For those of you who were expecting this update to my earlier post over the weekend: I apologize for the delay. I promise, dear readers, that I shan’t ever mislead you like that again. Now, without further ado, let’s get back to my discussion about pretty pastel ponies, shall we?
On a humid, overcast morning in late September, Erik and I joined almost 300 fellow Bronies for BroNY Con, an event organized by Purple Tinker and her New York City Meetup.com group to celebrate all things pony. What follows are my impressions of the panels and feature events that Erik and I attended. It was a magical day of rainbows, friendship and Brony love, not to mention gobs of My Little Pony merchandise (both fan-made and official), artwork, costumes, videos and fan fiction. Abandon all hope, ye haters who enter here — there be ponies.
The first feature event of the day was the Pony Music Video Contest, one of many displays of the insatiable creative urge that “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” has inspired in its fan base. The entrants were some of the more polished PMVs that I’ve seen, and consisted of remixed movie trailers, music videos, and even fan-made episode previews. The winner of the contest, a home-brew preview for the episode “The Cutie Mark Chronicles,” really captured the essence of the episode, using a skillful combination of music and montage to instill feelings of sadness, wonder and triumph in the audience.
Unfortunately, the PMV Contest was interrupted due to technical difficulties, but the con organizers took the problem in stride, bumping the remainder to a later place in the program and pushing the next scheduled event forward without much fuss. I was particularly impressed by the way Purple Tinker and the rest of the BroNY Con volunteers handled this situation, because it could have very easily turned into a fiasco if not for their professional response. Their quick thinking kept the Bronies in the audience entertained while they sorted out the problem.
Just off the mainstage, where the con’s feature events took place, there was a small panel room where specialty groups convened throughout the day to discuss their respective areas of interest. Although neither one of us is an artist of any significant accomplishment— I can show you some of my non-pony related drawings if you need proof — Erik and I attended a panel about creating pony art with vectors. The panelist running the demonstration gave some excellent tips, such as separating the image you are trying to create into layers, and using the Shape tool in Photoshop to create an auto-filled image that’s both easily changeable and can be scaled to suit your needs without loss of quality. Using these techniques, he performed a feat of art magic that is beyond my humble capabilities, instantly transforming Pinkie Pie into Rainbow Dash with only a few clicks of his mouse.
Later, Erik and I went to the fan fiction panel hosted by the venerated Pre-Readers of Equestria Daily. EqD is known for quality in pony fiction, a reputation that was established and maintained by the group of unfortunates who ran this panel. I say they’re unfortunate because it is their job to sift through the piles of fanfic that Bronies across the world submit — at their busiest, the Pre-Readers receive 30 to 40 new stories a day — and pick out those that they think meet the quality standards of
the site. Did I mention that they are all volunteers?
To me, this was the second most interesting part of the con, next to the Q&A with Jayson Thiessen, because it showed just how dedicated some people are to the craft of good storytelling, and demonstrated the way this community has embraced crowdsourcing to achieve a level of polish that I rarely see in fan fiction. In some cases, the best pony fiction is a collaborative effort between authors, editors, reviewers and Pre-Readers, a process that often begins in the trenches of the /fic/ board on PonyChan and, if the author creates a worthy story, ends up on Equestria Daily. Sometimes, they said, they get fics that are ready to go on the first try, but the stories they receive are often sent back for multiple revisions. It was an interesting look at how fan fiction gets written in the Brony community, and what makes it so successful.
Alas, Erik and I had to leave earlier than I would have liked, but it was still a fantastic experience. In my estimation, BroNY Con September 2011 was a rousing success, a triumphant display of everything that makes the Brony community a wonderful place to be. Purple Tinker has announced that the next BroNY Con will take place on Jan. 7, 2012, and that it will feature even more exciting events and special guests. For further details, you can check out the NYC Bronies’ Meetup.com site. (Note: you have to join the group before you can see the website, but if you’ve already got a Meetup.com account, this shouldn’t present a problem.) I’m very much looking forward to the next BroNY Con, as well as the other pony-related meetups on the schedule for the upcoming months. I had a blast at BroNY Con, and I would gladly go again.