Sylvain Pascaud

Exploration and the Digital (R)evolution

2018-19 CUSP Distinguished Speaker Series

Monday, October 1, 2018
6:00–8:00 p.m.
Davis Auditorium, Schapiro CEPSR

In 1985, the RMS Titanic was discovered at the bottom of the North Atlantic two and a half miles below the surface. That discovery was made with the equivalent of a torch light and a camcorder.

Thirty-five years later, the doomed Air France jet AF 447 was also found in the deep ocean, this time with the help of the latest digital autonomous robots, manned with acoustic imagery.

The digital revolution has impacted every aspect of the planet’s exploration; and we are only glimpsing the possibilities: from underwater robots to sophisticated drones and high-altitude solar vehicles, technology will enable us to go deeper and understand more about how our planet works than ever before. It will catapult us into a future we could not have imagined only decades ago. And it will also provide a key to preserving our place on that planet.  


For the past fifteen years, Sylvain Pascaud has served as Managing Director, Executive Director and Expedition Leader of Libre Comme l'Air (LC) Productions, a documentary film production company specializing in adventure, science and technology. LCL has developed projects with prestigious partners such as the Airbus Group, the National Georgaphic Society, Columbia University, The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Dassault Systèmes, and others.  

More recently, Shelter expeditions, a spin-off company, was incorporated in the United States to develop, manage, and finance some of the scientific and technology-based expeditions that underpin the films produced by LCL.
Sylvain began his career at the French Maritime Institute, Ifremer, onboard The Nautile research submarine. From there he moved to the Cousteau Society, where he conducted expeditions from The Calypso. Pascaud continued to work as an independent underwater cameraman and commercial diver and evolved to producing and directing films and TV series, as well as managing expeditions. To date he has over 100 documentaries to his name, aired worldwide.
Highlights of his career include organization of the Titanic 96 expedition, the first scientific investigation into the structure of the great sunken ship. The three-part series Titanic: Anatomy of a Disaster was produced by Canal Plus Group and the Discovery Channel and aired worldwide.
Pascaud was appointed by Airbus as Project Manager for the production of the international TV series (2003-2009) on the design, construction, flight test and delivery of the Airbus 380, the largest commercial airliner in the world. He was also instrumental in several phases of the search for AF 447, the Rio to Paris flight that disappeared in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and managed the final phase of the search project that resulted in finding the debris field in 2011.
He then assumed development, project management and expedition leadership for D-Day's Sunken Secrets, a two-month underwater expedition to survey and study D-Day wrecks off the coast of Normandy. This project was conceived as a tribute to veterans for the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landing in 2014. The documentary film, based on the expedition and featuring a 3D reconstruction of D-Day wrecks and of Mulberry Harbor, was aired in 20 countries worldwide.
More recently, Pascaud has been involved with the video coverage and media outreach for the E FAN electric plane project, which featured a cross-channel crossing in 2015. He is also working with Airbus and high-profile scientific institutions to develop the Airbridge for Science project, a unique endeavor to support cutting-edge research on climate change.

Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program


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