ICE to Houdini

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With the announcement of XSI's impending death I was looking at transferring some of the stuff I was doing in ICE to Houdini. The logic behind that was obviously that hopefully the nodal setup to nodal setup wouldn't be too different (this blog-post gave me hope : http://frenchdog.wordpress.com/category/dev/houdini/). [frenchdog.wordpress.com]

I'm not a TD, I can't code and I have immense respect for the people that can. ICE offers me a method of extending my capabilities without knowing scripting. I had a brief look at the L-system first steps (https://vimeo.com/51771303) [vimeo.com] video and I'm a little disheartened. Whereas ICE is fully nodal, Houdini seems to rely on a mix of scripting and nodes. The L-system node is really powerful but relies on a sort of shorthand. Houdini seems to look a lot more elegant (I'm sure that establishing the rules would be a crazy collection of nodes) but it seems to lend itself far less to figuring a process out visually. You have to know what you want and how to achieve far more than in ICE. Is that a good take on it? Is it possible to make something like the Lsystem fully nodal?
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Tom,…you´re doing it the wrong way. Please, check my file in the other ICE thread.

http://www.sidefx.com/index.php?option=com_forum&Itemid=172&page=viewtopic&t=31063 [sidefx.com]
Javier Meroño
FX TD.
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Don't be disheartened. Although there are lots of Houdini tutorials there that involve expressions, you definitely can achieve everything and keep expression use to a minimum at the same time (that's what I do on a daily basis). Most of my “expressions” are typed in only once and then saved as node presets, so I just “fire and forget”.

Besides, once you start working with some real production data, you'll want to minimize expression usage especially for geometry processing, because it's such a performance hit (a good example is the Point SOP – appears a lot in tutorials, NEVER used by me for anything now, such a performance hit)

I'm doing shameless plug again, but the qLib library has quite a collection of node presets (called gallery items).
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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Ah cool, thanks for that Imre. The preset thing seems really useful and easy to use. I think the closest ICE concept is compounds which could save node-networks and default values. I don't make enough use of them - I'd normally only save compounds if I was sharing the work with somebody else. I have to learn better habits

I had a very brief look at qLib - looks very interesting! I think I'm still a little way from needing any of the stuff included but I'll definitely incorporate it into my learning.
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Tom Kleinenberg
I had a brief look at the L-system first steps (https://vimeo.com/51771303) [vimeo.com] video and I'm a little disheartened.

LSystem is a very special case of scripting in Houdini. The reason for this special scripting language in the node itself is because it draws from a CG tradition of doing trees/plants (canonical reference: The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants (1990) [algorithmicbotany.org]).

L-systems themselves were developed by the biologist/botanist, Aristid Lindenmayer in 1968 and provides a good way to describe the self-similarity concepts commonly found in nature. I'm sure that L-systems can be represented as “nodes” but IMHO that by itself wouldn't be useful unless you had a procedural viewport modeler to go with it.
Edited by - March 11, 2014 01:04:42
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Hey Tom, I think you are selling your skills a bit short here :wink:

Speaking as relative Houdini noob of only a month or 2 and who also comes from SI. I think you will be able to build all your ICE tools in Houdini as well and after some fundamentals it might be a good way to practice. But for most of it you will not be using L-Systems I don't think, as Edward mentions they are a special case.
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Zybrand Jacobs
Hey Tom, I think you are selling your skills a bit short here :wink:

Speaking as relative Houdini noob of only a month or 2 and who also comes from SI. I think you will be able to build all your ICE tools in Houdini as well and after some fundamentals it might be a good way to practice. But for most of it you will not be using L-Systems I don't think, as Edward mentions they are a special case.

Zybrand, you made it! This is where the party's at! There's beer in the fridge, and some sort of pun about Houdini, ICE and keeping things chilled.

L-system does seem very special case use but something I'm still kicking around in Softimage is a tree-generator - sort of a level up on the stuff I was doing in Khumba. The L-system just seemed a natural progression. I must admit, I'm very torn at the moment between everything I'm trying to learn and improve on. Houdini is my weekend project but I'm taking tutorial videos in with me on the bus to glean what I can. Have you thought of converting your Grass generator as a way to learn Houdini?
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Tom Kleinenberg
Ah cool, thanks for that Imre. The preset thing seems really useful and easy to use. I think the closest ICE concept is compounds which could save node-networks and default values. I don't make enough use of them - I'd normally only save compounds if I was sharing the work with somebody else. I have to learn better habits

I recommend to start looking at digital assets, too. If you think Houdini is only powerful because of the node network proceduralism, you'll be pleasantly surprised. (Or, it might just be the exact same thing as compounds in XSI, in that case never mind )
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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Hi Tom, yes I made it

Its funny you mention the grass compound because I had to setup a system making plants look like they are blowing in the wind in Houdini so I am already halfway there, hehe.

I've mostly been focused on learning volumes and fluids for now but I want to recreate so grass as well.
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Can I join the party toooo \/ I like to party
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