Discussion: Technicalities vs. Content

As part of PMVToday, our objective is to celebrate the talent and creativity of the MLP community. This includes showing any PMVs we think deserve more recognition than they get. You may have noticed some posts that were admittedly lacking in the visual department, and may even be a pain to watch for some. Why would we think those should be given more credit? Let me elaborate.

I had an interesting conversation with a fellow animator about this a few weeks ago. My argument, specifically, was that there are some aspects of animation that cannot be judged subjectively. These aspects include only the strictest descriptions of quality, like whether an animation is choppy/smooth, messy/clean, or unnatural/natural – and if something follows the 12 basic rules of animation. Then there is animation style, which would include details like lighting, graphics, colors, etc. but can be judged by opinion. He believed that every quality of animation is subjective, no matter what you are talking about. However, neither of us were correct in that argument. There is a lot more to quality than both strict technics and visual style. The content is just as important as the visuals. Sorry – Enough about animation; let’s go back to PMVs.

Let’s look at the original definition of a PMV: a Pony Music Video. Okay – that’s simple and broad enough to pretty much encompass anything that:

  1. has ponies in it
  2. is set to music.

That is all a PMV has to be, but that isn’t all it can be. Take a look at any PMV collab, and you can will likely see so many different styles of editing and/or graphics in there. They can range from simple cuts from the show, for example “Spike’s Saga Begins;” all the way to full-on graphics animations, like what Acleps tends to create. And here is where my discussion comes in.

Recently, the community has become more biased toward PMVs with fancy graphics and effects, and leaving simpler ones in the dust. Honestly, I can’t blame them — Flashy videos are fun to watch. But there is much more that can be in a PMV than visuals. Content — Song choice, meaning, depth — also plays a factor in PMV quality. In my opinion, a video does not have to have quality graphics to be good. Sometimes it takes a little bit more focus to look past the surface of those types of videos, but I believe we all try to emphasize that in our posts. We try to give nice shout-outs to creators unbeknown to most of the brony fandom – the ones who make PMVs with quality content, and who might have potential of a great editor someday.

So if what I have said doesn’t seem to make sense, here’s what I mean. Sometimes, PMVs have a great story or message to them; but look pretty lackluster, so they are cast aside. Sometimes, PMVs have spectacular visuals, but are ridiculed for being “empty” or lacking meaning. These are the two ends of the spectrum, and there are many PMVs that successfully made it to the glorious middle ground. From personal opinion, the best of the two worlds include, as examples — self-promotion time — TheLightLeavesThee who leans more toward show clips, and Pixel3000nerd who tends to create motion graphics. Creators who make PMVs like these, which have both good visuals and depth, tend to be the ones that are noticed more. As an incredibly extreme example, think of Lullaby for a Princess. Although it is an animation, it still counts as a PMV by those two rules I stated above. And it is arguably one of the most incredible fan works of My Little Pony that has ever been produced – it is incredibly deep, has stunning animation, and fits the song perfectly. The technicalities and the content are both top notch.

This is my story on the spectrum between the technical side and the content side of PMVs. This is based on my own personal thoughts. What do you guys think? I would love to hear what you have to say on this topic.