3ds max and Houdini workflow.

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Hello all, this is my first post here,

We are a small team and Houdini (especially the fluid FX side) is of great interest to us, our pipeline is based on 3ds max. We would like to know how compatible these two software are and how flexible is the connection between the two.

We are looking to utilize Houdini particle/ocean/fluidfx system but we need to render these in max with Vray, how do you bring the fluid sim into 3ds max to render including foam and additional particles with the main fluid geometry body.

We have read that there is a connection plugin “Houdini engine” for 3ds max whch may not be out yet but that would also cost extra for us , is there a way to do all this without such a plugin?

We would be diving into Houdini further soon however we wanted to get a heads up on our expectations regarding this workflow/pipeline.

Any help from max Houdini experts out there is most appreciated!

Many thanks for your time,
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Of course you can always use Mantra

but there is some info in the link, read the comments too, on bringing destruction fx from Houdini to V-Ray in 3dMax. Maybe it can work for fluids too.

Houdini Destruction to V-Ray
http://vimeo.com/113366813 [vimeo.com]
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What I find most useful with using Vray and Houdini is that Vray 3 comes with a VolumeGrid feature that you can easily export your FX from Houdini using the .VDB file format. I do not know if this is good to use for water, but I do know that you normally export water to a mesh which you can render in Max.

I am not sure about Max, but from Maya I use the alembic file format to export geometry, then do the effect in Houdini, and back to Maya again. I don't think Max is that much different.

I hope my limited knowledge of Houdini was useful in any way
Audun Åse - VFX Artist
www.affex.no
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Great tips! thanks guys, for some reason i didn't receive email notifications regarding your posts so i'm late to checking this thread.

I think i will try alembic soon, exocortex went open source at the right time for us using max 2014.

At the moment fluids is what i care about most, so will be looking into that one, but having the ability to export atmospherics sounds very cool as well.

I've been searching everywhere for a proper workflow tutorial between these packages but i can't seem to find one, perhaps side effects should consider doing one for the sake of new comers such as myself.

Many thanks!
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Hey Vincit – sorry I'm late to the party. I'm at a studio that is primarily using Max at the moment too.

For geometry, we're writing alembic out of houdini, then converting to xmesh as a post export process. Thinkbox provided a standalone Alembic to Xmesh conversion application that we've been using.

Alternatively, we can route it through a maya batch process to convert Alembic to Xmesh, but Maya's Alembic support isn't awesome either – it doesn't really support point based velocities, so topologically inconsistent meshes were a bit of a challenge. We worked around it and I can describe the solution if you need me to. I'd suggest asking Thinkbox for the conversion instead, though.

We're using XMesh because rendering the VRay alembic proxy geometry doesn't support motion blurred displacement maps – the faces of the geometry all separate. It's kind of a big disappointment. Xmesh works fine though. Just make sure you turn on ‘convert to mesh’, otherwise orbiting around in the max viewport is really slow.

To get volumes from Houdini, we built a conversion using a max script that will convert vdb to a fume grid by going through stoke. It's a very slow and painful process to run that conversion, so I would recommend just rendering in Mantra. You can use deep images to get perfect hold outs, but in most cases, the matte lines aren't that big of a deal to render the hold outs with mantra as well.

To get particles from Houdini, we're using a PRT exporter, kind of like this guy: https://github.com/ThinkboxSoftware/HoudiniPRTExporter [github.com]

Max seems to have pretty bad adoption of open source file formats like abc and vdb, so it makes using both tools together pretty painful.
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