix Culture Reviews is a new series that The Round Stable is looking to grow, we highly appreciate your feedback and suggestions, so drop them in the comments!

If you’d like to see certain PMVs reviewed, mail them to news@mlponies.com

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  1. Very nice. This is the type of thing I like to see with the best videos of the fandom. Not just “Let’s dump this video here and say nothing insightful or analytical about it.”

  2. It’s nicely put together, but I didn’t get the sense that it had much to say, and I found the claims put forward that it did to be underwhelming. The DNA segment, in particular, I found hard-pressed to interpret as anything more complex than “the pony show is made of ponies,” which is not wrong, but also not very noteworthy.

  3. Again, love you guys, can’t stress that enough, and I’m glad you were all able to interpret it in such different ways! You’re all correct, (Except for Fenster’s take on Applejack, ow!) and I just want to add some of the idea’s I had while making it.

    What really struck me from , was:

    Deconstruct the Flash files and you’ll find the ponies reduced to indistinguishable clones of each other. Without their manes, tails, eyes, and coloration to identify them, they’re all identical. They’re paper dolls built to support bouncing hair and brushable tails. They’re the digital equivalent of stock model sheets, able to be copied and pasted from one scene to another like something out of one of John K’s most tortured nightmares.

    He goes on to disprove his own statement, but there’s still so much truth in this!
    Personalization through homogeneity! Headless goes into detail about the fan-artist challenge of drawing the characters without their differentiating features, and try to distinguish them through other means. I wanted to experiment in this vein, and working in video, I have access to a toolset unavailable to canvas: Motion.

    I wanted to have a version without the distinguishing color and cutie marks, where you could tell who was who through their unique flow and movement, and a separate final version like you see now…

    Failed miserably. Tried, but failed.

    Which truly is a testament to the team behind MLP: FiM! Everything I tried, they do on a regular basis, all in a show that truly has NO business being good! All it had to do was be pink and sell toys. Instead, we have these multi-layered, beautiful characters all because Faust, Thiessen, Wootie, everyone on this staff decided to try harder.

    Nothing better than finding people better than you at things you care deeply about… Going to a museum and seeing a red-hot Rembrandt or Titian and feeling like a piece of sh*t. You just stand in the shadow of greatness and feel your knees buckle and your heart climbing up your trachea. I arrogantly feel that I alone understand what kind of oily miracle I stand before, and humbly give my choked-back tears as a sacrificial offering. I really should wear kneepads to museums. Ya know.. That’s one of my biggest problems with a lot of contemporary ‘art’. When I stand before them I don’t get feeling of looking into the eye’s of god.

    To be presented with constraints, to innovate within the bounds of what is considered “commercial,” to color within the lines, to sneak something unique and wondrously crafted through this machine – now THAT is what excites me.
    It’s hard, it should be hard. How much fun would it be if were easy?

    Being “clever” is for the talented, and I’ve met plenty of “talented” people in my time; None of them still create. It’s all us fools who would not give up the fight to get better at creating that still do it. The “talented” can’t deal with failure. And us fools live to fail, and learn from our failures. Every thing I have made is considered (by me) to be a huge f*cking failure.

    And I can’t wait to redeem myself.

    Thanks to the team behind MLP: FiM for reminding me why we do what we do.

    ——————-

    That Applejack thing hurt Fenster! It’s been however long since this video came out, and still, nobody has gotten my Apple-Jack-In-A-Box……. Get it?…. Applejack… in a box?… Apple…. Jack-In-A-Box?… I was proud of that one too! Thanks for making me type out my shame!

  4. My interpretation of the Applejack -> Pinkie Pie transition was that the box represented the container for Pinkie Pie’s surprise. Thanks for clarifying that =). It is a wonderful and very clever animation to watch regardless!