Stability question

   982   5   2
User Avatar
Member
8 posts
Joined: April 2017
Offline
This really is a question aimed at all forms of
Houdini in baseline, mostly the apprentice version of Houdini.


I'm familiar with a lot of 3d programs, used a few. Had all those classical issues of learning them, the annoying hotkeys trying to be memorized in tutorials, workflow. having many windows open to try and fix a problem or watch a workflow ect.

I am mentioning this because the model I am trying to work on, is mainly covered in fur. I always aimed on doing a animal like character for a short animation or rendered work but so far the 3d program I spent my most time learning is….Du du dunnn Blender. And sadly its fur system is not only twitchy but unstable. Performance wise and work wise.

Having spent 1.4k on a custom tower I made myself, even with its part specs it couldn't even complete a basic render, or try of trying to make a good fur system covering the entire animal character (Let alone the character's head). I know data wise such a thing is mind boggling hardcore, even a modern system and no doubt I will have to upgrade to a dual ti GPU.

But my main question is this, how stable is Houdini for rendering or making such a hair system and tweaking it on the go without taxing a system. I know 50% of the issue is my build and its parts but overall I'd like see if Houdini is more stable then some of the 3d programs I've used before. (Maya, Blender, Unity, UE4, CE4 ect.)

And as much as I love blender and its community, for now I've had a enough of crashes and corrupted files, and limited features/broken add ons. So i'm looking into programs that offer good systems and features, and having used Houdini before, and kind of liking it, I'd love to give it more shots at helping me finish my animation character before I start putting down major funds for new specs.

Any one use the hair system on here and note how easy or hard it is to work on here with what system spec you have?
User Avatar
Member
118 posts
Joined: March 2014
Offline
First of all, I don't know how much experience you have with building pc's of various configurations and pricing.
As a pc is the sum of it's parts, combined with proper bios settings, drivers and some more, it's sometimes hard to pick a reason for crashes.
A lot of times it's buggy RAM, but as often it's something else.

crashing is not always the program's fault. But I find Houdini as stable as the other apps out there. In some areas more stable, in some areas the same.

And not being able to finish a render, there must be something wrong with your system. Even my tablet can spit out a render from Blender, although not from a complex scene. So a semi-serious pc should be able to render something. Via a CPU or GPU renderer..

The Houdini hair system has been rebuilt in v16, and the Vimeo channel show a couple of video explaining workflow and examples.

Ggood luck on your project!
Apprentice Attribute / Houdini 16.5.405 / GTX 970 - driver 390.65
User Avatar
Member
1422 posts
Joined: March 2014
Offline
The majority of crashes are because of the 3d software*. As for the rest of s/w crashes, BIOS or drivers problems usually manifest way before any intensive task, i.e. nosing around the OS, they are unforgiving that way - BSOD in several minutes at most.
*I don't accept the concept of “user caused crash” because that implies a lack of knowledge of how to avoid bugs, the keyword here being “bugs”.

As a side-note, 1400 USD for a workstation system seems both insufficient at first glance (hell, I've spent 1k just on my, old by now, 5960x cpu) as well as irrelevant because it depends on what you've got for that cash - a second hand desktop with a Ryzen TH 1950x? What I'm rambling about, is that you're better off mentioning the h/w itself rather than what you've paid for. Especially since this is an international forum and we all know how despite the anti-globalist conspiracies we're far from a global market where prices tend to converge.

Closer to the matter at hand - how much system RAM do you have? Houdini, in my tests so far, goes steady (which is not to say fast) when grooming, but rendering the groomed hair will depend on your CPU (how fast) and RAM amount (if it will fit in depending on how crazy you went with the strands number).

I've my beef with Houdini's hair, which I'll address as soon I'll finish the model I'm currently working on, but overall it's good. Better than what I've used to have in Softimage (the 3d program I'm slowly migrating from) which had the Joe Alter's system if I'm not mistaken.

Mantra is slow AF though. Not slower than Mentalray, but way slower than Arnold, at least for the things I've tested in the short amount I've had the chance of playing with Arnold's trial.

Apropos of Mantra's hair and Arnold, I've noticed that Solidangle has included in their shader a “thick mode” beside “ribbon mode”. I've wanted to propose something similar to the SESI's devs for a long time now, but didn't find the time. I've thought of a hair shader that generates hair at render time as cylinders instead of flat ribbons for some time, as it always bothered me how CG hair, not only Mantra, is looking a bit too fluffy, even when it looks great compared to the rest of CGI hair, and I've always thought it's due to the fact that hairs are generated as not tubes but flat surfaces. Seems like Solidangle guys have had the same thing in mind. Or maybe this is a well-known thing in the rendering developement community but it was unrealistic to implement due to h/w limitations. Either way I'd love to see a “thick mode” in Houdini's hair shader, even if that would increase render times exponentially.
https://support.solidangle.com/display/A5AFMUG/Hair+Rendering [support.solidangle.com]
Edited by inhiding - Sept. 24, 2017 18:01:55
https://www.artstation.com/artist/mcnistor [www.artstation.com]
Happy place escapee.
User Avatar
Member
3171 posts
Joined: July 2007
Offline
McNistor
I've thought of a hair shader that generates hair at render time as cylinders instead of flat ribbons for some time, as it always bothered me how CG hair, not only Mantra, is looking a bit too fluffy, even when it looks great compared to the rest of CGI hair, and I've always thought it's due to the fact that hairs are generated as not tubes but flat surfaces.

you can very easily achieve this by plugging Hair Normal VOP as your shader N

of course it will not be really a thick hair, so you will not get cap and back side or circular crossection, but shading wise you will get round profile and pretty much the look of thick cylindricar hair

having proper primitive hair shapes like XSI had as well as hair instancing would be of course beneficial for a lot of other effects
Edited by tamte - Oct. 11, 2017 17:17:56
Tomas Slancik
FX Supervisor
Method Studios, NY
User Avatar
Member
1422 posts
Joined: March 2014
Offline
Thanks Tomas for the suggestion, I'll do some tests first thing when I'll get to resume the hair shading work.
https://www.artstation.com/artist/mcnistor [www.artstation.com]
Happy place escapee.
User Avatar
Member
1422 posts
Joined: March 2014
Offline
Well, the new hairshader no longer has an N input, even though its referenced documentation page shows what I suspect to be the description for the old one. What would be the “official” workflow now for using hair normal VOP with with the new hairshader?

edit: seems like the hairshader's ‘?’ icon help opens the hairshadercore documentation while for this last one you get a 404 page.
For new users that are not able to intuit solutions based on yrs of experience, the current state of the documentation makes for a frustrating learning experience.
Edited by inhiding - Feb. 6, 2018 08:53:39
https://www.artstation.com/artist/mcnistor [www.artstation.com]
Happy place escapee.
  • Quick Links