I’d like to weigh in on some of the misconceptions surrounding the purposes of C4D or Houdini.
The idea that C4D is a streamlined motion graphics app, whereas Houdini is a high-end VFX-only tool is greatly oversimplifying things. I made the transition from C4D to Houdini around 2 years ago, and was under the same sort of misconception. Today, I can’t see myself ever going back to C4D, and I do precisely zero FX work - my work is primarily motion graphics, a lot of it 2D - all of which I do in Houdini.
C4D is a very capable app in several disciplines in its own right, but falls disappointingly short when your requirements grow to be a bit more specific or complex.
The idea that Houdini is only for the elite programmer type minds is also false. I am not a programmer, nor have I ever been one, although I do understand the basic structure of a script or expression.
I encourage anyone who is struggling to make things happen in C4D, to take a solid look at Houdini. The factory toolset has everything you need, for anything imaginable, no plugins required. The initial couple of months are rough - like really rough, no point trying to sugarcoat it. However, once you get over that hurdle, the app just frees you to do pretty much anything you want.
About that initial hurdle - the available free learning resources, both official and unofficial, especially for beginners, have exploded in the last couple of years; SideFX are pumping out learning content on a regular basis for both novices and experts. The official forums are very active and you’ll usually get an informed response fairly quickly, regularly from a dev. There is also the unofficial, and also very active, odforce.net forum, along with the Discord, where some devs also hang out.
The development pace has been nothing short of astonishing over the last 2-3 releases. I don’t use the word lightly. Each release has been massive since I joined at version 17. Even their .5 releases have been twice the size of any main release I’ve seen for other apps.
The support is also the most responsive I’ve seen. You’ll quickly get a human response to a feature request or bug report, and thanks to their daily builds, bugs are squashed regularly and quickly.
They have a SideFX Labs initiative, which is pumping out useful tools on a regular basis, with their own, independent release schedule. The Labs devs actively engage with creators and users to find out what tools people want. You get these new features for free without having to wait for the next version. I personally posted a feature request on the Discord for one of these tools, the dev responded to me, and it was added in the next version, a few days later.
Houdini Indie, the version I use, costs an absurdly low $269/year (or $200/year if you buy for 2 years). This is a fully-functional version with no limitations.
If you just want to learn, there is no price barrier, with the Apprentice version being entirely free to download, and fully functional, except for certain export limitations.
The pace at which SideFX is pumping out content feels like a jam-packed Christmas every few months, with no extra charge, and then it makes me sad when I head over to C4D-land, which looks like a barren, harsh desert, where you’ll get the odd cup of warm water thrown at you, maybe. For a fee.
I used C4D for over 10 years and loved it, but unless they can justify their price tag (which they can’t currently), I’ll never touch it again.