Houdini Engine, any word on an update?


Please forgive me because I don’t actually have a copy of the Engine and I don’t even know who’s responsible for offering updates to the C4D integration, SideFX or Maxon. But I’ve been thinking of getting Houdini Indie for a few months now so I can take advantage of the Houdini engine in C4D… It looks incredible! Seems like with the ability to somewhat replace everything that realflow, xparticles, and TFD can do, all with one integrated $200 piece of software, it’s a no brainer. Makes me wonder if there’s another reason that everyone’s not doing it other than “I don’t want to try to figure out Houdini.”
Anyway, I noticed some pretty awesome looking features were introduced with 16.5 (bubble simulation, narrow band liquid sims), and I was mainly just curious if anyone’s heard any news on when an updated 16.5 engine might be coming out. Seems like the available one has been v16 for some time now, and makes me wonder in general, is anyone using this? (no one I know is.)
Does it get updated (bug fixes) in a reasonable amount of time in general?
Are people being slow to adopt this just cause it’s intimidating to learn some Houdini stuff or is the integration in need of more work to be usable?



You can try out Houdini Engine in C4D by getting a free Houdini Engine Indie license from the SideFX website. That won’t allow you to create assets in Houdini itself but you can download some from the internet and try them out for evaluation.


I’ve been using/learning houdini since a few years. I like the fact that you can use the engine in C4D, and I’ve made a couple of HDA’s (Houdini Digital Asset) that I used inside C4D for productions.
For most of my uses It’s much easier to work in houdini and export the models to C4D.

I’ve noticed that’s it’s a lot of work to make an HDA that works as intended. I have to think beforehand what needs to be adjustable/animatable and what doesn’t. What doesn’t help is that when I change (some) things in the HDA, I cannot update it in C4D. I have to delete the HDA and reimport it. The downside of that is that I lose all settings and animations I’ve made with it so far. (Other programs, like Unity , have a working update function that prevents this)

So even if I want something from Houdini for an animated object in C4D, I’ve found it more convenient to do this inside Houdini and export it, than making an HDA. I suppose I’m not the only one who fells that way and it might be a reason that the engine for C4D doesn’t get that much attention from users.


I really like Houdini - and I’ve still barely scratched the surface of it - but trying to get the two programs to work together can be challenging depending on what you need to create.

Essentially, a Houdini Digital Asset is a highly customizable user-created rig object. In C4D, it’d be like taking a detailed rig with all kinds of objects, placing it under a Null, creating a bunch of Xpresso controls, and then saving the whole thing to disk.

When using assets within Houdini itself, you can then create as many instances of the rig as you want, adjusting all of those exposed parameters as needed. You can even dive into the internal structure of the rig, make an adjustment or a fix (or even create a few more user controls), re-save it, and the fix will ripple across all the other instances of the rig. But as the above user mentioned, that doesn’t work with the Cinema integration.

One of the primary reasons I’ve stayed away from the Cinema bridge is that Maxon does all the Houdini Engine integration inside Cinema, and it only works with very specific Houdini builds that are specified by Maxon - and Maxon only updates those supported builds at certain times of their choosing - regardless of when Houdini updates their own builds. Houdini 16.5 was released on November 7, 2017. And yet, here we are 5+ months later, and the latest supported build by Maxon is still 16.0.633, which was released on June 7, 2017. By comparison, the Houdini Engine bridges for Maya, Unreal, and Unity are developed by SideFx, and new versions are released with each and every daily/weekly build.

A few things to be aware of:

  • Motion Blur is a challenge (or non-existent). When geometry is generated by a Houdini Asset inside Cinema, you essentially get a mesh object in your viewport without any keyframe or C4D transform data attached to it. As you scrub your timeline, you get updated meshes in your viewport, but C4D doesn’t have any internal understanding of what will arrive with the next frame or what the previous frame contained, so you can’t use traditional transform-based motion blur on the mesh. The only way to get moblur would be by accessing the point velocities of the mesh - and Cinema doesn’t allow you to access that (AFAIK), so 3rd party render engines have to add that support themselves through different methods. (Off the top of my head, I don’t even know if any 3rd party engines natively support point based motion blur direct from Houdini assets).
  • The engine is also a challenge if you’re generating lots of objects. Cinema can only handle a certain amount of objects in the viewport without a massive slowdown, so the only way to really work with a large amount is to bake them all into a single large mesh, which can be prohibitively expensive to generate time wise depending on how many polygons there are.
  • Houdini is fantastic with VDBs - both SDFs & Fog Volumes. But Cinema doesn’t support either of them natively, so one cannot generate smoke from a Houdini asset inside Cinema and have it easily available for rendering with a 3rd party render engine. You’d have to adjust your Houdini asset so that the fog volume is automatically written to disk, and then load those files from disk back into Cinema using your 3rd party render engine’s loader. You’d also have to make some adjustments inside the Houdini asset so that the resulting Fog volumes were positioned in the correct transform space so that they line up correctly with the other objects in your scene once the smoke volume is reimported into Cinema via the 3rd party render engine.

This is just a few things I’ve run into in my own tests, and is just scratching the surface.

TLDR: In general, I’ve just found it a lot easier to work in each program natively, and bake out point/mesh/camera data via Alembic for re importing into the other program. It tends to be faster and all-around easier.

What I’d really like to have is a Dynamic Link between the two - so that I can have the two programs open at the same time, and have geometry & scene data flowing from one program to another fluidly without baking, but that’s a pipe dream that’ll never happen (and even if it does, it’ll probably be too buggy or just too slow to be practical.)


Wow thanks everyone, you guys are awesome. You answered all my questions and then some I’d have asked if I’d thought to do so!
I think maybe I’ll hold off for the mean time unless I’m feeling ambitious enough to fully build out and animate some assets within Houdini. The no motion blur thing is a big minus. I’ve been using redshift in C4D for the last few months and I’ve gotten totally spoiled adding motion blur to my renders haha

Also helpful to know I can try a free version of the bridge. But yeah I also noticed that updates to the bridge have been long overdue. I imagine this is a self perpetuating cycle that will continue as long as user adoption is low, and user adoption will remain low as long as there are so many fairly major issues.

When there finally is a 16.5 bridge update, maybe i’ll give it a shot. The narrow band liquid sims look really great. Thanks again everyone.


I’ve made no serious attempt at using it myself, it doesn’t personally interest me. However I can pass on the gist of general comments I hear from people that do/have used it. Depending what you’re trying to achieve, you might simply find that Alembic export is the simplest solution. Alembic is specifically made for streaming over assets from one app to another and whilst you of course lose the ability to adjust things in c4d, much of the time the asset is already finished and animated so at this point the bridge ends up acting as nothing more than a geometry importer anyway.


One other thing to consider: Houdini is going to take considerably longer to learn than plugins like XP, Realflow|C4D, etc. While it’s more powerful than all the VFX plugins for C4D combined, you won’t be able to access that power without considerable time investment since it’s really a completely different way of thinking. It’s an interesting problem: While Houdini is undoubtedly more powerful, depending on your work you might be better off knowing 80% of XP4 than you would knowing 20% of Houdini.


Thanks Matthew and Frizz. Frizz, yes I do realize it would be an ambitious thing to try. However I’ve already played around a bit with the program and I did find the general workflow to be very intuitive for me. Basic fluid sims, particles, etc, that could interact with C4D/mograph objects would be very useful and I think I could set up basic ones.

Matthew, do you happen to know if bringing in animated alembic elements from houdini would get around the lack of motion blur problem? Of course it would be a lot less useful if they were no longer interactive but still might come in handy in come cases. And on a totally unrelated note, are you the same 3dFluff that used to post those daily renders of cool 3d scenes way back in like 2002?? Cause if so then please consider this a digital handshake and thank you for the inspiration! haha.
(and otherwise, consider this a handshake anyway! cheers!)



Lol, I think you might be thinking of https://www.beeple-crap.com/everydays


It depends on what render engine you’re working with. I’m pretty sure Arnold can do it, but I’m not sure about Redshift or Octane. Vray cannot, and AFAIK neither can Standard or Physical (though the latter two can render liquid meshes if you’re using the special realflow/C4D plugin - as Next Limit got special access to the SDK).

You’ll need to be sure that you had calculated the velocities in Houdini & stored them as a point attribute before exporting, otherwise you won’t get anything. (And that’s all easy peasy to setup)


We’re talking about houdini engine–the asset import/export tool thats also built into c4d?
Kind of dissapointed with where that went.

Thought maybe Maxon would have put some more assets together–havent noticed many useful ones on Orbolt since engine was added a few years back. (though havent really scoured through it in a few months)


Noseman and Simon (Holmdal?) had posted a few tutes for setting up assets a few years back.
Would be great if someone out there was offering asset packs for c4d.



I guess if you are going to dive into houdiniat all you wont really need or want to come back to c4d.


It depends on how the user’s mind works; each programs has their own strengths & weaknesses. A hybrid workflow is extremely attractive right now.


Strange poll. I like it but would not call it amazing. The primary problem is that one can only bring up houdini assets (not scenes, bgeos, etc.) and it does not keep up with the most current version of Houdini. Houdini itself is a great program. The Houdini engine for C4D is good but not great. It is not that buggy but has its limitations.


Oh no I am aware of Beeple. Back in 2000-ish there was a 3d fluff site (can’t remember the exact URL but I thought it was yours), and the dude was posting everydays before Beeple made everydays a thing. It was when SSS was brand new and he would post cute 3d scenes of heavily SSS shaded characters and cartoony still-lifes… maybe some others remember! Eventually he tapered the posts down to once a week, once a month, one every 6 months, and then he stopped, but I thought maybe he was you! I guess you would remember all that though if you were him :slight_smile:

Luke, Isle of Gough, Joel, thank you guys for the additional info. Yeah I am using redshift so that is handy to know. Also yes I agree I wish there were more assets already available. I am interested to learn some houdini basics but I know I’m not going to go all-in and become some houdini expert.


Mmm, the only similar sounding one might be Fluffy 4D http://fluffy4d.com/
But I’m not all that familiar with his work.


(continuing the tangent)

og_reborn, you are thinking of Boring 3D. I used to love this when it was still active! He often called his Sunday renders Sunday Fluff…


(end tangent)


yes! hahah I guess my brain replaced the different words and I completely forgot the site is boring3d. Plus it’s so cool to see he’s still at it! Thanks for chiming in to the (tangent)