In the early spring of 2019, virtual filmmakers Victor Agulhon and Chloé Rochereuil filmed the interior and exterior of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Just a few weeks later, the 850-year-old landmark was nearly destroyed in a fire. “The day after the fire, we realized we had precious footage in our hands,” Rochereuil says. She and her team partnered with Oculus to create a new documentary called Rebuilding Notre Dame.
The film, which blends footage from before and after the blaze in the same locations, captures the majestic space so well that viewers can practically smell the incense mingled with smoke from the fire. “With 13 million visitors each year, Notre Dame is a topic that speaks to everyone,” Rochereuil says. “It’s also a unique building that involves many communities and conveys strong emotions for believers and nonbelievers.
Virtual reality was the most powerful tool to re-create these feelings, the ‘wow’ effect everyone had when they entered the cathedral. Being able to experience a mass in Notre Dame again, watching the details of the bells, the rosaces [the glorious stained-glass rose windows], and contemplating the beauty of the building … these are things only VR could deliver.”