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17 May, 2019

Filly 3D Models

Hey! It's been a while since the chaotic period around the rapid initial Italian airing of the first thirteen episodes of Filly Funtasia. Now that we've all had time to catch our breath a little, it's time for another one of those long analytical articles, and this time we are looking at some images of Filly 3D models! Some of the content in this article can be considered potentially somewhat spoilery for unreleased episodes, so read at your own risk.


We begin with this rather blocky looking model of Rose along with an associated UV map. This model does not quite look like the model used in Filly Funtasia and we believe that it may have been a model intended for a Filly Funtasia mobile game. We have found circumstantial evidence that one was being developed in 2014 through brief mentions on various online profiles, but we have never seen any concrete evidence of its existence. The "Rose game model test" caption of this image is a clear indicator that a Filly Funtasia game was in development, and we believe it is most likely this mobile game. As far as we know, there has been no active development of it since 2014. The bottom row is smoother looking - possibly a shader test.

This next image is a rather chaotic looking collage of a wide variety of things. The background is a poster which was used as promotional material at MIPTV 2015, along with a screenshot from a Filly Stars commercial. Instead of talking about the whole image at the same time, let us break it down and discuss all of its content separately.

We start off with this elf in grayscale. The shape of the crown and necklace reveals that this Filly is very likely to be Ronja.

Ronja is the favorite Filly of Filly creator Tine Norbøll, according to this answer in the AMA we hosted with her a few years back:

Q: Which Filly is your favorite?

A: There are so many Fillys and I have a few favorites in each series, but I would have to say that my all-time personal favorite is Ronja, from Filly Elves. I named her after my little daughter, who at that time was 3 years old. She loves nature, just like the Filly version of Ronja, and gets terribly upset if anyone breaks a root or a branch on a tree. Nature is magical and every little creature is important.

As far as I know, Ronja has not yet made an appearance in the show, though it is possible that she appears in a crowd shot that I've missed. Please let me know if you've spotted her!

I am not entirely sure what exactly this model was intended for. Its design is a bit different from how Filly Funtasia characters look.

The easiest to spot difference is the snout which is is far pointier than the design in Filly Funtasia. It does not look quite like the mobile game models or the TVC (toy commercial) models we discuss at other parts of the article either. Instead, it looks more similar to the toy designs. Are these Filly Funtasia prototypes or are they something toy-related? It's hard to tell.

A series of grayscale poses of Rose. The design looks similar to Ronja's above, though the poses have been rendered differently - there's less anti-aliasing and the grayscale looks somewhat sepia-toned.

A similar series, except the field of view is a bit different which makes Rose look a bit compressed, it's in color, and Rose is now lacking her medallion. I would speculate that all three of these were probably created for the same purpose since the design is similar.

An overhead view of a landscape - a floating island on top of a cloud. This terrain is very low poly, which means that if this is intended for Filly Funtasia, it is likely an early concept version. I believe that this terrain is meant to be Skylia, the home of the Filly Stars. Skylia has not appeared in Filly Funtasia yet, though two Filly Stars characters have appeared: Zack and Antares. This model is potentially connected to the Filly Stars special which was announced at MIPTV 2016 and has been MIA ever since. It's possible that this special along with the Filly Butterfly one may still see the light of day at some point, or that they have been repurposed as Filly Funtasia episodes as the original idea of launching Filly Funtasia with movie-length specials always seemed to me like more of BRB's idea since they have done similar things for their other franchises.

While both the islands of Crystalia as well as Skylia have rainbow bridges connected to them, Skylia has a Ferris wheel and this image has something that closely resembles it (along with what looks like a roller coaster) in the top left of the image. Skylia is usually depicted with the rainbow emanating eastwards, and if we rotate this image to match that, it's possible to tentatively match some features to locations in Skylia.

These are very tentative identifications and some of them are very much a stretch.

The purple ring in Skylia is the Rainbow Castle - the center of the island and described as the source of both the rainbow bridge and the river in the toyline description. That's not quite what's happening at the purple circle in the 3D model - the rainbow bridge ends in a path that leads to the center building and the river seems to start behind a mountain located next to the central building - but it's close enough.

The green ring in Skylia is the Star Wheel and the one in the 3D models is something that looks very much like a Ferris wheel. This is probably the feature that's easiest to match.

The red ring in Skylia is the Star Palace. It's described as being located in a lake, and the red ring in the 3D model is an island in a lake. There is also another possible location for the Star Palace - a very small building(?) that is directly in a lake, but I think it's probably way too small to be intended to be one of the five prominent features of Skylia.

The blue ring in Skylia is the House of Many Doors (or as it was called in some translations, House of Many Door) and the yellow ring is the Star Look-Out. The yellow ring is the most tower-like building on the model island and is in vaguely the right location, though it really looks more like a giant staircase. As for the blue ring, it doesn't look especially similar to the House of Many Door(s) in any way, but it is prominent and vaguely in the right location.

A second shot of the same island, but from an angle instead of overhead.

On the subject of low-polygon 3D models of floating islands, there is another relevant one to discuss.

At first, I assumed that this floating island in headmistress Sparkle's office was supposed to be Funtasia, but when I look at it closely, several of the features resemble this 3D model. (From some angles, this green island is a lot more plain and miss these more fine-grained features. The weird way that the level of detail in the show often seems to shift from shot to shot can be the subject of a very long article in itself.)

If this 3D model is indeed Skylia, and the 3D model depicts the same island as in Sparkle's office, then why would she have that in her office?

The other possibility is of course that both the 3D model in these pictures as well as the one in Sparkle's office is actually Funtasia. But I don't think they are. Besides the ferris wheel and the permanent rainbow bridge being more reminiscent of Skylia, there are other reasons to doubt why the 3D model could be Funtasia.

While Funtasia is also a floating island, and also has a central building surrounded by mountains, they are many mountains rather than two prominent ones. (The specific placement of these mountains is wildly inconsistent from shot to shot, and they can probably essentially be considered to be random backdrops.)

Funtasia has a large lake, but unlike the lakes in the 3D model, there are no buildings on it except a very small one.

In Alone at Last, we can see that Funtasia does have a road with a little roundabout leading to its central building and a river near it (as a sidenote, this shot and the one I posted above from Farina the Fire Dragon seem to directly contradict each other as to the terrain around the Academy, so perhaps it is a fool's errand to try and analyze island terrain too closely), but this river seems to run across the road rather than parallel to it, there are almost no buildings outside the Academy itself (numerous buildings should be visible from this vantage point if we identify the Academy with the central building of the 3D model), and the place where Lynn is standing would be in thin air off the edge of the island if we do identify the 3D model with Funtasia.

Lastly, this sideways shot from The Blue Rainbow is very hard to reconcile with the 3D model.

I promise that I will get back to the new images soon, but first one last digression...

This scene with the main characters laughing around a table has appeared in almost every promo video, but has not been seen in the show yet. It's the only major scene which hasn't appeared so far (so either from a future episode or it got cut), and it has a map of an island on the wall in the background. This island does not seem to match the 3D model very well, so I would say that it's probably a different place. Does this map perhaps depict Funtasia? That's very hard to say, since the shapes of the edges of the island are still quite unknown.

Back to something easier to analyze. This is Zodia from Filly Stars. It seems to be a TVC model.

This is Rainbow from Filly Royale, this also appears to be a TVC model.

In the foreground we see Cassiopeia from Filly Stars, this appears to be a TVC model from the same commercial that we linked earlier. In the background we see very detailed instructions for the size of various elements of a Butterfly Filly. Considering the sizes quoted, these look like toy sizes. I would tentatively identify this as Princess Scarlet. The wings are plain turquoise instead of Scarlet's rainbow colored wings, and the gems in her crown are all red instead of being different colors, but it still seems to be closest to Scarlet. Perhaps it's an early version before these details were put in. The design is similar to the grayscale models discussed earlier, which strengthens the argument that they may have been created for toy-related purposes.

There are four more sub-images in this collage, but they are two well known promotional images and two that depict the same Rose mobile game poses that we saw earlier in the first pictures. On to the next picture. (That took a while!)

The first of several 3D shots of the Academy. It seems pretty similar to the model used in the show for exterior shots of the Academy. Though I think that little structure to the right might be missing in the show.

Besides the lack of textures and some other details, these seem to match fairly well with what we see in the episodes. After looking at a few shots of the academy from various angles, I couldn't find any obvious major discrepancies, though there are some minor ones.

This overhead shot is quite useful for the purposes of comparisons. Let's look at a shot from the show (episode Hide and Seek) taken at a similar angle.

Here we can see that the gardens have been extended greatly and a lot of ornaments have been added to various buildings (the astronomy towers now have windows instead of very placeholder-looking up arrows), but the placement and general appearance of the buildings is the same.

One more comparison shot.

In this shot (from The Star Crystal), we can see that a tower has been added to the left of the huge hole in the wall (as seen from the inside) since the creation of the model, but every other building can be found in the model.

While most buildings lack their ornaments, the main tower seems to have them. Perhaps this image was taken before the rest of them were created.

There is also what seems to be an earlier version of the same Academy model, seen here with the Maya UI. (the Maya UI can also be briefly seen in the Black Dragon interview a few years back)

The differences are more major here. The astronomy tower lacks its telescope and the entire tower has a slimmer design. The rest of the left side of the academy is almost completely redesigned. It's hard to tell if the buildings are entirely replaced or just heavily redesigned. The right side has buildings that look more similar, except they are often a different height or moved around a bit.

As the general design of the Academy has been the same ever since the first promo in 2013, this is probably a very early version of the design.

If we overlay this model and the one posted earlier on top of each other, it gets a bit easier to see the differences. Essentially, only the middle tower and the front gates are mostly unchanged as seen from this angle.

Then there is also a top-down view. Here we can see that besides the middle tower and the front gates, there are other unchanged buildings - the dormitory and the nearby fountain as well as the butterfly gardens and its nearby buildings in the back also seem mostly the same while the other buildings are different or replaced. It's hard to see, but there's something in the (now even smaller) gardens. Is that the garden monster?

While the dormitory itself is unchanged, the roads around it are also different now compared to what they were in this model.

Lastly, there's a screenshot of the UI when animating a Filly Ballerinas TVC.

Thanks to RaichuWizDom for helping me make sense of the 3D models (who may have forgotten doing so since I started researching this article a very long time ago - sorry, the tubes got a bit clogged), and thanks to Zejgar for also helping me with the analysis.

Lastly, a disclaimer about the article I promised to write elaborating on my meeting with Dracco: I haven't forgotten about my promise to write that. I have been in a slow-moving email conversation about exactly how much of it was intended to be confidential (because I didn't think to ask that at the time) which has now stopped completely, and I want to give them some more time to get back to me. But to answer the question I get the most: I have no idea when more episodes are coming, and I did in fact not even ask that as the mid-season break (which I still suspect this is) was unknown to me at the time. But hopefully I will have more details for you soon about some other stuff.