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In Houdini, cooking refers to evaluating the nodes in the networks to compute the state of the scene in the current frame. Whenever you wire in a new node or change a parameter, Houdini re-evaluates the networks to compute the new outputs.
For many scenes this is very fast, but for extremely large scenes or complex simulations, the time to cook a frame can be quite noticeable, disrupting the flow of interactive changes. In that case, you may want to set Houdini to not update interactively.
Debugging slow cooks
Use the Performance Monitor to record and view cook timings to help track down problematic nodes so you can try to optimize them.
For long cooks, Houdini prints updates and time estimates in the status line at the bottom of the main window. You can press ⎋ Esc to cancel the current cook. This is often useful when a simulation frame is taking too long, or you accidentally typed an insane value into a parameter.
Cancel cooking the current frame
Press ⎋ Esc.
The bottom right corner of the main window has some buttons for controlling cooking.
Click this button to temporarily turn simulation off.
Right-click this icon to get a menu of simulation-related items.
Create New Simulation
Creates a new DOP Network subnet at the object level and sets it as the "current" simulation.
Turns cooking of simulation networks on/off. This is the same as clicking the simulation icon.
Lets you choose the "current" simulation network from a submenu. This is the network the shelf tools will modify.
Re-cooks simulations shown in the view, if necessary.
When the update menu is set to "Manual", this causes the networks to cook and update the view.
This menu lets you choose when parameter changes cause networks to recook and update the view.
Normally, Houdini dynamically updates as you change parameters (so, for example, you can see the scene change as you drag a slider). For extremely complex scenes, this can be slow, and you may want to change how often Houdini cooks.
"On mouse up" or "Manual" can be useful when you're working with a very heavy scene that takes a long time to update after a change.
Recook and update the view continuously as you change values, move sliders, and so on.
On Mouse Up
Recook and update the view only after each discrete parameter change. For example, only update when you release a slider.
Only recook and update the view when you explicitly click the Force Update button.