RealTime IT News

D-Day for Razorfish

New York City-based interactive agency Razorfish Inc. scored some new business Wednesday -- Web site development for HBO's upcoming WWII mini-series "Band of Brothers."

Razorfish said it will collaborate with HBO to create a user-focused experience that provides "unique functionality, deep historical content and an unparalleled companion to an off-line media event."

Billings were not disclosed, but no doubt will be welcome at the shop, which has seen its stock tumble below $1 a share from a 52-week high of $30.12. It was trading at 54 cents a share at mid-morning, up six cents. In March the agency confirmed rumors that it had offered employees in several of its offices "voluntary termination" packages. Prior to that, Razorfish had already undergone two rounds of layoffs, which resulted in the shedding of around 600 employees.

The World War II project is said to be HBO's most extensive effort to date in producing original content for the Internet. The June site launch will also feature the trailer for the series, which is being executive-produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.

Band of Brothers is HBO's 10-part miniseries based on the best-selling book by war historian Stephen Ambrose.

With a production budget of $120 million, the project follows the true story of the men of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army. It is scheduled to air in September.

The Web site will feature original "Webisodes" (miniature movies that depict aspects of the war), historical content and actual stories submitted by veterans and their friends and families. Razorfish said it is working with HBO Original Productions to utilize video and audio archival material.

Razorfish will produce six original Webisodes, which will roll out beginning with the site launch and continue until the series launch in September. The Webisodes will provide a historical overview of the war, starting with the Battle of Britain in mid-1941 and ending with the D-Day invasion at Normandy in 1944, where the miniseries picks up.

The site will launch with stories from many of the members of Easy Company. Once the mini-series premieres in September, the stories from those who lived through the war -- both on the battlefields and on the home front -- will become more prominent, and the site will become a living memorial to the men and women who participated in the war.

"The development of the site and the content management system perfectly merge our original content with the stories being submitted by the public," said Dan Sacher, senior project manager for Razorfish. "The result is a . . . synergy of entertainment, information and technology."