Character animation

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I was wondering if there could be some insight on this matter.
How's the current state of character animation in Houdini. I was looking around trying to find some interesting rigs ready for animation but either I'm not looking properly or there is rather lack of rigs available for just stetting and playing with in Houdini.
What I was thinking is if it would be possible to get hands on couple nice rigs, characters and similar and then start from there and build around it. Ie focusing on character animation for start and then expand learning curve. Ofc basics of interface, navigation and just foundations of Houdini are included but after that to move with character animation.
All the experience and comments of others can't really compare to doing things yourself so wondering if anyone around can help providing some nice rigs or links to rigs (maya on that side got huge library of available rigs for play with)

What I'm looking into is testing character animation workflow, playback speed both rig evaluations and viewport.
Try to consider this from a point of character animation alone, will get rig and setup scene and handle it from there.
At least for now.

I hope this makes sense?
Thank you!
Mirko Jankovic
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Hi Mirko,
Why not testing with the two factory provided ?
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Wall factory provided are one thing, I was hoping to see what people have in arsenal in daily animation work what they make them self. Kinda a bit more real life testing experience if it makes sense.
Also one thing I've noticed is that it is a bit hard.. well I couldn't find a single one Houdini rigging demo reel.
So for example if I need to hire rigger tomorrow for an project… what would you do.
Are there good H riggers around?
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There are not many houdini riggers so it would be a challenge. When the rigger is open mindet they will work with houdini otherwise maya.

Example ofa rig that i find very good explaned: https://youtu.be/Eo6Lue1TMZU [youtu.be]
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there are some new rigging tools in Houdini 16, I haven't tried them really, but they look pretty intuitive to use. I think varomix (mix training on youtube) did a video a while back that went over some of the features. If you are rigging humanoid characters, you might want to have a look at www.mixamo.com their website does an amazing job of rigging humanoids, and they have about 1500 animations you can apply right from the website to get started. you can download fbx and put it right into houdini or whatever and edit it to your desire

also, you might wanna check out the perception neuron system if you are looking to do more realistic mocap style motion . it's pretty cheap and gets the job done.
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When the rigger is open mindet they will work with houdini otherwise maya.
With all due respect, I'm afraid it is somehow reverse. H can do wonders as long as realtime playback doesn't matter, or in other word, as long as no any animator use it. When realtime is condition, wonderland turns out into very very simple structures that are able to fit. Let's say around 5 - 20 times slower than Maya, depending on complexity, complex is slower.
What is called parallel evaluation [download.autodesk.com] in Maya today, seems to be much more than enabling some operators to use Open Cl or like, it behaves as pretty much robust and forgivable evaluation system, despite of traditional horrible moments in Maya. So, something much more serious than adding a small tools here and there, or implementing some RFE. That Maya speed is not only for super complex rigs for movies - it allows to animate at double (or more) FPS, getting a much smoother movement, it allows to have a multiple transformation structures always available for animating, so on.
Other than that, there's that unhappy motion design system, having probably nice tools for sound processing, but clumsy when it comes to basic rigging tasks, things like get parent matrix.
Plus (or minus, actually), a lot of moments, showing how app for coders can't be friendly for animators. For (just one) small example, accidental input of K or S is automatically taken as expression. Great for coders, but when I've tried to animate, this was a crash every twenty minutes, that is, whenever I've felt relaxed enough.
Many people tried to do some usable rigging in H, many people gave up after some time - I'm afraid, pushing H as an realtime animation option, this is just a counter productive. Except maybe for those who hate Maya enough to seek for anything else - but that's negative motivation, not leading anywhere.
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That Maya speed is not only for super complex rigs for movies - it allows to animate at double (or more) FPS, getting a much smoother movement, it allows to have a multiple transformation structures always available for animating, so on.

Most studios have custom solutions as parallel rig evalution isn't robust.
0.999… == 1.
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Actually parallel rig in maya 2018 seems to be fixed a lot. I've seen 2-3 times faster playback in most older rigs that I tested. Sometimes even a bit more. One thing is badly created rig that even with that will work like a crap but that is incompetence or just plain laziness on rigger part.
But if there are no tools and options to have real time rig in playback then that is a bit problem.
Huge amount of time goes in creating and recreating previews just to see animation working and honestly realtime rig playblack should be on high priority list on any software.. instead of another retopology tool or similar modeling improvement beside 1000 of other tools and scripts available and for animation.. close to nothing progress is made in years. There were couple standalone program tries but all failed miserably.
Not only about H but globaly.. but still in order to be a bit more considered as full package solution it relaly needs to push animation part a LOT.
Unfortunately in the mean time only viable character animation tool is Maya.
Softimage is imho better in that area as well but as it is killed most of studios won;t ever even consider it again and just moving to single available solution… BETA vs VHS all over again where worse solution is winning…
Oh well guess for now it is only learn a bit H logic to be ready IF one day they try to catch up on animation field as well.
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I know two kinds of animators working in Maya: Those who came from a different tool and feel the joy and power of something – original quote – that “just works, is fast, reliable and gives me everything I need” (those often moan about the user interface being weird and counterintuitive). And those who have been working in Maya for a long time and feel the pain and frustration of something – original quote – that “is outdate despite the coating on virtual performance in the viewport, but when you really want to push it, you have to rewrite almost all of it anyway. Which is what Maya is about: A reason to rewrite it from scratch.” Those are the ones who don't use standard Maya but some heavily customized versions to bypass the problems the “standard user” often doesn't even realize.

Interestingly I know two kinds of animators working in Houdini, too: Those who constantly want to compare it to Blender, claiming “but the next version of Blender will even be better than better and why doesn't Houdini have this or that, but I want to learn Houdini because I want to get PAID for my work”. And those who come from a different tool (like, just as an example, modo), claiming “yeah, well, it does need some better deformation performance in the viewport for sure, but if you throw in a cache node or two at the right place, you can actually work quite nicely – now please give us a user interface that does not resemble a SGI from the early 1990, will you?”

My personal impression is: It actually *IS* the availability of “developer tools” in Houdini that make its rigging and animation department so interesting and promising. It isn't “up to date” for sure, its user experience leaves a lot to be desired (and I did file RFEs on those topics).
But I am also realizing that Houdini has experienced a fundamental paradigm shift over the last two releases, and its community is trying to cope with that: You still get the famous “we know better than new users what is RIGHT and by definition the Houdini way is right” from time to time, but it is more of a anachronism now. Houdini development is, now, looking over the rim of their teacups, seeing that their tool isn't the exclusive, only one in a pipeline and that they may have to cater for riggers, animators and artists who need some “consistency in user interfacing”.
In my eyes we are seeing the second generation of Houdini for animation now (15 being the first with some more modern approaches) and I consider it promising, in some areas even powerful. I do believe that feedback (RFEs and discussions) will help development a lot – because, different to some other tool one gets the impression that Houdini development is very much interested in making its tool WORK for the user, not just for marketing.


Marc
Edited by malbrecht - Sept. 11, 2017 03:19:15

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Precise and nicely worded, Marc.
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True, and Seems like H is on the right track judging last two versions, but also true it is still not there and need really big push in area of character animation.
That is why even more people are even considering looking into Houdini as character animation tool as well and it is shifting from Houdini=simulations mind state.
But at the moment it is still ok look at it start learning keep it on radar but still a way to go.
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My personal impression is: It actually *IS* the availability of “developer tools” in Houdini that make its rigging and animation department so interesting and promising. It isn't “up to date” for sure, its user experience leaves a lot to be desired (and I did file RFEs on those topics).

Well, if someone would be able with this, to get let's say half of speed and reliability of Maya parallel, and these tools will be available for use, I'll be ready to spend some time, again. Until then, my score with rigging is H is a few hundreds of hours wasted into nothing, or maybe not if some other app will appear. Nobody has unlimited time.
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Sigh - I was sure to have said what I wanted to say, but …

> … a few hundreds of hours wasted into nothing …

You know, *sometimes* the problem sits in front of the screen, not on the harddrive. Just saying.
And with that (because this attitude of “wasting time” and “NOBODY has unlimited time” really gets me everytime) I'm out.

Marc

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Hi people, hi mirko.

I recently did a rig with the new system, character workflow, Had read in some news, that some studies, began to use that new technology, provided in houdini 16. and I was really surprised ..
   if you take a look, by yourself you will be surprised. if you want to be a good animator you have to spend a lot of time to become one as you wish. but, obviously is the hardest part. even if today houdini is the best option.
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Well being good at animation is one thing. That part don;t have much to do with tool being used.
But if tool is lacking some basic things and in case of animation in 3d program I would say that real time playback is one and good readable controls on rig another and also tools for editing animations keyframes and curves as thirds.. without at least those 3.. it is a bit hard to start using tool that is not ready to be used
Point is when animating you wanna focus on poses, on movement, on timing on all animation fundamentals, not to struggle with tech details and limitations.
Again agree that H16 is big move forward. That is why I'm looking into it.
But aslo seems that it is stil lhard to push it in productino when you woul dneed to spend more time for aniatmion then in mroe mature tools.. no matter how bad are they overall (*kahm* maya *kahm*)
Mirko Jankovic
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In houdino you make a rig, a digital asset, build clips that you visualize in chop: poses or animations. if you have 2 clips and want to move from one to the other. Do you know how to do it? you should use composite chop. do you know how to make a clip?
   you have to believe that you can feel comfortable, when you start using a new logic against a stoic logic, at first you may feel overwhelmed by complexity, but I tell you something, keep using the tools that make you feel comfortable and do not abandon the hope of learning houdini.
Edited by chevita. - Sept. 12, 2017 06:35:27
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onion skinning in houdini it's very slow unless you turn off deformation, view port performance it's very important during animation i wonder in modo onion skinning it's working without any problem while modo view port is one of the headache when you create rig,because weight painting performance it's very poor.I think houdini need view port improvement because hair and fur performance it's very slow when you enable the hair gen performance become very poor.
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Unsupported criticism is a /rant/*. Please post screen recording and any files that support these various claims.

*ranten ‘talk nonsense’

{edited for clarification}
Edited by aRtye - Sept. 13, 2017 15:11:47
0.999… == 1.
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If I were to care much about semantics I'd be stuck on Marty's statement which is not quite accurate regarding the meaning or definition of a rant - ranting has more to do with the method of delivery and as such one can present all the evidence there is and still be ranting - but I'm totally in tune with his sentiment: until you're gonna present some concrete scenarios and ways for improvement, everything's just empty yapping. And then defend your points with more evidence and arguments if necessary. Unless you're way too busy for that, because you know, you're professionals and don't have time to give constructive feedback for free.
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