15 Korean MVs That Blend The Physical And Digital

Although there’s much that can be expressed through the use of physical objects and spaces, digital effects and animation can often kick things up a notch. By taking advantage of digital capabilities, entire new worlds can be created, the inanimate can be made seemingly real and alive, and even the impossible can be achieved. So take a break from reality and check out these otherworldly MVs that showcase the power of digital art and design.

Also, while there are many wonderful fully animated MVs out there (Penomeco’s “Coco Bottle” and Hash Swan’s “Teenage in Closet,” to name a couple), I’ve focused here only on ones that use digital animations and effects to supplement reality in one way or another.

ASTRO – “Knock”

Any AROHA can tell you that ASTRO always releases gorgeous MVs, but “Knock” is especially beautiful thanks to its mixture of physical constructions and digital imagery, creating a dazzling space-like landscape that appears to transcend the boundaries of time. I particularly like the stairway scenes, which are evocative of M.C. Escher’s work and give this MV a real sci-fi vibe.

Lee Hi – “Hold My Hand”

How cute is this video? Not only is Lee Hi herself positively lovable here, but the 8-bit animations are to die for. From the shower of tiny pixel flowers to the detailed digital backgrounds, each component offers a little magical, dreamlike sweetness.

IU – “Eight” (feat. Suga)

I really like this video’s use of animation, which pulls both IU and the viewers in and out of reality. It’s interesting that there’s a mixture of art styles too, both of which are lovely, as it creates an additional depth to the MV and its touching story.

SOMDEF – “Slip N Slide” (feat. Crush)

Is it just me or are the pink jelly animals in this MV kind of adorable? I also like how the video continuously scrolls from left to right — an approach that feels very unusual and gives an interesting dynamic to a relatively simple MV.

Oh My Girl – “Nonstop”

This MV feels like a mashup of Snow filters, ’90s teen comedies, and a Barbie-themed quarantine dream. In other words, it’s very pink, girlish, and just aesthetically pleasing overall. The CGI teddy bear is also unbearably cute, starting off as an ordinary, inanimate toy and eventually evolving into a multi-story, rainbow colored bear with a mind of its own.

Gray – “TMI”

I love the way “TMI” takes simple, monochromatic sets and creatively overlays text and fun graphics to add motion and contrast, which in turn emphasizes the duality of being a successful celebrity and an everyday human being. Incidentally, aside from being relevant to this article, both the MV and song are strangely representative of the times we’re living in (if only I too could make Baskin Robbins spontaneously appear in my living room though).

AOA – “Bingle Bangle”

If you enjoyed the “Hold My Hand” MV above, then you’ll love “Bingle Bangle” and its copious use of graphics that look like they came straight out of a real video game. I find it particularly cute that the MV switches back and forth between real life Mina playing a game in her room and the world inside of said game, eventually turning Mina into a video game character herself.

BTS – “IDOL”

As if BTS’s vibrant, boldly patterned outfits aren’t attention-grabbing enough, the digital effects used in this MV are even more outlandish. In fact, I evidently had forgotten just how wild this video is until I rewatched it while writing this article because I certainly did not remember there being a gigantic CGI shark or Jimin being surrounded by a vortex of the members’ faces.

Hoody – “Sunshine” (feat. Crush)

While many of the other MVs listed here use digital effects to craft fantasy worlds and/or add a layer of humor, “Sunshine” incorporates animations with a much lighter hand. Like sprinkles on a cake, the colorful, scribble-like animations in this video merely accentuate the dancers’ moves, proving that sometimes less is more.

Red Velvet – “Happiness”

There is so much going on in this video, from kaleidoscopic visions to trippy collages (there’s even a random dancing gummy bear!?). I love how over-the-top all of the effects and animations are though, as they really tear you away from reality — an ability that’s perhaps more appreciated than ever these days — dropping you into a wild jungle of happiness instead.

Jay Park – “V”

Only Jay Park could stand in the middle of a sea of giant knock-off Fruit Loops and have it look somewhat normal. Other playful digital effects also help enhance this song’s chill, free-spirited vibe, including a comical green screen surfing scene and colorful animated sequences in which imaginative creations fluidly transform from one thing into another.

NCT Dream – “We Young”

“We Young” feels like a children’s storybook come to life, following NCT Dream and an animated little girl on a wild adventure. The dreamy (no pun intended) backdrops nicely complement the members’ boyish charms to create an MV that overflows with youthful energy and carefree adolescence.

DPR Live – “Kiss Me” + “Neon”

This video is a work of genius, possessing a quality that’s more akin to cinema than your typical MV. Really, it’s hard to overstate how well-produced this video is, what with its stunning light effects that suspend you among cosmic dust only to then send you through the universe at warp speed. Even the behind the scenes work that went into this MV is pretty interesting to watch.

Stella Jang – “Villain”

Although the song itself is wonderfully whimsical, the video makes it all the more so through its use of various comical and eccentric digital elements. These humorous touches, in combination with the costumes and occasional dance moves, give “Villain” the feeling of an old-school Charlie Chaplin comedy.

GOT7 – “Just Right”

Arguably one of the cutest MVs out there, “Just Right” does a phenomenal job of distorting real life proportions, using both physical setups and digital effects to exaggerate reality in a delightful way. Be sure to check out the behind the scenes footage to see just how big some of the set pieces actually are.

Which MVs that use digital effects/animation do you like the most?

seheee is a software engineer by day and an avid K-pop concert goer by night. She also occasionally makes an appearance on Twitter (@_seheee).

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