In partnership with HBO, New York City-based Bigstar created a comprehensive set of character teases specifically for social media ahead of season three of futuristic drama Westworld.
For each spot, Bigstar designed an animated architecture of seven moving vertical frames. Different images of each character’s face hold the center panel, while show footage is inserted in the panels on either side. While the footage is disparate, the result is a unified effect.
“We developed a rule of seven for this—breaking the frame into seven panels and having the character’s face in that middle panel,” said Josh Norton, Bigstar Executive Creative Director. “[We then focused on] what that character’s situation is—what they see, what they are surrounded by. Westworld is such a behemoth and these characters feel squeezed inside a behemoth world, where they are struggling to get by.”
The seven-panel layout also mimics the look and motion of the Westworld logo, which starts as three vertical bars and then resolves into the letter W surrounded by two bars, representing the walls, both real and figurative, that insulate both hosts and humans.
“Certainly the strong lines in the Westworld logo and the two lines that flank the W gave us a sense of screen architecture,” said Norton. “HBO had already thought of creating a connection between the photography and that logo and they brought that idea to us in the brief.”
New this season, Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul stars as Caleb (above), a veteran with PTSD who takes on petty crime jobs in his free time. Once the spots were released across social media, the show’s cast featured them on their own social-media channels. Paul’s post of his spot on his Instagram garnered more than 295,000 views.
Each spot is intended to give viewers some information about the character, although Bigstar only had show footage and not much more information to work with in determining who these characters are.
“We shared things [with Bigstar] on a need-to-know basis,” said Sarah Yuro, associate creative director at HBO. “With these spots, we were really talking in broad themes and focusing on this idea of everyone coming together. There are showdowns between characters coming that we’ve been waiting to see for a long time.”
“We knew where things were doing in a general sense,” said Norton. “You can really let the pictures do the talking. You don’t want to overcomplicate things. We didn’t have to make a lot from scratch here—there was so much richness in the material provided.”
“I give Bigstar props for gleaning so much of this on their own,” said Yuro. “That’s their genius—finding the architecture that relates to each of these character’s worlds.”
Another important aspect of the spots is the music, which was custom composed for the show’s season-three marketing campaign by David James Rosen of Totem Music. Rosen provided HBO with a full musical sound kit that includes different themes as well as a range of sound effects that can be heard throughout the entire season-three campaign. Rosen’s music also can be heard in the official season-three trailer for the show before it merges into a reimagined version of Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child of Mine” by show composer Ramen Djawadi.
Below are the spots showcasing Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), a host who looks to do to the real world what the real world did to her; Maeve (Thandie Newton), who sacrificed herself last season for the sake of her daughter but finds herself resurrected and back in some world once again; and Charlotte (Tessa Thompson), a host who is masquerading as the human CEO of Delos Corp., the company behind Westworld and all of the parks.
HBO and Bigstar previously have partnered on big projects and that is what brought the premium cable network to the agency again. Prior to season seven of Game of Thrones, Bigstar created a teaser that featured CGI statues of each of the major houses’ sigils that made a huge splash across the internet.
“I’ve been trying to work with [Bigstar] for years and find the right project,” said Yuro, who did not work on the Game of Thrones marketing but admired it from afar. “One of the things that has always stood out for me was that social piece for Game of Thrones. It was such a proof of their ability to take a kernel of an idea and no available footage and turn it into something amazing. I thought it was the most memorable piece of marketing from Game of Thrones.”
“HBO and Bigstar are peas in a pod,” said Norton. “We have the same taste in design and production. They continue to be the standard bearer for timeless dramatic entertainment with extraordinary production value. Whenever HBO calls, we are very keen on making whatever they want happen.”
Assoc. Creative Director: Sarah Yuro
Creative Agency: BigStar
Executive Creative Director: Josh Norton
Executive Producer: Carson Hood
Head of Production: Virgil Conklin
Lead Animator: Casey Drogin
Animator: Alec Iselin
Designer: Ann Kruetzkamp
Music: David James Rosen, Totem