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Money for Nothing features early computer animation illustrating the lyrics. The video was one of the first uses of computer-animated human characters and was considered groundbreaking at the time of its release. It was the second computer-generated music video shown on MTV.
Originally, Mark Knopfler was not at all enthusiastic about the concept of the music video. MTV, however, was insistent on it. Director Steve Barron was contacted to persuade Knopfler to relent.
Ian Pearson and Gavin Blair created the animation, using a Bosch FGS-4000 CGI system. The animators went on to found computer animation studio Mainframe Entertainment, and referenced the "Money for Nothing" video in an episode of their ReBoot series. The video also included stage footage of Dire Straits performing, with partially rotoscoped-animation in bright neon colors, as seen on the record sleeve.
The video was awarded "Video of the Year" at the third annual MTV Video Music Awards in 1986.
Two other music videos are also featured within "Money for Nothing". A Hungarian pop band Első Emelet and their video "Állj Vagy Lövök" is displaying as "Baby, Baby" by "First Floor". The other is a fictional video "Sally" by the Ian Pearson Band (Pearson was one of the animators of the video).