The Epona Project was, or perhaps is, probably the first serious attempt to build an fictional biosphere from scratch. There is still a website, definitely worth watching. Admittedly, the project has stopped in the sense that no new life forms have been developed for a long time, nor is that likely to happen. But the website is being added to, and I return to it from time to time. The last blog entry on Epona is to be found here, while another one that shows the same scene as is shown in the film below is right here. This time, I used Vue Infinite (version 7.5) to produce a film of almost one minute duration.
How does this work? Well, first of all, there were the life forms to consider. Steven Hanly had modelled them in the past, and it proved possible to port some of his models into the Vue environment. The 'uther' you see flying in the scene is entirely Stephen's doing. The plants could not be used directly, as present-day computer imagery requires more detail than was available when he first designed the models. They were therefore designed anew, using XFrog for the large leaves of the pagoda trees and for all small plants. The stems of the large pagoda tress were done in Vue Infinite. The trees were assembled in Vue, and Vue's 'ecosystem' feature was used to create a terrain with a stream running through it. Then just imagine that a 5-second fragment of film may need some 34 hours to render.
After that, a bit of sound was added, a process I have hardly any experience with. I hope the result is not too jarring.
Anyway, there we are: perhaps the film is about a robot drone taking a look on an Eponan archipelago, covered by a pagoda forest. There is a larger version on YouTube. The original film on my computer is much better; I wish I knew more about optimising quality while compressing a video...