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Monday, December 11, 2023

FEATURE POST - Studio Cinemagic's "The Journey Once More | Part I: From Beginning to End" - G4 PMV/Animation

Okay Memoria... You Can Do This.

Studio Cinemagic graces us once again with this amazing 24 minute PMV called "The Journey Once More"

Check out down below to learn more, and even for an exclusive Q&A with Cole Donnerstag of Studio Cinemagic himself!

 When it comes to Pony Music Videos, nopony knows them better than Studio Cinemagic. It's one thing to have amazing graphics alongside some music and pony edits, but it is a completely different achievement when you can tell a story through them. Cole Donnerstag of Studio Cinemagic does the latter. "The Journey Once More | Part I" is the start to an amazing new story set in our familliar world of equestria, looking through the eyes of a new character, Memoria. Through this 24 minute masterpiece we get to relive all 9 seasons of MLP:FiM using hundreds of show clips, astonishing motion graphics, chilling music by Thomas Bergersen, Voice acting by IMShadow, and even unique animation all jam packed into one of the most beautifully crafted videos I have personally ever watched. I can say with full confidence that when you watch this PMV, it will leave you eager and hungry for more! Don't take just my word for it however, below is an exclusive interview with Cole Donnerstag himself, answering some of our most burning questions! Take a read!


Quick Note! This is a very long read, so if you don't have the time or have trouble reading long amounts of text, scroll to the very bottom of each section for a quick summary! 

(Though I encourage you to read it all or you may miss some info!)

Now most people know you more commonly by your forename Cole Donnerstag, but your main channel Studio Cinemagic is where most of the... well, magic happens. Is there any story behind why you named your channel Studio Cinemagic?

     A lot of people likely remember, but my main channel used to just be named, well… my name, Cole Donnerstag. After I released the Prologue for Journey, I wanted to shift the channel’s focus to specifically be about PMVs. I used to upload other things like convention vlogs to the channel, but that’s all been moved over to my 2nd channel, which is now again: just my name. At this time, Journey was still a rapidly developing project, with a rapidly developing story. The Prologue mainly existed as a “soft reboot” of my channel, as it was the first video I made using After Effects and my new computer. All of the PMVs before that one were made 100% in Adobe Premiere on an old laptop with no functioning graphics card. So yeah, an upgrade was absolutely needed if I was ever gonna bring The Journey Once More to life.
     To be perfectly honest, I kinda chose the name “Studio Cinemagic” on a whim. I figured my videos are cinematic and they’re based on Friendship is Magic, so… Cinemagic. And then I put the word Studio in front of that, cause I thought it sounded fancy. Following this, I designed a logo that’s meant to resemble a kind of mystical camera lens shutter that has the colors of the mane six. Then bam, Studio Cinemagic was born. It’s a pretty goofy origin story, and I know I’m far from the first person to use the word “Cinemagic” in branding. I’m sure something like Disney has used the term plenty of times. But as far as I’m aware, I’m the first person to use it in the horse video world, so that’s gotta count for something! Regardless of the name’s originality, I’ve had so much fun making things like Studio Cinemagic merchandise and handing it out at conventions. If you ever see me at a con, I usually have a bunch of free nonsense on me, so don’t hesitate to ask.

 |originally the channel was named Cole Donnerstag, but after wanting to shift focus to purley PMV's the name "Studio Cinemagic" was chosen due to the cinematic nature of Coles videos, alongside the *magic* of FiM. His channel icon is also meant to look like a camera lens shutter, creatively using the colors of the Mane 6! (If you see Cole at a con, you might just get some free merch!)|



In what I would consider a modern age draught of PMV’s, coming from an age where they used to be oversaturated; what keeps you going in creating them?

     I know I’m not the only one, but I am incredibly inspired by music. And not just music itself, but things containing music, like a film’s score or a broadway musical. I am obsessed with big musical moments in cinema. Not just huge, show-stopping musical numbers, but moments where a film score kicks in and becomes what feels like its own character in the movie, that’s the kind of stuff I love. It’s why something like Fantasia is one of my favorite films ever. Beyond that though, there’s so many moments in films and television shows where the music has left such an impact on me. Even using My Little Pony as an example, both Daniel Ingram's work on the songs and William Anderson’s work on the show’s score, there are so many musical moments from Friendship is Magic that are etched into my mind. I could go on listing examples from all types of media for forever, but I won’t waste anyone’s time with that. Moments in audiovisual media where music becomes more than just something in the background, these are my biggest inspirations.
     Making movies or tv shows, storytelling in general, that is all I aspire to do in life. And at this moment in time, I don’t have the financial backings of a film studio or streaming service or anything like that. It’s really just me, my computer, and whatever artistic capabilities I have. So I have to ask myself, what can I do to create something that could live up to these huge, impactful musical moments that I cherish so much? And somehow, I landed on making PMVs. There’s no denying it, My Little Pony is a thing that means a lot to me, as I’m sure it is most people reading this. And through the format of a PMV, I have a way to combine my love for the franchise and my love for that grand, musical, cinematic feeling. I really want to push both the concept of a PMV and my own creative abilities far and beyond the limits of where they currently are. There are countless PMVs, old and new, big and small, that I love a lot. To have my works amongst them is an honor. What else can I say other than… PMVs are Friends of Mine.

|Music has always been an inspiraton, and to give back to everything that it had given him, Cole decided to hunker down on using his creative talents to make PMV's. His love for music, the fandom, and Pony is what keeps him motivated to creative such astounding visual masterclasses. PMV's are Friends of Mine.|

Is there a reason behind the main use of Thomas Bergersen music as compared to other genres? It’s never very typical to see orchestral PMV’s.

     The biggest thing I could say about Thomas Bergersen’s music is that, at least to me, there’s really not much else like it. The level of sheer emotion and passion put into his work is unreal. It’s difficult to put into words. For the lack of a better way to say it, his music just consistently hits all the right notes for me. He has composed such a vast collection of music, with such a broad range of emotions and styles. It’s often that his tonal and stylistic range is displayed within just a single piece of music, again, it’s unreal. And in Journey specifically, as the series progresses, you’ll hear more and more of his musical range. Working with this type of music, it’s much more possible to form my own story around it, since (more often than not) there aren’t any lyrics. But I still always try to ensure that I’m respecting the music itself, it really does mean a lot to me.
     Thomas’s music is actually available for commercial licensing, so it’s likely you’ve heard his stuff in the background of something. Actually, I’m pretty sure Mr. Beast of all people uses his music for his videos all the time, it’s kinda funny. But with my PMVs, it’s nice to be using this type of music for something that goes beyond just mere “background music.” The work of Thomas Bergersen deserves all the love it gets, and I wanna ensure I’m utilizing it in a way that actually feels thoughtful. I’ve always wondered what he would think if he found my videos, and I feel like such a thing could go many ways. I fully acknowledge that my work doesn’t exist without his, and my gratitude can’t be put into words alone. Every time I read or watch an interview from him, I see just how incredibly similar our creative thought process is, and well… maybe that alone explains why I connect to his music so wholeheartedly.

|There really isn't anything else like Thomas Bergersens music. His music is easy for Cole to connect and get in tune with, pun intended.|

  Let’s get into the meat of what I’m sure many ponies wanna know! What is The Journey Once More? Where did this idea come from?

    My first real venture into the PMV world was with “The Journey Thus Far” back in early 2018. This was a video that chronologically cataloged seasons 1-7 of the show. So naturally, when the show was ending in 2019, making a version with all 9 seasons felt like the proper thing to do. But I kept thinking that I could do so much more with this concept. And this idea just kept growing and growing. I started thinking of ways to form my own original story around this idea, essentially stemming from my thoughts on this show we all love coming to an end. So it became this massive 45 minute long video. Then I thought, “I should split this into parts.” Upon doing that, each individual part became its own fleshed out thing, and things just kept getting bigger and crazier. I mentioned it before, but I knew my current computer couldn’t handle this new series concept, so I had time to develop it further anyway, along with further developing my skills as well. And with Thomas Bergersen continuing to release more and more phenomenal music, that continued to grow and enhance the idea. Once again, I must reiterate, so much of my inspiration and so many of my ideas come from listening to his music.
     That’s what really makes this a “PMV Series.” The story is my own, but it’s based off of the music. (Also the pony show, can’t forget that.) Again, I think back to something like Fantasia, a film that used already established music to tell an anthology of stories. And these stories would not be the same if not for the music. The difference with Journey is that it’s one single continuous story, spread across multiple parts.  The story itself though, while it’s just getting started at the moment, I can say it is inspired by my own life experience and… without giving away too much, there are a lot of parallels with an artist’s creative journey. There are many other themes and aspects to it, but I don’t wanna spoil too many things just yet. I’m very excited to hear what people think about the story as the series continues to progress in the coming years.

|The idea all started with "The Journey Thus Far", a video which cronologically cataloged seasons 1-7 of the show. After the shows departure in 2019, it was finally time for Cole to create the finished product. Originally it came out to be 45 minutes long, which eventually was determined to be split into parts, making each part very fleshed out. Thus, creating the new Project, "The Journey Once More", where the story plays VERY heavily into the music.|

Do you plan on making Journey a long series? Or is it meant to be more bitesized?

     The Journey Once More is without question a long term series. Bite-sized is honestly the last thing I’d use to describe it. It’s gonna be a lot, but there’s a purpose to every piece of it. The series has only grown to this size because of the story, and going forward, things will continue to become more story-forward. The whole thing is a trilogy of trilogies, spread across 3 acts and 9 parts. I intentionally designed the series to evolve as the characters evolve, and as my creative abilities evolve, so you can anticipate more animations and things of the sort as we get further along the Journey.

 |This will be a long-term project that will only become more story-forward from here. A trilogy of trilogies so to speak, spread across 3 acts as 9 parts with evolving characters and plot.|

The Journey Once More “Titles” Poster


Is this a project you’ve worked on alone, or were there any other figures in your life that helped bring Journey to where it is now?

     While much of the work was indeed done by me, this series would be impossible without the support of so many people in my life. My parents, my brother, my friends, the people who watch and share the videos, too many people to mention. I always make sure to properly credit those who’ve helped on Journey directly. And when the final credits roll for the entire massive series, however many years from now that is, it’ll be fascinating to see just how many names there are of people to thank and people that directly worked on something for The Journey Once More. So many factors play into this, but I’m a firm believer that no art is necessarily created alone. Yeah, you can be working on it by yourself, but there’s still the people in life that inspire us, people that offer advice, people that offer help or assistance, inspiration from the world around us, inspiration from other art, and of course there’s the audience. Sharing the things I create with the world, to me, it’s the greatest joy I’ve ever experienced. So to everyone out there who’s inspired me in some way, and to everyone who enjoys what I do, my work is not possible without you. It truly means more than I could ever fully articulate.

 |Cole could not do this alone, through his family, friends, and fans are what helped him bring Journey to light. No project is truly done alone, people inspire us all the time with their art and life.|



Now, Part one of the Journey Once More is 24 Minutes long, that has got to be one of the longest PMV’s created. With more installments to come, is this your longest work, or should we be expecting a movie length feature film next time?

     All of these videos will indeed be fairly great in length. All go beyond 20 minutes, some beyond 30, even 40 minutes in the latter half of the series. It’s all to serve the story, and I’m so excited to make these videos. This story is very personal to me, and I wanna ensure it’s told properly. I know the lengths can be intimidating, nothing about what I’m doing is going to please the almighty algorithms, unfortunately. I look forward to the fandom’s reaction to all the thematic developments and character moments as the series continues to progress. I know that we’ve been burned before by plenty of canceled projects for one reason or another. But believe me when I say, I am going to do everything in my power to see this entire thing through, regardless of how long it takes me. Parts 2 and 3 are already in pre-production. They both enter simultaneous production early in 2024. It’s gonna be a wild journey, and I am thrilled to continue making it a reality.

 |All acts will be beyond 20 minutes, some beyond 30, and even 40 minutes in feature length. All in purpose to serve the story justice and truly show the creative vision Cole has for everypony.|


Premiere Timeline for The Journey Once More | Part I: From Beginning to End


I know some people were really interested in Memoria, this seemingly new character you’ve created for the story. Would you be willing to share some additional information about her not quite public yet to maybe water some tastebuds for what’s to come?

     Just to show off the wild development this story has gone through: Memoria was actually one of the final additions to the series. You see, I had the story I wanted to tell, but I was struggling to connect it with a character. And it never really crossed my mind to come up with original characters. So, when I changed my channel’s name to Studio Cinemagic, I started to think the channel could use a “Pony OC Mascot” of sorts. And Lerovun actually offered to help me get the channel mascot made, along with AstralBlues, earlier in 2023. When I was coming up with ideas for who this mascot could be, it hit me: This should be the character in my story! Right around the same time, Thomas Bergersen had released a single from his upcoming album, and the song fit the story I was telling in an… eerily perfect way. The song was called, “Memoria.”
     This whole situation really goes back to what I was saying before, about art never truly being created alone. Developing Memoria’s character throughout the year, while working on Part 1, it was such a new experience for me. But it’s really taken The Journey Once More and made it into what it was always meant to be, and I’m forever grateful to those who’ve helped me bring Memoria (and Nighttime Spectacular) to life. As for a tease for the future… The song I mentioned before, Thomas Bergersen’s “Memoria,” will be one of the songs featured in Part 2. It was in Part 1 partially, but this time we’ll get to experience the full thing, amongst a few other pieces of music. It’s gonna be BIG. ;)

 |Memoria was actually one of the final additions to the Story. The characters name itself was inspired by a Thomas Bergersen song of the same name "Memoria". This song will actually be featured more in Part 2 of The Journey, wereas it was only partially showcased in Part 1.|


“Memoria” by Thomas Bergersen 

Art and Character Designs by AstralBlues

What would be your message to all of our online readers today?

     Remember to support your favorite artists and creators, however that may be. You’re never too small or too big to support something, because people with a genuine passion for what they do, they will be appreciative of every single person that takes the time to view and engage with their creations. We’ve heard people say “Like & Subscribe” to an oversaturated degree, but it truly does go a long way, especially for smaller creators. Share stuff around, leave comments, give feedback, do all the stuff. And if you want to and are able to go even further, commission people, support their patreon/ko-fi/whatever money support system they have. Every penny helps us get closer to not having to be a corporate zombie. There’s no easy way to talk about money, but the real truth is: If we’re broke, the art becomes harder to create. If we’re too busy with other work, the art becomes harder to create. This isn’t just about me, I mainly wanna ensure that quality art and videos are being properly supported. If the fandom is gonna survive, we gotta band together and lift each other up. So many wonderful works of art and so many talented artists go unseen. So many struggle to find a broader audience. And so many struggle to keep on creating because of these reasons. So just remember, for the creations you love, the only level of support that would be considered “too little” is doing absolutely nothing. To the artists out there of all varieties, of all backgrounds, of all experience levels, and of all sizes: know that what you’re doing is important. Your work matters and your story matters. If you’re putting your heart and soul into a passion project, share it with the world, and do so with confidence. The things you create deserve to be seen by as many people as possible. Why depend on and succumb to algorithms when we could uplift and encourage each other?
          For me personally, I’ve been working on The Journey Once More, amongst other videos, non-stop since around September of 2022. The idea began in 2019, but this was when the editing, animating, and VFX work really took off. I have had no genuine breaks beyond a day or so since then. Work sessions would go upwards of 30 hours. My sleep schedule was nonexistent. My wallet was consistently empty. It was such a relentless production with a plethora of complications… but Part 1 is now out, it exists, anyone can go watch it. It still feels so unreal. Having the opportunity to premiere the video in front of an audience at Ciderfest, it was an absolute honor and a privilege. The video was given a standing ovation, people in the audience were emotional, I was a complete emotional wreck, I was asked so many great questions, it really was a moment in time I will never forget. And the response to the video online has been equally as supportive and congratulatory. The fact that there are a decent handful of people championing this thing that I made, I know I sound like a broken record, but it genuinely means the world to me. To anyone who has supported me and my work in any way, you are the force that keeps me going. And at the end of the day, I’m just some guy with a story to tell. It’s everything I’ve ever strived for. Regardless of the struggles, to the fullest degree, I love what I do. And I will continue on creating things, so long as someone is out there to enjoy them.


 |Always support your favorite artists and creators. You are never too big or too small to support something, it is ALWAYS appreciated. In the end Cole will continue to create art, it's been a wild ride, and he couldn't be more thankful for everything. Nothing is possible without all of YOU.|


Concept Art for The Journey Once More

 Thank you all for taking the time to read, I know it was a longer one and I hope it was worth it! If you're interested in some of Studio Cinemagics other PMV's, I highly recommened checking out his channel and looking at some of his older ones he has to offer! I'd personally also recommend checking out his Patreon where you can get up to date behind the scenes information as to his current and future projects, and support him in the process! There is no short of creative talent, and Cole never fails to impress us with each and every video he produces. Continuing to improve and reach for newer heights, and to show us all what PMV's can truly be. Are PMV's friends of yours?

- Your Silly Banana, Lerovun 🍌


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