Houdini question

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  04 April 2005
Houdini question

Recently, I was spending some time in modeling in Maya. I work as a game programmer and one of my artist told me about the houdini and I have been looking into the modeling tutorials and as far I like its approach. I was wondering how good it is for modeling organic (Patch modeling)?
There is only one difference between a long life and a good dinner: that, in the dinner, the sweets come last.
  04 April 2005
Hey there,

I'm not a modeler but Houdini allows some incredibly powerful procedural manipulation of modeled geometry.

You might get a better response to modeling questions if you post on http://odforce.net/forum since there are more people over there who do model with Houdini, but I can say there are a few areas of interest to an organic modeler.

The EditSOP: can do procedural deformations with soft radius falloff.
The SculptSOP: artisan-like painting of displacements - see PaintSOP and CombSOP for similar capabilities for attributes and Normals.
UV Tools: UVPeltSOP for applying UVs to organic shapes and the UVBrushSOP for interactive brushing of UV spaces.

Poly meshes can be rendered as Subdivision Surfaces (for quads, optimally -but handles all polygons) .

Houdini's support for interactive NURBs modeling isn't as developed as the Polygon modeling.

This along with the regular host of tools - like Extrudes, Splits, Knitting, Lofting - makes pretty powerful suite of modeling tools. Edge-loops selection, Lasso, Marquee, Paint selections are all available - with more to come in Houdini 8.

But ask on odforce for a serious modeler to answer...

Hope this helps a bit,
  04 April 2005
Thanks a bunch. It seems this area of the forum is inactive. Thanks for the replay. I will ask on the odforce soon for info. We are looking into houdini for particles and other special effects here. On the line we wanted to know how easy it would be for existing people to adapt to houdini in terms of modeling ground. Since I am an ameature when it comes to 3D, I needed some info from the people who are experience with this tool and use Maya. Thanks a lot for the replay. Right now, all of the artists doesn't like it for modeling. But they love its particle system.
There is only one difference between a long life and a good dinner: that, in the dinner, the sweets come last.
  04 April 2005
No, there aren't too many regular Houdini users on CGTalk, are there?..

Houdini's modeling may or may not suit you depending on your needs - for fully creative organic models then packages like ZBrush and such might be more effective. I find it most effective for editing models which may be modeled anywhere, and you can actually effectively model _procedurally_. I know that I do a lot of this type of work.

Also, those modeling videos are kind of out of date - they don't reflect some of the newer tools that became available in Houdini 6 and 7. You could probably ask on odforce for example scenes which contain the full SOP chain to find out of people model in Houdini. Some might even by able to record a movie during modeling to demonstate it.
  04 April 2005
Well I couldnt call myself Houdini user, as I have yet to use it commercialy, but as a one-year apprentice user I did get some insight into workings of the formentioned software.

Now for an answer (from my perspective) for modeling questions. Patch modeling you say? If you come from Max or Animation master then you are accustomed to specific type of spline patch modeling workflow you wont find in Houdini. If you come from NURBS patch modeling background then you might be satisfied with what Houdini has to offer or you might not. If you come from poly (with or without post-subdivision) modeling habits, than if you spend some time with H, you might be excited as I am at possibilities in Houdini. Its fast, its elegant and most important of all, its completly non-destructive if you want it to be without any (or with negletable) processing speed penalty. Objects can be abstractly parametrized. What this means is you can have parameters that change entire branches of operators and influence drasticaly the end result. Think of this:

1.you make a parametric model of building that has parameters for number of windows, windows type, number of towers, width (this isnt same as scaling but it can be in simplest form), height etc.
2.you want a city - just instance the building and vary the parameters...instant city

Take note here. Most packages have a so called grebble or whatever function. This instances a object on a support and varies the parameters making complex shapes, even cities. But what parameters it varies? Only (mostly) the transform matrix: scale, postition, rotation. Maybe that function can vary some other parameters but in most cases (except H) it cant create completly different looking objects per instance. This is the true power of directed acyclic nodal graph systems such as H or Maya or whatever. The only difference is that H is most mature and most usable IMHO.

Back to modeling, I did this in 96 operators.
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<<< GFX @ speed of the mind >>>
  04 April 2005
Thanks for all the info guys. We were playing around with the apprentice and it seemed very powerful for polygonal modeling. 4 of the modelers here (and me) found some of the style very useful. Others still prefer Maya because they do patch modeling and found H a little more difficult. But we chose it to be the special effects tool in out production pipeline. Thanks
There is only one difference between a long life and a good dinner: that, in the dinner, the sweets come last.
  05 May 2005
I'm sold on the polygonal modeling. I have been using it for a 1 1/2 years now. Haven't really experimented in nurbs/bspline work yet. It is harder to pick up. When I first started at my current job, the native package the company is using is Houdini, but the majority of modeling was done in Maya by well, mostly Maya users. Since I came from a Softimage 3D / XSI studio (Mainframe Ent), I had the task of learning two softwares at once. Building a human head as a benchmark, it took me a couple of day to build one from scratch in Maya. But it took me over a week to build the same one in Houdini. Houdini's tools were much harder to learn.

BUT - I didn't stick with Maya. I decided the tools and procedural nature of Houdini were an advantage over the steep learning curve.
Hope that puts things in perspective.

Jim Su
  05 May 2005
Jim, so now that you have learned Houdini, how long do you think it will take to build your next head?
  05 May 2005
Well, I don't often have to build things from scratch, usually try to reuse meshes as best as I can, but recently I just built another head model at home. Of course I only spent time periodically on it instead of full time. So to lay down "adequate enough" topology, not worrying about finessing, It probably took around 2-3 full time days. I bet the same time it would take me to model something in XSI.
  05 May 2005

The model that I posted a pic of earlier in the thread took about 1-2 hours. It isnt really on-par with my XSI or Wings3D or LW work both quality or speed wise but I think with some practice and some custom scripts Houdini can be as fast as any of those programs for modeling and it has additional benefits like hugely superior UV mapping tools unmatched IMHO in any program.

I eagerly await H8 Apprentice challenge if SideFX makes one.
<<< GFX @ speed of the mind >>>
  05 May 2005
Houdini is an Incredible Modeling Tool

Hey Guys,

Well I am looking at putting out some advanced modeling workflow videos for Houdini. I posted this thread in the ODForce website.


Basically I am going to present a way to create whole sets of character models by just moving around sliders which will procedurally remodel and or manipulate the mesh. Then how to load these models into ZBrush from Houdini and have them automatically sculpt up from a tool. Then you can export it back to Houdini and reposition the character model from the procedural rig system to then do custom modeling exported into displacements that can be tied into the rig and get real time visual feed back to the animator.

Houdini has really good modeling tools. The NURBS tools are awesome. They are complex and take awhile to learn. The way you model NURBS in Houdini is totally different then the way you would model them in Maya, XSI, or Max. They have a really cool NURBS modeling tool called Pasted NURBS. You take one NURBS and then you take another and then Paste them and you now have one NURBS. Which is awesome. Its a totally different workflow. I personally like Houdini's NURBS tools more than Maya's. They have some more tools in Houdini that are just really powerful.

Houdini is really fast for modeling if you know how to use it right. If you don't then it will take you forever and seem like it is not a good modeling package. The thing is in Houdini you can create your own custom modeling tools with no coding in several various ways. You can use the displacement system shading as an actual surfacing tool. At which point you have your own custom modeling tools that can be animated. You can also do some other stuff.

An even more interesting idea since you mentioned the buildings is to have a city builder using either points from geometry or from particles and have the points/particles build your city for you along with some VOP POPs and some other cool stuff and then export the models out to your games. You can defantly use Houdini as a Model generation tool in corperation with other programs like ZBrush to get insanely fast turn around for your models. I mean there is nothing like moving some sliders around and then having a new character base to build up in ZBrush with only 5 minutes work. Once you have the procedural system in place you can do stuff like this.

Nate Nesler
Sleep is a friend that I wish I could visit with more often.
  05 May 2005
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