Since 1999, the annual Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) have brought together fans from all around the world. Produced by South Korean media and entertainment company CJ ENM, MAMA is Asia’s largest music awards ceremony, garnering a widespread reputation over the years for its massive performances and elaborate stage designs. This year, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, MAMA went virtual for the first time with “NEW-TOPIA,” a new virtual world where fans can return to make contact with one another through the power of music.
The concept brought together AR and XR (Extended Reality, a bucket for all mixed realities) technology with some of the biggest names in K-pop today. Seven AR-enabled cameras were used across performance stages to display one-of-a-kind performances. And throughout the show, MAMA awed fans from around the globe, topping Twitter trend charts in 68 countries including U.S, Brazil, UK, Japan, Thailand and more. Fans also got to vote for their favorite K-pop artists across various categories, like “Song of the Year” or “Best Band Performance.” With over 531 million votes cast, BTS swept the awards — earning a total of eight awards and the “Artist of the Year”, “Song of the Year”, “Album of the Year” and “Worldwide Icon of the Year” title.
BTS, BoA, NCT, Seventeen and Twice are just a few among many K-pop stars who performed this year and pushed the show’s immersive production to its fullest. BTS in particular made use of AR and spectacular 3D effects throughout the group’s set, even bringing in SUGA, a band member who’s currently recovering from surgery on a shoulder injury, to perform with them as a hologram in “Life Goes On.” The effect was made possible by a volumetric display, which records an object or place in 360-degrees and builds an interactive 3D avatar that can be viewed from any direction without special glasses or headsets. And BTS weren’t the only ones pushing the limits of tech: Treasure combined a robot arm with a laser system, presented a new kind of performance, and Twice performed on a virtual XR studio stage to debut their new song “Cry For Me.”
Crossing boundaries with technology to bring fans and artists together was a central theme to the show as fans around the world joined the ceremony as live audience members — some even having their faces shown on stage. After the show, Kim Hyun Soo, head of the Convention & Live Entertainment Business Division at CJ ENM commented, “2020 MAMA wrote history taking the show virtual for the first time. 2020 has underlined the fact that the music industry is a powerful, yet adaptable beast — and 2020 MAMA truly showed its full potential. 2020 MAMA brought together fans all over the world to witness the groundbreaking numbers by the best, most-talked about musicians produced with the most advanced technology in the history of MAMA. “