I currently try to find out how a Houdini -> C4D workflow could look and have some questions:
In all the videos I've seen, the asset has to be removed and re-created after each change to it. Now that sounds like a major showstopper, since the assets I would create would be used for animating generative structures. Now if there is already a lot of animation and parameter editing done, deleting the asset and re-creating it isn't really a valid option. Is this still the case with the latest version and are there any ways to work around this issue?
Is there some kind of versioning in the assets, so that I could deliver new features without breaking existing scenes?
Is there any recent real-world workflow example for a serious pipeline where this is used?
This is prelimnary research I do for a job that may come up soon where I would create generative digital assets for a C4D based studio. The artist there would use those to create animations and renderings in C4D. Iterating the assets would be rather central to this idea.
I'm thankful for any honest feedback on how feasible that is.
1. The biggest problem is changing the promoted parameter interface. As far as I know, Cinema 4D reads the parameters in the order they are set in the interface building phase in Houdini. If you add, subtract or move parameters, this will probably break any values or keyframes. I did some tests exposing new parameters at the end of the list, but there seems to be some sort of bug or limitation that doesn't allow the new parameters to work. I'm not aware of any simple workaround.
2. Houdini may have some sort of versioning, but C4D doesn't use anything in that respect.
Wow, that sounds pretty bad. Thank you very much Noseman! That would actually be one of the first things I would expect from such an interface, dealing with updates to the asset, otherwise it's a bit of a one-shot-thing that sounds good on paper but does not stand up to production demands where change is inevitable and a big part of what could make this idea great. Having a connection to the procedural Houdini from C4D is awesome, but only if the connection itself also is flexible and procedural in nature. I could live with the internal parameter names having to stay the same or some other limitations, but what you say sounds as if even the most simple kind of workaround is barred ATM.
So I wonder: Is there a way in Cinema 4D to have parameters and animation separate from the asset it drives? Like I animate a set of a dozen dummy parameters and link them to the parameters in the digital asset for instance by expressions. If I have to replace the asset, I do not lose the animation, but only have to re-link the animation and settings to the respective parameters? (Sorry I didn't use C4D in ages although it was one of my first “serious” 3D applications when it first came out for PC… )
I guess if this job happens we'll have to do some re-thinking of the process…
You can use XPRESSO and userdata to do the interim connections. The asset parameters are accessible via XPRESSO. If you select the asset (or any object in C4D), go to the attributes manager shift click and select all the parameter names and right click. In the User interface (3rd menu in the right-click menu) select “Copy User interface”. Create a null in the document, and select it in the Object manager. Go to the Attribute manager “User Data” menu and “Paste User Data interface”. A window will pop up if you want to edit any interface elements. Press OK
Now the null has the same interface as the Asset, and you can edit it as you wish. Animate THESE parameters, and use XPRESSO to connect with the Asset Parameters…
Of course, before you do any serious production, I suggest the obvious. Test it first. :-)