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Special Project

Special Project
From the 11th Annual Shorty Awards

2018 MTV EMA AR Voting

Finalist in Augmented Reality


MTV International's MTV EMA is a one of the biggest global music events of the year that celebrates the hottest artists from around the world. The MTV EMA brings music fans a unique, multi-platform experience across MTV's global network in nearly 180 countries and 450 million homes around the world. The 2018 MTV EMA took place in Bilbao, Spain.

After 25 years of EMA broadcasts, our fans have come to expect new and interesting ways to engage with their favourite artists each year. And as a business, we have a goal of driving innovation to keep those fans engaged and continually increasing video views on our digital content.

For the 2018 show, the EMA mobile app (on iPhone and Android, available globally in 11 languages) was a primary platform to accomplish both of those goals. The app contains everything from EMA news and standard category voting to innovative features like VR video experiences. To drive more users to the mobile experience in 2018, we strategically leveraged the fans of some of the world's biggest stars by creating a unique augmented reality experience within the app allowing them to share their love for their artist and interact with EMA content.

Strategy and Execution

Bilbao is a city famous for its rich culture of art, particularly the world-famous Guggenheim Museum. To highlight the city's culture, the theme of the 2018 MTV EMA revolved around art and design: museums, paint, sculptures, art heists, and more.

Tied directly back to the show's art theme, we built a creative AR experience that allowed fans to vote for their favourite Biggest Fans category nominee by creating and sharing customized AR sculptures of each artist. Biggest Fans is an award that allows fandoms from some of the hottest artists in the world to rally together to declare themselves the Biggest Fans of the artist. This year's nominees – Taylor Swift, BTS, Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes, and Selena Gomez – have extremely passionate fans, so leveraging them was a no-brainer to help achieve our business goals.

Within the EMA mobile app, music and art collided! Fans created customized 3D AR sculptures of the artists nominated for Biggest Fans. First, fans would select the artist they wanted to vote for. Then they would customize the sculpture by adding various artistic elements like paint, mini-EMA trophies, and other digital design elements. Once the design was complete, fans could place their AR sculpture in their environment; whether it be their living room, bedroom, or out on the city street. The experience made it seem like you had a real-life, 3D sculpture of your favorite artist wherever you wanted, with your personal artwork adding a unique and authentic touch. When fans shared their creation with friends from the app, it counted as a vote for that artist.

While a simple idea in theory, we had to find solutions for a number of technical challenges to ensure the user experience and end product was never compromised. We also had to create, design, produce and publish the product in the Apple App & Google Play stores within the limited timelines a live global show can afford. We imported 3D models – inclusive of all artistic elements and ability to resize the object with all the assets together -- to create a one-of-a-kind user experience for voting that had never been done before. For Android specifically, we also used Sceneform, which is a 3D framework from Google that allowed us to render the 3D objects and pivot quickly in order to meet the tight timeline. Throughout the development cycle, we ensured the iOS and Android experiences, leveraging ARKit and ARCore respectively, were consistent so that fans could experience on any device they were on.

We challenged our creativity to reimagine voting and built a never-been-done-before localized AR experience to engage with our fans around the world.


The nominees for Biggest Fans are some of the most beloved stars in the world, and creating this experience helped drive new users to the EMA app to create their AR sculpture and view other content within the app. AR social posts received hundreds of thousands of video views. Overall, pages views were up 499%, we increased EMA app downloads by 13% YoY, and LIVE VR viewing of the show was up 26%.


Video for 2018 MTV EMA AR Voting

Entrant Company / Organization Name

MTV International


Entry Credits