In episode 5, Eric Chevallet is joined by Fabien Barati co-founder and CEO of Emissive to discuss Immersive expeditions.  Fabien's company Emissive is the company behind immersive expedition like expeditions ‘Eternal Notre Dame’ and ‘Horizon of Khufu.’ During this episode we get a better understanding of the time and work that goes into these immersive expeditions.  

5 Minutes Ahead Is hosted by Eric Chevallet.  


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Show Notes

Immersive expedition: the ultimate time travel experience?  

Eric Chevallet: Hi guys, this is Eric Chevallet with BearingPoint, and today you are listening to Five Minutes Ahead. I have the pleasure to have with me today Fabien Barati, co-founder and CEO of Emissive. 

Eric Chevallt: So Fabien, can you introduce yourself? 

Fabien Barati: I am the co-founder and CEO of Emissive, a company I founded with Emmanuel, my partner in 2005. We specialize in creating immersive experiences, meaning that we use virtual reality mostly, and augmented reality to create experiences for companies, for events, for training, but also for museums in terms of cultural mediation. And now we're focusing on a specific format that we call the immersive expeditions that is really focused on the more general public, and which is a unique kind of experience. 

Ahead of the curve  

Eric Chevallet: Can you tell us a little bit about how you came into the immersive world back in 2005 and what it looked like back then? 

Fabien Barati: So, in 2005 I was almost out of school. I did some freelancing before creating Emissive, but in that specific school I learned real-time 3D, which is not only for games, but for other purposes as well, other use cases. And so, this is still what we're doing right now. We use real-time 3D to do any kind of experience. We started to develop those use cases to answer the needs of different clients at the time for training or for communication. If I'm talking only about virtual reality, we did some virtual reality projects in 2005, but it was quite different. There was no cheap and qualitative virtual reality headset at the time. It was huge expensive devices, but still it was a first step into this world really.  

Eric Chevallet: So just for me to understand, what do you mean exactly by real-time 3D? I understand that it is not wearing a VR headset? 

Fabien Barati: So with virtual, with the real-time 3D, you can do many things and virtual reality is one of those things. At the moment when you wear a virtual reality headset and you have a virtual reality experience, it chooses a real-time 3D engine. So, we used those engines back in the time as well to create VR experiences, with a headset, or in a cave, a cave is a virtual reality environment where you are in a room with projection everywhere. But those projections are calculated in real time, depending on your own position. You have exactly the same feeling as wearing a headset, but it's only for one person and it takes a lot of space and money. We were doing, like I said, training and communication experiences, but, we were also doing cultural experiences, what we call cultural mediation experiences that you could find in museums or you know, the venues. And so, and actually the first experience we created was the, for the Château de Versailles in 2005. And we always had this cultural educational aspect in our DNA.  

A journey on an immersive expedition 

Eric Chevallet: Tell us a little bit more about those immersive experiences, and if you can describe a little bit about what it means and how it works. 

Fabien Barati: The immersive expeditions are location-based experiences. That means that if you want to experience them, you need to go to a dedicated venue. And what you can find in those venues is a 45-minute experience in which you're going to wear a headset. So, it's a fully immersive, you're going to be able to move freely inside a very large space, around 500 sqm. And you can do that with other people. Usually, you come with friends or family, or colleagues and you can see each other, you communicate with each other, you interact with each other, you do that during the whole adventure. And what you can see inside, I will give you the example of the two immersive expeditions that as have been released since last year. The first one was ‘Eternal Notre Dame’. And in this one, you start in the middle age in the center of Paris, and you see the cathedral, Notre Dame being constructed, being built, you will meet some characters that will tell you about the construction, about the history, about the purpose of the cathedral. And you are going to visit it like in real life, but in a different time. So, you're going to see a lot of things that you cannot see nowadays. You're going to access areas that no longer exist inside, but also areas that are closed to the public. For example, the top of the tower or the inside of the bell tower of the cathedral. You can see it as if you were there inside Eternal Notre Dame. It's currently in operation in Paris. It's been in operation for now a year and a half. And it's going to open very soon in Taiwan.  And the second immersive expedition is called ‘Horizon of Khufu.’. And this one is about the great pyramid of Giza, the pyramid of Khufu that you can discover in present time, but you will have access also to rooms and corridors and areas of the pyramid that you cannot access in real time. And also, you will travel back in time 4,500 years ago to see the pyramid in its original context with the temples around and so on, all reconstructed with the help of an Egyptologist. And, for all our immersive experiences, we work with scientists and with historians to recreate everything because it's important for us that everything is right in terms of knowledge that we can share with the public. So, it's really educational, but at the same time it's an adventure.  

How long does it take to travel back in time? 

Eric Chevallet: How long does it take to build something like Eternal Notre-Dame? What's the work behind? I understand that you go through the history with the historian, but basically how long does it take? 

Fabien Barati: Yeah, so each title takes around a year and a half to create with a lot of what we say pre-production work. Working with the experts and trying to build a coherent scenario and to project ourselves in the actual experience with the different scenes, the staging, the characters, everything. We try to build all of this, I mean, to imagine all of this during maybe six months and then we have a year to create it for real. So it takes a year and a half to create one immersive expedition. 

Eric Chevallet: Okay. You're using the word production a lot and when I'm listening to you Fabien, it sounds like you're making a movie, just that instead of going through a movie theatre, you're going through a dedicated site and wearing a VR headset instead.  

Fabien Barati: Yes. It's the production and even the distribution and operation and overall, the business model is close to a cinema. The production of a title is like a movie. We are finding co-producers to create this content, but it's also an investment because of course every co-producer wants to get a share of the revenue in the end. And it's also the same for the distribution part of those titles and the operation of those titles. So that means that now we are creating a network of venues capable of operating those immersive expeditions and they will be able to receive regular new immersive expansions, exactly like a movie theatre having different movies. 

Different geographies  

Eric Chevallet: Okay. And, you mentioned that you were present in France and in Asia. What are your next locations? What is your plan in terms of expansion abroad? 

Fabien Barati: Right now, we have three venues operated in France and one in China. One will be open in Taiwan in a month and more are going to be opening in France later this year. But also in the UK and in the US we have a lot of launches that are planned for the rest of the year and of course for next year. So those venues will open with our current titles, which are ‘Eternal Notre Dame’ and ‘Horizon of Khufu.’ But there will be also new titles coming. The next one actually launches in October. It's a co-production with the Museum of Natural History of Paris. And at this time, it's a travel back in time, billions of years ago to understand life and the development of life. We'll meet a lot of different species through time and it's going to be quite an adventure.  

Eric Chevallet:  Do, do you see differences in terms of participation and visitors when you are in France versus when you are in Shanghai? 

Fabien Barati: I would say it's very similar. I don't see really a difference. It attracts a very large audience, so in term of ages, you can see of course young people, but also older people who come as a family or friends. You can see couples, colleagues or people alone. It's large, very large in term of audience. That's interesting to see. And, yeah, I mean I don't see really a difference between the public in Shanghai and the public in France, which is always a good surprise. So yeah, we are very happy about that. 


Eric Chevallet: So what is next for you? Do you have any new title in the pipeline or because you're busy opening several sites, do you have time for future productions? 

Fabien Barati: Sure. We, we aim to launch at least two new productions every year. This year, there will be only one new, which is the one we are creating with the Museum of Natural History. And that will be launched in October, but early next year there will be a new immersive expedition. This one is more about fine arts in a very famous Parisian Museum. I cannot say yet!   

Eric Chevallet: And what about opening new site or new geographies or are you going to extend in China, US, Europe? 

Fabien Barati: Yes. We are hiring a lot at the moment to develop our deployment team because there are a lot of new venues that we are planning already in these next few months.  

Eric Chevallet: So Fabien, thank you very much for the discussion and good luck with the upcoming openings and guys, I'll see you soon. 

Fabien Barati: Thank you Eric. 

Eric Chevallet: Thank you Fabien. Bye-bye. 

  • Eric Chevallet

    Eric Chevallet is an entrepreneur and innovator with a passion for technology. Eric is currently leading the immersive lab for BearingPoint, where he specialises in helping clients maximize the potential of augmented and virtual reality solutions.

  • Fabien Barati

    Fabien Barati is co-founder and CEO of Emissive, a company specializing in immersive experiences since 2005. Passionate about digital innovation, he and his team create interactive installations that use virtual and augmented realities in entirely new ways. Fabien notably coproduces the immersive expeditions ‘Eternal Notre Dame’ and ‘Horizon of Khufu.’

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