Virtua Narbo V2.0
VIRTUA NARBO V2.0
UNREAL ENGINE AT THE HEART OF A LARGE NATIONAL EXHIBITION
produced by Passé Simple
I – GOALS
Virtua Narbo is a VR application produced with Unreal Engine. Its goal is to allow the user to visit Narbo Martius (Narbonne, France), the first capital of Roman Gaul, well before Lugdunum (Lyon) and Lutetia (Paris). This rich city called “the daughter of Rome”, one of the most important of the Antiquity, has disappeared since. But thanks to the work of scientists, along whom our collaborator, Jean-Claude Golvin, archaeologist and world specialist in reconstitution (he notably collaborated on “Assassin’s Creed Origins” and “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla”), Narbo Martius can be visited thanks to computer graphics.
Virtua Narbo allows the viewer to move freely in its various applications:
a) Scientific and educational use
b) ” Virtua Narbo / Tour “: The guided tour (free and accompanied visits)
With the help of Epic MegaGrants in 2019, we were able to design a first version of this application, which we named Virtua Narbo V1.0. Added with other financial contributions (Occitania Region, France Televisions), this helped us to make several sectors of the ancient city accessible in VR. We also used Virtua Narbo V1.0 to produce animated sequences for our documentary “Narbo Martius, the daughter of Rome”, awarded in film festivals (see IV – Virtua Narbo V1.0, presentation and assessment (Epic MegaGrants 2019).
Today, with the help from Epic MegaGrants, our goal is to develop Virtua Narbo V2.0. and to present it in the prestigious Narbo Via museum in Narbonne, one of the most important archaeological museums in Europe, as a complement to a nationwide exhibition “Narbo Martius, rebirth of a capital city” that will be presented from June to December 2022.
Reminder Virtua Narbo V1.0 : https://passesimpleprod.wixsite.com/virtua-narbo
This exhibition was commissioned to Passé Simple. Our company has chosen to place Unreal Engine at the heart of this exhibition by producing the immersive content using Unreal 4 & 5. However, no VR part have been ordered. We believe that this is an exceptional opportunity to promote VR (though the museum), so we are requesting an Epic MegaGrants.
With the help of Epic MegaGrants, Virtua Narbo will move from a regional project to a national and even international production.
II – THE EXHIBITION ” NARBO MARTIUS, REBIRTH OF A CAPITAL “
II.1 – The setting : Narbo Via, a prestigious museum
Official website : https://narbovia.fr
The Narbo Via Museum was built by star architect, Sir Norman Forster. Inaugurated in 2021, the Narbo Via Museum traces the history of the ancient city of Narbo Martius. Through more than 1,000 exhibits, the capital of the Narbonese Gaul province reveals its treasures: a collection of funerary blocks assembled in an automated wall; mosaics and wall paintings worthy of Pompeii ; 3D reconstructions of the ancient city and its harbour. Narbo Via is recognized as one of the most important archaeological museums in Europe.
II.2 – A few words about the exhibition
The temporary exhibition “Narbo Martius, rebirth of a capital”, a co-production between the Narbo Via Museum and our company Passé Simple, will be a major event in 2022.
Initially displayed in the exhibition room (500 m²), the exhibition will be able to travel. Mixing science and mediation, our director Marc Azéma want the visualisation of Narbo Martius in all its forms: from drawings to computer graphics. The exhibition is made up of 6 modules presenting the emblematic monuments of the city (Capitol, villa, baths, amphitheater). The archaeological objects will be exhibited along with works from pop culture. This amazing dialogue between past and present will show how archaeology inspires the artists and media of our time (cinema, comic books, toys, video games).
A central module called “XP Immersion” will be added to the monumental views adorning the walls of the room.
II.3 – Unreal Engine at the heart of the exhibition: “XP immersion and video-projections
Unreal Engine is used to produce four video projections, as shown on the exhibition model kit:
1 = video projection (2 mn, computer-generated images): “Arrival at Narbo Martius”.
2 = video projection (2 mn, computer-generated images): “The panel of the Clos de la Lombarde’s Genius”.
3 = panoramic video projection (8 to 10 mn, computer-generated images): “XP Immersion”.
4 = video projection (6 mn, computer graphics and video): “making-of of the monuments seen in the exhibition”.
5 = Life-size views of four monuments restored in the “XP Immersion” projection (Capitol, Villa, Thermal baths, Amphitheater) on the main walls of the Exhibition Hall (about 6 m high and 15 m long).
“XP Immersion” will be the major attraction of the exhibition!
This projection room consists of 3 projection screens, each 6m long and 3m high. Arranged side by side and oriented at 60° one from the other, they allow to project a panoramic video image from 3 video projectors located in height, as it was the case with the Cinerama process (146°). With the view thus produced, for about ten minutes, the visitor to be completely immersed into Narbo Martius in the 2nd century.
This spectacular restitution in Computer Generated Images will be in the form of animated scenes, evoking life back then in the capital. These views will be produced with the latest Unreal Engine from the reconstructions already visible in our documentary, “Narbo Martius, the daughter of Rome”. The financing of this part of the exhibition will allow us to improve some of the renderings and to make new overlays on green screen. The credits will mention Epic MegaGrants.
II.4 – Virtua Narbo V2.0, the ideal complement to this exhibition
As a complement to this immersive projection, our idea is to take advantage of this event to present the Virtua Narbo V2.0 VR application to the Narbo Via museum visitors.
III – WHAT IS THE MONEY GOING TO BE USED FOR?
The Epic MegaGrants funding will help:
- Evolve the VR Virtua Narbo application by taking advantage of the innovations in the latest version of Unreal Engine
- Finalize and integrate into the VR application the missing new areas of Narbo Martius’ ancient harbour,
- Present Virtua Narbo V2.0 at the Narbo Via museum in Narbonne, as a complement to the exhibition “Narbo Martius, rebirth of a capital” (June to December 2022).
- Broadcast Virtua Narbo V2.0 on the internet, via the portal of our partner VrRoom, via Epic Store and/or SteamVR…
III.1 – Production stages
III.1.1 – PRODUCTION (work in progress for the exhibition)
> January to June 2022: production of the immersive projection
The financing of the exhibition “Narbo Martius, rebirth of a capital” and, notably, the immersive projection allows to produce computer-generated images of several new sites in the ancient city and to improve the rendering of sectors already accessible in Virtua Narbo V1.0.
Map of Narbo Martius (preparatory illustration by Jean-Claude Golvin): Sectors 1a and 2: produced and accessible in Virtua Narbo V1.0 /Sectors 3 to 6 : in production for the exhibition’s immersive projection – To be integrated in Virtua Narbo V2.0, if Epic MegaGrants funding is available.
>>> CURRENTLY UPDATED NARBO MARTIUS SECTORS 1 and 2 (accessible in Virtua Narbo V1.0)
> N° 1 – Domus of Clos de la Lombarde
> N° 2 – Capitol
>>> CURRENTLY NARBO MARTIUS SECTORS 1 to 6, TO BE RECONSTRUCTED IN COMPUTER GRAPHICS
> N° 1 – Private thermal baths of Clos de la Lombarde
> N° 3 – Via Domitia
> N° 4 – Bridge and quay
> N° 5 – Amphitheater
> N° 6 – GENERAL VIEW
III.1.2 – PRODUCTION (with Epic MegaGrants)
> July to December 2022: production of Virtua Narbo V2.0
Thanks to the solicited help, we will be able to produce the aforementioned work. This phase of production will take 6 months.
>>> The budget we need to produce Virtua Narbo V2.0: 190 000 US $
Details of the investment:
- Producing: 1 x $ 20 000 = $ 20 000
- Scientific consulting: 1 x $ 10 000 = $ 10 000
- Graphic designer mission: 6 months x 4 graphic designers x $ 3000 = $ 72 000
- Character and animation missions: 6 x $ 6000 = $36 000
- Programmer missions: 6 x $ 3000 = $ 18 000
- Sound design and musics: $ 4000 + $ 3500 = $ 7500
- Purchase of 2 machines: $ 6000 + $ 500 VR headset
- Communication: 1 x $ 20 000 = $20 000
Total: $ 190 000
>>> THE 6 MONTHS OF PRODUCTION WILL ENABLE SECTORS OF THE NARBO MARTIUS hARBOUR TO BE RECONSTRUCTED IN COMPUTER GRAPHICS
> N° 7 – Harbour of La Nautique (illustration by JM Falguéra, archaeologist)
> N° 8 – Imperial Villa’s Fish Pool (scientific illustration CNRS)
> N° 9 – Outport / Monumental canal (illustration by Jean-Claude Golvin)
> N° 10 – Harbour Master’s office and customs buildings (illustration by Jean-Claude Golvin)
> General map N° 11 – map with Narbo Martius and its ancient harbour, to be reconstituted in computer graphics
> Ships to be reconstituted in computer graphics (preparatory illustrations by Jean-Claude Golvin)
> Integration and optimization of all sectors (n° 1 to 11) in the Virtua Narbo V2.0 application
> Integration of the different means of navigation in Virtua Narbo V2.0
> Programming of the free and accompanied visits in Virtua Narbo 2.0
III.2 – Diffusion / exploitation
III.2.1 – DIFFUSION IN A REAL PLACE : NARBO VIA’s VR SHOW ROOM
First, Virtua Narbo V2.0 will be used in the Narbo Via museum as a show room in addition to the exhibition.
If we manage to produce Virtua Narbo 2.0 (with the help of Epic MegaGrants), the management of the NarboVia museum has commited to set up a specific animation program. That means supply staff people (guides animators employed by the museum) in order to help visitors to use Virtua Narbo 2.0 VR. This specific animation will take place during the period of the exhibition in a dedicated space at the museum.
The program will also include conferences and masterclasses with the Passé Simple team and other specialists, explaining the visual restitution designs and particularly the use of Unreal Engine.
Virtua Narbo 2.0 will evolve during the exhibition: New areas of the city and port will be integrated gradually, probably every month.
Eventually, with our institutional partners, we are also considering using a historic site on the territory of Narbonne in order to offer the immersive experience of Virtua Narbo V2.0 throughout the year. Several avenues are being explored. Virtua Narbo V2.0 could continue to evolve, along with the progress of archaeological research and the development of the cultural heritage of the region.
III.2.2 – DIFFUSION ON THE INTERNET
In order to present Virtua Narbo V2.0 to the widest possible audience, we intend to put it on the Internet. Several web portals are being considered: Vroom (with whom we have established a partnership), Epic Store and/or SteamVR…
In June 2023: presentation of Virtua Narbo Martius V2.0 (final) at the Narbo Via museum for the National Archaeology Days. With the presence of potential partners: region, city, INRAP, media press and TV…
2 uses are planned to allow the general public to test this immersive experience.
III.3. – Communication
Virtua Narbo V2.0, and thus Epic MegaGrants, will benefit from the communication associated with the promotion of the exhibition. The know-how of Epic MegaGrants will be systematically mentioned during the presentation of Virtua Narbo V2 to the media or the public.
Particularly, we are thinking of the Rencontres d’Archéologie de la Narbonnaise (RAN), which has become a major event of Archeology in France, bringing together specialized press and TV media. The next edition, which will take place in November 2022, could be the occasion to officially present the final version of Virtua Narbo V2.0 and to put it online on Internet. This presentation would be made with the Narbo Via museum and would benefit from an official cocktail party where many personalities would be invited.
Here, you can see all press articles with all the events where we could presented ‘Virtua Narbo V1.0’ since two years :
III.4. – Perspectives : a Virtua collection
The perspectives stated in our 2019 application remain valid: “Virtua Narbo” will serve as a model / pilot for a collection integrating on the same principle other places and cities of antiquity or other periods: Nîmes, Aleria (Corsica)”.
Thanks to the Epic MegaGrants 2022, we will be able to integrate the ancient harbour of Narbo Martius. This will allow us to extend our commercial approach to the great antique harbours of the Mediterranean coast which Narbo Martius communicated with: Ampourias, Massilia, Carthage, Alexandria…
In this perspective, we benefit, as for Virtua Narbo, of the incomparable competence of our collaborator Jean-Claude Golvin, who has recently published several works on ancient harbours and navigation in the Mediterranean sea (see book “Le Génie maritime romain” below).
This project is already interesting several potential partners (in Occitania, in Corsica and other regions).
In the same way, we keep in mind the possible development of this type of application in the form of an exploration game and/or serious game.