VR Installation


Take an expedition into the virtual Amazon and brush shoulders with the flora and fauna that fill a massive, 3D-animated terrain comprising the illustrated world of Tumucumaque. Fly above the forest canopy with the harpy eagle, zoom along with the poison dart frog, wade through the water with caiman, crawl across the jungle floor with the goliath spider, and explore ​Inside Tumucumaque​, a virtual reality experience that transports participants inside a stylized realtime rendering of the largest tropical forest reserve on the planet to explore from a local’s perspective.

Entering the rainforest by putting on the HTC Vive headset.

The installation at ZKM lets three user simultaneously enter the world of Tumucumaque.

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The Production

The VR project was initiated by the Interactive Media Foundation and produced in collaboration with Artificial Rome and Filmtank.
Our partner, the Interactive Media Foundation, undertook a real exhibition to the original reserve and brought back stunning footage which was also used for a movie production.
This footage serves as reference for our models and textures. The entire 400 hectare large world is fully computer generated and crafted by hand. We created 7500 plants in total, based on 80 models. Each plant was approved by the botanical garden Berlin. The Naturkunde Museum Berlin consulted us extensively on how to create each animal as realistic as possible.

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The Installation

The interactive installation premiered on 4 April 2018 at the ​ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe.
The exhibition was the latest in the center’s ongoing series titled “The Art of Immersion”, a program featuring contemporary work in the field of visualization and immersive experiences.
Visitors to the space were invited to step into a simulated environment and undergo a multisensory transformation of their reality.
Towering fourteen meters over spectators and reaching over three stories in length, the projection surface dominated the physical space, a humble nod to the impressive of standing at the base of the forest canopy - a distinct experience of verticality.

Swim with a caiman through the rivers of the Amazon region.

The skin of a caiman approved by experts of Berlin’s Museum of Natural History.

Discovering the underwater world.

Rising up to the skies.

Lianas and low-hanging leaves are crossing the trajectory of the harpy.

Aerial view of the harpy.

Landing harpy.

Harpy in profile.

Top view on the wild fauna of the amazon.

The frog area.

The user shrinks onto the level of the poison dart frog and can follow his movement.

A close up of the very tiny poison dart frog.

Concept art drawing of the frog perspective.

The perspective of the harpy.

In the forest: the spider view.

Painted styleframe – mantis view.

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From the very beginning it was clear, that we wanted to counteract the cold tech of today’s game engines. To achieve this, we created an unique look that plays with influences of natural history lexica and artists like Albrecht Dürer and Peter Doig.
Most of the textures were painted analogue with watercolors, then scanned and applied to 3D models. We then went on and created a set of customized shaders, amongst them a fast volumetric light for VR and a water-shader that would reflect the watercolor textures. All of this came together in our unity environment.

Water shader with analog painting structures

Analog painting texture on plants