The Hotel de la Marine in binaural
Initially dedicated to the king’s furniture, the building is an 18th century landmark on the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
The Garde-meuble de la Couronne changed use after the Revolution and for two centuries housed the administration of the Navy (hence its current name). In 2015, the Navy moved and the State entrusted the management of the building to the Centre des monuments nationaux, which organised its opening to the public.
The CMN’s challenge is to offer a mediation that is largely audio in a building that has been brought back to its original state as much as possible. The authenticity of the place, the furniture and the decor invite to a simple immersion, without artefact. The various tour routes and the period characters are therefore presented in binaural.
The visit is made with a connected headphone. Walking around triggers the scenes. Five narratives are offered with different themes and durations. Most of the tours are available in nine languages and in audio description.
Radio France, via its Studio Radio France entity, entrusted me with directing the courses. I therefore had the pleasure of working with experts I already knew (Edwige Roncière, Frédéric Changennet, in charge of the project’s technical direction, Olivier Philippon, electro-acoustician) and of meeting others, notably Élodie Fiat and Mathieu Touren, whose know-how matched the idea I had of the level of expertise at the Maison Ronde.
At the Hôtel de la Marine, and for the first time on this scale (to my knowledge), binaural is produced in real time for each visitor via a head-tracker and an embedded binaural synthesis engine. The axis of the sound scenes can remain aligned with the rooms, the sound scenes coincide with the physical scenes to take the visitor back to the 18th century.
However, the sound courses are produced in native 3D (in a format that allows manipulation of the axis of rotation) and therefore require audio shooting. As the Hôtel de la Marine was undergoing renovation, it was at the Château de Rambouillet (also managed by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux) that the correspondence between location and acoustics was found.
The Hôtel de la Marine was inaugurated by the President of the Republic on 10 June 2021. The building has been open to the public since 12 June.