National Geographic Channel's "Killing Jesus" mini-series is one of the network's most ambitious undertakings. Based on the best-selling book by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard, this three-hour TV series premieres on Palm Sunday, March 29 globally in 171 countries in 45 languages and in Spanish on Nat Geo Mundo.
Now, NGC and digital agency Mullen are supporting this large-scale event with one of the network's most extensive digital campaigns. The site — developed for English viewers — is designed to give viewers an even deeper dive into the time of Jesus from three key perspectives, each symbolized by a different crown: the crown of thorns representing Jesus and his followers, a crown of laurels representing the Romans led by Pontius Pilate and a headdress representing the Jewish high priests of the time. There are eight chapters, each reflecting pivotal moments in the story of Jesus: The Birth, Boy or Messiah?, The Prophet, The Tables Turn, A Challenger, The Last Supper, Jesus on Trial and Crucifixion. As users scroll through the chapters, they can then explore expanded timelines that provide additional archaeological, historical and sociological bonus content, allowing an even deeper dive into the story.
“We were looking to tell the story in a way that allowed people to see it from several different vantage points,” said Allison Rude, VP, Associate Creative Director at Mullen. “Our war room on this project resembled the wall from ‘A Beautiful Mind’ as we pieced together historical fact, religious scripture and custom illustrations to provide three unique perspectives in the most innovative way possible.”
Supplementing this second-screen experience is a film microsite featuring original articles on a variety of topics including Jesus in popular culture, the missing years of his life and what happened to the apostles; behind-the-scenes video clips; extensive photo galleries; deleted movie scenes; and cast Q&As.
In addition, the network blog is showcasing Killing With Kindness, a 40-day social
media campaign to encourage encouragement of people to be kind to each other. Every day through April 5, NGC
is putting a daily spotlight on organizations that help to spread kindness in the world. These organizations can be found online at http://tvblogs.
The network and Mullen say their previous collaborations helped to make "Killing Jesus" more expansive and impactful. To that end, the site contains some 290,094 lines of code, which is four times the size of NGC and Mullen’s previous two sites together, Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy, combined. Plus, the audio for the site is composed of 184 custom soundfx, music tracks and voice-overs.
Furthermore, each of the more than 72 interactive scenes is hand-drawn, with 2.5D parallax illustrations created by French illustrator Bastien Lecouffe DeHarme that capture the faces, scenery and costumes from the film, immersive soundscapes and cast voice-overs. The scrollable panoramas were created with 3,080 illustrated images and animated with 14,364 hand-placed keyframes. "Our war room on this project looked like a scene from ‘Beautiful Mind’ as we sifted through original works of art, passages, historical documents, etc to piece together our different perspectives," says Rude.
While the platforms are intended to support the film, they are also designed to serve as stand-alone pieces that can live on after the film has premiered."We pushed ourselves to tell this story in a way that it had never been told before," says Rude. "Not just through an innovative experience technologically speaking, but with a fresh approach to the story itself. It was our hope that people from all backgrounds (religious or otherwise) would find it engaging. Either because of our unique crown-driven narrative device, or the innovative way we brought it together online."
Mullen has worked with the NGC since 2012. This partnership has already received industry accolades. They received an Emmy Award for the network’s Live From Space digital experience, and were nominated for "Killing Lincoln." They also have received multiple Cannes Lion awards for "Killing Kennedy."
A video trailer for the "Killing Jesus" site is available here: http://youtu.be/xynvgqJjKpQ