This is the first entry of what will be a year-long journal on learning the 3D application Houdini, created by Side Effects Software. Houdini is a sophisticated application that is widely used in the production of visual effects for Hollywood films such as Big Hero 6, Mad Max: Fury Road and many others.
Since the first version of Houdini was released in 1996, Side Effects Software has developed Houdini so effectively that the program has twice been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Plus, many Academy Awards have been given to films that relied on Houdini for their visual effects.
A little personal history with Houdini
I first became interested in Houdini when I attended my first Siggraph conference in 2005. I haunted practically every meeting room at this conference eager to discover new programs and meet people. Houdini had a small room on the second floor with bright orange signs and, of course, the wonderful name Houdini in big letters. I stumbled into a presentation for about a dozen people and although I didn't fully understand what was being presented, I was intrigued and put Houdini down as a company to follow.
That was 10 years ago..
Houdini Inspires Me
Now, with the recent release of Houdini 15 and after reading extensively at the Sidefx.com website, I feel compelled to learn this application partly because it is challenging and partly because I think it will help readers at Renderosity Magazine understand more about Houdini, a unique 3D application that has for a long time lived in the shadows of more popular and well-know applications like Maya and Cinema 4D. I also want to get to the essence of how a procedural 3D workflow actually works.
I do have to confess that it was Rohan Dalvi who inspired me to embark on this learning adventure. I discovered his website and purchased his Houdini project Rocket. This is the kind of work I'd like to do myself, so I thought I could just dive in with Rohan's help learn Houdini. But the project, as great as it is, is much too complicated and advanced for a beginner in Houdini.
I still was very much intrigued by his workflow in Houdini, so I watched Rohan's free tutorial (available at hiswebsite) on "Procedural Modeling and Animation and Houdini" which was like a revelation to me. Rohan helped me understand the procedural idea that Houdini is based on. I got that excited feeling of discovery that comes with something that you find fascinating.
And this journal was born.