At the back-end of any CG project is where you render all your lights, geometry, and effects. With Houdini, you can rely on a robust built-in rendering solution called Mantra or full support for a wide variety of third party rendering options. Whatever route you choose, Houdini is the ideal environment for bringing together your render layers and reliably feeding the farm.

Production-ready Mantra. More and more studios are discovering the performance benefits of a Mantra render pipeline. With a strong shading language behind it and the ability to choose between micropolygon, raytracing or physically-based rendering, you will quickly learn how Mantra can benefit you. Unlimited Mantra tokens with either Houdini or Houdini FX makes this an even more attractive option.

Top-notch RenderMan Support. With Houdini you will enjoy a tightly integrated interface to Pixar’s RenderMan® and RenderMan compliant renderers which includes a node-based RenderMan shader builder and support for test renders in the 3D viewport.

All Renderers Welcome. Houdini also provides integrated support for other third party renderers such as mental ray™ and Maxwell™. With Houdini’s new Python support you can easily write your own hooks for whichever renderer you prefer.


Mantra Render Types

  • Micropolygon Rendering - A scan-line, ray-trace hybrid with support for ray traced reflections, refractions and shadows.
  • Ray Tracing - Create high quality reflections, refractions, and shadows. Render instanced objects at lightning speed.
  • Physically Based Rendering - Create complex Global Illumination including multiple diffuse bounces with this new render engine in Houdini 9
  • Render fluid-based smoke and cloud effects using the new Volumetric renderer with deep shadow maps and motion blur
  • Render fur procedurally using guide hairs and painted grooming attributes

Rendering Controls

  • Flipbook rendering for fast animation previews and animatics
  • Render Region in viewport for quick, interactive feedback
  • Render low polygon meshes as smooth subdivision surfaces with a single click
  • Houdini Takes for multiple render passes
  • Multi-threaded output with remote rendering capabilities
  • Optional OpenGL accelerated rendering
  • Artist control over level of super-sampling, shading quality and dithering
  • Easy photon map generation for complex GI scenes
  • Create complex render dependency networks using render output nodes
  • Deep Camera Maps which store variables such as opacity for all depth values. This makes them perfect for working with rendered volumes.

3D Motion Blur

  • Support for transformation, and deformation motion blur
  • Velocity based deformation (changing topology on a per frame basis)
  • Motion Factor reduces shading quality by the amount of motion blur present (render times with motion blur may be faster than non motion blurred frames)
  • Multi-segment motion blur
  • Control over center of motion blur effect
  • Tight coupling between Houdini cameras and Mantra motion blur

Depth of Field

  • True 3D Depth of Field
  • Support for motion factor which reduces shading quality by the amount of Depth of Field present
  • Interactive viewport control over focus distance and focus region


  • Ray-Traced Shadows for physically correct shading, and transparent shadows
  • Depth Map Shadows for fast, quality shading, and transparent shadows

Mantra Procedurals

  • Mantra procedurals are written with C++ to extend the renderer. Uses the same geometry libraries as Houdini’s HDK

Subsurface Scattering

  • Supports for point cloud textures which can be used to simulate subsurface scattering effects. The Scatter SOP is used to distribute these textures over a surface.

Third Party Rendering Support

  • Unparalleled RenderMan support
  • integrated Renderman shader writing,
  • image previewing
  • scripting capabilities
  • Quickly integrate the latest features of RenderMan without waiting for the next release of Houdini

SOHO - Python Output Drivers

  • Extend Houdini’s support for 3rd party renderers without having to write a single line of C++ code
  • Open, clear way for you to see exactly what’s going on when Houdini generates an IFD or RIB file
  • SOHO provides access to each and every option and attribute supported by any RIB or MI generator through the use of render output drivers
  • Full support for render layers using Houdini’s takes
  • Use multiple render output nodes as drivers for generating scene description files in various formats (IFD for Mantra, RIB for RenderMan, MI for Mental Ray, etc.), often using external programs

Light Wrangling

  • de-couples shader strings from light parameters allowing an identical interface for all supported renderers
  • Use and extend the existing light interface to support new renderers and render features using SOHO’s Python front end
  • Every light in Houdini is a Digital Asset that can be easily customized

Supported File formats

  • Native formats: Houdini.pic format - a native Houdini Deep Raster format capable of storing any number of planes per pixel
  • EXR, Abekas, Alias .pix, BMP, Cineon, JPEG, PRISMS .pic, RLA, Softimage .pic, SGI, Targa, Tiff, SGI