Houdini comparing to Maya

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  10 October 2004
Question Houdini comparing to Maya

I almost continue the previous question posted by Shinova. Actually I use Maya for my work, mainly for modelling, texturing, rendering purposes and I'm not an animator. What advantages can offer me Houdini over Maya (if any)? I should notice that I am not a programmer but an artist. Though writing scripts is not a problem for me, I appreciate clear workflow when I can put most of my efforts on artistic aspect of the work, not technical.

Thank you.

PS I beg pardon for my possibly bad English.
  10 October 2004
i have used houdini apprentice, and I wasn't hugely keen on it, i'd say stick with maya, but then again you might as well download the free version and have a play with it, a lot of software is personal preferance.


  10 October 2004
The short time I've had with Houdini taught me a thing or two:

- Proceduralism is hella powerful. Especially when your preplanning work for the scene at hand didn't go too well and you have to change something mid-fly. Houdini's object-based structure makes that easy.

- That said, this proceduralism aspect also detaches you from the scene. You feel more like you're designing a program rather than structuring a piece of art. You feel disconnected from the scene, essentially. Very artistic types will not like Houdini, from what I can tell.

So Houdini can make things get more "technical" rather than "artistic".

The proceduralism is great, especially when needs and plans change mid-way through a project. But then again, as it is now, you definetly feel more like you're programming rather than making art.
  10 October 2004
Well said about the personal preference bit..

In houdini you need to do (contrary to popular belief) extremely little scripting. An maya artist will write a ton on MEL on a project, writing things almost daily - whereas the average houdini artist might write 3 lines in as many months. That being said, the workflow/mindset of Houdini can be technical and sometimes not for the faint-hearted. The problem is that although you do have excellent "artistic" modeling tools and character tools that you will find yourself being drawn into the dark side of starting to be obsessed with creating clean and logical procedural modeling history. Gone will be your days of disregard for the precious mesh and what defines it! Its a delicious pain and I love it

Artistic? Z-Brush, maybe?
  10 October 2004

I think like jiversen, and I could add that the continous use of Houdini gives the user a clean idea of how and when a piece have to be modeled, animated... etc.

The words "creating a clean and logical procedural modeling history" have a great message inside them, we could say that houdini "teaches you" how to develop a fast and clean workflow.

About the artistic or not artistic nature of the software, imho every 3D suite has an artistic orientation, Houdini its also artistic but has infinite more control over your art than the most other 3d apllications out there. Its simply that, if you want a complete control about your artwork, or in the other hand, You want to left some of the aspects of your artwork to the "default" or in most cases "non modificable" parameters of your current 3D app.
  10 October 2004
Also, to me it partially depends on what you're doing - if you're doing it mostly for fun, as a student or in a relaxed environment then perhaps other software has greater ease-of-use for you. If you work in a high-pressure environment like feature production where not only to you have to be accurate and artistic, you have to be able to accept changes over and over again. When you're hitting version 56 of a single element in a scene (like shingles being ripped from a roof), the last thing you want to do is delete nodes and try again... and again.. and again. Having the persistent, flexible, modifiable operator chain makes these types of artistic revisions on an element possible without you feeling suicidal from doing repeat operations.

In the character field, Houdini is just starting to bloom. If you look at the raw tools in the package for character, I challenge to you beat their functionality. Superb bones, capture and weight-painting, manipiulation, posing, mirroring, wiredeformers, pose-space model extraction and -too boot- you can get right inbetween the capture and deform process and do anything you want there. There is currently a feature in production using exclusively Houdini for every element and that will put many peoples (mine too) minds at ease

Take care,
  10 October 2004
Personally, I think Houdini offers a lot for the artistic modeller as well. For example, look what David Rindner (one of the first people who jumped on board when Side Effects first released Houdini Apprentice) says about it:

I think David put it best when he said,
"Houdini allows me freedom to experiment, develop alternate designs, and keep the modeling process fluid." You can copy/paste node branches of your model and then experiment with different artistic decisions, easily comparing them. Contrast this with Maya, where you can only have one shape node per object. But perhaps, as an experienced modeller, he uses that flexibility more so than others.

If you read the Side Effects forum in those early days, you would never would have guessed that David Rindner would have been a Houdini convert.
  10 October 2004
Thank you all very much. It was very interesting to know your opinion. I think I should try Houdini and to decide if it suits my needs. I appreciate Maya for its interface, nodal system and paintfx is great tool. But I'm curious to try what is the procedural Houdini like. BTW, can anybody tell where can I find Houdini tutorials for beginners? I failed to find any except for those on the sidefx page.
  10 October 2004
An Artistic Approach to Houdini Modeling.


The Modeling in Houdini like they said can get very technical but at the same time it can also become more artistic. Here is the difference with houdini you don't just look at the viewport the whole time while you are modeling you also look at the chain of nodes creating it. You can and probably will like me switch back and forth between the two constantly creating new objects from nodes that already exist and then take all the modified parts from that you created branching from one node and bring them all back together as one object again and then continue on your merry way working back in the viewport. The number of modeling tools and the number of features for the tools are more than maya. Its an excellent modeling package. They have more Nurbs tools like pasted nurbs. They also do not hide anything from you while you are working which is going to make things more difficult while you are learning but much faster once you are up and going. You can literally model your character or scene to be modeled in parts that switch on the fly based on what the animator wants to do just by moving a slider. You set up with a switch surface operator and then you can switch between different pieces of geometry on the fly. Texturing and rendering well on houdini that gets really technical and deep compared to maya. The shading system is based around RenderMan so yeah you have more control than maya but you also work at a much lower level too. So I guess its a question of how deep down the rabbit hole do you want to go. You can create shader surface operation tools to become part of your modeling tool set that you just apply when ever you need them not to mention they can be fully animated. So you can do so much for the modeling side and the shading side. Texturing in Houdini is easy in Houdini. Its pretty much like maya except the paint on surface tools has more attributes to play with than maya so you have some more options. I personally after working on Houdini could never go back to maya for modeling unless some one stuck a gun to my head. Houdini is just so much more flexible and fast once I learned to the workflow which I will have to tell you took awhile because to a certain extent I had to relearn how to think since I had been on maya for awhile. I had to learn that I could do practically anything and there was no restrictions placed on me like in maya. So that takes some getting use to and you have to start thinking that way to really take advantage of houdini. Your modeling workflow process will be wildly different than in all the other Major 3D Apps. Anyhow thats just my thoughts. By the way get the 3D Buzz videos because he makes it so easy to transition into the thinking you will need to work on houdini. Watching the sidefx videos will frustrate you at first because its just to much of a transition all at once but after you watch the buzz videos you will appericate having the sidefx videos there to watch and learn from. They also have extensive model tutorials in pdf form that you need to look up on SideFx's site.

Nate Nesler
Sleep is a friend that I wish I could visit with more often.
  10 October 2004
Gone through the simple tutorial.. No difficulties yet, but can you explain what the difference between maya nodes and houdini's? I also wonder if there something like maya paintfx in houdini?
  10 October 2004
I wonder, how do they model hairs, fur or plants in houdini? I'm also very curious to see pictures, made in houdini. Is there any gallery of such works?
  10 October 2004
Try http://www.odforce.net .... The forums there are much more active than this Houdini forum.
  10 October 2004

Houdini's procedural system works great, at least on simple geometry that I tried. How is it effective, if working on a complex organic models? Suppose, I model a human head with polygons using a subdivide SOP. There should be quite a lot of mesh editing, moving vertices etc. Does it all requires a SOP for each action(group of actions)? It seems to me, that when the network becomes too complex, it also becomes almost useless. I may misunderstand something.. I'd like to know the approach of Houdini users on modelling complex organic shapes.

Thank you.
  10 October 2004
Replied at OdForce Also

Hey Guys,

I also replied to your question about Plants and PaintFX in maya compared to houdini at odforce. Same link Jason threw up there.

Nate Nesler
Sleep is a friend that I wish I could visit with more often.
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