Q. Is Houdini designed exclusively for the feature film market?

A. Many of our customers work in feature film and Houdini has been in many ways shaped by their production feedback. On the other hand, customers working on commercials and video games have also found advantages to working with Houdini’s node-based workflow.

Q. I have heard that you have to be a programmer or a techno-geek to use Houdini. Is this true?

A. No it is not. In fact, Houdini technical directors are often able to build up complex systems and even create custom tools by working interactively in Houdini’s network editor without writing any code. Our node-based workflow lets studios save their programming talent for other types of issues while giving technical directors more direct control over their pipeline.

Q. How does the Artist or the Animator fit into the picture?

A. Many studios use Houdini’s Digital Asset Technology to build custom toolsets that make it easy for artists and animators to work with Houdini. Instead of learning all of Houdini’s tools they can learn how the custom tools work. For animators in particular, this makes it easy to work with characters without knowing what is going on "under the hood".

Q. How would I go about learning Houdini?

A. There is a growing list of learning resources available for digital artists interested in Houdini. Check out the learning menu on this website to find out about schools, Side Effects training classes, books, online tutorials and other resources at your disposal. And of course, our Houdini Apprentice Learning Edition lets you work through all this material for free.

Q. How do I integrate Houdini into my existing pipeline?

A. Initially you will probably be using Houdini to accomplish some specific task like creating a dynamics simulation or adding muscles to a character. Our ability to import Collada files will help you transfer some of your data and custom scripts can be set up for more complex transfers. Houdini also provides a good staging environment for bringing together objects, animation, lights and cameras to then output to one of several renderers such as RenderMan, Mental Ray or Houdini’s own Mantra renderer.

Q. Can I build my production pipeline exclusively in Houdini?

A. Yes you can. Houdini is being used by studios for all parts of the production pipeline. Working exclusively in Houdini has the advantage of better integration of assets and a consistent flow of data. If you choose to work this way then you will also be able to take advantage of Houdini’s Digital Asset technology for referencing and general scene management.

Q. Is Houdini's node-based workflow similar to Construction History?

A. Houdini’s node-base workflow is so much more than traditional construction history. Every choice you make as you build a scene is set up as a network node that you can go back and edit. You can then display and work with any node in a chain or branch off in another direction to explore new ideas. You can even add a switch node to switch back and forth between different versions of a network.

Q. What does it mean that Houdini's dynamics are seamlessly integrated?

A. Dynamic networks in Houdini can include many different solvers that all talk to each other. Therefore when a rigid body object hits a piece of cloth both the object and the cloth react to each other. Beyond Houdini’s built-in Rigid Body, Cloth and Wire solvers studios can add their own solvers that can also talk to the other solvers. And with Fluids coming in Houdini 9, things are going to get very interesting.

Q. Can you really do Character Animation in Houdini?

A. Houdini has a very robust set of character animation tools as demonstrated by C.O.R.E. feature animation during production of Disney’s The Wild. Customers working on commercial projects have also used our auto-rigging and muscle tools which offer quick access to sophisticated character setups. And once characters are set up as Digital Assets, animators are able to work quickly and efficiently using a few hotkeys and our channel group-based workflow.

Q. Can I really render scenes created in Houdini FX using Houdini?

A. Yes you can. Scenes created in Houdini FX can be opened in Houdini and rendered. If you go to the particle or dynamic networks in those scenes you will not be able to edit or enhance your networks without going back to Houdini FX.

Q. Do I need Houdini Batch to use my Unlimited Mantra Render tokens?

A. To render to Mantra you must first output .ifd files which are similar to Renderman’s .rib format. You can do this from Houdini or Houdini FX or you can use the licenses for these products to run Houdini Batch. If you don’t want to tie up your artist’s computer then purchasing separate Houdini Batch licenses for the farm is recommended.

Q. How do I manage my Unlimited Mantra Render tokens on my farm?

A. To manage your render farm, Houdini supports a number of third party render queue software such as Pixar’s Alfred, Grid Engine, Rush and more.