Sept. 19, 2002 06:14:17
I've been into 3d as a hobby and learned a little about a lot of programs and now I've decided to settle into one program and use it to learn through and through. Later in life I would like to do this professionally, but not for a few years.
I've looked at all the 3d apps out there and I can't decide which one to focus on. There's Lightwave, 3DS Max, Maya, Softimage, Maya, and Houdini. Which one should I take the time to learn?
I like the fact that the Houdini community is still young so it seems the right time to learn from it. Would I be able to to fully utilize Houdini Apprentice to fully exploit the program without any restrictions on functionality? How is the learning curve of Houdini? I know enough of 3d graphics and animation to get around and accomplish basic tasks, but not enough to fully realize certain program's potentials.
Any help is greatly appreciated!
What companies currently use Houdini?
Sept. 19, 2002 09:53:18
I used Max professionally for several years and hated almost every minute of it. I like Maya, it's a great piece of software that's very easy to use. Houdini, however is a very different piece of software from any other 3D platform out there. It seems very complex at first, but if you take the time to work through the tutorials it makes a lot of sense, and it seems to me that Houdini may be the most flexible 3D animation package out there. I've been using it for almost two months now, and I'm liking it very much.
Side FX has put together the best educational/demo software package available. There are limitations but they will in no way hinder your ability to use the software to its fullest functionality. Here's the limitations.
Licenses need to be renewed every 30 days.
There are small completely unobtrusive watermarks in the bottom right corner of every pane in the software.
Rendering is limited to a maximum of 640x480.
Renderings have a small completely unobtrusive watermark in the lower right hand corner (the watermark seems to scale with image size, and it's actually a nice looking watermark).
You are allowed to save work, however it is saved to a non commercial format. The non commercial format can be opened in a licensed professional copy of Houdini, but it sets the software into non commercial mode.
You cannot not render out to Mental Ray or Renderman although the funtionality to apply their shaders in your scenes exists.
These limitations are a very small price to pay for access to such a powerful piece of software. Add to that you can run the software on Windows NT, 2K or XP or Linux 6 or 7. It's the best educational software going right now.
I wouldn't waste time learning anything else other than Maya or Houdini if your intention is to try to make a career out of it, and Apprentice is much friendlier on your eyes than the current version of PLE. Even though it seems jobs for Houdini users aren't as abundant as Max, LW or Maya users, I guarantee most companies won't bat an eye at hiring you if you produce good work with Houdini Apprentice.
The learning curve is much steeper than any other 3D software, but you will have a moment of clarity where it all gels and makes sense. The “problem” for lack of a better word, is that Houdini is so open ended that it seems like a bottomless pit. You will wonder if it's possible to know the software inside and out.
Of course this is all just my opinion, and you may actually like Max or LW, or maybe PLE's watermarks won't bother you. If you ask the “which software is the best?” question on any other 3D forum, you're bound to get the “It's not the tools it's the artist” response. But really, not all software is created equal. If you are serious about making a career out of this, you should use software that is the most stable and feature complete. Therefore, you should probably focus your attention to deciding between Houdini, Maya, and probably XSI. LW and Max may seem popular and easy to use, but good things don't come easy. Max is the least stable, and both Max and LW are short on features and flexibility if you are comparing them to Houdini or Maya. You can do nice things with them, but if you want the big box of crayons with the built in sharpener, look at Houdini or Maya. Maya and Houdini are comparable, and choosing either one will have you trading off features, but either way you win.
Someone else could probably answer better, but Houdini seems most often used in high end Visual Effects, and many of the larger Japanese game developers use it, but I am not aware of any American game developers using Houdini, which is sad. Houdini has great set of tools for game asset creation and may be a much better piece of software for more technically inclined artists in a game development environment than Max.