A motion-first identity for the MTV VMAs 

The MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) is a culture-defining event watched by millions of viewers each year. Since its introduction in 1984, the scale of its cultural impact has only grown, giving us some of the most memorable moments in pop culture. Lady Gaga’s meat dress, Britney Spears dancing with a live python, and Kanye West interrupting a 19-year-old Taylor Swift all took place at an MTV VMA celebration. 

Each year, fans from around the world tune in to watch on TVs, mobile devices, and computer screens. They want to be a part of the party–the production, the conversations, and of course, the pop culture. 

This goal of inclusion is why the MTV VMAs selected Studio Dumbar/DEPT® to create a dynamic, motion-first campaign for the 2022 show.

Experience the MTV VMAs wherever you are

The top challenge that MTV needed to solve was “how can we extend our live, in-person event to those watching at home?” 

In other words, they wanted their viewers to feel immersed in the visual production of the MTV VMAs. To solve this problem, our team created 3D animations that had one goal: 

Merge the physical and digital into one universe.

Once we had this core idea and goal, we were able to experiment with animations and graphics that helped users feel as though they were anywhere but on their couches. Wormholes, time-lapses, and stunning colours were all used to create a mesmerising effect. 

The final iteration was a three-dimensional room that pulled users into a different dimension, using both static and moving footage in a unique and unexpected way.

With this core visual concept, we created variations using their core colours and music video footage. This gave each award presentation a unique look and feel while remaining consistent throughout the show.  

Now, do it at scale

The scope encompassed all campaign visuals leading up to the show, including content for social media, billboards, and other advertisements. 

With our core idea and a variety of options, we worked closely with MTV to scale asset creation. This was an ongoing and collaborative effort that spanned several weeks. We would create consistent motion graphics and pass them along to the MTV team so they could add overlays and text that accomplished their promotional goals. 

All in all, our two teams created hundreds of assets, using a combination of music, video, text, sizes, and colours. Our ability to crank out this number of assets in a consistent manner is attributed to the strict visual identity we created at the beginning of this project. 

Nicki Minaj takes over New York City

First off. Shoutout to Nicki Minaj.

Okay, let’s resume. This year, MTV celebrated Nicki Minaj with a special award: The Video Vanguard Award. This lifetime achievement award is given to artists that consistently impact music and culture. 

Besides the live, real-time award, MTV created special promotional materials around this announcement to drum up excitement from fans. 

One noteworthy placement was on one of New York City’s many digital billboards. 

Take note of the unusual screen shape. While challenging to accommodate in theory, this customisation was easily created because of the robust system our team built in After Effects. The result was a head-turning billboard that immersed passerbys in the world of the MTV VMAs.

40 million interactions

According to Nielsen, users watched 1.59 billion minutes of VMAs content across TV, streaming, and social platforms. Viewership grew about 3% compared to 2021, and it’s estimated that almost four million people tuned into the live show. 

Millions of others tuned in to watch highlights on platforms like YouTube. For example, BLACKPINK’s 2022 performance has been watched over 39 million times as of December 2022, highlighting the outlasting effect the VMAs have. 

And according to MTV, 2022 was the “most social” VMAs of all time. Over the course of the show, there were 40 million interactions–a number that smashes both the Super Bowl and the Oscars engagement metrics. 

This was a bucket list project! It was a joy and honour to work for such an established, culture-defining institute on this scale

Christopher Noort, Lead Designer at Studio Dumbar/DEPT®


Creative Director

Liza Enebeis

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