Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mike's Marvellous Miscellanea! (And Documentary Review)

Brace yourself: Discord is coming! No really: this will be a very random post, but hopefully also an enjoyable one.

To start off, what you see above is a 3D-printed Twilight Sparkle, which I printed in ABS on a printer given to my college laboratory (The CollabLab) by Lulzbot; an awesome, very friendly 3D-printing company. The STL for this print was made by another brony (info here or here), and is meant to be printed without support material. There were some issues since I did not use a fan and I kept the bed temperature a little high to make certain the ABS would stick, but all considered it worked out well. And that brings me to the point of all this: very soon I will be making my own 3D printer, at which point I could produce printed ponies commercially. Of course I'd try to get a license or something from Hasbro, but when that's done, 3D printed merchandise could be this site's equivalent of WeLoveFine. But first I'd like to gage interest to see if it'd be worthwhile... So does anyone want 3D-Printed Ponies?

Continue after the break: this post's just getting started.

Just  some quick news tidbits:

A Chaotic Chrisis, a fan-made game has released a demo you can download here. It's an executable, so unfortunately Mac users won't be able to try it out just yet. It's also a tad glitchy: essentialy an alpha version.

Chang3L1ng, a brony musician you may have seen around here already, pointed us to the music albums of a friend of his. Check them out here if you're interested.

And now I'm sure you've all heard John De Lancie's message to the brony community already, but just in case, if you're considering watching the brony documentary on youtube or downloading a free copy, please read his message below and our review, and then proceed to actually purchase it here.

Dear Contributors,
At long last the documentary is finished. It was made possible by your generous contributions and the work of many professionals. When we first started, we were asked by many a concerned Brony if their parents, friends, and loved ones would find the documentary appropriate for viewing. Most emphatically, yes. As promised, the film is respectful, insightful and entertaining -- we present it to you with love.
Now, to a more down-to-earth matter: Please enjoy the documentary with family and friends but, please, do not upload the documentary to the Internet (YouTube, etc.). Why? Let me explain.
When we first had the idea of a Brony document ary, it was budgeted at $60,000. We figured two days of shooting with two cameras, followed by six weeks of editing. However, when the response to the Kickstarter campaign resulted in five times the original goal, Mike and I felt duty bound to expand the scope of the show. Immediately, this translated into four more cameras at the convention site in New Jersey. It also meant including four additional cities in the United States as well as traveling to Israel, Germany, Holland, and England. Of course, with this major expansion, we were now dealing with hundreds of additional hours of raw footage that necessitated the need to hire yet more editors, sound engineers and video engineers. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
As is customary in the film business, one tries to defer salaries so that all the money is put on the screen. Of course airlines, hotels, restaurants, camera operators, sound techs, video and audio post houses do not defer their costs. Neither do law yers or insurance companies. These people are paid up front. The people who traditionally defer their salaries are the writer, the director and the producers. There are six of us who have worked on this film for over eight months with the hope that our efforts would be recompensed AFTER the film is released. Mike, in particular, has worked an extraordinary twelve hours a day, every day for the entire eight months. This is why I’m asking that you not upload the film to the Internet. If someone, other than yourself and close friends, would like to see the documentary please direct them to (or directly at our online distributor, It’s a modest amount to pay and it would be greatly appreciated. Also, while we are on the subject of the Internet (YouTube in particular), we want to take this film to the next step in distribution because we think the Brony message needs to be experienced by the general public and not just Bronies. However, for festivals and film distributors to take the film seriously and to give it a wider viewership, the documentary cannot have been available on sites like YouTube.

Please honor our request.
Thank you,
John de Lancie
And now for the review:
It was promised that "Bronies" would be insightful, respectful, and entertaining. In that respect, it has delivered. That said, If you are a brony already you may have heard a lot of this stuff before, whether you've lived it yourself or seen the stories as the community unfolded on the internet. This is because the documentary tries to portray the brony community in a very as-it-is manner, and though it's no substitute for actually going to a convention or participating in the online community, it certainly suffices for anyone who probably never will. 

This is an important thing to realize: this documentary isn't just for the eyes of bronies: it's for everyone. A brony might sit there, watch the documentary, and say "well duh" since te documentary's insights are not particularly earth-shattering to us, but these are exactly the things about the community that the general population has missed; which it really ought to know. As John De Lancie put it, this documentary is meant to be somewhat of a shield: a video a brony can sit down and watch with their parents, friends, fellow students, et cetera so that they can better understand each other. It is something to use when you're trying to explain to someone over 30 that "bronies are sort of like Trekkies, but more on-the-internet" and it's just not working. This is why De Lancie and the documentary team want the film off youtube and other sites: they want to make sure it gets where the non-bronies can see it. Bronies, just as with MLP:FiM, are not the only target audience here. It would do us all good to be mindful of this.

When watched with the eye of a skeptic, it seems not to escape bias completely, however that may just be because it seems polarized towards the positive after so many "news" reports with the opposite bias. And perhaps it is tastefully biased anyway, since it's main offense in terms of bias is that it glosses over clopping, and some of the nastier facets of the fandom that would most likely be unacceptable for an all-ages film.

 The documentary is rather qualitative in that it tries to capture the general feel of the brony community, and for a general audience it does well. It follows the trials and tribulations of a handful of bronies who end up going to conventions, the general machinations of the brony community at large (as with charities and large-scale fan productions), the experiences of those involved in the production of My Little Pony: Frienship is Magic, and the lives of a few others who just sort of get roped in. By telling all these stories, both mundane and moving, both real and surreal, the documentary tries admirably to represent  and explain the brony community in general. Did they do well? It's hard to say. Many people have said it fits with how they understand the Brony community, and many have not. Though for balance, When the documentary introduces Dr Redden and Dr. Edwards from Brony Study, it breaks from the qualitative shortly and allows them to mention some of their findings. It can be seen that the documentary's representation of bronies does not stray far from those findings.

If you are not a brony, you should watch this documentary for the things that it will teach you. If you are a brony though, there are still plenty of reasons to watch. You'll see LaserP0n3, The Living Tombstone, Lauren Faust, Tara Strong, John De Lancie, and many others. And although I said you may have heard a lot of this stuff before, there are indeed some new stories to hear, like further details from Lauren Faust about the production of Discord's episodes. And you WILL facehoof at some points, but hopefully in a good way...

And then there's this gem:

An example of Tara Strong's OC and De Lancie's OC chatting it up, just to give you an idea of the animation quality.
 (This is the sort of thing that restores faith that Fan-made episodes are within the grasp of the brony community.)

The documentary includes a bunch of animations that are a collaboration between Lauren Faust, the documentary staff, some of the MLP:FiM staff, and quite a few well-known bronies. These animations are impressively close to show-quality, and in their quality and humor almost singlehandedly make the purchase of the documentary worthwhile. They even have shout-outs to various bronies via their OCs. And make sure to look out for Derpy. Yes, you heard me. Derpy is back.