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My Little Pony Equestria Girls 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.


Animation process

Equestria Girls 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. A film or short takes several weeks to animate at the same time with the other films, not including scripting, storyboarding, and voice recording, which are done beforehand.

Like classic cartoon shows, films 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 film. The show is distinct from most other animated films 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.


Linework

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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