Apprentice FAQs


Apprentice licenses

Houdini Apprentice is a free version of Houdini FX for learning purposes and to create non-commercial projects.

Once you download, install and launch Houdini Apprentice, you will be prompted to install licenses.

The free Apprentice licenses are valid for 30 days. Once they expire, the software will prompt you to install a new set of licenses, for another 30 days. You may renew Apprentice licenses as often as you wish.

Apprentice licenses are in two parts:

  • Houdini FX (non-commercial) - opens the Houdini FX interface
  • Renderer (Indie/Apprentice) - render using Mantra

Houdini Apprentice gives you access to virtually all of the features of Houdini FX with only a few small restrictions!

Apprentice Splash Screen

More about Apprentice licenses:

  • Belong to one machine.
  • Cannot be floated on the network. They are locked to the machine using them.
  • Automatically installed once the software is launched for the first time or if the licenses have expired.
  • Cannot use the License Adminsitrator (File->Install Licenses) option to install.
  • Cannot be returned from the computer using the License Administrator.

For more information about Houdini Apprentice: www.sidefx.com/products/houdini-apprentice

To compare Houdini Apprentice with our Commercial and Indie products: www.sidefx.com/products/compare

Apprentice restrictions
  • Non-commercial projects
  • Apprentice cannot be used in the same pipeline as commercial versions of Houdini
  • Digital Assets created in Apprentice cannot be used with Houdini Engine or Houdini Engine Indie
  • Apprentice uses its own file format for saving scenes and assets
  • Restricted to 1280x720 when rendering
  • Rendering to file formats other than .picnc are wordmarked
  • Apprentice does not work with third party renderers
  • Apprentice licenses cannot be floated on the network

For more information about Houdini Apprentice: www.sidefx.com/products/houdini-apprentice

To compare Houdini Apprentice with our Commercial and Indie products: www.sidefx.com/products/compare

Apprentice Render

Download

Please see our system requirements page to see what hardware and operating systems are supported.

There is only one installation package for all users: Apprentice, Indie, Commercial, and Education. The installed licenses determine which features are available in the application and what restrictions are imposed on its use.

To download the installation package:

  • Go to www.sidefx.com → Get → Download
  • Please login to download Houdini. If you are new, you can register here
  • If you cannot access your account, try resetting your password here

The Download button will auto-select the appropriate build based on the operating system. Links to other operating systems are provided.

Apprentice users do not need to log into the License Administrator to install licenses.
The software will attempt to install Apprentice licenses automatically once launched.

An Internet connection is required.

If you want to download a specific build or version, please refer to Houdini builds.

Install (Windows)

Run the Houdini setup program by double-clicking the downloaded executable.

You do not need to Run as Administrator. As long as your user account has permissions to install programs, you should be fine.

Make sure to select the License Server component in the installer.

Apprentice Windows Install

Once installed, the application is available by default through:

  • Start Menu → All Programs → Side Effects Software → Houdini Apprentice 18.0.x

You will be prompted to install Apprentice licenses when you launch the software.

The following two services (found in Services.msc) will need to be in the running state for Houdini to function:

  • HoudiniServer (client program to interact with the license server)
  • HoudiniLicenseServer (license server)
Install (Mac OSX)

Run the Houdini setup program by double-clicking the downloaded .dmg file.

Make sure to select the License Server component in the installer.

Apprentice Mac OSX Install

Once installed, the application is available by default through:

  • Go → Applications → Houdini → Houdini 18.0.x → Houdini Apprentice 18.0.x

You will be prompted to install Apprentice licenses when you launch the software.

Install (Linux)

The installer must be run using sudo.

Note:
Make sure that the install file is not located in root's home folder (/root) as this will give you permission errors during the install process.

  • Open a Terminal
  • Unpack the downloaded tar.gz archive and go into the unpacked directory
  • Run the houdini.install script using sudo
  • Make sure to select the License Server component in the installer.

You can also double click on the houdini.install file with your mouse. It will run the installer in a terminal.

Apprentice Linux Install

An example of installing Houdini from the Terminal:

  • $ tar -xvf houdini-18.0.287-linux_x86_64_gcc6.3.tar.gz
  • This should create a directory called houdini-18.0.287-linux_x86_64_gcc6.3
  • Run the houdini.install script:
  • $ cd houdini-18.0.287-linux_x86_64_gcc6.3
  • $ sudo ./houdini.install

To launch Houdini from the Terminal, type the following:

  • cd /opt/hfs18.0 [press Enter]
  • source houdini_setup [press Enter]
  • houdini [press Enter]

This should setup the Houdini environment for you.

License the software

By starting Houdini for the first time or without an active license, you will be prompted with two options:

  • Install (or reinstall) my free Houdini Apprentice license
  • I have a paid license for Houdini

Choose the first option: Install (or reinstall) my free Houdini Apprentice license and click Next.

An Internet connection is required.

Apprentice License Prompt

You will be prompted to accept the Side Effects Software License Agreement to continue.

This will automatically install the keystrings to your computer.
You should see a message that says: The non-commercial licenses were successfully installed.

Apprentice Licenses Installed

Houdini builds

Daily builds

SideFX provides new builds of Houdini almost every day. These daily builds contain bug fixes and small improvements to the software. The detailed list of fixes is available in the journal under the Support menu. By installing a daily build, users are often able to benefit right away from our agile development process.

Production builds

SideFX periodically designates a daily build of Houdini as a "production build". Production builds are released almost monthly and have gone through the full quality assurance process, so they are at least as stable as the original. It is thus advisable to upgrade from time to time, particularly from one production build to another to take full advantage of new improvements.

Troubleshooting

These are the most common issues with downloading, installing, or licensing Apprentice:

Can’t log into the website to download the software

The license server is not running

  • Apprentice must look to itself for licenses.
  • Launch the License Administrator and go to File->Change License Server.
  • Press the local server button. Ensure that this matches your computer name.

Stuck in the licensing loop

  • Ensure that any antivirus/security software on the computer is allowing communication between the client program HoudiniServer (hserver/hserver.exe) and HoudiniLicenseServer (sesinetd/sesinetd.exe).
  • Modify the firewall to allow ports TCP 1714 (hserver client program) and TCP 1715 (sesinetd server program) locally.

Pop-up error warnings

You may see various pop-ups with warnings.
Sometimes resetting your Houdini preferences will help resolve issues.

The most common pop-up errorsare the following:

Icon with name 'BUTTONS_list_add' does not exist.

  • Try adding Houdini (including the installer .exe) to the trusted apps in the Controlled Folder access of your realtime protection software.

UnicodeDecodeError: 'ascii' codec

  • Ensure your operating system is in English and that your username does not contain non-English characters or other symbols.
  • Also ensure your folders containing any Houdini files do not contain non-English characters or other symbols.

Cannot save file

  • For OSX Catalina users, navigate to System Preferences > Security and Privacy> Files and Folders.
  • Ensure the folders you wish to save in are added and checked. This will give Houdini the appropriate permissions to save to those folders.

General Crashes

License diagnostic

To generate a diagnostic printout for debugging licensing issues:

  1. Start the Houdini License Administrator (hkey).
  2. Under the View menu, select "Diagnostic Information".
  3. Save the file.

Apprentice Diagnostic File

You may also press the "Email License Diagnostic to Technical Support" button from the Server Information tab in the License Administrator. This will launch your email program with the diagnostic file.

Apprentice Diagnostic Button

Machine information

If you are experiencing crashes or other errors using Houdini, please send your machine information along with the license diagnostic and any generated crash logs to support@sidefx.com.

  1. Launch Houdini -> Help -> About Houdini -> click on "Show Details".
  2. Save the file using the "save” button at the bottom.
  3. Attach the file along with the license diagnostic in an email addressed to support@sidefx.com.

Apprentice About Houdini

You may also press the "Email Crash Report to Technical Support" button from the Server Information tab in the License Administrator. This will launch the file browser to locate the crash.*_log.txt file.

Apprentice Diagnostic Button

Crash logs

Locating crash logs:

Windows
The crash error pop-up should tell you where the crash log has been written to. Most often it will be in your home directory under AppData. Ensure you select "Hidden Items" under the View menu in your file browser.

For example:

  • C:/Users/username/AppData/Local/Temp/houdini_temp

Mac OSX

  • On OSX crash logs are saved in /tmp.
  • You can only see this directory through a Terminal (Utilities->Terminal), not through the interface.

Linux

  • On Linux, the crash logs are saved in /tmp/houdini_temp

You may also press the "Email Crash Report to Technical Support" button from the Server Information tab in the License Administrator. This will launch the file browser to locate the crash.*_log.txt file.

Apprentice Diagnostic Button

Contacting support

If you are experiencing difficulties with licensing Houdini Apprentice:

  1. Generate the License Diagnostic.
  2. Attach the diagnostic file to an email addressed to support@sidefx.com

If you are having other issues such as crashes or error messages:

  1. Follow the steps above to provide the support team with the License Diagnostic.
  2. Attach any crash logs generated.
  3. If Houdini will stay open long enough, attach the reported machine information.