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.
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.
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 [email protected]. ■