Behind the scenes: National Geographic at SXSW 2017

National Geographic created an interactive hub at SXSW, which featured augmented reality to promote the channel's new series 'Genius'.


National Geographic's 'Nat Geo Further Base Camp' at SXSW 2017, which took place from 10-14 March, encouraged festival-goers to explore their own genius through brain-boosting and mind-boggling activities.

The experience was created to promote National Geographic's new scripted anthology series 'Genius', directed by Ron Howard, which premiers in April. Like the show, the installation celebrates the concept of genius and how it relates to exploration and creativity.

Visitors to the hub were able to wear an augmented reality headset, the Microsoft Hololens, which blended the digital and physical worlds to bring Albert Einstein's theory of relativity to life. 

There was an interactive robotic artist that sketched art from guest-submitted Twitter photos onto a chalkboard, which represented Einstein's iconic chalkboard. The robot used a 'genius' algorithm using Einstein’s words, symbols and equations as pixels. 

There was also a party to celebrate Pi Day (3.14) and Einstein's 138th birthday on 14 March. Guests were invited to help Einstein blow out all 138 candles. A cocktail menu was inspired by the trials and tribulations of the genius and a pi-inspired dessert bar was created.

The hub offered speaker sessions including one with Genuis' director Ron Howard, executive producer Brian Grazer, actor Johnny Flynn (who plays the young Einstein), and actress Samantha Colley (who plays Mileva Maric). Plus various musical performances highlighting genius in its many forms.

The Nat Geo Further Base Camp also provided premium wi-fi, charging stations and meeting spaces, in addition to a free premium bar available daily. 

In October, National Geographic unveiled a Mars show home in Greenwich, London.

Also at SXSW this year, automotive brand Mazda staged a range of brand experiences encouraging guests to explore the brand's challenger spirit. Beer brand Bud Light hosted its 'Jam Sessions' at the festival this year, too.

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