HBO Max ‘Orbit’ Launching at SXSW Online March 19

WarnerMedia will launch an interactive digital experience to promote its HBO Max streaming service at SXSW Online 2021 on March 19. The “HBO Max Orbit” experience is designed to introduce audiences to the streamer’s universe of content using cutting-edge, emerging technology.

The “Max Orbit” experience responds to facial movements and voice prompts from audiences as they explore and interact with thousands of movie and TV show moments, characters, and stories. In the experience, users will be able to explore Max’s library — titles from HBO, Warner Bros. Pictures, DC, and Cartoon Network, among others. More than 150,000 scenes clipped from Max series and films, including “Game of Thrones,” “Lovecraft Country,” “Love Life,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “The Looney Tunes Show,” Tom and Jerry, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League, will be integrated into the online experience and accessible with a nod of the head or a few spoken words.

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Max Orbit will also feature interactive design elements for Godzilla vs. Kong as a nod to the pending film debuting March 31 in theaters and on Max. While at Max Orbit, festival attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a “flock to unlock” challenge starting at noon ET March 19 to unlock an exclusive clip with never-before-seen scenes from the film.

The Max Orbit technology will respond to how a user is moving their face and will surface clips of 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 utter 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,” Jason Mulderig, SVP of brand marketing for HBO Max, said in a statement.

Experience design firm Hush developed the digital/physical experience and the 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.

“Strategically, we were able to lean into the fact that HBO Max’s library is unparalleled in quality and scale,” David Schwarz, HUSH Partner, said in a statement, adding that the exhibit needed to be functionally intuitive and fast, but also dreamlike, extemporaneous and unexpected.

“The best [content] explorers in history didn’t change their world, they just found beautiful ways through it,” Schwarz said.

Following its SXSW Online debut, an in-person version of Max Orbit will open in select AT&T flagship stores starting in April. The AT&T 5G-powered retail 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.