Side Effects Software and 3D World are pleased to announce the winners of the 2006 Houdini Contest. Sergio Caires is the winner with his highly detailed underwater scene titled Seadragon while Mark Wainwright is the runner-up with his haunting image of The Wire Man. Many excellent entries were submitted and a gallery of some of the best is included below.
This contest was launched in Issue 81 of 3D World to challenge 3D artists to create an image that demonstrates creative freedom without compromise as embodied in Houdini’s procedural approach to working in 3D. The winners are also profiled in Issue 88 which is in stores now.
The use of the Houdini Apprentice edition to develop the entries is a testament to how robust this learning edition is for developing real projects and demo reel quality art. Entrants submitted their work using Apprentice’s unobtrusive wordmark and maximum render size, which was recently increased from 640x480 to 720x576.
Congratulations to the winners and to everyone who took the time to submit
Sergio was born in Portugal and currently works in Scotland on a freelance basis for Axis Animation. He has been working as a lead 3D artist for around 8 years. He enjoys working on every part of the pipeline. His enthusiasm for 3D was recently rejuvenated when he started to learn Houdini, which was not nearly as difficult as he had heard.
In his winning entry Seadragon, Sergio used Houdini to procedurally create the environment and Modo and Zbrush to model the seadragon. The lighting is very simple, just a key light and a flat ambient light. He then supplemented this by baking occlusion onto the geometry using an occlusion Digital Asset he found on the Houdini Exchange. The subsurface scattering is computed at the geometry level using a custom solution that Sergio built using a few standard Houdini nodes and some very simple expressions. This resulted in quick renderings that were broken up into multiple render layers then composited and color corrected in Houdini.
Since Mark was young, he wanted to work in movie special effects, especially stop motion animation or animatronics. He particularly loved the creatures from monster movies. These interests played a key role as he began studying 3D graphics, video and film in University. In 2004, Mark went to the University of Bournemouth to get a MA in digital effects. Here he began working with Houdini. Mark is currently working at Double Negative in London where he is fulfilling his dream.
Honorable MentionsShown below are some of the other entries that impressed the judges. Arkadiusz Rekita’s amazing procedural rendering of cacti is unique in its use of the Fibonacci sequence as a mathematical foundation. Arkadiusz has kindly written a document [2.4MB PDF] describing his technique to let us all in on his secrets. This entry is definitely a candidate for an “is it real or CG” comparison. Ilkka Jahnukainen created an image of a bird with fluffy feathers where he focused on controlling the size color and density of around 9000 feathers that were then rendered using deep shadow maps.
Andreas Vrhovsek’s Egg image is also completely procedural. He started with a procedural network that made it easy to change the resolution or even the shape of the egg. He then created a particle simulation that was saved out as a point cloud. Metaballs were then copied to the points to create the yolk. The yellow/orange inside was created by reducing the polygon amount then pushing the points along their normals. Shaders were created using the Vex builder and the refraction-shader is based on the fresnel-refraction-shader found on odforce.
Yaron Galula and Ofer Kapota are artists from Isreal who created the Bee image entirely in Houdini. The flowers were all set up as Digital Assets built using l-systems, parameter stamping and various shading techniques. The Bee was modeled using simple primitives. The fur was added using multiple paint, scatter and comb SOPs and the help of Arno Zinke's "arno_hair_far_field" shader. After the modeling was done, they rigged the legs of the bee, and packed it into another Digital Asset.
Other entries can be seen in a work-in-progress thread in the Houdini forum that was created for entrants to share their ideas with the Houdini Community.