Houdini HIVE at SIGGRAPH 2017

Posted July 25, 2017

SideFX is back at SIGGRAPH again this year...but in a whole new format we're calling the Houdini HIVE... two side-by-side rooms at the LA Convention Center in rooms 501A&B.

The HIVE will include three days of educational sessions, studio presentations, industry panels, reel reviews and social events - featuring SideFX product experts, and professionals from studios including Disney, Pixar, Double Negative, Blur, ILM ...and more!

Room 501A&B | Houdini HIVE

Tuesday, August 1 - Thursday, August 3, 2017

Visit the Houdini HIVE to learn more about our latest offerings, meet with other Houdini artists, grab a T-shirt or watch a presentation conducted by Industry professionals and SideFX production specialists. Check out the demo pods to ask more specific questions and watch Houdini in action. We look forward to meeting with you and learning more about the challenges you face in your day-to-day work. 

Location | Room 501 AB

Meeting Room | Los Angeles Convention Center

Tuesday, August 1 - Thursday, August 3, 2017

SideFX has a meeting room available for studios who want a one-on-one demo or wish to speak with someone about building a Houdini-based gamedev pipeline. Please make arrangements directly with your SideFX Account Manager at sales@sidefx.com.

Workshop Overview

Each day at the HIVE has been divided into two halves, providing five topic blocks which will feature presentations and panels from SideFX product specialists, and professional artists from studios including - ILM, Double Negative, Animal Logic, Disney Animation... and more!

All of the sessions listed below are open to everyone. Space is limited so please come early.


August 1

August 2

August 3



Sponsored by Pluralsight


Sponsored by Pluralsight


Character & Animation

Learn about the world "beyond VFX" with Grooming, Rigging, Animation, Constraints and Crowds


Experience some of the features of Houdini such as Modeling, LookDev, Lighting & Terrains



Get technical with sessions on Pyro, Destruction, Particles and Grains

Games & VR

Explore games, and the virtual world with sessions on Houdini-made VR and games

Students/New Users

Focusing on topics such as "How to Get a Studio Job", Reel Reviews, and "The Secret Language of Houdini"



Workshop Schedule



August 1


August 2


August 3

8:00 AM



8:30 AM

Sponsored by Pluralsight

Sponsored by Pluralsight

9:00 AM


Cameron White | SideFX

Sneak Peak - Topobuild 3.0

Fianna Wong | SideFX

9:30 AM

Believability in Procedural Modeling

Anastasia Opara

10:00 AM

Rigging & Muscles

Scott Keating | SideFX

10:30 AM

CHOPs & Constraints

Guillaume Laferriere | SideFX

Lighting & Rendering

Scott Keating | SideFX

11:00 AM

11:30 PM

Creating LIFE: The Crafting of Calvin

Gavin Graham | Dneg

The Mummy

Peter Bowmar | Dneg

12:00 PM

H16 Games Tools                            

Luiz Kruel/Michael Lyndon | SideFX

DIY Rendering

Matt Ebb 

12:30 PM

OpenCL vs CPU Pyro FX

Tighe Rzankowski | SideFX

Smash & Grab

Vincent Serritella & Farhez Rayani | Pixar

1:00 PM

Boolean or Not Boolean: Fun with Fracturing

Steve Knipping 

Procedural Scattering 

in Houdini Engine & Unity

John Moncrief | Pluralsight

A Day in the Life of a Studio Artist

Industry Panel 

1:30 PM

2:00 PM

Creating Ice Sheets for F8 Procedurally

Zach Mandt | Digital Domain

Procedural Level Building in UE4

Robert Magee | SideFX                                       

SideFX Intern Project | Feather Tools  

Tighe Rzankowski | SideFX                                

2:30 PM

The Secret Language of Houdini

Robert Magee | SideFX 

3:00 PM

Getting Started with Grains  

Rob Stauffer | SideFX

Castle VR Overview

Rob Stauffer | SideFX 

How To Get A Job

Industry Panel  

3:30 PM

Visual Effects of "Attraction" Motion Picture

Mikhail Lesin | Main Road Post

Virtual Authenticity: 

The Use of Houdini in VR Storytelling

Winslow Porter | New Reality

4:00 PM

Speed Mentoring

Industry Panel  

4:30 PM

Blurring Software: 
BLUR's Journey Into Houdini

Nikita Pavlov | Blur

Procedural Rock Formations for UE4

Saber Jlassi 

5:00 PM


5:30 PM

Join us for Food and Drink


Anastasia Opara

Anastasia Opara's background is strongly connected with arts – by the age of 16 she had taken part in more than 20 exhibitions in Russia and Europe. She is deeply moved by cyclicity and layering of patterns in our life, and one of the ways she express it is through procedural art, which she discovered during her studies at NHTV International Game Architecture and Design (IGAD). 

>> Believability in Procedural Modelling: Layering of Simple Rules | Thur | Aug 3 | 9:30 AM 
Humans, are great pattern recognition machines, who face astonishing amount of complexity on a daily basis. We are so good at dealing with it, that we do not directly register how exactly this happens, yet when something is off, we immediately ‘feel’ it. Procedural modelling is, in a way, like painting, where complexity emerges from the interaction of simple rules. Thus, we can achieve great intricacy and believability from layering the simplest rules if we analyse correctly our own thought patterns.


Peter Bowmar | Double Negative

Peter Bowmar is Dneg Vancouver FX Technical Supervisor. He works with Dneg R&D team and FX Supervisors across shows to ensure tools and technologies related to FX are being supported and maintained. Peter started using Houdini around version Alpha 0.8 while teaching in Singapore in the early to mid 90's.
He moved to FX for feature films in 2000 and has worked since then on projects like Superman Returns, Golden Compass, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Star Trek Beyond, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Wonder Woman. Peter headed Method Studios’ 3D and Technology department in Vancouver between 2008 and 2012.
He moved to FX Supervision at Rhythm and Hues in 2012 and joined Dneg in 2014 where he became FX Technical Supervisor.

>> Lookdev & Lighting Large FX Sequences in Houdini/Mantra for The Mummy | Thur | Aug 3 | 11:30 AM 
Double Negative's remit on The Mummy included large, FX heavy sequences plus crowds of spiders and a spooky Tomb. As one of Dneg's primary renderers, Mantra was the perfect choice to handle the heavy volumes, and the tight integration with Houdini afforded rapid turnaround. This talk will look at some of the challenges and processes involved in doing lookdev and lighting on sequences Dneg worked on.


Gavin Graham | Double Negative

Gavin Graham: As Global Head of VFX, Gavin helps to oversee all the VFX departments in Dneg’s offices around the world. He started out as an FX TD, doing shots on shows like The Chronicles of Riddick and Cloverfield. He moved into FX and CG Supervision on projects like Stardust, 2012, Harry Potter 6 and Captain America, and in 2011 moved into management, initially as Head of 3D in London. In 2015 he started to take more of a Global view on the business and has been managing the VFX departments across all Dneg’s locations since.

>> Creating LIFE: The Crafting of Calvin | Tues | Aug 1 | 11:30 AM 
Double Negative's team created a performance of the alien creature at the centre of the film Life, Calvin, using a variety of interesting Houdini tools and approaches at different stages of its evolution. This talk will go over the creative process involved, and how Houdini was leveraged to deliver something truly out of this world.

Matt Ebb

Matt Ebb: With a background in design, Matt loves the abstract, weird and wonderful side of visual effects, using procedural tools to solve difficult creative problems. Having over a decade’s experience in visual effects and animation across Sydney, London and Amsterdam, Matt has very recently finished up as an FX Lead at Animal Logic, where he worked on films including Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Allegiant, The Lego Movie, and Prometheus.

>> Procedural Modelling/LookDev | Thur | Aug 3 | 12:00 PM 
Why use Houdini's perfectly good renderer when you can make your own weird substitute (inside Houdini)? Matt will show how a little bit of rendering knowledge can be dangerously useful. Using Houdini's Surface Operators and VEX, we'll go on a journey from foolish early experiments, to handcrafted rendering and shading tools that were used to tackle some tricky briefs in recent blockbuster films.


Steven Knipping 

Steven Knipping is a Senior Rigid Body Destruction and FX TD, in addition to being the creator of the Applied Houdini VFX video tutorial series. His recent films include Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. His expertise mainly focus on Houdini-based FX, especially rigid body destruction, particles, explosions/smoke, and other fun geometry effects. I also do lots of metal casting, archery, and of course.... board games.

>> Boolean or not Boolean: Fun with Fracturing | Tues | Aug 1 | 1:00 PM 
Steven Knipping of the Applied Houdini video tutorial series talks about Houdini 16's new workflows for making awesome looking fractures faster and easier! He'll discuss how to art direct certain material looks and when to use booleans, voronoi, for loops and more!


Zach Mandt | Digital Domain

Zach Mandt: Creating Digital Environments is all about perspective." Zach Mandt has been creating digital environments professionally since 2003. Having worked for years using Maya Nuke, and primarily Photoshop, He finally broke into using Houdini to help create large scale Environments. Ever since using it on Maleficent, it has been a staple when it comes to creating large scale, fly-through environments. Always pushing things forward and searching for the right tool for the job has led him to where he is at.

>> Creating Ice sheets for F8 Procedurally | Tues | Aug 1 | 2:00 PM 
On Fate of the Furious we were faced with running a larger environment than usual. Not just a small room, or chamber, but a full-on ice sheet, and over 700 shots of it all to boot. We needed to create something custom that would fit in our pipeline and work alongside the tool sets our artists were familiar with, and already using which meant turning to Houdini.


Mikhail Lesin | Main Road Post

Mikhail Lesin began his career as a 3D generalist in an advertising agency in 2000, and a few years later he became fascinated by the world of visual effects in motion pictures. In 2006 he became a co-founder and chief technical officer of Main Road Post studio, based in Moscow, Russia. Mikhail determines pipeline process and technologies in the studio. He is constantly on the brink of state of the art technologies, and eager to find the way to produce better images and cut down the process. Sometimes Mikhail loves to catch a break and make some cool stuff as a lighting/fx artist. With years Main Road Post transformed into the most known Russian studio in the world working on the large-scale projects in the Russian film market.

>> Visual Effects of "Attraction" Motion Picture | Tues | Aug 1 | 3:30 PM
Mikhail will provide in-depth details of VFX production for Attraction. We will go right from the early stage of pre-production through all fascinating effects. How we generate an authentic city and then destroy it, develop design of alien exoskeleton and spaceship, make genuine clouds and atmosphere, and why we need to make a CG fighter pilot. At the end you will hear how we adjusted our work principles to accomplish all this with a relatively small team of 50 people in just 1 year. 

Nikita Pavlov | Blur Studios

Nikita Pavlov launched his FX career on 2008's "Kung Fu Panda". While at DreamWorks Animation, he simulated 25 martinis, collapsed two bridges, sprouted 3.7 miles of magical beanstalk, emitted 28,755,404 sparks, and color-corrected 4.1 trillion pixels. After nine years at DreamWorks, he left the hemisphere and vacationed at Weta Digital before returning to California and finding a new home at Blur Studios as a resident Houdini pipeline engineer. When not crashing renderfarm servers, Nikita sculpts, draws, designs game campaigns, and attempts to pen the next Great American Novel.

>> Blurring Software: BLUR's Journey Into Houdini | Tues | Aug 1 | 4:30 PM
During this session, we will examine an advanced scatter tool created using Houdini Engine for Unity. This session will take you through building a tool that will randomize and scatter assets (like trees or rocks) based on several different factors including slope calculations, curve based boundaries, and other procedural info read in from a Unity terrain. 

John Moncrief | Pluralsight

John Moncrief John is the Resident Dynamics Instructor and Dynamics Curriculum Manager at Pluralsight Creative. His deep passion for creating beautiful, explosive effects is only matched by his strong desire to teach others. John has had the opportunity to teach dynamics and visual effects to numerous creative industry professionals over the years. 

He lives for the rush of seeing his learners experience “lightbulb” moments. John’s latest passion has been breathing new life into the Pluralsight Houdini training library, and to make sure that no software or tool can get in the way of an artist expressing their creative vision.

>> Procedural Scattering in Houdini Engine and Unity | Wed | Aug 2 | 1:00 PM
During this session, we will examine an advanced scatter tool created using Houdini Engine for Unity. This session will take you through building a tool that will randomize and scatter assets (like trees or rocks) based on several different factors including slope calculations, curve based boundaries, and other procedural info read in from a Unity terrain. 

Winslow Porter | New Reality

Winslow Porter is a Brooklyn based director, producer and creative technologist specializing in virtual reality and large-scale immersive installations. Winslow has always been fascinated with the possibilities of how the intersection of art and technology can elevate storytelling. He started out as a feature film editor, but pivoted to interactive music for modern dance and art/tech after graduating from NYU Tisch’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) in 2010. With over six years of experiential work under his belt, he has helped create interactive art experiences for Google, Delta, Diesel and Wired to name a few. Winslow also produced the Tribeca Film Festival Transmedia Award-winning documentary CLOUDS, among other acclaimed new media projects. Winslow formed studio New Reality Company with Milica Zec in 2016, creating both Giant and Tree, and continues consulting on dozens of interactive/immersive projects with notable creatives and brands. He and Zec were both named designers in residence at A/D/O, a design center in Greenpoint Brooklyn; the two were recently selected to Adweek’s Top 100 creatives as digital innovators.

>> Virtual Authenticity: The Use of Houdini in VR Storytelling | Wed | Aug 2 | 3:30 PM

New Reality Co., creators of the critically-acclaimed cinematic VR drama Giant and the haptically enhanced follow-up piece Tree, will expand upon their utilization of Houdini to finesse virtual environments with photorealistic 3D assets. Co-founder Winslow Porter will detail the history of NRC’s partnership with SideFX and the process of rendering Houdini’s high-quality animations, aiding the audience’s immersion into VR.

Saber Jlassi

Saber Jlassi is a California-based VFX artist and a Houdini instructor. Before becoming a freelancer he worked for Blizzard Animation as a Senior Technical Director writing tools and scripts to improve the Lighting, FX and Compositing pipeline, in addition to collaborating with Production to solve challenging tasks. Prior to this, he worked as a Senior Lighting TD at Framestore and Generalist TD at MPC in London.

>> Procedural Rock Formations for UE4 | Wed | Aug 2 | 4:30 PM

Creating procedural rock formation and cliffs can be very challenging due to all the complex natural patterns (layering, cracks, sharp edges). Using Houdini VDB volumes and voronoi fracturing we will learn how this problem can be solved to create all kinds of complex rock formation. After creating the highres meshes we will learn how to generate the game friendly version and bake all the maps needed to make a realistic looking environment in Unreal Engine. 

Vincent Serritella  & Farhez Rayani   Pixar

Vincent Serritella studied at both MICA in Baltimore, Maryland and at The Cooper Union in NYC where he received his degree in fine art. Serritella also developed award winning effects on "Spiderman 2" and was nominated for Outstanding Effects in an Animated Motion Picture “Beowulf" in 2008 and most recently his work on "Inside Out" for the 2016 VES and Annie Awards. He is currently at Pixar Animation Studios where he recently completed work on "Finding Dory" and the Academy Award Winning short "Piper". Vincent is currently leading effects for Pixar's upcoming “The Incredibles" sequel.

Farhez Rayani recently completed work on "Finding Dory" and "Cars 3". His credits include Academy award-winning films, such as "Toy Story 3", "Up", "The Golden Compass" and "Happy Feet". His vfx lighting for "Toy Story of Terror" was nominated for a VES award in Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation. Farhez has also been a member of the R&D teams for Autodesk Maya, Adobe Photoshop and he played a key role in Pixar's adoption of new lighting technologies. He is currently lighting on Pixar's feature film "Coco" and has supervised lighting for the first two of Pixar's new experimental short films.

>> Smash & Grab | Thur | Aug 3 | 12:30 PM
In 2016, Pixar launched an experimental storytelling initiative to explore new forms of animated storytelling techniques and workflows in animated features. With a minimal crew and the opportunity to build a pipeline from start to finish, this talk is the story of how we used Houdini to deliver 150 shots in six months.



Cameron White | SideFX

Cameron White is a 3D Software Developer at SideFX, where he has worked primarily on the Bullet solver, constraint networks, and crowds.

>> Crowds | Tues | Aug 1 | 9:00 AM 
This presentation focuses on Houdini's tools for simulating crowd agents as ragdolls. Topics covered include: best practices for setting up collision geometry and joint limits, crowd solver integration, heightfields, and more.

Scott Keating | SideFX

Scott Keating is a Senior Product Designer at SideFX specializing in the user experience needs of Houdini artists. He is also an award-winning commercial illustrator, designer, and comic-book artist and his work has been published worldwide, in magazines, books, comics, and commercial products.

>> Rigging & Muscles | Tues | Aug 1 | 10:00 AM
We will cover a variety of rigging methods inside of Houdini, from Auto-Rigging to custom networks. From there, we will cover a variety of techniques for adding muscles to your character and simulating the result.

>> Lighting & Rendering | Thur | Aug 3 | 10:30 AM
We will cover some of Mantra's new rendering capabilities and how to take advantage of the new Material workflows in Houdini 16. From there, we will look at how to take advantage of Material Style Sheets when assigning materials and assembling your scene.

Guillaume Laferierre | SideFX

Guillaume Laferriere is a developer at SideFX, and has been working on Animation Tools for 3 years. He started his first programming job at Avid working on Softimage DS before moving on to 3D rendering on Softimage XSI until its end. He then moved on to work on Maya's integration of XGen and did early rendering work on Bifrost before finally joining SideFX. Guillaume brings more than 10 years of software development experience to the SideFX dev team in many areas. 

He also contributes as an organizer of the Montreal Houdini User Group and often visits customers with the Sales team.

>> Animating using CHOPs and Contraints | Tues | Aug 1 | 10:30 AM
In this Masterclass, we'll presenting how to use the Constraints introduced in Houdini 16.0 to animate characters. We'll cover how to reparent objects during animation, how to animate a rolling cube procedurally and how to make a character walk on a path. This session focuses mainly on CHOP and will also introduce you to the new CHOP transform handles and the CHOP Channel Wrangles.

Fianna Wong | SideFX

Fianna Wong is a Technical Marketing Specialist at SideFX and is most known as the robot voice of the Houdini Quickstart videos. She loves hardsurface modeling pr0n and still cannot believe that after so many years (since starting out with Infini-D and Bryce), the CG industry continues to innovate!

>> Sneak Peak - Topobuild 3.0 | Thur | Aug 3 | 9:00 AM
H16 was recently released only a few months ago, but we are already working on new tools and we want to give you a sneak peek on what's coming down the pipe for surfacing tools, specifically the TopoBuild toolset.

Robert Magee | SideFX

Robert Magee is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at SideFX who has been working with Houdini for over 15 years. He has created lots of learning material and demos designed to help artists understand how going procedural with Houdini can benefit their work.

>> Procedural Level Building in UE4 | Wed | Aug 2 | 2:00 PM 
In his session, Robert will show how you can create procedural assets in Houdini that can be used to build game levels in UE4.  He will talk about how to create these assets in Houdini's node-based environment and how to deploy them using the Houdini Engine for UE4 plug-in.

>> The Secret Language of Houdini | Thur | Aug 3 | 2:30 PM
When Houdini artists talk, it can seem like they are speaking in a secret language. In this session, Robert will teach you how easy it is to understand "Houdini-speak" while learning how a node-based procedural workflow can support your film, TV and gamedev projects. 

Luiz Kruel & Mike Lyndon | SideFX

Luiz Kruel is a Sr. Technical Artist at SideFX Software. With a decade of production experience in games, he has worked on several of the largest franchises in the industry, including Halo, Call of Duty, Doom, Madden and Just Cause. He is a part of our games team and responsible for developing tools to bridge the gap between Houdini and Game Engines.

Michael Lyndon is a Sr. Technical Artist at SideFX. He has a broad range of experience creating computer graphics for commercials, films and video games. His fascination with the world around us and the desire to blend art with his technical tinkering has led to his work making rolling cloudscapes in Ender's Game, generating raging fires in Gears of War 4 and trapping penguins in an avalanche of snow for Happy Feet 2. He is a part of our games team and responsible for developing tools to bridge the gap between Houdini and realtime applications.

>> Houdini 16 Games Tools Updates | Wed | Aug 2 | 12:00 PM
Discover the latest additions to the games toolset.  Luiz and Mike will guide you through the tools and workflows that have been added to make it easier to export data from Houdini to your game engine. These include export tools for motion vectors, a simplified workflow for baking out textures, improved uv workflow and others.

Tighe Rzankowski  | SideFX

Tighe Rzankowski is a 20-year old FX Intern at SideFX, currently living in Toronto. He’s passionate about VFX problem-solving and was formerly a Houdini FX Intern at The Mill NY.

>> OpenCL vs CPU Pyro | Tues | Aug 1 | 12:30 PM
An overview of how to approach a fast-moving pyro simulation in Houdini, as well as a comparison of the workflow and results between OpenCL and CPU computated simulations.

>> SideFX Intern Program | Feather Tools | Thur | Aug 3 | 2:00 PM 
A talk on procedural tools created in Houdini for generating feathers, creating wings and applying feathers to a bird.

Rob Stauffer | SideFX

Rob Stauffer is a Senior Production Consultant at SideFX. He has over 20 years experience in computer graphics and visual effects. Rob started his career at Digital Domain and has worked at Sony Imageworks, Weta Digital, Asylum FX and most recently was an FX Supervisor at Rhythm and Hues. He has contributed to the FX of over 20 feature films including, "Lord Of The Rings: The Return of The King", "Spiderman 2", "X-Men:First Class", "The Day After Tomorrow" and "Seventh Son”. Rob joined SideFX in 2013 where he educates new and existing clients on the features of Houdini. Consults with studios on their pipelines and where Houdini may fit in and explores new and future technologies within VFX,Games and VR.

>> Getting Started with rains | Tues | Aug 1 | 3:00 PM
In this class we will cover the basics of working with grains.  We will look using shelf tools for setting up dry and wet sand and will look at clumping and constraints.

>> Castle VR Overview | Wed | Aug 2 | 3:00 PM
Here we will take a look at the assets and work flows used to create a VR game in unity.  We will look at the assets we created and how they were incorporated in the game, including Houdini Engine.