On April 15, 2019, the Notre-Dame Cathedral suffered a devastating fire. I recently had a chance to see a 360-degree VR documentary by Targo called The Man Behind Notre-Dame, which follows the Rector-Archpriest of Notre-Dame Patrick Chauvet and his mission to restore the crumbling roof of Notre-Dame. The VR documentary takes you to places that you could never go to on a public tour of Notre-Dame, including the roof to survey the damage. This VR piece can now be seen in an entirely new context now that the fire has caused a lot of the roof of the cathedral to collapse, potentially even sections that were featured in the documentary.
I talk with Targo co-founder Victor Agulhon at the Laval Virtual conference in Laval, France about their process of capturing this story. They focused on telling the story of Notre-Dame Rector-Archpriest Patrick Chauvet through many of the different locations and contexts throughout the Notre-Dame cathedral. Targo is producing a series of stories that are centered around significant cultural locations, but all centered through personal narrative. This VR documentary offers some of the most recent immersive footage of the cathedral before this latest tragedy, and it serves as a form of preservation of cultral heritage. There’s also a role for using immersive media to capture the history and stories of specific locations, especially since Agulhon himself was a tour guide who has spent been to these types of tourist locations telling the stories of these places. He talks about how exciting it was for him to be able to get access to all of the places that he knew were off limits, but to also capture the as much of the place and stories of Archpriest Chauvet as they could.
In light of all that’s happened with Notre-Dame in the last 24 hours, then this work has given us new insights into the power of virtual reality as a way to document and capture aspects of our cultural heritage. Physical objects are all unfolding in a process of a beginning, middle, and end, and this event might help people start to think about the preservation of these cultural artifacts while they’re still around. But also so that we may more fully enjoy the full breadth and complexity of these lived experiences of these places while we still have access to them. While VR may be able to capture some level of symbolic representation, then these simulations are going to have a really hard time of capturing the full qualia of what it’s like to be in a location. Perhaps it’ll be through the differences that people have of VR experiences of Notre Dame and their own embodied memories that they’ll start to have a deeper appreciation of that qualia gap of virtually-mediated experiences of physical locations.
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[00:00:05.412] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye and welcome to the Voices of VR podcast. So I'm sure as many of you saw on April 15th, 2019, there was a fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in France. And I actually was just in France a month ago or so and was there for Laval Virtual. Laval Virtual has actually been running for the past 21 years consistently. They've had a VR expo there each and every year in Laval. So I got invited to speak there and participate in a think tank and also was able to go around and do a bunch of interviews with different people there at Laval Virtual and they had over 300 different exhibitors there. One of the exhibitors was from Targo and they had an experience called The Man Behind Notre Dame. They had actually created a whole 360 video talking to the lead priest there of Notre Dame and how he had started up this whole initiative to do this restoration project at Notre Dame. At this point, I think it's still unsure as to how the fire at Notre Dame actually started, but it's speculated, at least when it was first happening, that it was in due part to some of the reconstruction that was happening there. But I talked to one of the co-founders of Targo, Victor Argonaut, just about the process of creating this VR documentary featuring the man who's the head priest of Notre Dame. But being able to go through all these different places that actually at this point, a lot of those places may be destroyed since they do have a number of different shots that are happening on top of the roof. So this interview obviously was courted way before there was a fire, but I thought that it was appropriate to maybe dive into this perspective, because, you know, I think in some ways, virtual reality has the potential to do some level of cultural preservation, because, you know, as we see, there's fires that can happen, there's wars that can happen where these pieces of cultural heritage can be destroyed. And so I think immersive technologies, VR, LiDAR scanning, all these technologies can be critically important for being able to reconstruct these aspects of cultural heritage, even if they happen to be damaged or destroyed for whatever reason. So I had a chance to talk to Victor and to just explore some of the project that they had created called The Man Behind Notre Dame, which is available on Within if you want to check it out before you listen to the interview. I highly recommend it. It's actually a beautiful piece that kind of explores all the different dimensions of Notre Dame. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Victor happened on Thursday, March 21st, 2019 at the Laval Virtual Conference in Laval, France. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.
[00:02:52.033] Victor Agulhon: So my name is Victor Ragulon. I'm the co-founder of Targo. Targo is an immersive media company. So we produce and distribute virtual reality documentaries on extraordinary stories.
[00:03:02.239] Kent Bye: So maybe you could tell me the story of how you got into virtual reality.
[00:03:05.943] Victor Agulhon: So the first experience I had in VR, the first like real one, well actually on Within was with YouTube, you know the virtual reality experience on the music video and it just struck me somehow about just connecting with someone and just being able to feel so close to people and that's really how we got started in VR. I talked to a a friend of mine who was a journalist, and how we could leverage this technology, connecting with people on a personal level in virtual reality. And we started to make documentaries, and so on, and we got on this idea of, like, extraordinary stories of people, characters that have something really crazy to say and something inspirational, and also spectacular scenes and difficult places to reach.
[00:03:43.847] Kent Bye: So maybe you could tell me a bit about this experience that you're showing here at Laval Virtual.
[00:03:48.157] Victor Agulhon: So here at Laval Virtual we are showing our latest production which is called The Man Behind Notre Dame. So it's a co-production between Targo and Histoire, which is one of the biggest channels in France regarding history. And the story is really about the man who's running the cathedral and who's telling you his own story, how he became a priest and how he believed that he's been chosen by God. to become the rector of the cathedral, and he's taking you to the places you will never be able to visit as a tourist. He's taking you behind the bells of the cathedral, at the top of the towers, on the roofs, and you just get to experience this place from his own perspective on it, as a man who's been there for maybe five, ten years, and so you really connect with the place differently than you would do if you were a tourist or just watching a documentary, because you have his voice and his story, and you just feel that there's a connection between the man, Notre Dame, and then yourself.
[00:04:36.133] Kent Bye: Yeah, maybe you could give me a little bit more backstory and context of the state of the church, the need to do different repairs and being able to have access to these places and to see for yourself what's happening that you might not be seeing if you were looking at it from the ground.
[00:04:49.978] Victor Agulhon: Yeah, sure. Notre Dame is one of the most famous monuments in Paris and everyone thinks that it's in a beautiful shape. And when you actually talk with the people who work there, they tell you that it's in a poor shape, that they need 15 million euros. There are some rocks that are actually falling from the cathedral. And in virtual reality, you get on the roof. and you actually see the rocks around you and you see that the cathedral is not such in a great shape and that this monument, this iconic monument of Paris actually needs rebuilding. So the people there were really helpful to get us to like see what you don't see as a tourist and that's really, I think it's an important part of the story is also showing what you don't see in terms of access but also in terms of story that you will not hear.
[00:05:27.330] Kent Bye: Can you talk about your experience of going to some of these places that you normally wouldn't be able to go?
[00:05:32.767] Victor Agulhon: So actually what's funny is that I was a tour guide in Paris. So I used to show tourists and a lot of American tourists the cathedral going all around and I used to see the gates and all the places I couldn't go. So the first time we had a meeting you actually go through a back door to go to Notre Dame and you go to circuits where tourists don't have access to and just changing perspective but you know it's about like standing two meters away from what you can do as a tourist. It just gives you a feeling of like it's almost like it's not something you call that. I don't know it was very special in the sense of You're doing something that's forbidden, that you know you can't do otherwise. And it was, I don't know, doing this was something very special, I would say. I think I like the words in English to express the thing, but just changing perspective on such a historic building just meant a lot. And you get to create this kind of a peculiar connection directly yourself and the building. At least for me, that was what I felt. I felt like for the first time I had some sort of a personal connection with the building, which seems quite, you know, too popular to be made personal.
[00:06:28.858] Kent Bye: Yeah, and I think another aspect is that you're looking at some of the features of the architecture that were really meant to be seen from ground level, but here you are looking at it right up close, and that was the thing that was really striking to me, was just noticing all the architectural elements of that building, but from a perspective as if you were on the roof or places that were probably not necessarily intended for you to see those things. They're probably meant for you to see it at a distance where your experience of it would be way different, but just to kind of see it up close was, to me, that was one of the striking things as well, just to notice the architectural features of the building.
[00:07:02.787] Victor Agulhon: Yeah, sure. What's super interesting is, you know, Notre Dame is a Gothic cathedral, so there's a lot of details everywhere. And with stereoscopic VR, you get that feeling of, you know, the different depth feeling. And when you get close to the elements, you see all the details, you see everything, and then you see the void behind. I think one of the striking shots and one of the key elements is when we go in the towers of Notre Dame, you're right behind the Geigels, and you see them, and you just completely change the perspective you have on the building and just even on the architecture itself. And you look around you, and I think this is really something that only the VR perspective could offer. for Notre Dame.
[00:07:48.862] Kent Bye: VR gives a better sense of the spatial relationships and I think in some ways limited with the 360 video because it's not a full volumetric photogrammetry scan where you're able to have all the parallax effects that you would expect and to really trick your mind that much more of you being in that space. It still felt like, for me, I got a good sense of the architecture, way better than I would in a 2D video. But I have a free day on Saturday where I have the opportunity to do some things in Paris. And after seeing this video, I was like, I wonder what would it feel like to actually be there. versus the video, because I have been there before. But someone like yourself has probably been there dozens or maybe even hundreds of times as a tour guide. You have a rich set of memories of that place from your embodied experience. And so I guess a VR experience for you may trigger a different experience in yourself because you've had those lived experiences there. But I'm just curious to hear what you think about that in terms of that gap, that qualia gap, and the difference between what's it like to see a video of something versus actually being there.
[00:08:52.072] Victor Agulhon: I don't think you can replace the real-life experience of going to Notre-Dame, and that's not what we're trying to do. We're trying to just make you feel like you're privileged, and we're trying to offer a privileged way to visit Notre-Dame, to experience, to hear the story. So, for myself, even when I look at this experience from now, it's different than going to Notre-Dame. You know, if I just want to have a stroll on a Sunday in Paris, and I just want to go see Notre-Dame, I want to go see the church and be there, feel the atmosphere. We're trying to bring something different with the experience, and we're trying to bring you something that you will not be able to have if you're going to the cathedral. So I would say it's more complimentary and we're trying to bring you a privilege with the VR experience and we're not trying to replace the actual experience of visiting a city like Paris.
[00:09:30.885] Kent Bye: And can you talk a bit about the process of doing interviews and telling a story? Because you're kind of telling a personal story, but you're doing it in some of the most extraordinary locations and places, and you're moving around a lot, and you're showing different aspects. And so there's things that are happening in a big chapel. There's things that are happening behind closed doors and private offices. And so maybe talk a bit about, as you think about storytelling, the role of the surrounding context while you're telling the story of an individual.
[00:09:59.062] Victor Agulhon: So the individual is always the center of the piece. That's what we're following. In every shot, you're trying to see the individual. Depending on the scene, we're trying to have him close. It really depends on what we're trying to convey. When we're sitting with him, when we go to his office, for instance, we're just facing him as if we were just someone, a guest in his office, just chatting with him. When we go to the cathedral, we're actually going slightly further away from him because we want to give that feeling of, you know, the man lives in the cathedral, like if he was some sort of magic soul himself, like embodying the cathedral. So, I would say the core element is we always want to have this person in the shot that you can't miss, that's going to guide you through the place. And then it's something that we're really focusing on, is focusing on one person and one person only every time. I think in a 10-minute VR experience, It sometimes can be confusing if you're switching from different people. So the idea there was really to get one person to talk to you. So during the course of these 10 minutes, you can create a personal story, a personal connection with this man. And then the surrounding, I think they speak for themselves. And we're always trying to match what he says to a location that really highlights his feeling. When he's talking about the people, for instance, that make the cathedral, it was important for us at this moment to make a time lapse of the scene. So you can see all the thousands of people that actually go through Notre Dame in one single day. and to understand what it means when he says that there are thousands of people that make this place.
[00:11:19.623] Kent Bye: Yeah, I've been thinking a lot about the concept of context, and context switches, and public versus private contexts, and I think there's an interesting mix in this experience because There's the public context of what the public could see within the context of going into a service. You have these hallways, which are kind of liminal zones of transitional places in between the private to the public. And then you have the actual private spaces that in his office and whatnot, but also the more private spaces of, you know, on top of the church and seeing things that you probably want to be hidden of how falling apart it is. But as you were telling the story, I'm just curious if there was a connection there between the public and the private and sort of those transitional spaces and how you were thinking about the larger surrounding architecture and context and how that was relating to the story.
[00:12:08.048] Victor Agulhon: I think we're trying to tell his story, what we're trying to show is his perspective on the cathedral and what he sees and you know he actually goes on the roof sometimes just to check on the works that needs to be done there and I think that's the most important part. We need this story of this man and then we take you to what his life looks like and what his life story is and if his life story involves going into public areas and into private areas I think that's a perspective from a tourist. From his perspective, all these places are the same. That's where he starts his day and that's where he goes. So we're really trying to follow him and I think we blur the lines. You have all these places that you don't really know if you have access to them or not and that's the magic of following someone who has full access to such a building. He's the guy who's actually bringing us some kind of a safe space and I don't think that at any moment people will feel uneasy in the sense of like they always are at a place where they are meant to be because they're with the right person.
[00:12:55.913] Kent Bye: Well, here's an example, I guess, of what I would mean in terms of as a director thinking about this in the future, because I think there is a difference between those different places. Because let's say, as an example, he's in your office and he's talking to you. Well, that is an intimate context where if you are in that office, it means a whole lot because you're not just anybody. You're having some sort of business meeting or something that it's reached a certain level of a threshold where he's inviting you into that private space. When you're in that space, then he could potentially talk about aspects of his life that may be a little bit more private. I also think of the example of if someone invites you over to a dinner party at their home in their dining room table, then you're going to be able to talk about intimate aspects about your home life. that you may not talk about if you were in a public church or just walking down the street. So I think there's this interesting connection between location and context and what the environment evokes in somebody based upon those memories and that context that can get set. I think if you ask the same questions in those different contexts, you may actually get some different answers. And so it's this challenge of trying to, as a director, understand the depth of those associations of that context and to really leverage hey, we're in this really intimate private space. Maybe this is an opportunity to dive deep.
[00:14:15.692] Victor Agulhon: Absolutely agree. And I think also that one thing that VR makes really special is that we try to have no one in the shot when we're actually interviewing. So we're always hidden, and everyone does this. But I think it also changes the answers we get. When you have your whole TV crew behind the camera, you know you're influencing the answer because you see the faces and you see the moves and if people are reacting in some way. I think with VR we have people talking with the camera and sometimes they just go into a flow of consciousness and they just speak their mind and we actually did an experience a long time ago with veterans of the World War II and who actually spoke for 15 minutes on their own to the camera because I think they were speaking to themselves somehow and this is a bit what happened here as well. When we ask a question we just let them go and just speak And I think that's an important part of the interviews. You have the context, which is sometimes you're going to be in the office, sometimes you're going to be at the center of the church. But most importantly, you never have someone who's giving him feedback on his answer. So he really has a few small speeches about what he thinks on the question we ask.
[00:15:12.141] Kent Bye: And so when you do those interviews, does he have like an earpiece that you can communicate to him and you're listening in remotely? You're able to listen but sort of kind of have a distributed conversation. Do you do that? Yeah.
[00:15:22.809] Victor Agulhon: So we always hear what he's saying because we have control. Like we want to hear exactly what he's saying because otherwise we won't... maybe it's like keep the conversation going in one direction if there's something interesting that you know just comes up so that we're always here and we can actually ask questions we're always either nearby or we have walkie-talkies sometimes so it just depends we just have this communication both ways i think the first questions are always more difficult for people to answer because it's unusual to speak alone in a room to a camera but then they get used and i think it becomes a sort of a of a game, they hear our voices, and so, you know, they just end up loving it. And I think you have much more natural answers as if you were practicing in front of your mirror than if you had a whole crew.
[00:16:01.388] Kent Bye: And what are some of the other projects that you've been working on?
[00:16:04.177] Victor Agulhon: So the men behind Notre Dame are the latest ones we've released. The upcoming ones are going to be on Mosul in Iraq, in the city being rebuilt after ISIS was defeated. So this one is going to be a feel-good story, but also very intense because you're amid the city that was fully destroyed. We're also going to be doing one in the Alps on the Slading Dogs. So this one is a story of like a race of 300 kilometers across the Alps with a musher who's had like 10 huskies through the Alps. So it's beautiful scenery, powerful story. And that's really the two elements we're looking at. Mosul is going to be a big one, also on surfing. We're trying to have always a kind of spectacular setting and a strong story. But the next one we're looking forward to is really the one on Mosul in Iraq, because I think it's just so spectacular and impressive. It's also an important thing to do, to give people the ability to see what's going on in these places where they would obviously never go.
[00:16:53.796] Kent Bye: And can you talk a little bit more about your collaborators in terms of how you're able to produce these different projects?
[00:16:59.523] Victor Agulhon: Yeah. So I think our peculiarity at Tago, so we're a team of six people. I think our peculiarity that half of the staff is editorial, it's journalists. So that's really an important part of what we do. We want the journalists to have a whole grasp of their topic from the really beginning of writing the story to the post-production of the story. So three journalists work constantly on story, they have the lead. I think the journalistic way to write VR documentaries is also different from a narrative one and that's really the kind of real-life stories that we can actually highlight. So the specificity, I would say, the fact that we're working with only journalists that are crafting the stories, that they know how to make people talk and talk about what they do, that's the most important part. Then we have a 3D designer who's really helping us with the graphics and making, for instance, the introduction shot in Notre Dame is a full 3D pre-rendered, business developer and myself on the production side.
[00:17:52.725] Kent Bye: Was there other publishing or distribution partners that were helping fund it as well?
[00:17:57.082] Victor Agulhon: Yeah, so for some stories, we're trying to work in co-production with other media companies. I think it's important to actually raise awareness also around VR, the fact that it's a new medium, that you can use it to tell stories. So we're really working, and especially in France, with the top news media. So we're working with TF1 Group, we're working with Combini, which is a leader in social media news. We're working with AFP, which is a press agency also. So we're really trying to raise awareness also around the technology that it can be used to tell the news, to tell documentaries. And that's really a big part of what we're doing, is bringing awareness to the public, and also bring these media companies to understand that they can use this medium and in cooperation with us, especially.
[00:18:34.015] Kent Bye: Great. And so for you, what are some of the either biggest open questions you're trying to answer or open problems that you're trying to solve?
[00:18:42.259] Victor Agulhon: I think for the media industry what we're trying to do is really the audience, is trying to bring the most value to the audience and in a context that is also doable for us as producers. So we want to showcase all the experiences for free on the internet, on the web, and that's why we're on so many platforms. such as Within, Inception, CineVR. It's really important for us to be on this platform so people who have headsets can actually have access to it. I think the big next step for us is going to be the location-based entertainment. I think the market is really opening there and we see interest peaking in narrative experiences. We've had a lot of arcades reaching out to us. So I think this is an interesting part to develop. So for us the big question we're trying to answer is how can we get the maximum people to see what we're doing in a context that is still viable for us. That's really what we're trying to match this. Let's make the best predictions we can but let's make also stuff that are manageable.
[00:19:33.714] Kent Bye: Yeah, a lot of things that I've seen in location-based entertainment are these zombie wave shooter type of games. And if you're into gaming, that can be very exciting. But if you're not, then there's not a lot of options for you if you have the temperament of somebody who wants to see an emotionally engaging story. So it feels like that this could fill a nice gap of helping serve needs of people that want to do something that was maybe a little bit more intimate or emotionally engaging and meaningful for them that goes beyond vanquishing enemies.
[00:20:01.723] Victor Agulhon: Yeah, that's exactly this. You don't necessarily want to shoot zombies for like one hour when you go to an arcade. And that's exactly why people come to us with interest. We have stories that are well-crafted, that are interesting, and that, you know, if you just want to have a break between two zombie shoots, I think it's a nice thing to do. So it's also educational content in the sense you get to discover stuff from the real world you would not necessarily see. And that's really what we've been seeing. It's diversity that we're offering to the arcades. Right now they're really centered on gaming. And I think they realize also that what's going to make them profitable is going to have people coming back often. And they need to have this kind of recurring audience. And that's what we're offering. We're releasing one new documentary every month. So we're offering also this kind of recurring offer in terms of stories that I think coherent as a whole and that make sense for VR.
[00:20:48.128] Kent Bye: Great. And finally, what do you think the ultimate potential of virtual reality is? And what it might be able to enable?
[00:20:56.500] Victor Agulhon: So I do think that virtual reality is a technology. I think we've gone past the big hype of this is going to replace any other type of media. I think this is going to eat maybe the time we're spending scrolling on Instagram or scrolling on Twitter. I think it's a more engaging experience. I don't think it's going to replace everything, especially with the kind of content that we're doing. I think we're probably improving the experience of the videos you will see today on your Facebook feed. and we're also bringing maybe home the things you will have to go to the cinema to see. So I think we're just bridging different entertainment time and that's the kind of thing we're doing. So probably people are going to be using 20 minutes of headset a day in two years, three years from now. So our vision with this technology is that it's not going to replace any other technology. We don't believe that it's going to replace the TV, replace the radio. We think we are really adding something new. And in the conception of people, whether it be news, entertainment, documentaries, or any type of content, there's going to be a portion of virtual reality. And we think that this is going to take maybe 20% of the time that they spend consuming entertainment, consuming news. And that's the kind of space we want to fill. Whether that be in five years, in 10 years, or in 15 years, we know that right now some people are already consuming it. And that's for those people that we are making it right now. We just want to have them have the best time in virtual reality. So I think it's more a global vision of having a new platform that allows you to experience new things, but not about replacing the previous ones.
[00:22:20.495] Kent Bye: Awesome. Great. Well, thank you so much. Thank you very much. So that was Victor Argonaut, he's the co-founder of Targo and he's created a 360 video experience called The Man Behind Notre Dame. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that first of all Well, I think just looking at Notre Dame as a piece of cultural heritage, I've gone down a little bit of a rabbit hole today, just looking at the history of the building. I mean, it goes all the way back to 1163, sometime between March and April of 1163, when there's the first laying of the cornerstone in the presence of King Louis VII and Pope Alexander III. And then it took anywhere from 180 plus years, it's kind of debatable as to when it actually was finished, but according to the Notre Dame website, it was completed in 1345. So over 182 years of being built into various different phases, and it's debatable as to when it was actually completed. It's basically over 856 years old, and so you can trace it through back all these different moments in history, whether it's King Henry VI being crowned king on March 14, 1431, or Napoleon crowning himself emperor on December 2, 1804, Or during the French Revolution, there was this rebellion against both the king of the time, but also Christianity in general. And so sometime in 1793, I think maybe around November 10, 1793, I wasn't able to pin it down exactly, but history.com said that the Notre Dame Cathedral became the site of a festival of reason, a revolutionary and anti-religious festival that mocked Catholicism and suggested that French people should worship enlightenment principles instead. After the cathedral was plundered, it became the stage for a packed public event in which a seductively dressed actress portraying the god of reason was worshipped atop a mountain. So during the French Revolution, parts of it were destroyed and plundered. And then 1831, you have Victor Hugo, who wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which generated all this public interest about Notre Dame and was focused into an effort to be able to rebuild different aspects of the Notre Dame. So then there was a process by a couple of architects who apparently submitted their proposal to rebuild different aspects of the Notre Dame on January 34, 1843. There was a deadline where they submitted all their plans and then they eventually started to build. And some of those things that were built were then destroyed within this fire that happened yesterday. So I guess the reason why I went through all that in some way is just to say that these places of cultural importance embed within it all these different layers of context and history that there's all these things that happened that it becomes a piece of architecture and memories over centuries over 850 years worth of People going to this site for prayer and worship, but not only that but it's this public space. It's just Beautiful from a secular perspective. It's a piece of French Gothic art and it's so many different aspects of stories embedded within the architecture itself and so it's a form of spatial storytelling and you can go there and just see that it's capturing a moment in time and and I think that's why we get so drawn to these places. As we go to places like Paris, we go to these places of cultural heritage where they spent over 180 years to be able to build this piece of architecture that is embedding so many things that they're valuing within their culture and it becomes a moment in time that you can revisit and it captures all these different aspects of cultural heritage and history. And so I think there's a role of virtual reality for not only to be able to capture and preserve these aspects of cultural heritage that, as we see, there's beginnings, middles, and ends, and for every concrete object. And so VR has a role to be able to start to preserve different aspects of this heritage for people to have access to it, but to also find ways to bring in all these different elements of history. I think that's going to be a huge part of trying to weave together these narratives of history as we start to capture these experiences, but to find the story. In this specific experience of the man behind Notre Dame, Victor was saying that they were really focusing on trying to tell the story of this man who was the head priest of this for the last five or ten years or so. And because of that, they were able to focus on his story, but to go into different places around the church, both within a public context and a private context. Context was something that I was thinking quite a lot about when I was traveling to France and had spoke about it in my keynote that I gave there on experiential design, which hopefully I'll be airing here at some point. But in this specific experience, I was really struck by how when you choose a location to be able to film an interview, that location is going to have a very specific context that may be more suited to be able to talk about very specific things. So it's interesting to think about the connection between context and someone's story and what type of memories those places evoke so that when you're sitting down to start to capture someone talking about things, you can start to draw out those different aspects of those memories. And so the thing that I regret is that as I was recording this interview, I think even said, Oh, wow, I would love to go to the Notre Dame to be able to see the difference of what it's like to see a virtual reality experience and to actually have the lived experience because I think there's always going to be something that's different. Between a symbolic representation of a thing and your actual direct experience of that thing that qualia gap between What you think it's going to be even from reading about it seeing pictures or even seeing a virtuality experience It's not the same thing as actually being there there's something that is different and alive and is activated by you having a lived experience within that place and I had thought about going there, and I didn't. Instead, I ended up going to a number of different museums, and actually what ended up happening was that I was going to a different church, the Sakrakura Church, but what happened was there was actually the Yellow Jacket protesters were choosing the Sakrakura Church on that day. It was Saturday, March 23rd, 2019. It was just overtaken by Yellow Jacket protesters, and actually the police had shut down the church for me being able to even go into it, but it was just a spectacle to be able to see all these different protesters that were protesting a lot of the abuses of the powers that be, whether it's the economics or the leadership of the country. So there was a lot of different protests that were happening around these balances of power, and if you go back through the history of looking at something like the French Revolution, there were similar types of uprisings that were happening that ended up having these different places of cultural heritage be ransacked and destroyed. And I think it was actually the previous weekend on like March 16, 2019, when the Yellow Jacket protesters had ransacked different Paris boutiques and restaurants and You know, they had really caused a lot of damage. And so, when I was walking around Paris on that March 23rd, there was just a lot of things that were closed off. There were police everywhere. And so, I just got this real visceral experience of these different tensions that were emerging within Paris from my own direct embodied experience. Also, I should mention that at the same time that the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was burning, there was also a mosque in Jerusalem, the Al-Asqa Mosque, that was also burning at the same time. And it's actually originally built way back in 705 CE, which was destroyed in 746, and then rebuilt in 754, and then rebuilt again in 780, and then another earthquake destroyed it in 1033. So anyway, there's this mosque with an enormous amount of history that was also burning at the same time. So for me, it was just symbolically very interesting to see that there is these two symbols of both Christianity and Islam that were burning right at the same time. and that most of the coverage that we see in the Western media was focusing on Notre Dame, but I just wanted to call out that it was actually another piece of cultural heritage that was burning at the same time there in Jerusalem. So I didn't have a chance to go to Notre Dame while I was in Paris. I ended up seeing this whole Yellow Jacket protest. That was a whole experience within itself. And so that's kind of what I was left with. I ended up going to the Palais de Tokyo, which is an amazing immersive museum that has all sorts of immersive art as well as immersive VR experiences. If you're ever in Paris, you should definitely check it out. But I'm personally regretting going out of my way to be able to see the Notre Dame. I had got this intuition that I wanted to see it again, especially after seeing this experience, and now it's going to be a long, long time. It looks like there's going to be people that are going to want to rebuild it and spend hundreds of millions of dollars, at least by a couple of billionaires who had stepped up to start to fund the rebuilding of the church, but it's going to take quite a long time, and I don't even know if they have any sort of architectural plans or what the process is even going to be, but it's certainly going to be a long, long time before we'll be able to step inside of the Notre Dame again. But I would highly recommend checking out this documentary, The Man Behind Notre Dame. It's available on Within, and you might be able to find it on other places online as well, but it's definitely worth a watch, and it's certainly very well produced. So that's all that I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. 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