And another Softimage user has landed... ;-)

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Hm - seems I'm the last one to join the train here ;-)
Good to see so many familiar names!
After some years in Lightwave, Blender, Rhino and Grasshopper and working in completely non-3D-realms as well, I recently tried Houdini once again and this time it's bliss…
I'm currently working through the many excellent tutorials and already feel right at home, although I'm sure this software will keep me learning for years to come…
Some early results [screendream.de]

Cheers!

Tom
http://www.screendream.de [screendream.de]
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You just landed but everyone else has left.
Ha ha ha! JK, welcome!
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Heheheh



Well, I hope not …

Cheers,

Tom
Edited by ThomasHelzle - Oct. 2, 2016 07:54:17
http://www.screendream.de [screendream.de]
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I'm still here, Welcome Tom !
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Hi Thomas!! (waves…)

Welcome, and you will find most of the old SI crew scattered across the different forum lists.

cheers,

rob(aka si-community Rork)
Apprentice Attribute / Houdini 17.0.381 / GTX 970 - driver 411.63
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Hey guys! ;-)

Thanks for the welcome!

I guess McNistors joke isn't too far from the truth in some cases - I found it interesting to read the topics on modelling (XSI spoled us there forever, didn't it?) and other more traditional areas where XSI excelled.

For me Houdini is a very good fit since in recent years, I have gone more and more towards procedural and generative design as one of my main interests.
Procedural modelling was the one area where ICE did never really convince me. Deformation and particles were ace, but somehow modelling never reached that same level (at least as long as I stayed with it - I did quit maintenance when the coming end felt close, so I only have XSI 2012 SAP ).

I worked a lot in Moment of Inspiration, which is the most friendly NURBS modeller I've ever seen (rendering in Lightwave or Thea Render), but then in one job another freelancer was using Rhino/Grasshopper to create some generative things and through this I took a very close look at it myself.
…And was so fascinated that I took the next opportunity to buy Rhino -mostly for Grasshopper - and dove into it deeply. It has very friendly nodes and tons of user plugins so one can stay much more high-level than in ICE modelling. The community is also great and very helpful.
But one recent job made the limitations of Grasshopper very clear: Speed and big datasets. It's completely single threaded and both GH and Rhino choke when you have many objects in a scene (many as in 5,000+, not millions).
So I took another look at Houdini after that job - which I had done many times before - and found that my extensive work in Grasshopper had prepared my brain for it. While the underlying structure is very different (GH is mostly about lists of points and their order and structure as the basis of creation) the general approach is close enough to be transferable. In a way, Houdini feels actually easier, since with all the attribute goodness, VEX etc. I feel closer to the data as in GH, where sometimes it can be quite a pain to get the data structure you need for things to work.

The other big problem with Rhino and GH is, that they both aren't made for animation. I mostly did stills the last years so it wasn't a showstopper, but it would still be great to be able to get things into motion…

So far my journey has been great and I look forward to maybe integrate Redshift and/or Octane into my workflow - Mantra is a bit too slow for me after working so long with Thea Render. ATM I often export as FBX and convert to Thea, but that is not ideal.

Cheers,

Tom
http://www.screendream.de [screendream.de]
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Some fun with point advection:

Attachments:
SplineSmoke.jpg (1.2 MB)

http://www.screendream.de [screendream.de]
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Looks great! Mantra or Arnold? Or Redshift/Octane or what?
Edited by pickled - Oct. 9, 2016 17:27:05
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Thanks,

plain Mantra - I never got an Arnold license, even though I wrote several shaders for it (and now that Marcos sold out I'm actually happy I didn't ;-) ).

Here is the animated version:
https://vimeo.com/186093118 [vimeo.com]

Cheers,

Tom
http://www.screendream.de [screendream.de]
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Trippy!
How long per frame? In the image above, was the blur added in post or rendered? Can you share the sampling settings?
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A frame in the animation was between <1 and 7 Minutes (for the dense parts) - and it could have used more for the fine lines.

The blur in the image was done in Photoshop - rendering DOF and MB in Mantra is not something I find usable, even with extreme settings it's still noisy. I usually export to Thea for rendered DOF, but Thea doesn't support point colours or strands, and PolyWires get heavy fast ;-)

Sampling for the animation of the single lines is: 12x12 Pixel Samples, 1 Min Ray, 16 Max Ray, Noise Level 0.005, Adaptive Sampling 0.005.
The strands use the Hair-UV-Hack of the Mantra Surface shader for rounding.
The dense part uses 8x8 Pixel Samples, otherwise it would have rendered too long.

Do you use Arnold?

Cheers,

Tom
http://www.screendream.de [screendream.de]
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Yeah, I find Mantra's noise a bit hard to get rid of too and we're not the only ones. The settings you used are actually considered “overkill” from what I've read around here and on odforce. At least in the context of film (where Mantra is used most often) since there's the film grain as well as the nature of the environment (fast action cameras) which makes it for noise to be a non-issue.
For motion graphics, stuff you're doing, or character/prod-viz, stuff I'm doing, noise is a bit of an issue. Not insurmountable, but render-times go up a lot when cranking those dials up to get rid of noise.

I don't use Arnold. I've tried it and it's great, but I'm a mere hobbyist right now and I'm not willing to invest into licenses until I'm 100% on board with something, so for now Softimage with Mentalray and Houdini Apprentice with Mantra will do. And of course Zbrush + Photoshop.
Depending on the next Houdini release/s I'll decide if I go Houdini Indie or take the dive into Adsk world with Maya and its default Arnold. I'm not interested in simulations or motion graphics, but in character work so as much as I like the procedural workflow in Houdini I have more important things to consider, like modeling, UV-ing, fast preview-ing tools, etc.
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Yeah, makes sense.

My high settings were mostly so that Mantra actually “finds” the thin lines - which it seems to have a lot of problems with. With lower settings, one gets a kind of on/off stitching effect and very bad aliasing…
I even went as high as 32x32 which produced relatively good results but was not maintainable. I guess Mantra has it's strengths but for me it is a major problem speed and quality wise. I most often do stills and my customers are not interested in “film grain”… ;-)

For stills I can export to Thea Render, but for animations (which I would like to do more of again after years of stills-only) that doesn't work.

Octane would be the option closer to Thea and I already have a license for Lightwave, but in the context of Houdini it's not the best, since it doesn't integrate as nicely with the whole attribute thing. Redshift is much better in that regard, but a bit more pricey and with a less ideal licensing policy for my needs. A Thea Render integration would be ideal, but I can't see that happen anytime soon, especially since they now were bought by Altair, an engineering company which probably has less interest in the Houdini market.

Indie is really great, the unlimited size stills were what made me jump into it. For animation, the 1080p limit is okay for me, larger stuff I can't handle anyway with my setup.

For characters and manual modelling I can't see Houdini as ideal, even though they seem to really make an effort and 16 is supposed to get better there.

Cheers,

Tom
http://www.screendream.de [screendream.de]
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Tried one with DOF just to see if I could get it clean and with 64x64 it looks pretty good.
It took 4 hours for this image in 2560x2560…
At least with such high settings, one can disable pretty much all other AA stuff, making things simpler.
Not sure what's wrong with the Ray Variance Sampling, it doesn't seem to do it's job, no matter what I do, how high I set the max samples (4096 ) or how low the noise threshold. I can see plenty of noise and even at a threshold of 0.001 it doesn't seem to really take care of it… 0.004 should normally be perfect (1/256 = the lowest contrast between two colours in an 8 bit image).

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SplineSmokeLines2_DOF.jpg (714.0 KB)

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Differential Line Growth for the leaf and Shortest Walk for the veins.
Rendered in Thea Render.
Edited by ThomasHelzle - Oct. 24, 2016 04:33:59

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VeinedLeaf.jpg (340.5 KB)

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McNistor
You just landed but everyone else has left.
Ha ha ha! JK, welcome!

Well, I'm back for a while testing Redshift with Houdini. Redshift basically “ports” the XSI Rendertree to Houdini so you can feel right at home. It brought me another step closer to Houdini. Thanks Redshift, and SideFX for allowing 3rd party renderers in Indie
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Hi Thomas! Good to see you around here. We loved your shaders.

We moved over to Houdini and I'm very happy with our progress.

This was our first commercial done in Houdini.

Werner Ziemerink
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www.luma.co.za
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Hey Werner! Awesome work - You have a lot of reason to be happy with your progress! :-)
Is it 100% Houdini? Did you render in Mantra or Redshift?

Yeah, my AoN-shaders are what I miss most from the Arnold and project:messiah days ;-)

I did more abstract pieces in the meantime, further exploring the growth techniques and a reaction-diffusion experiment:

Attachments:
TextGrowth.jpg (394.4 KB)
TextGrowth3a.jpg (436.3 KB)
SphericalLeaves.jpg (540.5 KB)
DirectedGrowth2.jpg (397.6 KB)
ReactionDiffusionDisplaced.jpg (868.4 KB)

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And this one I did yesterday: “The big Divide”

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TheBigDivide.jpg (902.3 KB)

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Awesome work Thomas. Looks like you are having fun!

We use Mantra for rendering. Decided to stop our maintenance for Arnold once we found out about Autodesk.
Werner Ziemerink
Head of 3D
www.luma.co.za
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