The baffling attitude of some Houdini users toward MOPs and other 3rd party tools.

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Warning controversial post ahead — please keep it civil.

I've been encountering a lot of bafflingly adverse reactions lately from (for the most part) seasoned Houdini users regarding tools such as MOPs Motion Operators [www.motionoperators.com]

The resistance seems to come from the idea that MOPs makes Houdini “too easy”, and it's a “cheat”. In essence, the general attitude seems to be that unless you're making the sausage from scratch, you're not worthy to eat it.

One fellow on the Facebook Houdini group went downright ballistic at my mere suggestion of using MOPs instead of his convoluted solution (which requires a Patreon subscription) before proceeding to delete my post.

Other similar reactions have appeared on ODForce as well, and in other contexts, on these very forums.

I am quite confused by a reaction which seems strangely antiquated, particularly in the context of software. Shouldn't seasoned users welcome tools and developments which make Houdini more approachable for new users?

I believe that we all have different workflows and needs, as well as different strengths and skills. There is no mandate that in order to use Houdini everything needs to be done the hard way. I don't even believe SESI sees it that way, otherwise why in the world would they include a comprehensive set of Shelf Tools with their application? So that “real” Houdini users can ignore them and make fun of others using them?

One of the touted strengths of Houdini is the ability to create HDA's. So creating an HDA from scratch is good, but using one for its intended purpose is cheating? Does.Not.Compute.

One does not need to understand the inner workings of the modern combustion engine to be able to go from point A to point B.

Some seem to view Houdini as a fascinating puzzle box — an IQ test of sorts. They wear their VEX achievements as a badge of honor, proud to be among the elite.

Good for you!

But for the rest of us, Houdini is just a tool within a much larger ecosystem. We have tight deadlines, and a number of non-Houdini-related tasks that need to be accomplished as quickly and efficiently as possible. If someone has already figured out a shortcut that fits my specific needs, and made it available — why should I be made to feel guilty for using it?

Hasn't the very survival of humanity depended on the ability to use tools that make the job easier? Chew on that one for a bit.

I will conclude with a very pointed response by Toadstorm which he posted in the ODForce thread, and that I hope he won't mind if I quote here:

You're losing sight of the bigger picture here, which is to create art. FX TD's are by definition going to be on the technical side of things, but their goal is to facilitate the creation of art. The final image is what matters, 99% of the time. People with engineering mindsets sometimes like to get caught up in the “elegance” or “physical correctness” of their solutions, but that stuff rarely (if ever) matters in this field.

Rotating an object is conceptually a simple thing, but it turns out that there's quite a bit of math involved. Is it really insulting one's intelligence to not assume that every artist is willing to study linear algebra to rotate a cube on its local axis? I do know how to do this, and I still don't want to have to write that code out every single time. It's a pain in the ass! Creating a transform matrix, converting to a quaternion, slerping between the two quaternions, remembering the order of multiplication… remembering and executing these steps every time gets in the way of exploration and play. Besides, all of that is only possible because SESI wrote a library of functions to handle this. Should we be expected to also write our own C++ libraries to interpolate quaternions? Should we be using Houdini at all, instead of writing our own visual effects software? Who engineered the processor that you're using to compute all this? This is a rabbit hole you'll never escape from.
>>Kays
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But for the rest of us, Houdini is just a tool within a much larger ecosystem. We have tight deadlines, and a number of non-Houdini-related tasks that need to be accomplished as quickly and efficiently as possible. If someone has already figured out a shortcut that fits my specific needs, and made it available — why should I be made to feel guilty for using it?

Which is why I don't understand your post…no one is stopping you.

Or is it you feel there are not enough of what you call ‘MOPs’ readily available in Houdini?

Do feel too many people have the attitude you describe that it is influencing what gets developed by the SideFX developers?
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I think you just need to ignore the trolls. The majority of the community will be happy with more tools, even if just to see how they work and learn from it. Just my personal 2c.
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Which is why I don't understand your post…no one is stopping you.

Or is it you feel there are not enough of what you call ‘MOPs’ readily available in Houdini?

Do feel too many people have the attitude you describe that it is influencing what gets developed by the SideFX developers?


I think you're reading too much into it. My post is merely in an attempt to try to understand a type of attitude that I find only too common among seasoned Houdini users (as opposed to for instance the C4D community which seems to have quite the opposite type of reaction).
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(as opposed to for instance the C4D community which seems to have quite the opposite type of reaction).

Because the general goal of Houdini users is to not use the shelf tools and build it yourself, whilst C4D users goal is to have more shelf-like tools. C4D, Maya etc has a ton of problems that Houdini users try to avoid.

You need to ask yourself why are you even learning Houdini? It seems you want it to be a cheap C4D tbh.
Edited by goat - June 26, 2018 18:01:27
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same thing occurred/occurs in Cinema4D with a certain plug-in which helps with their revamped materials. some purist considered it blasphemous to even use it. I am a hobbyist and not on a deadline but my take is why spend 30 minutes to an hour tweaking and checking without using a plugin in order to stay “pure” when I can get same thing done in less than 10 minutes with plugin? to each their own if you want to use a plugin fine, if not that's fine too but do not berate one who does or doesn't.
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Midphase
I've been encountering a lot of bafflingly adverse reactions lately from (for the most part) seasoned Houdini users regarding tools such as MOPs Motion Operators [www.motionoperators.com]

The resistance seems to come from the idea that MOPs makes Houdini “too easy”, and it's a “cheat”. In essence, the general attitude seems to be that unless you're making the sausage from scratch, you're not worthy to eat it.


Don't worry about personal attitudes on public forums. As long there is a mix of positive and negative, it's good for authors. This allows them to take the position of ‘judge’ or ‘gardener’ in particular world of their tool, by awarding those with proactive, positive attitude (updates, fixes, understanding). In same time, haters are giving a some kind of importance to entire story, while their opinion is actually harmless. Worst thing is ‘no attitude’ or ‘faked attitude’ expressed only by nice comments and nothing more.

Other than that, well you never know what is considered as ‘heresy’ by someone. Long time ago I was running a few similar tools for Softimage community, with to be honest, much much more of expressed minuses and pluses on forums (to say politely), however, most ‘heretic’ act I think it was my later choice of renderer used to display, not tool itself.
On another side, some my fellows programmers are ready to take Houdini VEX as ‘c4d’, it's only C++ that worth for them.

In any case, it *is* important for them to get feedback, to allow them to evolve the tool from something looking like mix of Mograph and Mash, to set of tools able to utilize as much of Houdini, still in artist friendly way. In short, if you're on ‘MOPs side’, get your hands dirty with the tool and give them feedback, then they'll know where and how to go further.
Edited by amm - June 26, 2018 18:16:30
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Hi,
i think so far SESI is getting it right most of the time. They dont bloat houdini with loads of tools that you have to look at etc. GameTools is sort of external. Not interested, dont use it. MOPS is on github and if you dont need it dont use it.

I would love to see more tools i need. But i would hate more tools i dont need if it clutters the software i use.

So if SESI keeps the amount of hard wired high level and shelf tools to a minimum i am happy. Keep stuff like MOPS and the GAME tools on github and i can use it or look at it if i want.

greetings

Olaf
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fuos
Because the general goal of Houdini users is to not use the shelf tools and build it yourself

Thank you for making my point Fuos, but most importantly, who are you that you speak for all of Houdini users?
>>Kays
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Olaf Finkbeiner
I would love to see more tools i need. But i would hate more tools i dont need if it clutters the software i use.

On this very point we are in full agreement. On another thread I discussed how IMHO Houdini currently has too many redundant nodes that should be simplified into one.

However, to your other point, please keep in mind that Houdini (and our industry) is evolving and changing. I get that you would prefer that everything stays the same to fit your specific needs, but please understand that as Houdini attracts new users like myself, we are also going to want for SESI to listen to and ideally address our concern and needs as well.
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I think you're reading too much into it. My post is merely in an attempt to try to understand a type of attitude that I find only too common among seasoned Houdini users (as opposed to for instance the C4D community which seems to have quite the opposite type of reaction).

And I don't know what you mean about my ‘reading’ into what you said - I asked questions about what you said - I didn't make statements other than you can do what you want.

You offered an opinion about what you see - but what I see is a generalization; hence the questions.

I am a hobbyist and not on a deadline but my take is why spend 30 minutes to an hour tweaking and checking without using a plugin in order to stay “pure” when I can get same thing done in less than 10 minutes with plugin?

Which is why no one is stopping you, and I myself think nothing wrong with what you are doing…but for myself it is a mix of both.

I will and do use tools that are “pre-made” by someone else. But I also like to make my own tools - and as you say “spend 30 mintues to an hour”…but in my case, sometimes… even days.

But I benefit from that in many ways:

1) I become better at making my own tools.
2) I learn much more in the process that in turn I can apply to other areas( other tools that are not available ).
3) After making the tools…and because I made them, and understand how they are made..can make alterations quickly to adapt to different situations.
4) Many times in my attempt even to ‘re-invent the wheel’, it helps me understand existing tools I didn't make and am better able to make use of them and rectify issues that may crop up in certain situations too.
4) I have more tools! both pre-made and my own.


but please understand that as Houdini attracts new users like myself, we are also going to want for SESI to listen to and ideally address our concern and needs as well.

Thank you for making my point Fuos, but most importantly, who are you that you speak for all of Houdini users?

And who are you to speak for all new users?

'So please' understand that not all new users have the same expectations and/or views that you do.
Edited by BabaJ - June 26, 2018 21:26:42
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However, to your other point, please keep in mind that Houdini (and our industry) is evolving and changing. I get that you would prefer that everything stays the same to fit your specific needs, but please understand that as Houdini attracts new users like myself, we are also going to want for SESI to listen to and ideally address our concern and needs as well.

I think you got me wrong. I say we CAN have it both ways. As long as high level tools are “external” all is good. I do like the MOPS developemnt and the GAME tools, they make houdini more accessible and show what can be done.

Some highlevel tool like the Ocean tools are so complex it makes sense to have them integrated. I think there is not may people who reinvent this from ground up.
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Olaf Finkbeiner
I say we CAN have it both ways. As long as high level tools are “external” all is good.

The problem is that there is a danger that such “external” tools remain undiscovered by the very people who might need them the most. I personally think the Gaming Development Tools are a fantastic set of tools and I don't see any downside if they were packaged into Houdini proper.

Let me ask you this, how would the Game Development Tools impact you negatively if they were integrated right into Houdini as I suggest?
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This discussion reminds me of the times of Pov-ray. How difficult it was to make a sphere and how easy it was to do the same with Softimage3D even made movies . I think everyone should find their way in houdini and be especially productive to do many things without complicating their lives.
On the other hand I think that the future of the CGI goes through ease of use and real time. Almost nobody programs shaders (RSL) of renderman, substance makes it better and easier, I think that is the path of CGI.


Greetings to all!
Edited by Fco Javier - June 27, 2018 16:53:06
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Midphase
Let me ask you this, how would the Game Development Tools impact you negatively if they were integrated right into Houdini as I suggest?

They (GameTools) are integrated right into houdini. They have their own shelftool.

Whereby i would love to see a system that makes it easier and more efficient to instal, activate and deactivate and manage HDA based tool sets.

If you have loads of those tool sets: qlib, gametools, mops, MYowntools, etc. and they would all always be present you would have clutter and the tab menu size would be double.

What happes is for example if you install qlib you will get a node called split-ql which does something completely different from split. Now instead of typing “spl” and enter to get the node, i have to select one of the two options. Resulting in one more click.

Just imagine all those extra hda tool nodes on top of what is already there… It would make learing and useing houdini even more complicated.
To try it install: qlib and aelib:
https://github.com/qLab/qLib [github.com]
https://github.com/Aeoll/Aelib [github.com]

Just to look at all the extra nodes will take you hours. Some of them will be very usefull for you and other you will never ever need.

So again i strongly advocate for more stuff like MOPS and GAMEtools and other libs just not as a default or so i can easliy deactivate what i dont need.

Or have a look at ytini
It is a extension for houdini and astronomy and scientific data visulisation. Should that be part of houdini like Game tools and if not why not? All the people doing astronomy and sci viz will need it.
http://www.ytini.com/ [www.ytini.com]

greetings

Olaf
Edited by Olaf Finkbeiner - June 28, 2018 09:52:33
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I see your point. Perhaps just as we can deactivate Shelf Tools from being seen, there should be a similar setting for which node sets should be active/searchable or not in the network. But yeah, I agree, qlib nodes have been driving me nuts since they have basically the same name and Houdini nodes.
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I am quite confused by a reaction which seems strangely antiquated, particularly in the context of software. Shouldn't seasoned users welcome tools and developments which make Houdini more approachable for new users?

One concern might be that Houdini could become a watered-down version of itself. When you receive an influx of new users who depend on external plugins (but I cannot work without this plugin!) SideFX may choose to go more and more high level.

The absolute nightmare for me is a software like 3ds max where you've got Railclone, Ray Fire, Fume FX, Thinking Particles, Forest Pack and whatnot. Oh the horror!

For now I don't see an issue with external and optional tools like MOPs that simplify things. I'd only get worried if SideFX decides that there's already a popular external plugin for something and don't work on that functionality themselves anymore.
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Well put Geotzinger…that's why I chime in on threads like this; even though my voice/influence is only a drop in the bucket.

When I started into the field of generalist animation/FX two years ago.

After looking at Maya and others…then because it was free…a few days later after using Apprentice, I realized the big potential and capability that one could make a wide range of their own tools.

I was hooked.

The only regret is I wish I discovered Houdini many years before.

If Houdini was a more of a closed box type of software like Maya, I doubt I would have pursued using Houdini much.

I probably would have gone back to Blender, at which point was using to create 3D stills as an extension from my photoshop use.

I know as a whole the SideFX team to be commercialy viable and to continue to exist has to make careful decisions in what direction they put their development resources.

That aside, personally I would like to see less development on ready made tools and more on development that assists and improves the capacity for the tool making process itself.
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I “know” that SideFXs 1st priority is the core of houdini, they said this in many occasions. Just look at the last releases. Just one example: the compile blocks and there is much more like this. So dont worry.

But the high level tools make sense too. Best example is the Ocean Tools or the new terrain tools.

GoetzingerC
Railclone, Ray Fire, Fume FX, Thinking Particles, Forest Pack
yes all those would make no sense at all as “plugins” for Houdini as Houdini already can do all this stuff out of the box…
Currently i count exactly one tool for Houdini that is comparable and that is “plumeage” http://www.numerion-software.com/index.php/carbon-plugins/carbon-plumage [www.numerion-software.com]
Its for creating bird feathers…
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