" H " has taken over all Effects Jobs, almost all of it. is it good or bad ?


Hello all enthusiast,

I ain’t intend to start a war or comparison whats good or whats bad. Just doing a reality check here. I am here to share the fact that I have been going through as an Maya Effects artist. Believe it or not Every Major Studio has switched completely to Houdini because of its awesomeness.

I have been using Maya since I started my career 8 years back. Its a been a very interesting ride & great learning experience & I am still trying to master few areas as my learning goes on. but now I am quite worried after all this years of experience I have to master another tool. No matter I might quickly grasp the tool as most of the fundamentals in particles, fluids or rigid bodies remains same but I am not sure If I will have same level of confidence of what I have gain through years of experience using Maya.I know for the fact as being an VFX artist, one must always stay updated with latest tools & technology & learning multiple skills is no harm but I feel sad on the part I have spent so much time on Maya particles-fluids & now I have to try things in a newer way by using Houdini.

As what I heard & Know Houdini is really a great package/tool & on the other hand Maya is great & robust in few areas but unfortunately its not an complete effects package in terms of effects rendering . Maya’s updates are too weak, Particle Rendering has always been an long lasting issue. Rigid bodies are still so terrible to use it in production.

People end up writing their own tool or script to make it work in Maya as a plugin : they have to be, because the Maya architecture itself is just not made to handle technologies like that using the core architecture. That’s where Houdini is different: nothing is a plugin/black box, everything is controllable. And that’s essential for high-end production. So I guess I am loosing my steam over Maya’s future.
Its hard to find a job at big VFX houses based on maya ground at the moment but I am making all my efforts to quickly switch over this tool " houdini" which is in so much demand at the moment. I know learning never goes waste but I might still say after mastering houdini that my fav prefernece of tool is Maya as I like doing it that way but it doesnt matter how you do it & what you do. What matters is Output.

& for the folks who say Tool is not important Its An Artist of how he approaches to achieve the effects. I am so not buying this word. My worst Experience I faced in my interviews by one of the biggest VFX house recruiters. ( dont want to name but Its one of the big players in market). They post the FX td job details as " Needs To Know
Full knowledge of Maya (Mel knowledge a plus) and/ or Houdini
Effects animation experience
Familiarity with pipeline issues
Experience in producing effects such as smoke, fire, clouds, water, steam and explosions, plus experience with particle rendering and voxel based systems
Minimum of 6 months demonstrable experience in effects work on feature films
A good general TD background is desirable "

I qualified almost all the points except the Houdini part, the discrepancy was My knowldege of Houdini was less or say very specific. The recruiter didnt even bother to set up my interview with any fx related person. She took the whole interview on her own. I knew what I was dealing with but the sad part was throughout whole interview she didnt ask even anything about my reel & the knowledge or skills I showcased in my portfolio. All they wanted to know " how Much I know Houdini ? " " Can you do all those effects in Houdini because we are looking for people who are strong in Houdini not in Maya " . I being honest I admitted that I am not an houdini Pro & My knowledge is very adequate in Houdini. Guess what happened ?? I guess My application went to trash.

So folks I am not here to encourage any tool but as being an Fx guy like many of us here. Switch your gears or you might face same of what I went through. I am Moving already but My love for Maya will always stay Young & Bright. Hope Autodesk do something about it to make it a complete Effective Effects Package.



Ive been hoping Autodesk will give some major attention to its fx toolset everytime a new version releases.

Nucleus has been the smallest of bright lights and hopefully when Maximus tech or the ability to multithread nparticles happens it will bring Maya back into at least a considered role for FX at bigger studios.

I too am faced with learning a whole new program in my very limited spare time. After balancing a full time job 50+ hours a week, my family and my commitments to them I really dont feel like sitting down and learning something new.

An unforgiving business we chose for ourselves. Your work is amazing tho Vikas, you’ve inspired me on many occasions, I think that you will find work that will be happy to have such a talented artist be a part of their team.


thanks for the heads up Vikas. I myself have my heart set on Maya…personally I go back and forth from 3dsmax to Maya for Fx, but never really dove too much into Houdini. I guess I should start. =[ Although i’m pretty sure lots of Fx houses in LA use Maya and 3dsmax for Fx…maybe there transitioning?

In any case,
Autodesk … please update Maya Effects Package to compete better with houdini. :slight_smile:



People often talk about tools vs. artistic ability with regards to FX and CG in general and I think a lot of the time they miss the point. Artist approach is important but Tools enable artists to achieve their vision, and that’s all they really do. The key is to have the right tools for the job.

Houdini is another tool and adding it to your bag of tricks is going to make you a better FX artist because it’s going to enable you to use more efficient tools for certain jobs. Max/Fume, Maya/Nucleus, Softimage/ICE, RealFlow and C4D all have their place in the pipeline to name just a few. Hell, I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen FX artists use particles in Maya when Particular in Nuke or AE would be three times as fast and allow twice as much control.

Maya is a great package to know. It’s always seen reasonably strong usage an it has a tendency to force people to understand ‘how things work’ more than many other packages. That said it doesn’t and won’t do everything better than other programs. So I say add Houdini to your bag of tricks and embrace it for what it does well.

If you have an understanding of the fundamentals of FX and 3D and you can communicate with your team and leverage resources well then learning another package won’t take you long. In a few years something else will probably be taking names and kicking arse for dynamics and you’re probably going to have to pick up some of that program too.

Learning new tools can be fun and interesting. It can broaden your skillset and your employability as well as making you a better artist by forcing you to see new perspectives. The question really is do you want to be an FX Artist/Supervisor or a Maya user?


@ Axiomatic : Thanks for the feedback & I must say as an FX artist One must stay updated with current technology regardless of what tools have been used in production.

I worked for Dreamworks Animation Studio for past three years , they had their own proprietary tools in FX pipeline & I easily adapted those tools to blend in, so learning & adapting is not an problem here. My point was to bring out how Quickly " H " has taken over Maya. Maya is loosing its ground in VFX industry. Autodesk should do something about it.

Also My reaction was on the recruiter front, these days they ain’t seeing the talent or skills one already has , what matters is the candidates knows Houdini or not? so at such short coarse of time Its difficult to master any other tool. Anyway the bottom line of this story is Houdini is now leading & one must should possess the knowledge of " H ", if he or she wants to be in FX for a long term.


Hi Vikas, i think that you need to get over this bad interview , cause you definitly have the skills to find an excellent jobs.

For Maya you’re right i really feel the wind turning few month ago. But Many great companies like ILM, WETA, MPC , has a Maya base workflow + Custom R&D tools for FX jobs. And i’m sure that those companies don’t expect you to be proficient the day you start in all their tools …

I do think that images you produce are more important than the software you use. And i do think that people who hire guys base on technicalls skills on a certain package even if they produce ugly render are very rare ( i hope so :slight_smile: ) I also think that the best FX reels i’ve seen are not always houdini ones … So you must take your faith back on your job reasearch.

That being said, in the last month i start to learn Houdini, i was very doubtful about this “so powerful tool” , that i find too complex for my needs. But after one month i must admit that i fall in love with Houdini. The way shading works , the power of mantra , the low level control and the fact that you don’t need any pluggin anymore. I’m trying to switch 100% on Houdini, cause honestly i don’t see how AD could bring the gap beetween the 2 apps.

Maya is like coding in Python you get a powerfull object oriented code, Houdini is more C like you are 2 levels down , and your always lost with pointers and memalloc :slight_smile: but you get the control on your machine.

Houdini has a price to pay : complexity but the rewards is pleasure to work , pleasure to use a logic tool that do what you ask for. And at the end thats one of the reason i now prefer to switch to houdini, its because i’m not frustrated all the days. The maya FX workflow is now really old , goal , hardware buffer etc … all those stuff are from an other era i think !


Sounds like the recruiter was an idiot. If they need you to know Houdini they should put it in the original notice so they don’t waste everyones time.

Mind you if you get to the interview stage and they’re not even bringing in a team leader or other qualified person to evaluate your ability then all sorts of warning bells should be going off anyway.


That’s Exactly what I meant Axiomatic.
Believe it or not its a one big VFX studio having around 1000 employees & branches in London & Singapore. They should really put the original notice of what talent & skills they require irrespective of tools :/.


Oi Seb! No DNEG? :wink: Houdini’s presence has been strong in London for at least 5 years and is steadily growing stronger every day. You will find most houses these days use both Maya and Houdini (both separate and together in conjunction) because there are just somethings Maya cant do or are a total pain in the arse.

Damn Vik, that sucks… too late now, but you should of simply said you know some and can definitely learn more Houdini as your reel shows you have FX skills and its just another tool to learn in house, just like proprietary tools.

Why not give that ‘other house’ a call and see how your application is coming along. Call… not email. :wink:

Good luck!


Howard > I was refering to the best companies with a maya + custom tools workflow :slight_smile:
in opposition to the Maya/Houdini base companies … and of course i wouldn’t have omit Dneg , D2 and Imageworks in that case … :slight_smile: You know what i mean ! :wink:

Vikas > i’m pretty sure you’r contact was from the production side. And if you recontact them again and again i’m pretty sure that they will transmit you reel to an FX supervisor. Your fluids skills will be very interesting for any highend fx team !

cheers !


too bad Vik, but for me it’s hard to imagine that you won’t get a job in this business with your skills / reel…

@topic: No wonder Houdini is the nr1 fx software. Just look at the beta videos from h12, all the gpu accelerated stuff. That’s sweeeeeet :slight_smile:


every time i try to go into houdini, for some reason i get back to maya, there is a big and good reason for that… mantra… mantra is so sloooooowwwww, i just hit my head against wall when i render in mantra. :banghead: :banghead: :banghead:

i get a good fluid system with a nice preset in MAYA in one click, in houdini you have to create a fluid system from scratch. :argh: :argh: :argh:

maya is the REAL solution for every day :thumbsup:


People need to learn new tools all the time. If you stop learning, you stop growing, and you get complacent. There’s always going to be paradigm shifts. That’s a good thing. If everyone just wanted to stick with the same thing forever, we’d still be using PowerAnimator and PRISMS. :slight_smile:


I’ve been learning/using Houdini on and off for the last few years and will soon be using it in production when I start my next job. I kinda see learning new packages as part of being an FX Artist really, and in a few years I’ll probably be learning something else.

I honestly think you’ll have a blast learning Houdini, it’s an awesome package and you’re a very talented FX Artist.


Personally anyone can learn new packages. It is up to the person’s determination.
Houdini is great in certain areas whereas maya can give you better control in others.
I have found houdini’s sop, chops and dops to be very powerful. Especially dops which is itself might if it was a separate package it would sell.
Maya’s expression based particles is still strong, also how one can layer fields and write plugins. Maya’s fluid is great too, especially 2012; you send a high res domain to the a multi proc machine and you get some really nice sims quickly.
h12’s fluid solver is catching up it is definitely faster than h11 and is comparable in speeds to maya 2009.
The fact you can generate sdf and use it to collide with your fluids, not mentioning one can sim any grid you like is a huge deal that maya doesn’t have.
Dops is houdini’s greatest technology but also the weakest link. If they can get the graph to evaluate quickly for lots of dop objects it will really take down maya.
H12 is indeed a great package sidefx has definitely raised the bar from H11 and a lot of companies are noticing all these new technology and asking “why are we still using maya?”
just my 2 cents…

tldr: keep on applying never give up and do learn houdini.


basically what everyone else is saying:

really bad interview dont let it get to you.

learn Houdini it will only help you.

just think, 8 years from now something better well be out and it’ll be this all over again.


Hi Vik,
Learn Houdini.

It will take a while and to be truly great at it you will need to dig deep. You will need to understand computer graphics on a deep level to get the most out of it.

There are starting to be some shelf tools and some presets, but they are meant as starting points that you can then open up, learn from and modify further.

Eventually to create really custom effects and handle huge datasets you will need to go low level and design your own tools. I am talking about vectors, matrices, ray intersection, ray marching, clipping algorithms, fluid microsolvers, sampling algorithms, pointcloud filtering operations, …

I used to work in Maya, but switched to Houdini about 5 years ago. I have never regretted it and I learn new things every day.

Using the right tool for the job is important. The thing with Houdini is that if the tool does not exist, then you can quickly make a prototype. And then iterate and improve and roll it out as a digital asset that more junior effects td’s can use.

Here are few main reasons why I prefer using Houdini:
*) In my opinion Maya has the level of data abstraction wrong. It does not give you easy access to point information such as normals, up vectors, quaternions, matrices,… near the end of my maya useage I was scripting all the time. Pages of expressions and mel scripts to automate entire setups – not very maintainable or quick to work with. You really need that data to create complex effects, you also want to process it quickly. Ideally multithreaded without the use of a scripting language. Houdini can handle points and voxels through VOPs which are multithreaded and offer low level nodes to control your data. Vops are eventually automatically compiled which is why they are so fast.

*) There is no concept of copy stamping in Maya except for the instancer which is quite limited. Copy stamping allows to create one setup, and modify parameters along the way for each copy.

*) There are no volume manipulation tools in Maya. Volumes are the future, from volumetric fracturing, to creating terrains with addaptive detail, to ways of distributing points in a volume, measuring distance to surface quickly,… To obviously building your own fluid solver.
If you have not used volumes for anything else but fluids, there are many other applications for them.

*) There is very little concept of feedback loops in Maya. Feedback loops and chaos (theory) generally helps to create some of the most complex effects, based on simple rules. Houdini has a sopsolver, which allows you to perform a set of operations over time on the same geometry as the last output. The closest in Maya I can think of is probably a soft body or a cloth object… but that is again limited to those contexts.

*) So you might have played with Peter Shipkov Soup tools for Maya? And you like what they offer? --> Those are almost straight ports from operators in Houdini. I am glad Peter Shipkov made those tools as it might open up more setups to Maya artists as well as perhaps make them aware of what they are missing out on.

*) There are no daily builds for Maya. Sidefx listens to their customers and if you in production need something fixed that is crucial for you, it can sometimes be fixed within a week. If it is something small, sometimes within a day. – And the next day you download and install the new build with the fix. There is a reason why Houdini is called Houdini 11.1.201 .

*) Sidefx is a private company, so no shares, no shareholders to please. No release until the product is ready for release. -Extensive alpha and beta testing by professional Houdini td’s all over the world, giving feedback and improving the tools. Sometimes directly, as very experienced Houdini td’s get hired by sesi to implement some advanced tools into Houdini. Those Td’s have years of production experience and a solid understanding of CG.

*) Houdini plays well with other packages, like Maya, Prman. It has a decent python api and if you still need more there is the HDK to create plugins or rendertime procedurals.

*) It has unlimited rendertokens for mantra for the farm. Mantra is micropolygon renderer, a raytracer and a physically based renderer - and is quite fast for what it does.

*) In regards to destruction effects and fracturing workflow - Houdini has pretty much all the tools that are mentioned that ILM has.

*) Houdini 12 is well on its way to become one of the most important updates ever, I foresee it will have a big impact on the scale of effects that it will be able to handle. Also with research and development agreements like this one: http://www.sidefx.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2002&Itemid=66
more innovative technology will become part of houdini.

I do not work for Sidefx - I probably would if I had the time :). But I am happy with the tool they have made. I highly recommend you to learn it. So if you do want to spend the time and learn Houdini, see you on the other side: http://forums.odforce.net/

Peter Claes
Lead Effects Artist
Method Studios


Same kind of cold war is running between Realflow & Naiad.I am totally tired with this industry,every next morning we get new weapon and we waste lot’s of time to learn that instead of doing creativity.


Beware though, its called “slowdini” for a reason :slight_smile:


HI folks ,
thanks for all the heads up & Info, I really appreciate it a lot. Thank you very much.

@ Peter Claes
Thanks for the insight Mate, it’s very helpful & Informative. I am quite little familiar to SOP, DOP , POP , CHOP, COP , also bit of FLIP solvers & done some work with Volume operators too.

I have deal with low level particle data set, rotations along normals, all kind of Volume manipulation including voulmetric fracturing, volume propagation at per voxel level etc etc but they were mostly inhouse proprietary stuff that have used in production & are very similar to Houdini’s workflow & some of them also exist in SOUP or as third party plugin in Maya too.

My bad was that I have to go through only recruiters for interview & they gave more emphasis on the tool over talent. If for some reasons SOFTIMAGE ICE , Cinema 4d or even blender or any new thing takes over in effects than all we will be doing is just switching & learning & I don’t see any harm in that. I am already loving the workflow of houdini & honestly I have started learning it more but my charm for Maya Fluid is still on top because I see this as a matter of preference & comfort that any artist would seek & discover himself after certain level of mastery achieved regardless of his fav tool whether its Maya , houdini or something else. Its always good to stay updated & to be ahead in tools.

So I am hoping by the end of H12 release I would like to see myself on the other side too.
Thanks again for all suggestions & friendly advice, It really helps me a lot.

talk to you soon Peter on the houdini forums :).

Kind regards,