Daisy Ridley (“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”) and Cécile de France (“The New Pope”) have narrated “Dawn of Art,” a VR experience executive produced by Atlas V for Google Arts & Culture and the Chauvet Cave, one of the world’s most famous prehistoric rock art sites.
Launched Thursday on the platform Stream VR, the 10-minute VR experience is part of an immersive project, comprising a YouTube 360 Video, and an AR format available on the mobile app “Pocket Gallery” developed by Google Arts & Culture to allow people to explore the frescoes interactively.
The Chauvet Cave, located in Ardèche, France, features paintings created 36,000 years ago by humanity’s ancestors and showcasing emerging human creativity. The site was discovered in 1994, but had to be sealed off to the public to prevent damage. The Chauvet Cave then approached Google Arts & Culture a few years ago to restitute the site through modern technology with laser scanning and photogrammetry since 2006.
“We were approached by the Chauvet Cave to create a truly original project that would capture the breadth of this treasure and share it with people around the world because it’s a universal heritage that belongs to humankind,” said Sixtine Fabre, France and Southern Europe partner manager at Google Arts & Culture.
The VR experiment, which is respectively narrated by Ridley and de France in English and French, allows virtual visitors to “discover the surroundings of the Chauvet Cave, explore the Horses Fresco up close, and marvel at the drawings coming to life,” said Google Arts & Culture, which financed the project with Chauvet Cave.
On top of securing a prestige voice cast, Atlas V also enlisted Emilie Valentin, an up-and-coming French screenwriter, to pen the script of “Dawn of Art” while the studio Novelab created the VR experience.
“Google Arts & Culture gave us ‘carte blanche’ to create a unique VR journey that looked cinematic rather than institutional,” said Pierre Zandrowicz, producer and co-founder of Atlas V, along with Antoine Cayrol, Arnaud Colinart and Fred Volhuer.
“Both Daisy Ridley and Cecile de France were passionate about this project and each in their own way, they contributed to making this experiment a work of art in itself, ” added Zandrowicz.
Volhuer described “Dawn of Art” as being in the veins of Eliza McNitt’s science-themed “Spheres,” produced with Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel at Protozoa.
“Like ‘Sphere,’ ‘Dawn of Art’ is poetic and allows virtual visitors to learn something about an uncharted territory — it’s meant to spark their curiosity through narration and images,” said Volhuer, adding that the frescos drawn in the Chauvet Cave take us back in time and illustrate our ancestors’ fascination with nature and animals.
Founded in Dec. 2017, Atlas V has produced or co-produce several critically acclaimed VR experiences such as “BattleScar” (narrated by Rosario Dawson), “Gloomy Eyes” (narrated by Colin Farrell), Jan Kounen’s “Ayahuasca,” and “Spheres.” Their productions have premiered at Sundance, Tribeca, Toronto and Venice, among other festivals.
Google Arts & Culture has worked with over 2,000 cultural institutions from 80 countries to deliver immersive content exploring art, history, wonders of the world and stories about cultural heritage, from Van Gogh’s bedroom paintings and Mandela’s prison cell to Ancient Temples and Dinosaurs.