The Houdini Modo combo

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McNistor
In these times a product has to appeal to a larger audience for a more secure future. It doesn't have to sacrifice any of the current paradigms which made Houdini the powerhouse for TDs that it is, just add and improve in certain areas.
Keeping it in this esoteric state does not bode well with popularity, which, whether we like it or not, does have a lot to say in this economy as far as a product's survival goes.

Well, an audience above a certain size can have an unfortunate diluting effect (I'm just stating facts, not promoting elitism, just saying to avoid any misunderstandings ) I'm certainly not talking about Softimage (especially ICE) users. On the contrary: I wish there were more procedural-approach 3d apps out there (with SI, at least there was two, now with the EOL it will be only Houdini.)

Also, probably what you feel like “esoteric” is the SOP/modeling part, which is mostly quite old (see my comment above about the 10+yrs tools). Although Houdini can have a certain “old-school” feel to it, most of the relevant internal parts are quite modern, and it is a robust app (I do VFX, so I mostly have experience specific to that, but I'm pumping through it an insane amount of geometry data on a daily basis). It's a workhorse.

A few unrelated examples:

- you can open a geometry details view of a million-poly object or particle and it pops up instantly, and you won't experience any slowdowns

- the native bgeo geometry format is also the geometry archive format for mantra, the renderer (so your saved objects are automatically renderer stand-ins)

- the shading language can be used (apart from shaders) to modify (or build) geometry, simulation behaviours, animation channels, etc.

- the mantra renderer is about as capable as Arnold.

If I had my own shop, I'd definitely go for a mostly Houdini-based pipeline (except modeling and perhaps animation).

Anyway – my guess is that any area you feel “esoteric” is where there wasn't enough emphasis for development over the years (it also can be a cycle, e.g. “why develop animation tools if no one animates / no one animated because the tools are not good enough”).

Also, major features that are implemented are generally well maintained and cared for (they implement a feature in one version, then usually you can expect vast improvements in the next big release – not like in Maya where they just go for the feature sheet, and once it “has the feature” they just don't care any more).
Imre Tuske
FX Supervisor | Senior FXTD @ Weta Digital

qLib -- Houdini asset library
http://qlab.github.io/qLib/ [qlab.github.io]
https://www.facebook.com/qLibHoudini [www.facebook.com]
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riviera
- many of these OPs are just “awkward” to use: you'll eventually figure out what selection to pass to them and which order, but often it's not very intuitive.
.

Cool - sounds like a more intelligent toolset is needed; upgrade the user interaction by empirical / heuristics.
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To me this community looks way too similar to Softimage's, wallowing in its software's greatness. And then disaster happens and people start looking back wondering what went wrong.
In these times a product has to appeal to a larger audience for a more secure future. It doesn't have to sacrifice any of the current paradigms which made Houdini the powerhouse for TDs that it is, just add and improve in certain areas.
Keeping it in this esoteric state does not bode well with popularity, which, whether we like it or not, does have a lot to say in this economy as far as a product's survival goes.

Allow me a quick series of one-liners on these:

- Disasters usually happen sooner or later after a buyout, e.g. if a large company bought SideFX we'd probably need to look for a new career

- The reason for killing a product is often not related to its popularity (well, SI was really popular, wasn't it?)

- Killing (X)SI was an outright stupid idea, especially for the long term, and my bet is on you'll never see ICE in Maya (and they talk about putting Bifrost in Maya, like if having a node-based fluid simulator was related to any of this!)

If they had any serious intentions of merging, they would have already built an ICE-in-Maya product, offer it parallel with SI for some time (for a release or two – while benefiting from the feedback of both communities during that time), and _then_ terminate SI.

The only way of the future for CGI are applications with a strong procedural backbone (and reliability when it comes to very heavy data sets – which is a must-have of anything procedural). After a point, you can't just “hire more artists” (and I wonder if we're reaching this point already).

It's that simple. If you're a company producing a 3d app, in ten years you either will have a leader in the field, or a modeling app that is used to support the leading app(s) in that field. (AD just traveled a few years backwards in this competition.)

This is just my personal opinion of course, being very prone to be totally wrong on occasion
Edited by - March 13, 2014 22:17:51
Imre Tuske
FX Supervisor | Senior FXTD @ Weta Digital

qLib -- Houdini asset library
http://qlab.github.io/qLib/ [qlab.github.io]
https://www.facebook.com/qLibHoudini [www.facebook.com]
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Of course they made a stupid decision. The lack of vision in that company is astounding. I think they bought it the intention to bury it from that start, so plans were laid out a long time ago not to go through with them. Either way, it was stupid and I hope it'll cost them a lot in the long run.

Softimage was popular? The userbase is tiny compared to Max/Maya. I can't tell you numbers or how it compares to Houdini I'm guessing it's rather similar in size, I don't know.
What I do know is that both are tiny compared to Autodesk's Max/Maya.
I think this fact is part of the reason for their nonchalance with which they afford to make blunders and treat their customers like beggars.

Look at the outcry of the whole 3d community when they made the announcement regarding Softimage. You see it? Nope, neither do I. With the exception of a few forum posts, blogs and sporadic news, everything's the same under the 3d Sun.
I know a few other great apps that would follow suit should the same happen to them.

edit: oh and the reason they don't care about ICE or any other procedural program in their portfolio is again, because they own this industry
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Whatever AD says about SI now, it's similar to this guru in ‘deep mediation’ It's most likely not coming back…


Dead Indian guru in freezer for ‘deep meditation’
http://tribune.com.pk/story/682336/dead-indian-guru-in-freezer-for-deep-meditation/ [tribune.com.pk]
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Back to Modo/Houdini: I was intrigued by what the Modo guy showed us at the presentation, called texture replicator, and managed to “replicate” (har har) the effect in Houdini. It's a point cloud, where each point represents a texture projection with a given uniform scale. Projections performed by mantra in render time. The circles visualize the individual point sizes.

Attachments:
pcproj.png (321.6 KB)

Imre Tuske
FX Supervisor | Senior FXTD @ Weta Digital

qLib -- Houdini asset library
http://qlab.github.io/qLib/ [qlab.github.io]
https://www.facebook.com/qLibHoudini [www.facebook.com]
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Well, sorry to intrude in the discussion.

I'm also thinking of not going the Maya route, but instead of Modo, I'm actually thinking of going to C4D + Houdini. For now, price is not that important (I have a student license of C4D valid for 3 years which will give me a nice discount on the commercial license. More expensive than Modo, but not so much). And thankfully, there's Houdini apprentice for all my FX dreams.

I actually was learning Maya for FX (SimplyMaya has some nice fluid tuts) and there's VFXLearning with some cool stuff also. But I'm just mad about AD and looking somewhere else.

So … talked to much already. Do you guys have used/tried C4D as a companion to Houdini?

P.S.: If I should create another thread, please let me know. I just thought to drop this here since there's some nice individuals talking about FX and some cool stuff.
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I've only used C4D(R11) for a few projects a while ago, so the following is my personal outdated opinion.

As a companion to Houdini, there will be a lot of overlap. It's probably the easiest to get into and the GUI is really intuitive. It's pretty stable as well. Amazing for quick motion graphics, especially with the best After Effects integration in the industry.

Ironically, even the poor modelling workflow overlaps in the two (not that they're the same, they're both just poor). C4D lacks the procedural nature though. I never did find a nice thing to say about modelling in C4D. The Navigation and Manipulation wasn't to my liking, felt a slight disconnect. If that makes sense.

Xpresso and Thinking Particles will only be gateway drugs into fully accessed node based everything in Houdini. Mograph tools are really intuitive but you could do the same things and more with total control in Houdini. Physical Render is just ok, while Mantra is easily on the top tier of renderers.

Like I said, lots of overlap. Houdini is quite weak modelling wise and artist friendly intuitiveness. Which Modo is really amazing at. I keep hearing amazing things about Blender and every release I try and get into it but… I have not been able to get passed the immediate alien feel to it. One day I'll force myself to do a project in it from start to finish…

But in the end, they're just tools. Find one that suits you, experiement with any and all to find what works best.
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But in the end, they're just tools. Find one that suits you, experiement with any and all to find what works best.

Yeah. I love FX, so actually Houdini would be my “toy” for creating destruction, fire, smoke and this crazy things. Probably would be using the Apprentice HD version for some time.

Now … I never got Modo really. I love it's interface, but never liked the “way of work” of it. Perhaps I should try it again.
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New Modo out - let the snapping wars begin - Houdini 13+ vs Modo801.

http://www.thefoundry.co.uk/products/modo/latest-version/ [thefoundry.co.uk]
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Hi everyone. I decided to post my question in this forum due to all the power users that are chiming in here. I“m currently using Houdini and Modo to render a massive amount of Marbles rolling down a ramp. I'm a power Houdini guy and my lighting team is working in Modo.

We've had amazingly good luck passing a big particle set from Houdini to Modo using Alembic. It's fast & efficient and best of all the velocity vectors seem to come across successfully. I was sceptical because the particles are emitting throughout the shot and the point count is changing. I thought that was going to be an issue but it didn't seem to be.

What is a problem is rotations. The balls need to roll but they're not reorienting in Modo. Does anyone know if an attribute of some kind can help with this? I have the ”orient" attribute on export from Houdini but I have no way of knowing if that is successfully making it across or if it is what Modo would need.

Any help with this would be appreciated. Thank you!
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You should also post this question on MODO forum.
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MartybNz
… SI snapping … some ex-SI users saying that the modelling in SI is still the very best.

Very true, the snapping methods in SI gives the fastest and unbeated ways to manipulate things at the right place in space
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