Cloud FX Tools

New Cloud sculpting and rendering toolset available on a dedicated shelf:

  • Cloud Rig - This tool creates a cloud network using the Cloud, Cloud Noise and Cloud Light nodes in combination along with a Sunlight and Skylight to create a complete cloud setup.
  • Cloud - This tool converts geometry into a cloud volume and gives you control over the shape and density of the volume. Secondary Shapes can be added to give your volume a puffier look.
  • Cloud Noise - This tool adds a noise pattern to the volume to create a more distinct cloud-like shape.
  • Cloud Light - This tool computes a light field to support the rendering of the volume. This approximates the scattering of light in a cloud to create a more efficient rendering.
  • These Cloud tools are built using the new OpenVDB Sparse Volume tools.

Ocean FX Tools

New Ocean FX tools make it easier to integrate ocean surfaces into your VFX work:

  • Ocean Waves - This tool uses volumes to deform geometry to create an animated ocean surface. You can visualize the results in the viewport then export a displacement texture to use at render time. This tool is on the Deform shelf.
  • Wave Tank - This tool creates a FLIP fluid simulation with whitewater from an underlying ocean surface. This tool is on the Particle Fluids shelf.
  • WhiteWater - New, unified whitewater solver creates spray, foam and churn based on an underlying FLIP fluid sim. This tool is on the Particle Fluids shelf.
  • Mist - This tool emits mist particles into a smoke simulation one-way based on an underlying FLIP fluid sim. This tool is on the Particle Fluids shelf.
  • New Ocean Spectrum and Ocean Evaluate geometry nodes used to generate ocean surface, volume and point outputs.

Sparse Volumes

  • Native support for OpenVDB primitives. OpenVDB is an open source C++ library comprising a novel hierarchical data structure and a suite of tools for the efficient storage and manipulation of sparse volumetric data and is developed and maintained by DreamWorks Animation Visit for more information.
  • Over a dozen VDB geometry nodes to create, manipulate and convert VDB volumes: Convert, Activate, Advect Points, Analysis, Combine, Fracture, From Particles, From Polygons, Renormalize SDF, Resample, Reshape SDF, Smooth, Smooth SDF, Vector Merge, Vector Split, Visualize Tree.
  • Native viewport and Mantra support for VDB primitives.
  • VDB volumes in Mantra have support for vector VEX attributes.
  • SOP support for doing forward and inverse Fast Fourier transforms on 2D and 3D volumes: Volume FFT SOP.


  • Accurate handling of droplet particles.
  • Faster and more scalable FLIP fluid simulations.
  • Fully OpenCL-accelerated Gas simulation pipeline in Pyro.
  • OpenCL DOP for custom acceleration of simulation performance.
  • The FLIP solver can now handle animated density and viscosity as well as animated timescales.
  • FLIP fluids now use OpenVDB to generate the fluid surface and use uniform volumes for rendering.


  • New constraint types: Slider and Cone Axis which is useful for rag-doll simulation.
  • Ability to handle concave geometry.
  • Support for Cylinder geometry types.
  • Support for interpenetrating or “bad” geometry.
  • More reliable behaviour under complex scenarios.
  • Ability to visualize objects that have been put to sleep by the Bullet solver.
  • Ability to toggle collision detection between objects.
  • Ability to handle an animated centre of mass.
  • General performance improvements.


  • Optimized performance and collision support.
  • Support for panel workflows.
  • Support for per-vertex multiplier attributes, in addition to per-point attributes, offering more freedom in controlling the behavior of parts of the cloth.
  • UV support for triangles and cloth -- the UV coordinates represent the threading of the material and make the solver independent of the underlying topology.
  • Improved force model, with more independence between stretch, shear and bend.
  • Visualization of velocity and surface collision thickness which takes into account the point thickness attribute.
  • Cloth shear stiffness and damping are now independent of their stretch equivalents.

Hair and Fur

  • New, surface-based collision - more accurate than the existing volume-based collision method.

Lighting and Rendering


  • Volumetric geometry is now supported as a geometry type by the Geometry area light
  • Volume Light - this tool sets up a Geometry area light using a volumetric point cloud. This light type can be applied to volume such as a fire simulation to realistically illuminate the shot using the flame volume.
  • Removed point cloud support from the Pyro FX shader now that we have a volume light with point cloud support.
  • Improved the default settings for the Sky Light to create a more natural look and sun angle.

IPR View

  • IPR relighting buffer for faster feedback when tweaking material values.
  • IPR shared memory for volume geometry updates.
  • When using IPR, Geometry is now passed directly to Mantra bypassing the IFD file.
  • New option to force shadows to be ray-traced, rather than shadow-mapped, in IPR .
  • Realtime Render Tile feedback.

Primitive Support

  • First-class support for the new VDB, Alembic and Polysoup primitives.
  • Alembic Delayed Load Primitives are deferred rendered into the viewport and supported by Alembic procedural in Mantra at render time. A great way of working with and rendering large scenes without loading them directly into Houdini.
  • Ability to query properties of materials and lights from procedurals.
  • New Point Replicator procedural. This procedural is used by the new white water tools and is available as a geometry node to allow for reviewing in the viewport.

Rendering Volumes

  • More accurate volumetric velocity motion blur with ray tracing.
  • Volume quality channel parameter for empty space culling.

Deep Raster Support

  • Per-light exports can now be used to produce deep raster planes for export variables defined by light shaders.

Optimizations and Enhancements

  • New ray-tracing accelerator.
  • Many multi-threading enhancements.
  • Threaded displacements for faster performance.
  • Sample-based edge coving.
  • Much better ray tracing performance with transparency (eg fur).
  • Ability to query properties of materials and lights from procedurals.
  • Changed the behaviour of lights in Mantra: the composition of the surface and light shader is now used for shading of area.
  • lights instead of choosing one or the other based on a render property.
  • Most point cloud formats used by Mantra (SSS point clouds and photon maps) now use Cd for irradiance rather than E. SSS point clouds also store a positional P channel.
  • The obsolete "Environment (*)" light type has been removed from the HLight OBJ. One should use the Environment light from now on.
  • A new render property lets the user scale the point sizes at render time.

General Enhancements

User Interface

  • Multi-line parameter allows typing a “snippet” of VFL code (related to Snippet VOP).
  • Much faster navigation of node networks.
  • Some node tiles (eg File OPs and Constant VOPs) have labels that are driven by their parameter values for better clarity of what the node represents.
  • Middle-mouse on a node tile now displays the class of each attribute (eg float, int, string) as a suffix to the tuple size.
  • Allow changing the comment on editable nodes in locked digital assets.
  • The playbar frame number changes to an orange background colour when Scroll Lock is on.
  • Type-ahead support in the file browser, along with keyboard navigation using the arrow and home/end keys.
  • The static RMB shelf menus have been converted to XML.
  • Ctrl-Enter in input fields lets the users commit their changes without losing keyboard focus or cursor location.
  • The "Select Next" hotkey F now cycles through alternate candidate groups containing the last selected entity in the group selection modes.
  • Much faster sorting of displayed data in the geometry spreadsheet.
  • A label now indicates which parameter channel is being edited when a vector parameter is in expression mode.
  • The DOPs Details view now preserves the sort order of the data view between frames; also: the DOPs details view will no longer collapse when switching to a non-DOP view or when the simulation data disappears and reappears.


  • New “Polysoup” primitive type with wide SOP support in the software.
  • New “Remesh” SOP to build clean triangular meshes from non-manifold surfaces.
  • New “Point Wrangle” SOP that is similar to the Point SOP but uses VFL snippets.
  • New “Point Replicate” SOP that copies point clouds onto points that obey the standard instancing attributes.
  • New “Attrib Wrangle” SOP that is similar to the Attribute SOP but uses VFL snippets.
  • New “Volume Wrangle” SOP that is similar to the other Wrangle SOPs but for volumes.
  • New “Transform Pieces” SOP that transforms pieces of geometry according to attributes on a set of template points, following the same rules as copying and instancing.
  • New Trail SOP option to compute angular velocity.
  • Continued SOP optimization, including multi-threading and taking advantage of the GEO architecture introduced in H12.0.
  • Parallel creation of geometry in select SOPs.
  • Procedural Edge Groups.
  • Easy visualization of groups in the viewport.
  • Group name preservation in the interactive selection tools.
  • Unicode support (in the Font SOP and COP, as well as the viewport); basically any TrueType, Type1 and OpenType font is now supported.

VOPs and VEX

  • Optimized cooking of VOPs via “encapsulation” of VFL code in each VOP node where permitted.
  • Faster compilation of VFL code with direct LLVM output (entirely bypassing VEX code generation).
  • Basic sensor toolset in the form of “Panoramic” VOPs.
  • Dedicated node for binding attributes (Bind VOP).
  • New Snippet VOP that lets user type actual VFL code that can be exported up to parent network.
  • A convenient Geometry VOP at the DOP level.
  • Many new VEX functions such as point, vertex, prim, detail, xyzdist, nearpoint, minpos, primuv ported over from Hscript.
  • Removed obsolete VEX photon context.
  • vexexec is a new command-line executable that can run a CVEX shader.

Viewport / OpenGL

  • VDB, Alembic, Polysoup primitive support.
  • New renderhook architecture.
  • Coincident point detection.
  • Strong performance improvements.
  • Much enhanced stability.
  • Environment lights can be displayed in the background.
  • New inspection mode in the scene viewer to provide information about the geometry underneath the mouse cursor.
  • Enhancements to viewport point instancing, including support for instancing multiple objects using the “instance” attribute.
  • Interactive selection now available for the Group SOP in UV viewports.
  • GL3-accelerated component picking
  • The 3D viewport automatically sets the ideal image quality limits and viewing parameters by querying the graphics hardware.
  • New viewerinspect command to save the viewport inspection settings to the hip file.
  • A new viewport option (off by default) allows volumes to be displayed as point clouds in wireframe mode: Geometry Tab -> Tessellation group.
  • New Vector Scale display option to control all custom vector decorations and the length of the point velocity vector globally.
  • Support for pixel value inspection in the scene viewer Inspect tool.
  • Python support for additional geometry inspection information in the viewport.


  • New Alembic primitive that eliminates the need to bake Alembic data into Houdini geometry, resulting in much lighter data passing through the system.
  • Much faster loading of Alembic data (linear versus quadratic time).
  • Native viewport support for Alembic primitives (2x faster than current display).
  • Native Mantra support for Alembic primitives (as procedurals).
  • Ability to display Alembic primitives as proxy data: bbox, point cloud, centroid.
  • New spatial filters for loading Alembic data, such as bbox containment.
  • Ability to load Alembic data as a Houdini point cloud or a bbox.
  • Ability to load Alembic objects as flat Houdini nodes rather than a hierarchy.
  • Completely redesigned output driver with controls for properties such as constant topology.
  • Directly supported by Houdini’s bullet solver (no explicit conversion required).
  • The Alembic ROP is available in the SOP context.
  • Alembic I/O supports face sets for polygonal meshes and subdivision surfaces.
  • New Alembic Group SOP to help with selecting and grouping Alembic primitives.
  • The Alembic Delayed Load archive primitives can be configured to respect the Alembic visibility flag.
  • Support for dual Alembic files: one for animation and another for uv's or other attributes.

General I/O

  • Digital Assets now store the unit scales to properly adjust to units in the sessions where they are instantiated.
  • The GEOio file has been changed from a simple text file to a JSON file. Old GEOio files still supported for now.
  • File SOP and the DOP I/O now offer the option to create intermediate directories (off by default). This provides significant time-savings for Technical Directors.

  Learn More Learn More
  Tutorials Gallery Demo Reels Companion Products