Another R&D image from the above VR project:
The idea for the VR-experience was triggered by a TV-show on how trees communicate with each other in a forest through their roots, through the air and with the help of fungi in the soil, how they actually "feed" their young and sometimes their elderly brethren, how they warn each other of bugs and other adversaries (for instance acacia trees warn each other of giraffes and then produce stuff giraffes don't like in their leaves...) and how they are actually able to do things like produce substances that attract animals that feed on the bugs that irritate them. They even seem to "scream" when they are thirsty...
(I strongly recommend this (german) book: https://www.amazon.de/Das-geheime-Leben-Bäume-kommunizieren/dp/3453280679/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529064057&sr=8-1&keywords=wie+bäume+kommunizieren )
It's really unbelievable how little we know about these beings.
So we were looking to create a forest in an abstract style (pseudo-real game-engine stuff somehow doesn't really cut it IMO) that was reminiscent of something like a three dimensional painting through which you could walk. In the centre of the room, there was a real tree trunk that you were able to touch. This trunk was also scanned in and formed the basis of the central tree in the VR forest.
Originally the idea was, that you would touch the tree (hands were tracked with a Leap Motion controller) and this would "load up" the touched area and the tree would start to become transparent and alive and you would be able to look inside and see the veins that transport all that information and distribute the minerals, sugar and water the plant needs. From there the energy and information would flow out to the other trees in the forest, "activate" them too and show how the "Wood Wide Web" connected everything.
Also, your hands touching the tree would get loaded up as well and you would be able to send that energy through the air (like the pheromones the trees use) and "activate" the trees it touched.
For this, I created trees and roots etc. in a style like the above picture where all the "strokes" were lines. This worked really great as an NPR style since the strokes were there in space and not just painted on top of some 3D geometry.
Since Unity does not really import lines, Sascha from Invisible Room created a Json exporter for Houdini and a Json Importer for unity to get the lines and their attributes across. In Unity, he then created the polyline geometry on the fly by extrusion, using the Houdini generated attributes for colour, thickness etc.
To keep the point count down, I developed an optimiser in Houdini that would reduce the geometry as much as possible, remove very short lines etc.
In Unity, one important thing was, to find a way to antialias the lines which initially flickered like crazy - Sascha did a great job there and the image became really calm and stable.
I also created plants, hands, rocks etc. in a fitting style.
The team at Invisible Room took over from there and did the Unity part.
The final result was shown with a Vive Pro with attached Leap Motion Controller fed by a backpack-computer.
I was rather adverse to VR before this project, but I now think that it actually is possible to create very calm, beautiful and intimate experiences with it that have the power to really touch people on a personal level.
Interesting times :-)