Work / Animation

Animator Jimmy Simpson creates technology-inspired ident for MTV

New York-based animator Jimmy Simpson has created an ident for MTV that focuses on dated technology, desktop backgrounds and the history of the channel. “MTV’s goal was to create content that encouraged the visual experimentation they’ve always been known for. The only real guidelines was that it needed to revolve around the idea of technology and that it should land on their logo,” explains Jimmy.

“The first few days of the project were spent storyboarding a ton of ideas. Most of the were centred around techy stuffy like smart phones, 3D printing and online dating. At the same time, I was diving into compilations of all the amazing animation work MTV has commissioned over the year. It’s rare that you get to work with a client that has such a rich history in animation and I wanted to make something that referenced that,” Jimmy says.

The animator landed on the concept of taking the viewer through the different eras of MTV has been a part of. “Each landscape features different relics and references to the 80s, 90s and early 00s that MTV has outlived. The final scene reveals the old logo and updates it with a lightning strike. This is meant to show how MTV has been able to asap to different era over the last 36 years,” he explains.

The project took just over three weeks from storyboarding to final delivery, with most of the time being spent designing the shifting landscapes. The final environments are based on various desktop backgrounds in order to “tie the whole technology theme in”. The animation was created using a mix of techniques, for instance “the main character was drawn frame by fame while some of the background elements were created in 3D software.” The sound design is what really ties together the visuals, and this was created by Jimmy’s musician brother Vincent Simpson. “Two of the main references were Boring Angel by Oneohtrix Point Never and the monolith scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey,” says Jimmy. “I wanted the sounds to land somewhere between the two and I’m really happy with how things turned out.”

We featured Jimmy’s work last year for his animation of a Modern Love column for The New York Times. Here Jimmy adopts a completely different style but it’s something, the animator relishes when working on new projects. “Working in animation, each project feels like an opportunity to explore a new style or a variation of an old one. Animation timelines tend to be a bit longer than illustration job, so there is more time to develop something unique for that particular project,” explains Jimmy. “There are defining recurring styles and ideas I fall back on but I try to shift things for each project. For this particular one, I pulled from of a lot of surrealist artwork and posters from the 70s because I wanted the style to feel familiar.


Jimmy Simpson: MTV


Jimmy Simpson: MTV


Jimmy Simpson: MTV


Jimmy Simpson: MTV