SI and Houdini

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With the very recent announcement that SI is being retired, there's been a lot of discussion in the SI community on what to do next. Many have expressed an interest in moving to Houdini, at some point in the future, and are understandably wondering what might be involved.

We've set up this forum, for you, to provide an avenue of discussion about this. If anyone has any stories about a recent transition to Houdini, please feel free to share any details, so that others might learn.

This forum will also serve as a place where SI users can tell us how they would like us to improve Houdini, to ease any future transition. If you didn't know already, you can always try out our free version [sidefx.com]. Once you've dipped your toes, feel free to post about it, the good, bad and the ugly.

While Houdini is often regarded as a pure TD and VFX tool, we're always looking for ways to make it more artist friendly, and expand its usage beyond its traditional VFX roots. To this end, we've set up a dedicated user-experience team, spearheaded by yours truly, to look into ways we can improve Houdini. As we all know, SI is known for its artist-first approach, which is something that Houdini can learn a lot from.
Halfdan Ingvarsson
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I'm not a former Softimage user that transitioned to Houdini obviously (more like a current XSI user), but I just wanted to chime in and congratulate SideFX for their promptitude and support and to express my amazement.

Since I cannot offer support to Softimage users wishing to migrate to Houdini, I can however offer my input as far as modeling (and perhaps later animation) can be improved by creating a well documented list with features in need to be addressed or added.

Thank you and good luck to us all.
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This is a great gesture. I've always tried to stay pretty software independent but I must say the news, although expected, saddened me more than I had anticipated. Softimage had a very logical workflow and that is something I'll miss.

I worked on 2 animated features. For the second one we used ICE for a lot of the dressing and environment setup. I feel ICE get's this weird rap as a TD's tool when it's really just something that extends your creative vision. I'm fairly hopeful that Houdini is similar as it's all so procedural and node based.

At the moment I'm trying to download the Houdini Apprentice installer but it's corrupted on me twice already. Probably due to the floods of Softi's trying it out
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Wow! Thank you, Halfdan.
SI user here. Italy. Milan.
I don't know why, but I feel already at home, here,

While I think Softimage is uncomparable as a daily work in many areas, I always looked with a lot of interest what Houdini was always baking every year.
And I can say I've been always amazed. Sometimes I thought “do they have an army of crazy scientists in there?”.

Of course SI users are often seen as kind of fanatics or snobs regarding other softwares (me too…), but because always found them too stressful to work with, for doing the same things. It's something difficult to understand, from outside, without working a while with SI.
So, I won't abandon Softimage right away, for quite a while, but starting at once tapping the Houdini software.

And this sentence alone:
“This forum will also serve as a place where SI users can tell us how they would like us to improve Houdini, to ease any future transition” is just fresh air.
Even if, of course, can't be any special treatment for SI users nor the right to deserve it, in respect of the Houdini community. But it's cool anyway reading it, since the recent news.

Thank you again!
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halfy for the win


am so pleased that you did this. also wondered why you had not come sooner. congrats on the new role! are you still working in rendering department as well?

also, have definitely tried on a few occasions to give Houdini a serious shot and either fell asleep in my chair watching some professor bloke wearing grey going on and on in a monotone alpha wave induced voice *or* got lost in the warren and maze of vop chop sop block nop wots.

a crash course on terminolgy from a softimage perspective would be sooo full of kind hearted empathy and win so it would be possible to map out existing softimage terminology areas into the various houdini (*)ops and where they live and categorized.

next problem I had was the operator stack. when exploring some of the prepackaged effects like pyros and clouds I could not follow the execution path down. like in an ICE tree it executes compounds (that contain compounds) from the top down, with a ‘simulate’ node at the end. if a node is not connected it wont compute. I found a number of areas when trying to follow the ‘logical’ path of executions through the various layers of houdini ‘compounds’ that make up the effect that seemed, well just illogical and could not work out how they were connected or functioned


being shown this by a normal houdini user I realised I did not notice easily when going in and out of these ‘compounds’ when domain of ops change . softimage has color coded modes of operation that I think is missing from houdini , although its there on some areas but its like a 1 pixel color stripe or something. I think I will make a seperate thread highlighting this problem when I encounter again but it was just frustrating and confusing in general when seen just from a softimage perspective :x I hope you understand

anyway. phew. got that off my chest. nice one halfy!
https://vimeo.com/tekano [vimeo.com]
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rob, my experience exactly!

as i ve been in that softimage fx/ice wizardry niche for some time now, there was no other option as to go “full procedural” with houdini.

but i have to so say the learning curve is still steep.

i am pretty proficient in all that “how to technically wrangle 3d data to get pretty pictures” paradigms. so most of the time i looking for equivalent tools/ building blocks. eventually finding them and asking myself why they actually work.

that constantly switching from low level (vop sops for instance) to closed nodes, confuses me a lot.

I am very sure that I have to get used to new workflows, and I am grateful to have a place like this very forum to ease the transition.

- sebastian
http://www.sekowfx.com [www.sekowfx.com]
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Ex softimage user here. A few things I think might be helpful to migration.

Learning houdini won't be overnight, and probably won't give you the same experience that Softimage did. That will be hard to beat. Houdini, otoh, could really benefit from Softimage user's experience.

However, this side of the 3D world is a very powerful one if you're willing to put forth the time and effort. First of all, volumes. I'm talking OpenVDB, Pyro, and Flip. These tools are workhorse of this package. And like ICE, once you set it up, you can reuse and share via OTLs.

Leverage Mantra. It's an incredibly powerful renderer all for free. There are just some things you can do in Mantra you can't do in Arnold. You can pass damn near any type of data to the renderer without having to wait for 3rd party developers to implement it. RGB, vector, point clouds, it does it.

Houdini to me, is the most unified anything out there. You can pass data through any context all the way to the final render if you want. Take your time. Get to learn it and you'll leverage a very powerful tool in your arsenal.

And lastly. SideFX is a company that listens and innovates. I have watched Houdini tackle problems of incredible size and scale, and given the complexity of what it can accomplish, only asks their users to educate themselves a little in return.

The hope is that with time, SI users can lend their experience regarding usability while simultaneously leverage one of the most powerful data engines on the market.

Good luck everyone.

-Lu
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Rob Chapman
softimage has color coded modes of operation that I think is missing from houdini , although its there on some areas but its like a 1 pixel color stripe or something.

Not sure if this is similar, try turning on ‘Color Pane Header with Network Contexts’, in Preferences/General User Interface
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Good idea this forum
I started with Houdini before Softimage news but now it's time to full Houdini learning..

Thanks
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Thanks Halfdan! Great to see you, and thanks for setting up this topic! I've known I'd eventually end up here, and it took a little longer than I expected, but it feels like home already. I swear I keep smelling freshly baked cookies as I browse the forum.
Andy Jones
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halfdan
To this end, we've set up a dedicated user-experience team, spearheaded by yours truly, to look into ways we can improve Houdini.
Amazing, this really seems to be the place to be for us! Thank you for the warm welcome.
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Wa-hey! Looks like the whole crew is here
Halfdan Ingvarsson
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Speaking as a long time xsi user (and license owner) I can say that we have no better home than right here. These guys are incredible, and will bend over backwards to make their tool as comfortable in your hands as they can. They are responsive and quite frankly, scary geniuses. It's like the entire company is being run by the scientists, instead of managers, beholden to the shareholders.

I'll try to be here as much as I can to help anyone trying to make the jump to houdini from soft, but the great news is, you won't have to wait for me. The community is very supportive and extremely intelligent and creative. Enjoy!
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I'm a professor learning to model anatomy for course materials, and just this past week had started to learn ICE with the hope that I could start doing things like animate biological processes. I started with Softimage after using trials of it, Maya, 3DSMax, Lightwave, Modo, and I think Cinema 4D. I chose Softimage for ease of use, well-roundedness, and what was the most intuitive of interfaces for me personally.

halfdan
While Houdini is often regarded as a pure TD and VFX tool, we're always looking for ways to make it more artist friendly, and expand its usage beyond its traditional VFX roots.

This is why I didn't continue with Houdini. Out of the several packages I tried out, Houdini seemed particularly specialized and I had a lot of trouble with the modeling tools. Additionally, the lack of available training materials compared to other packages made it simply easier to get over the first bump of the learning curve with other software. (At Digital Tutors there are more than 5 times as many lessons on Softimage and 3DSMax, and 20 times as many on Maya, compared to Houdini, for example.)

If you improved those two things, I think you could expand your market share. Most if not all of the professionals that I talked to in exploring software options started on something other than Houdini and only moved to because a job required it (although it was encouraging to hear their opinions after the move). In general, people tend to stick with what they know and can work with efficiently, so if you make it easier for the novice to get started, you'll hook more people and keep them around.

I'm back to looking at Houdini because I'm sure it will allow me to do the things that I'd like to eventually do, but also partly in reaction to Autodesk- I'm not happy with them killing Softimage, while I think it would be easier for me to move to Maya I feel Sidefx would be more dependable in the future. I don't see any reason to ask my department for money to spend on a product if the company isn't committed to it.

As far as this forum goes, it might be helpful to group threads on Softimage–>Houdini conversion based on area into subforums- like one for modeling, one for dynamics, one for rendering, etc.
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Hi AmmonosHorn,

Stay tuned for The Soft to Houdini guide.
http://www.sidefx.com/index.php?option=com_forum&Itemid=172&page=viewtopic&t=31012 [sidefx.com]

There are some great training resources on the SideFx site, should be under the Learning menu, and as they say, quality not quantity counts

As well as this forum there is OdForce, google it, that has expertise and sub forums dedicated to different areas.
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just to name 2
http://www.papicrunch.net/GC-houdb/ [papicrunch.net] (a bit outdated)
https://cmivfx.com/store/ [cmivfx.com] (scroll down for the houdini section)

cheers
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First batch ready for you guys to download

MartybNz
Hi AmmonosHorn,

Stay tuned for The Soft to Houdini guide.
http://www.sidefx.com/index.php?option=com_forum&Itemid=172&page=viewtopic&t=31012 [sidefx.com]

There are some great training resources on the SideFx site, should be under the Learning menu, and as they say, quality not quantity counts

As well as this forum there is OdForce, google it, that has expertise and sub forums dedicated to different areas.
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Hi fellas! I do not want to say that I made the switch from soft to houdini, but that instead I added houdini to my arsenal I felt that the two were a combo to be reckon with (one strongly interactive, the other one strongly procedural)

I feel Houdini has all the power and everything that it needs to be a great interactive program like softimage, with proper effort put towards the entry points and interactive interface. Halfdan, I will be glad to be able to provide input in this area as well, from the point of view of an experience soft/houdini user

Softimage users, welcome, and hope you all have the great experiences I had making this transition myself it has been by far one of the most refreshing stages of my career and look forward to see what the joining of our communities can mean for the industry!
-G
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What were they think? that we are gonna move towards Maya o 3dMax… donk think so, have to convince my supervisor(boss, owner)jajaja to switch software, been looking these days from modo, cinema and houdini etc… coming from Softimage Houdini was the logical one to go for, and im glad to see this welcome message from SideFX. Really really glad and thankful.

For now its all i will be posting some ideas for Houdini workflow.

See ya.
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If you look at the Softimage to Houdini transition guide I am already diving into workflow elements bit by bit and soon will discuss how to manage assets and pure production workflow so stay tuned.

Alan Torres
What were they think? that we are gonna move towards Maya o 3dMax… donk think so, have to convince my supervisor(boss, owner)jajaja to switch software, been looking these days from modo, cinema and houdini etc… coming from Softimage Houdini was the logical one to go for, and im glad to see this welcome message from SideFX. Really really glad and thankful.

For now its all i will be posting some ideas for Houdini workflow.

See ya.
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