What is Houdini Software

What is Houdini Software
Houdini Software is a 3D application that allows you to create amazing visual effects, 3d models, animations, or any kind of digital asset for use in a visual media production project.
Houdini Software is used more than anything to create visual effects for movies and video games and some of the big companies that use this software are Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Studios, Dreamworks Animation Studios, Industrial Light and Magic, Double Negative, MPC, and some other incredibly famous visual effects and video games studios.
SideFX is a Toronto Based company, they created Houdini Software based on the PRISMS suite. This suite of tools was distinguished by its procedural generation software capabilities and flexibility to be adapted under the pipeline production. And that is still what makes Houdini Software so different from any other 3D computer graphics software.
Houdini has been used in a lot of big blockbuster animation films, movies, and TV series, for example:
Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water”, Disney’s movies like “Moana and Zootopia”; or even the famed award winner HBO’s series “Game of Thrones”.
Today Houdini Software has become the tool of excellence by every 3D visual effects artist and 3d studios all over the world.
Houdini Software Features:
• Modeling Tools – Now Houdini Software includes many useful tools that allow you to quickly start building 3D models using simple primitive forms or all the way to a very complicated organic shape using polygons, NURBS (Non-uniform B Splines), or Metaballs.

• Animation System – In Houdini, you can create 3D animation using conventional keyframes and a graph editor, however, Houdini has another great feature ignored by a lot of animators called CHOPS (Channel Operators), based on raw channel manipulation parameters and imported animation support.

• Particles – Houdini Software has one of the most powerful particle systems available in the industry, the ability to combine different Houdini networks and integrate them into the particle world makes Houdini a very efficient and robust application capable of undertaking any production task.
Dynamics –
• These features are the favorites of visual effects technical directors. Houdini Software has all the necessary tools that you need to create stunning real-world natural simulations.

• The RBD Module will give you all the tools needed to simulate fractures, and break or destroy objects using material parameters and very intelligent solvers that will make your simulation behave even better than the real world if you know how to tweak a few parameters.

• Fluid Dynamics – The fluid engine of Houdini Software allows you to calculate and simulate fluids and gases taking all the laws of physics and engineering into consideration. Explosions, Tidal waves, or Tsunamis are some of the most required tasks when using this Houdini Software module.

• Cloth simulations – Houdini now has a cloth module called Vellum; this is a simulation framework that uses an extended Position-Based Dynamics system. Thanks to this module now you can create effects that look like cloth, hair, balloons, grains, or any kind of soft body object. The main benefit of the Position-Based System is that we can control it a lot easier than other 3D packages, it is stable, and it can create great and believable results effortlessness.

• Crowd simulations – In Houdini you can create fantastic and realistic crowd simulations using some skinned, character skeletons with animations called agents, clips that animate the agents, particle-like points, states, and behaviors inside a DOP simulation. With a few tweaks, you will have a group of soldiers or zombies ready to do wherever you dictate.

• Shader and Lighting Tools– Houdini Software uses a node-based shader authoring system capable of creating any type of material of lighting scenery. Houdini allows you to create and edit tools using VEX code, re-lighting tools, and IPR viewer.

• Rendering – Houdini software comes with a native and strong rendering engine called Mantra, but you can always escalate the render capabilities of the software using other 3rd party rendering engine options such as Arnold, Redshift, V-ray, Renderman, Octane, or others.

• Volumetrics – Houdini Software has native volume tools like CloudFX, PyroFX (scalar fields, SDF, Vector fields) and VDB toolsets, that allow you to create very realistic clouds, smoke, and fire 3D representations.

• Compositing Tools – Houdini contains a full compositing set of deeply layered images set of tools based on the same procedural concept that characterizes the application. Here you will find effects, transformation, color correction, and many other tools that make a compositing package a very efficient and professional software.

• Asset Development – Another powerful characteristic of Houdini is that this software allows you to create and develop digital assets, libraries, or tools to expand your creativity and allow you to interact with some other 3D applications and Game Engines.

Houdini Software Networks
Houdini works at different levels called networks, these networks live in their own environment and they can perform specific tasks according to their name. Thanks to this system you can create digital assets and tools that can interact with different networks and be exported as tools into other 3D packages.
You can manipulate data and content in these networks thanks to different types of operators, these objects work along with the network data flow by applying specific parameters in each state of the building process.
Operators are represented by Nodes that could contain information related to 3D geometry, particles, dynamics, volumes, textures, or a bunch of them.
Here are some of the operators that you will find inside Houdini Software.
OBJECT LEVEL OPERATORS (OBJs) – These nodes are basically designed to pass transform, rotation, and scale information (But nodes at this network level can contain SOPs or another type of operators.)
SURFACE OPERATORS (SOPs) – These tools allow you to create geometry by using polygons, points, surfaces, and other operations that will help you all the way through the procedural modeling process.
PARTICLE OPERATORS (POPs) – POPs are used to manipulate particle systems, inside this network you can lay down emitters, forces, and other network tools to change the behavior or render of your particles. The particle system in Houdini Software has changed dramatically since its earlier versions and that is why now we can experience a very pleasant particle workflow session.
CHANNEL OPERATORS (CHOPs) – Procedural animation is one of the great advantages of Houdini Software, inside this network we can use channels and audio files to manipulate objects and data that we can apply as animation parameters. This type of animation is extremely specific to Houdini and can help you to build and create interesting and abstract animations in no time.
COMPOSITE OPERATORS (COPs) – Used to create images by compositing different pieces of footage. Think of this as a Photoshop package inside Houdini that lets you manipulate and arrange images to come up with a digital composite image.
DYNAMIC OPERATORS (DOPs) – These operators are used at the dynamic level network, here is where you can create simulations for fluids, cloth, rigid body interaction, fire, explosions, destruction, and many other interesting effects.
SHADING OPERATORS (SHOPs) – This type of node can represent any kind of material (texture) that you can imagine to be used on several different renderers.
LIGHTING OPERATORS (LOPs) – Now that Solaris exists you can use LOPs to handle USD [Universal Scene Description] information and create unlimited versions of your scenes. Solaris and lighting operators now give you everything you need to support USD in Houdini to allow for efficient and effective look development, layout, and lighting projects workflow.
RENDER OPERATORS (ROPs) – Inside the render network you will find render operators (ROPs), this type of nodes represent rendering tasks that you can establish based on the different parameters located on them. Different nodes take off different renderers (for example, mantra, Arnold, Redshift, or RenderMan). The node settings specify options and parameters that you can use to establish the frame range to render or the name or output location.
VEX OPERATORS (VOPs) – VEX operators – With VOP nodes you can create your own pieces of Houdini Software, programs based on networks such as SHOPs or SOPs can be elaborated by connecting nodes together. Houdini Software then compiles the created network into executable VEX code. Yes, with VOPs you can design almost any kind of node operator.
TASKS OPERATORS (TOPs) – Build with the Procedural Dependency Graph (PDG) Houdini Software now lets you automate and scale tasks and projects including FX pipelines and workflows. Create a large-scale procedural environment or automate other applications such as Maya, Cinema 4D, or Unity can be done by using this type of tool right out the shelf.
If you are interested more about Houdini Software or if you want to take a free lesson about it please feel free to check out our Training section.