The graphics package for the 2015 installment of the MTV Video Music Awards is less a broadcast design system and more a stream of consciousness beamed directly from the social media-addled brains of American youth.
Which means a lot of you will hate it.
Soaked in Tumblr and left to ferment into a psychotropic poison, projects like this intentionally walk a fine line between mayhem and magic. The fact that it was co-directed by Patrick Clair and produced at Elastic makes it even more interesting. Last year, his VMA package (also produced with Elastic) was a study in precision and elegance.
Of course, duplicating Kanye West’s head 48 times requires precision — albeit of an entirely different sort.
The official word from Elastic:
For this year’s MTV awards, we wanted to celebrate what makes the VMAs unique. These events are wild, ugly, glossy and unpredictable… they are simultaneously awful and exhilarating, trailing a legacy of lewd attention grabs, celebrity misbehavior and pop culture excess. That’s what makes them so popular, fun and compelling… that’s why we watch.
We trawled back through the past 20 years of MTV awards shows. We sampled iconic moments, turning them into disrespectful loops of animation and graphic junk — recycled for a 2015 package that could be bright, vivid, chaotic and disposable.
Last year, we worked to create something refined, focused, disciplined – we exalted the circle and praised the graphic gods of minimalism. This year, we wanted to do something completely different, we wanted to tear down the house. The result is a deranged and vivid echo chamber of MTV’s legacy, a celebration of what makes it good, bad and completely true to itself. It’s a grotesque carnival of visual effects. I’m ashamed, my team is ashamed, our mothers are definitely ashamed — but at the same time, we couldn’t be more bloody happy with it.
I'm ashamed, my team is ashamed, our mothers are definitely ashamed — but at the same time, we couldn't be more bloody happy with it.
The co-director of the package, Lee Lodge, is a key force behind many of television’s largest award shows, including the CMA awards, the MTV Movie Awards and the Academy Awards. Though his titles usually involve producing, his relationship with Elastic is described as “very collaborative.”
The self-effacing humor of some of the elements can require a little historical context at times.
The title card for Best Female Video, for example, features the moment during the 2009 VMAs when Kanye West stole the mic from Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech, simultaneously honoring the event’s past and sneering at its reliably trashy antics.
MTV Video Music Awards 2015
Design Studio: Elastic
Creative Direction: Patrick Clair & Lee Lodge
Original Illustrations & Cell Animation: Michael Relth
Designers: Paul Kim, Kevin Heo, Jeff Han, Henry DeLeon
Animators: Sam Sparks, Peter Murphy, Yongsub Song, Steven Do, Raoul Marks, Claudia Yi Leon, Trix Taylor
Editor: Doron Dor
Assistant Editor: Pieter Vilijoen, Alyssa Oh
Associate Producer: Danny Hirsch
Head of Production: Kim Christensen
Executive Producer: Jennifer Sofio Hall