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.