One of my favorite times of the year is when we first reveal a new version of Houdini. Last week in Los Angeles, we hosted a forum with a number of top studios to review the new tools in Houdini 11 and to discuss ongoing development initiatives. This is an annual event and the feedback we get has had a big impact on the development of Houdini 11 as well as future versions.
Now it is my pleasure to bring you a quick look at the key Houdini 11 features being released this summer.
Productivity is Key
A key focus of Houdini 11 is making you more productive in your day-to-day work. This means targeting our development efforts on ways for you to work faster with fewer clicks. In Houdini 11, new Voronoi-based fracturing tools will make it easier to break up objects either before a simulation or automatically during a simulation. Destruction sequences are a staple of Houdini-based VFX shots and now they will be easier to create and even more controllable.
Our particle fluids are now up to 70 times faster with the new FLIP (Fluid Implicit Particle) solver as compared to Houdini 10’s SPH solver, making it ideal for generating multiple iterations. In addition, this new solver is seamlessly integrated with existing particle operations [POPs] making the results highly directable. New buoyancy controls make it easier to float rigid objects and you can even smash up an object by combining these fluid tools with the new fracturing tools.
Mantra Rendering Workflow
Mantra has traditionally been used to render out VFX elements but more and more Houdini customers are using Mantra for prototyping shots or rendering all the CG elements in final plates. Noticing this trend, we have put a lot of time into creating a new shading workflow which starts with a new “Uber” Surface Model node with built-in per-light exports, physically-accurate sub-surface scattering and energy conservation. Add to that user-interface improvements to Houdini’s shader building environment such as a Shader FX menu for quickly texturing materials and you will see how professional results can be achieved faster than ever before.
Hardware Rendering has also been enhanced with high quality OpenGL shading of lights and shadows as well as GPU-assisted volumes, unlimited lights and support for diffuse, specular, opacity, environment, bump and normal maps. Houdini’s Flipbook tools now support all these FX and can capture high dynamic range beauty passes.
In addition, we have improved the lighting interface for Houdini 11. We have new light types such as Global Illumination, Portal, Sky, Indirect and Geometry. The Geometry Lights let you turn any 3D object into a light emitting surface then use a surface shader to control the light emission. The geometry can also be animating or deforming for even cooler results.
Performance, Performance, Performance
We have heard your requests for improved performance loud and clear and with Houdini 11 we are introducing much faster particle fluids, faster rendering and targeted optimizations such as extensive multi-threading for dynamics and algorithmic enhancements for Houdini in general. An example of this optimization is the attribute transfer node which is now an order of magnitude faster when transferring vertex attributes such as UVs.
While we have made many performance improvements in Houdini 11, we also have a team of developers working on even deeper optimizations for the future. These improvements will modernize Houdini and let you work with bigger files, faster, with more efficient use of memory. These big performance changes will be a significant addition to the subsequent release.
Sneak Peek Demos
Here is a demo video created using a few of the great new features in Houdini 11:
RMB-Click here to download an HD version of the video.
Beta Testing in Progress
Houdini 11 is currently being tested by a core group of artists and TDs who are putting it through its paces. Some of the tools have already been used in production which is a testament to the faith our users have in our software. In mid-June all of our customers covered under the Annual Upgrade Plan will be invited to join the beta and will be issued Houdini 11 licenses in anticipation of the release. In mid-July, Apprentice HD users will be invited to upgrade to the new release with a planned gold release later in July. There will also be a Houdini 11 launch event at SIGGRAPH this year in Los Angeles to celebrate the major new release. Click here to learn more and to register for this exciting community event.
I hope you have enjoyed this sneak peek and I look forward to hearing your feedback now or as soon as you are able to test-drive it for yourself.