HBO Max will launch HBO Max Orbit at SXSW® Online this year, the powerhouse brand’s interactive digital experience to introduce audiences to the streamer’s vast universe of content using cutting-edge emerging technology.
The HBO Max Orbit experience at SXSW Online will respond to facial movements and voice prompts to allow audiences to explore and interact with thousands of iconic moments, characters and stories from the catalog in a personalized, intuitive way. In the experience, users will be able to explore HBO Max’s library—titles from HBO, Warner Bros., DC, Cartoon Network and more—highlighting the breadth and depth of the catalog. More than 150,000 scenes clipped from HBO Max series and films including “Game of Thrones,” “Lovecraft Country,” “Love Life,” “Big Bang Theory,” “The Looney Tunes Show” and “Tom and Jerry” will be integrated into the online experience and accessible with a nod of the head or a few spoken words.
HBO Max Orbit at SXSW Online will also feature interactive design elements for “Godzilla vs. Kong” as a nod to the highly anticipated film debuting March 31st in theaters and on HBO Max. “Godzilla vs. Kong” will be available on HBO Max for 31 days from its theatrical release in the U.S. included at no additional cost to subscribers. While exploring HBO Max Orbit, festival attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a “flock to unlock” challenge starting at 12:00 P.M. ET on MARCH 19 to unlock an exclusive clip with never-before-seen scenes from the film.
The HBO Max Orbit technology will respond to how a user is moving their face and will surface clips of HBO Max characters matching their movements in real time. Specific clips in the SXSW Online experience will trigger “challenge mode,” which prompts users to move their face to find clips that match a certain title on screen or use their voice to speak a phrase from a specific show within a timed window. Successful completion of these challenges unlocks frames from the exclusive clip.
“The pandemic has forced brands from all sectors to reimagine experiential marketing and devise new ways to engage and delight users with content,” said Jason Mulderig, SVP Brand Marketing, HBO Max. “HBO Max Orbit is an impressive technical feat, and we’re so pleased to use this technology to create fun, meaningful connections with people from the comfort of their homes. Given our history of partnership with SXSW and its impact amongst audiences at the intersection of entertainment and technology, we can’t wait to bring this compelling experience to the festival and to share all that HBO Max has to offer.”
Experience design firm HUSH developed the digital/physical experience and the HBO Max Orbit technology for both the web and retail flagships, which leveraged a bespoke content ingestion pipeline that uses machine learning to process hundreds of terabytes of content to power the user experience.
“This was an incredible creative and technical opportunity for our firm and one that was supported with energy and enthusiasm by the HBO Max team,” said David Schwarz, HUSH Partner. “Strategically, we were able to lean into the fact that HBO Max’s library is unparalleled in quality and scale. We latched onto an intriguing but simple question: how can we leverage design and creative technology to give audiences a magical experience of navigating the seemingly infinite world of HBO Max? It needed to be functionally intuitive and fast, but also dreamlike, extemporaneous and unexpected. The best explorers in history didn’t change their world, they just found beautiful ways through it.”
Following its SXSW Online debut, a robust in-person version of HBO Max Orbit will open in select AT&T flagship stores starting in April. The immersive location-based experience, developed by HBO Max and HUSH with the AT&T Retail Innovation team, will bring HBO Max Orbit to life. The experience will exist within a 360-degree chamber, integrated into the existing layout of the store, and designed to optimize the feeling of a vast audio-visual space; providing a truly immersive experience for customers—all powered by AT&T 5G. This will put the customer at the center and immediately turn them into a control system to match content to body movements and voice prompts. Within this infinite digital environment, the customer will travel through time, genre, and digital space, as the underlying technology draws algorithmically connected—and often unexpected—connections between HBO Max properties.