Katana Infos ?


Hi guys !

I am desesperatly trying to find the Price of Katana , but can’t find any info about this , how much does it cost ? :slight_smile:

I would also like to know if some people have use it in production ? and what they think about it ?
Basically it can :

  • read huge amount of assets
  • setup light and shaders for those assets
  • organise assets / lights / shader / pass the way you want
  • export this to your render engine

But what does it have that houdini doesn’t have ?

  • you also have a tree to manage huge amount of assets
  • you can manage light / shaders / assets in a similar way
  • plus you have mantra and infinite render token for free ?

So what does Katana offer that houdini don’t , and why big guys like SPI,ILM,D2 or MPC use it instead of Houdini ?

Many thanks for your lights guys ! :slight_smile:





I’ve only seen a couple demos of Katana and talked to friends about it.

From what I gathered, Katana is really great for setting up passes for whole sequences. It’s highly costumizable (actually its probably not useable without costumization / integration). If you want to use something like Arnold with Katana, you’ll need to build all the nodes yourself (like a ramp…). In theory you could use Mantra with Katana… but again, you’ll need to build all the nodes and shaders yourself.

In Katana you build a nodetree to output passes. You can’t do that in Houdini, H uses passes, which switches the scene, with individual overrides. I wouldn’t really compare them to begin with though. Katana is probably more like a node based clarisse.

Katana is expensive but it’s really geared towards big productions. If you just want to learn it to apply for a job, FXPHD is giving classes and also offering a license during the term.


Roughly how much? Im just curious


From the FAQ:

How do I buy KATANA?
KATANA is production proven on over 20 shows since 2004 at Sony Pictures Imageworks, however it’s not your standard boxed product and requires integration with your current workflow. To discuss your requirements please contact sales@thefoundry.co.uk, or register your interest by completing our online KATANA Site Survey.

Where can I find pricing for a KATANA licence?
KATANA pricing is bespoke to each customer dependent upon requirements, please contact sales@thefoundry.co.uk to discuss your requirements.


Thanks for your feedback Dany ! :slight_smile:

So basically

  • it must be setup properly by TD’s (in a Prman way) you don’t Plug and Play … :slight_smile:
  • thus it’s really oriented toward big facilities

I’m really not a Houdini expert as i start to use it since only 1 years … But from my limited knowledge i think you can do exactly what you describe in Houdini. In fact you can create a very complex ROP tree that will allow you to manage about everything and maybe more ?

  • trigger Geo generation
  • trigger Scene creation
  • trigger Pass Rendering
  • trigger Shader Modification etc …
    You are not force to use the pass system in Houdini , you can manage all your output in a Nodal Tree with a ROP Tree. So what does exactly Katana bring in his Node tree that Houdini ROP tree don’t ?

Do you have an approximative idea of the price for a single license just to have an idea ?

Thanks Again for your feedback !




Very clever marketing along with Solid Angle with Arnold to make their products “exclusive”…


It isn’t about marketing. This isn’t like consumer, mass-market electronics etcetera.

Being limited to large facilities means support can be provided at a very high-level of quality (and with in budget,) and a plethora of other benefits that come with targeting a small - yet, I imagine, profitable - customer base.


Sure, i understand that. But i suspect that there is a small portion of it that’s marketing too. Marketing 101…keep your product exclusive and everyone wants it.

Anyway, i really dont want to start a big discussion about it (not saying you were either), just giving my two cents


… You are not force to use the pass system in Houdini , you can manage all your output in a Nodal Tree with a ROP Tree.

Mhm. Are you sure? I’ve not seen anyone working like that. As far as I understand, the out context is just there to trigger different renderers / caches which are already set up.
In Katana, you can for example, take geometry, make shader overrides on certain meshes for one pass and other for another pass. In houdini out context, you can’t make overrides like that. You could do it with pre render scripts or as I said with passes, but that’s not really the Katana way. It would be great to have a little Katana in Houdini… but unfortunatly I don’t think it’s like that.

The pass system in Houdini is very solid. So I wouldn’t know why you don’t want to use it? :slight_smile:

Katana really shines if you have a dedicated Team only doing look dev and lighting. The tool is dedicated to do that, crunching out shots, that’s why it’s really flexible and still simple.


yeah. A long time ago a houdini TD showed me how he handled passes. he would build the shaders in a way that would give him the results needed and would output their own passes instead of always doing it scene wide. the amount of flexibility there is insane.


In terms of cost; The foundry lists the price of Ocula on their site - $10,800. If they don’t list the price of Katana, that’s most likely because it’s more expensive.


Well Dany , again i’m not a Houdini expert , but from what i’ve scene you can setup quite complex ROP tree with condition , switch etc … that will allow you pretty impressive control .
In fact you have to spend some times to setup everything but when you ROP tree is in place , it look solid enough to me to cross the death valley with no water ! :slight_smile:

I know arnold is coming soon on H and from what i’ve heard the integration is quite impressive , so Arnold / Mantra workflow with complex switch in a ROP tree looks to be a strong option …

Well i don’t plan to use Katana ! i’m just curious … if the big boys use it there must be a strong reason, and i would like to know what it offer that you don’t have in H …

The thing that i don’t like so much in H is the openGL display, i have quite a lot of bugs and Maya really shine in this area for a default apps ! so maybe Katana has also a Kickass openGL previz system that allow you to have some real time open GL feedback with insane amount of geo ? just guessing of course , but if people spend a huge amount of money for Katana there must be a good reason ! :slight_smile:


Did you see this?:


I actually have to disagree with this - in my own experience, software is only bought by the studio once it’s been trialled relatively extensively inhouse. Big studios don’t buy software based on marketing, they buy it if it plays nicely with their pipeline and adds some valuable functionality that was previously lacking.

The Foundry were really great with providing alphas and betas of Mari to big Soho studios to try out. No marketing pitch as such was necessary, because the software spoke for itself.


Ive used it.

Works very well. The learning curve is relatively steep and you will need a support-team of TD’s to get it to work properly (probably why its mostly geared towards larger shops).


I haven’t used Houdini for lighting so I can’t really compare it to Katana in that regard. I do imagine you could create a similar workflow to Katana with Houdini.

Katana is fairly limited and highly focused in it’s functionality - it does lighting, lookdev and a little bit of compositing - that’s it. It’s very lacking compared to Maya, Houdini and whatever other all-purpose 3d application your using.

I honestly don’t know anything about what Katana costs. But do consider that studios switching to it are most likely looking at it for the following reasons…

  • So they can reduce or drop development of their in-house render translators, the idea being it’s potentially cheaper and easier to let a third party handle the development and quality assurance.
  • Better and more up-to-date than their current toolset. Most in-house render translators I’ve used are generally a lot more powerful and flexible than the off-the-shelf software available, especially when it comes to multi-pass workflows - but they’re starting to show their age and Katana does have some useful features which are fairly unique to it. I think it has a great framework which has a better future than the in-house renderers I’ve used in the past (even if it’s not quite as robust at the moment).
  • Render agnostic. I think we’re starting to see a switch to studios adopting multiple renderers - choosing the best tool for the job. Previously that was hard to do, each renderer having it’s own particular workflow or doing something unique that made it hard to integrate with other elements. Katana comes included with PRMan and Arnold integration.
  • Lighters generally work in Maya, make of this what you will, but I’m generally of the opinion that Katana has got to be competitively priced against a stack of Maya licenses plus current in-house development costs.
  • There is also the potential for it to play nicely with Nuke and Mari.


What are you talking about Katana has nothing to do with Houdini and just so you know Katana is not used over Houdini at Sony. MPC dont use Houdini and never have. Katana is not perfect and can be very slow and clunky.


Well Will thanks for the very precise answer ! i think you 've highligted the main point, it’s expensive to maintain a translator to an engine and now that raytracer are back in the field the ability to mix Prman / Arnold or a in House engine in the same UI is pretty poweful. Basically it’s a toolbox where most of the job is done to communicate with a render engine , but you have all you need to customise it the way you want , on top of that you can have external R&D and support which reduce cost greatly ! From what you said it looks to be really for really big structure and not mr Anybody … :slight_smile:


Like it’s been established, Katana’s pricing is bespoke, but I’ll try answering the other questions.

katana is really good for a certain set of tasks. These generally include lighting, lookdev and a small amount of comp. Granted, all of these can be done in other programs, but Katana’s strength is handling large amounts of assets in a efficient and intuitive manner.

It’s not a direct competitor to Houdini. Houdini is a general purpose application whereas Katana is a very focused one.

The advantages to Katana are:
*Very quick and intuitive for lighting and lookdev tasks. The UI and toolset have been streamlined to make this extremely quick.

*It’s completely designed to fit and be molded into any sane pipeline. Houdini is great, but because of it’s nature, you need quite a bit more RnD work to get it to be as pipeline streamlined as Katana

*Katana is render agnostic. Essentially, you can switch render engines on the fly, as long as your shaders can convert (OSL helps here) and your elements have similar analogies.
This means lighters don’t need to know every render engine. That decision can be left to the show supervisors. The lighter can focus on the art of lighting

Now the reason Sony use Katana is because they made it and their pipeline is heavily based around it.
Other studios use it because it is a very good base that covers most things that studios used to build custom tools for.
Also as market adoption of Katana goes up, it means you need less training for new hires to jump right in.

And, having to have learned Katana at work, i found it very easy to get to grips with. I think it’s more intuitive if you’re coming from Nuke or a node based Houdini (rather than a pure UI based houdini).


I do NOT share your POV on this one :slight_smile:

I know and sorry if my post was unclear on this ,anyway i’ve heard that they test it in 2012, but those info can be wrong. but yes indeed they are still Maya / Flowline / R&D base …

Thanks for the info !