Back in the day when I made the switch, there were certain items that were easy to find in XSI but felt sorely missing in houdini. Later, I found out that they are actually available, and in a very flexible and powerful fashion in houdini, albeit hidden and not as simple to use. Some of them I feel they are not quite there yet (could be reproduced but with a LOT of work and expertise)
I would like to add these recommendations to sidefx as part of this initiative:
- Mesh information transfer as texture bakes: This is the usual albedo transfer/occlusion transfer/normal map transfer/etc, which in SI is called the ultimapper. In houdini, you do this by using a material in your target mesh with a gather loop (or any ray based operator) to transfer ANY surface variable you want (hence the amazing flexibility). Then you bake these to UVs by simply enabling UV rendering in the mantra node. I recommend a shelf tool to do this (with an equivalent OBJ digital asset) which encapsulates the gather loop functionality to generate typical bakes (color, normal, occlusion, height, displacement, etc.). This will facilitate entry level users, as well as educate people on how to do this (by allowing them to dive into the node). I actually learned about the powerful lookup CHOP by using the set driven keys shelf tool . I actually built something like this for my studio and it is not terribly difficult for anyone experienced in houdini (low hanging fruit)
- Mesh attribute transfer: I cannot remember if you have a shelf tool for this, but SI users will equal this to GATOR, which in houdini is the attribTransfer SOP.
- Polyreduce: Would LOVE to see the Houdini polyreduce SOP being able to yield the same quality as the SI polyreducer (which has been stolen by maya 2014). This is a best in class clean topology polyreducer. Even a remesh method which uses this same algorithm would be great..! I can provide more info on this if needed. You could repro this in houdini to some extent but it would not be trivial..
- drag and drop into houdini from explorer: This was not in SI, but I feel it could help a LOT for new people. Basically define bevaiours in houdini based on dragging and dropping files from OS into it. For example:
- If you drag a hip file, it opens the hip file
- if you drag an obj or bgeo or vdb file, it automatically drops a geometry node with the file sop referencing that file and switches the viewer to scene view
- if you drag an image, it automatically adds a file cop referencing that image, and switches the viewer to composite view
- if you drag an audio file, it automatically adds a file chop referencing that file and switches the context to motion view
- if you drag a cmd or py file, it automatically runs them
- you can define custom drag and drop behaviours using python
- Edge loop group sop and edge ring group sop with the correspondent viewport equivalent tools would be nice
- a MeshBuild interactive SOP for free plotting of meshed points and/or primitives (similar to the add sop, but more gear towards interactivity)
let me know if you have any questions…!