My Little Pony Friendship is Magic is an animated series. It differs from most animated series by having another stage between the storyboard and animation stages, called the layout stage, which details the key poses, composition, and color balancing of a scene more than the storyboards. Some samples of the animation process of the show were posted on YouTube but were subsequently taken down.
Friendship is Magic is animated with Flash 8, in conjunction with many third-party and proprietary customizations, many of which are developed by co-director James Wootton. There are three animation crews, one in Canada and two in the Philippines. Each crew works on three episodes concurrently; each episode is staggered by a week from the others. An episode takes several weeks to animate at the same time with the other episodes, not including scripting, storyboarding, and voice recording, which are done beforehand.
Like classic cartoon shows, episodes are storyboarded in addition to being scripted to facilitate the visual aspect of the animation. The storyboard artists have a month to board an entire episode. The show is distinct from most other animated shows for having a layouts stage, which details the action more thoroughly than the storyboards, with respect to key poses, composition, and color balancing. The storyboards and layouts are done prior to the actual animation by the studio's leading artists. The layouts are turned into an animatic, and then an animator works from the animatic, taking several days to a week to animate a one-minute scene.
The characters in the series have colored outlines of varying thickness. The show's creator and original character designer, Lauren Faust, notes that this is both a stylistic and a technical choice. From a stylistic viewpoint, the colored character outlines "soften" the characters whose colors would otherwise sharply contrast with bold black outlines. From a technical viewpoint, colored character outlines fell to disuse with the advent of the Xerox process. Before the Xerox process, linework from sketches was copied and manually painted onto sheets of celluloid, which allowed for colored outlines. The Xerox process replaced manual painting with machine copying, which resulted in black, "scratchy" lines. Faust said she feels lucky to be able to use colorful outlines, because it reminds her of classic Disney movies that were made before the advent of the Xerox process. The show's linework has intricate line width tapering, which Faust credits to the hard work of its directors Jayson Thiessen and James Wootton who managed to properly animate the tapered lines on the show's animation software platform, Flash.
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Lauren Faust held the titles of developer and executive producer in season one. Rob Renzetti is the story editor. Frequently, the show's crew visits the larger fan-sites and answers questions about the show.
Evolution of a Scene
Evolution of a Scene is a series of behind-the-scenes videos by an animator from Top Draw, the Philippine studio which handles some of the show's animation. The videos present one or two unfinished incarnations of a scene and the finished scene, and briefly detail changes that were made to the animation during production. Some videos contain short animated scenes that use character models and backgrounds from the production, but were specifically put together for the video, for instance a walk cycle of Granny Smith in front of various backgrounds.
A seventh and final video was announced, but has not so far been released. All of the other videos were pulled from YouTube in early October 2011.
- Fluttershy calming the bunnies, from The Cutie Mark Chronicles
- Spike laughing at Twilight, from Winter Wrap Up
- Granny Smith running away, from Griffon the Brush Off
- Rarity seeing Opal on the tree, from Suited For Success
- Pinkie Pie having the hiccups, from Griffon the Brush Off
- Rarity designing her dress, from Suited For Success
My MLP season 1 scenes
My MLP season 1 scenes, shortened to MLP scenes season 1 from the eighth installment onward, is another series of videos by another animator from Top Draw. The videos present unfinished incarnations of scenes.
All of the videos were pulled from YouTube following the leak of the Smile Song. On his YouTube profile, the animator wrote the following (since removed): "Attention, due to the recent scandal of the leakage of MLP season 2 scenes and music may that leaker rot its soul; I must delete all my videos to avoid legal repercussions."
- From The Ticket Master; contains two unused shots
- From Friendship is Magic, part 1
- From Griffon the Brush Off
- From Boast Busters
- From Look Before You Sleep
- From Bridle Gossip
- From Winter Wrap Up
- From Call of the Cutie
- From Suited For Success; contains an unused shot, and includes in its description "Finally sorry but i made a slipped up there and cause a bit of stir where the pony on the right (near spike's chin) have this tattoo '71' written on it, I didnt see it because of the lag until its too late, im not gonna say what it meant I ot even sure i have to divulge what its suppose to be"[sic]
- From Feeling Pinkie Keen
- From Stare Master
- From The Show Stoppers
- Q&A session with layout artist "Flashinthepan", 4chan, 2010-11-28
- Q&A session with layout artist "Flashinthepan", 4chan, 2010-12-10
- Q&A with Sabrina Alberghetti, Equestria Daily, 2011-09-02
- Jayson Thiessen interview, Equestria Daily (audio), 2011-09-13
- Lauren Faust season one retrospective Q&A, Equestria Daily, 2011-09-16
- PonyCon 2016 Character Development Panel with Lauren Faust. YouTube (2016-02-18). Retrieved on 2016 March 12.