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Grgeon
04-16-2011, 02:40 AM
Interesting blog post on a TD's first experience with houdini. I'll be in the same boat soon.


Blog post... (http://animateshmanimate.com/2011/04/15/from-maya-to-houdini-and-l-systems/)

If you know of othere Maya artists sharing their experience with houdini, i'd like to read about them.

Thanks,
George

Cordeiro
04-16-2011, 11:46 AM
I'm sure the guy is a very competent artist, but, seriously, to me, he's just complaining about Houdini not being Maya. People get uncomfortable with the unfamiliar and point the differences as flaws.
Just try to adapt, Houdini still exists and is relevant because it is different, if it was simply a better maya it would have gone the way of the dodo long ago. It being diferent gives you the opportunity to solve problems from different angles, try to understand the logic, you'l adapt to the spacebar easily :).
As for the crashes, in my home imac it crashes a hell of allot less than max in my job's PC. Never tryed-it in windows, thought. I guess the best way to run-it should be on Linux.

booyabase
04-16-2011, 01:46 PM
on windows and linux it runs fine, and a nvidia gpu helps. I have barely any crashes

Cetras
04-18-2011, 09:23 AM
The only problem with people who try houdini is, in most of cases, they keep Maya or Max in mind and try to use Houdini like these soft. You just can't use houdini like you would use Maya or others, and when you are this in mind, when you learn how houdini works, it's a great great tool like other with bad and good points :)
When you go to maya from 3dsMax for instance, it's almost the same logical, they are close and that's the main difference with Houdini !

Grgeon
04-18-2011, 07:36 PM
That's good to know. I will try hard not to have maya on the mind when i start houdini. Thanks for the tip.

-GC

ArrantSquid
04-19-2011, 07:51 AM
Since I'm the actual author, I figured I'd chime in here.

I went into Houdini with an open mind and as I pointed out, there's A LOT to love about Houdini. I really liked the node-based workflow and a lot of the tools just felt like they fit together well. And in all fairness, I didn't expect it to work like Maya. But I did expect it to work. :/ The number of crashes I had was insane and this was working with small scenes with less than 2000 polys. And the post was half-review half-here's some tips for Maya users who want to delve into Houdini. I think I was pretty fair in what I said were things that could be improved upon. It's not like I ripped it apart and said, "Why isn't this Maya".

The only thing that really tripped me up in Houdini's use was the hotkeys and that's to be expected. I also tried using the marking menu from Maya in it a lot and that didn't work well either. :) But again, it was expected. I went through most of the tutorials that were relevant to my purposes for what I was trying to do with it and felt like some of them were ok, but many were dated. That was a big issue for me. There were video tutorials for 11 mixed in with stuff for 9.5 so I'm looking for stuff that happens to have been deprecated in 11 and it was just a pain. It would be like Maya shipping with 2010's documentation intersparsed with the 2011 docs. Just wasn't good. And the descriptions of the nodes weren't very spot on for someone getting used to the software. Really, those were my only gripes.

I really enjoyed working in Houdini and I actually think that if it was more stable on either of my machines I'd probably go straight to that for a lot of things. But the crashes were killer. The one nice thing it has going for it with the crashes is it does save the scene file in a directory so you can recover it and it actually tells you where it is - versus Maya where it expects you to figure out where it's buried and doesn't tell you that it saved anything at all.

booyabase
04-19-2011, 08:42 AM
hey John (ArrantSquid),

Just curious, You report to have a lot of crashes with houdini, may I ask what hardware You use for houdini, because this should not be the case. My experience is that it is very stable

best regards
Martin

rjw
04-19-2011, 12:42 PM
Would love to know more about the crashes you were experiencing as that sounds like you hit a specific bug. Side Effects releases daily builds and commit fixes on a daily basis. Crashing bugs take highest priority no matter the source. I would have recommended that you download the latest build and submit a bug report on the Side Effects Apprentice forum as that is the main reason for it's existence: Apprentice user software issues.

As for the hotkeys, they are case sensitive as you found out. With caps lock on, does the other apps you use bind both lower and upper case keys to those functions?

SYmek
04-19-2011, 09:30 PM
Seeing a problem in a fact that the application distinguishes capital letters in a hot-keys is perhaps the most ridiculous reason to complain I've ever heard! I was even suspecting the whole blog is a joke reading this part.

Secondly the author doesn't even consider that crashes are related to his setup, what implies the suggestion that a couple of fx departments around the world (dd, sony, framestore, rsp to name some) which use Houdini as its pipeline's backbone are plain lunatics. I'm not saying Houdini doesn't crash, I say it can't be that bad. This alone doesn't make a blog entry believable source of information.

What makes the author thinking that his apprentice experience can produce any valuable information for someone interested in evaluating a professorial grade software stays unclear to me.

ArrantSquid
04-20-2011, 02:33 AM
...may I ask what hardware You use for houdini, because this should not be the case.
Not a problem. I used a Macbook Pro with a GeForce 8600M GT with 4GB of ram and a Windows 7 x64 machine with a GeForce GTS 250 and 6GB of ram. Despite the Windows machine being more powerful it ran slower on there.


Would love to know more about the crashes you were experiencing as that sounds like you hit a specific bug. Side Effects releases daily builds and commit fixes on a daily basis. Crashing bugs take highest priority no matter the source. I would have recommended that you download the latest build and submit a bug report on the Side Effects Apprentice forum as that is the main reason for it's existence: Apprentice user software issues.

As for the hotkeys, they are case sensitive as you found out. With caps lock on, does the other apps you use bind both lower and upper case keys to those functions?

Most of my crashes seemed to happen when I would be within a tool. For instance I was in the edge loop tool and hit ctrl+z to undo and it crashed. I hadn't thought to grab a nightly build (I wasn't aware they released nightlies) but I'll try that out and see if I get better results. And in Maya, my hotkeys work as expected with or without caps lock on. Again, just something I didn't know coming from Maya because it wasn't expected.



Seeing a problem in a fact that the application distinguishes capital letters in a hot-keys is perhaps the most ridiculous reason to complain I've ever heard! I was even suspecting the whole blog is a joke reading this part.

Secondly the author doesn't even consider that crashes are related to his setup, what implies the suggestion that a couple of fx departments around the world (dd, sony, framestore, rsp to name some) which use Houdini as its pipeline's backbone are plain lunatics. I'm not saying Houdini doesn't crash, I say it can't be that bad. This alone doesn't make a blog entry believable source of information.

What makes the author thinking that his apprentice experience can produce any valuable information for someone interested in evaluating a professorial grade software stays unclear to me.

Sounds like someone pissed in your cheerios today. If you don't like what you're reading, don't read it. Plain and simple. And my assertion that hotkeys didn't work as I expected was simply something that was annoying and since the information was in regards to folks who were coming from Maya to Houdini - not knowing anything about Houdini - it was a point I felt was worth making.

I never even came close to saying that anyone was a lunatic or that Houdini was a bad piece of software anywhere in that entire post. Could my setup be part of the problem? That's entirely possible, but when I can successfully run other competing software without these problems it is cause to discuss.

And to note your last point, as I said, it was meant as a "Here are some differences between Maya and Houdini and here are some other thoughts as well". Not a "I'm going to review a piece of professional grade software because I'm a know-it-all" which is kinda how you're coming off. It was generalized information on basic things that I found and again, if you don't like it there's a whole internet out there waiting for you.

If you work with the software every day and think I'm wrong about what I said, feel free to "enlighten" me. I have no problem learning from someone else and I state the amount of time I had spent with the software so I knew that some of my information may be limited. If I've said something on there that's wrong or misinformed, let me know and I'll fix it. I am no fount of information. I simply write what I know and hope that it helps someone out. If it does, great. If not, maybe it'll help me remember something some day.

arctor
04-22-2011, 05:27 AM
regarding the crashes...
it's likely your video card...Houdini is VERY sensitive to openGL drivers etc...after a long time on win/linux I bought a mac because of a move for work - and I have to hide the stupid dock or Houdini becomes unusable (doesn't crash though) - but once I do everything is fine...
and don't let the fact that your card works just fine in maya or max or whatever fool you, Houdini is different in this area...

as for caps lock...I really LOL'ed at this...on linux I use a thingy in my .bashrc to turn the caps lock key off for the entire system....totally non-functional...I know Houdini users who just pop it out of their keyboards :)

docs have long been an issue for Houdini...they often seem to have been written by the developers themselves rather than people who write documentation for a living..and the SESI team is quite small esp when compared to Autodesk...but one good thing is that because of Houdini's procedural nature hip files themselves are a kind of documentation...there are example files shipped with the docs that cover just about all of Houdini's nodes - they are commented and are really quite great for learning the application...

as others have said, perhaps the biggest mistake people make when using Houdini for the first time is thinking about how they are going to do something in Houdini the 'maya way' or the 'max way' - it really is a mistake, even if it's an understandable one...but it's hard to break that habit...

I guess I would be called a Houdini Fan-boy...I'd prefer to think of myself as just a strong advocate :) but I'd never suggest that Houdini is 'the best' or even appropriate for all situations...you wouldn't catch me doing much high poly organic modeling in Houdini if mudbox etc were available...but for what I do (character TD and FX type stuff) I wouldn't choose anything else...

oh and yeah the L-systems rock :)

hope you continue to check Houdini out...the user community is small but very high level with a good signal to noise ratio

pclaes
04-23-2011, 11:06 PM
Reading this does provoke early memories of when I was first discovering Houdini (version 7 at the time). I think sharing your first experience is a good thing, as more advanced houdini users (including the developers) sometimes forget what it can be like when you have never ever used houdini.

Please read this with a smile and absolutely do not learn from this as it is mostly joking :), this is me as subjective as it gets, probably on my first week of houdini quite a few years ago -probably a bit more impatient too:

It felt like there was this huge beast of a software with awesome potential sitting there, staring back at me...

Coming from a Maya background I remember trying to have a script editor spit out commands back at me... because if you want to automate something in Maya... that's what you do, right? In Houdini, not quite, but it has a copy sop! How cool is that! No more ctrl-d with option box settings to fiddle with. And I can modify each copy with the channel expression (or whatever it was called back then, it is obsolete now...), now it is called the stamp() expression.

Wait, what? I can modify each copy upstream... my brain went in a short loop for a while. How can it send the data back up, and then back down..? Oh well... it's cool!

And I came across the spacebar thingy too :). I used to be a spacebar-ninja in Maya and all of a sudden that very useful flicking between panels, editors and views seems to have gone away... and why is my viewport rotating funny?! Stupid ALT key!

So I have vertices, edges and polygons... wait, vertices are points --all right, I heard they call them points in Lightwave too? All right... edges are primitives... errr... and polygons are also primitives?

Anyway, let's make a reflective sphere on a grid with some cubes and cylinders. Press Tab start typing: "cub..." -> nothing shows up... frack! where is it in this huge menu!! Let's try "cylin..." -> nothing shows up... Let's try "plane..." -> nothing shows up... :( - after 5 minutes of staring at all the options in the tab menu- aha! "Box" and "Tube" and "Grid" :P ... and "Teapo..." -> frack! Skip the teapot, I could not remember it was a "platonic solid" for the first month anyway... always had to look it up... and what is a "platonic solid"?

So I see points, ah, they have numbers, like particles in Maya! And I can randomize the position of each point with a point sop by using a rand() expression! And there are these variables like $PT, but when I tried to use $PT inside a color sop node, it did not work... so this $PT does not work everywhere.

So I added a color to the points and it is named "Cd", why can't they name it "color"? So I want to access that color value, let's try: Cd.x -> nope, Cd[0] -> nope, $Cd0 -> nope, $Cdx -> nope, $Cd[0] -> nope ... aaaarrrrgghhh!!! How am I supposed to know I need to use $CR, $CG and $CB to access the values... ??

What is this Normals that I need, a facet sop? Alright, add Normals... ok, aha, I see the little blue lines. Cool, so that is what normals look like. I had not really seen them often in Maya. So what can I do with them? Let's make a noisy grid! I'll see, maybe I can add a noise deformer or a rippled deformer. A noise deformer, what would that be in the list?... there is this mountain node that adds some noise, but only in the Y axis... pfff... Do I have to type all my expressions in a point sop again?

Ok, let's just add a material to it and a light and a camera and render. Adding a light, done... where is my light target? hmm.. I'll just rotate it a bit so it "looks at" the grid. Camera... same thing. Material... ok, go to "shops -shader operators" what the ..?! Where are all the materials? Why has everything in the tab menu changed again?? ah yes, I am inside shops now. pff, which one is a good one? There are so many, oh look, renderman nodes... does houdini come with renderman?? Anyway, which one? Constant is easy enough to start... How do I assign this to my objects? ah, I need a shader node in sops that will link to the shader in shops. All right, that makes sense.

Rendertime!! little renderbutton on the side toolbar->mantra1 (are there more mantras?), click... wait... mplay pops up!! Cool! It renders... black... frack!! In mplay try to look at the alpha channel, there is nothing there... Ah... I have these little blue or purple rectangles on sop nodes that I can click on to display or render a node... let's try again. It renders a sphere, but there are no shadows and it is a solid color!! Why does it not have a nice gradient on it?? Constant is a stupid shader, why would anyone ever use that!

pfff, maybe I should read the help... but there are no basic tutorials like Maya... I am stuck with these example files for each node and there are like 1000 nodes!! How am I supposed to know which one to use. Ah man... I am going to read that odforce forum with all those advanced users for a while (I actually read for two years before I made my first post, simply because I was afraid to embarrass myself by asking something utterly stupid, you have to understand that in my mind those were all smart industry professionals -and most of them are actually... ).

pff...intense first day of Houdini... Maybe tomorrow I will have a look at these "digital assets" I have heard about. Ah yes, and try out rendering with renderman!

ArrantSquid
04-26-2011, 09:32 AM
Hey guys! Thanks to both of you with your experiences.

@arctor: I hadn't thought about my dock being an issue and now that you mention it I may just hide it entirely while working in Houdini. I ran it on a Mac and when it was working it was great, but I kept getting this weird intermittent crashes. I should have been paying attention to my logs or launching it from the terminal so I could at least capture the output. I definitely plan on spending more time in Houdini, although I just got my hands on Maya 2012 so I feel a little need to start in on some fun stuff I've been waiting to do in it. :) I used the example files HEAVILY although I had a few instances where the internal viewer locked up (however they're serving up the docs wouldn't respond) and so I had to restart houdini to fix it. That was probably the best part of the docs was the example files. I started digging them apart once I had figured out that you couldn't launch it from their site, only from the internal one. :)

@pclaes: Thanks for that little tidbit. I laughed as I recounted having many of those same thoughts go through my head. It really was almost exactly like that. It was awesome and frustrating all at once and I kept getting mad about the crashes because I would get into this flow of how things were working and then I'd have to step back and figure out if it was something I did or just my computer. :) And I hope that someone takes something from it, be it a dev or a user. I know that someone from Sidefx actually visited it and commented, so it was definitely nice of them to even stop by and read what I'd written and even offer up more help in their comments.

Thanks again to both of you. I really did like Houdini and was actually just discussing this evening with a few folks how we can bring some of the awesome of Houdini to Maya. :)

-Sai-
04-26-2011, 07:51 PM
I find Houdini runs pretty smooth on linux with right graphic driver and production build.I only had about 3 crashes and it was able to track down as a user error.

Regarding your first Houdini experience, I will say give it some time and may be watch some of the peter quint tutorial on vimeo.One of the best houdini tutorials showing power of houdini .It might not be fleshy and cool but the logic and workflow can apply to some of the mind**** effects you will see on big screen in coming months.

Houdini is not Maya,Mudbox,Zbrush or Vray.Getting into houdini is not like buying a car but you are investing in a car factory.You get the most flexible software but it comes with the price of big learning curve.

Peace

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