Artwork by Ababiya Worku

Join us at the Houdini HIVE: Education/Studio Edition to hear from leaders at the top schools, who are creating programs to foster high quality, hireable talent - and hear from the studios on what they're looking for when hiring. 
The Houdini Education Program is thrilled to support these discussions and the strengthening of relationships between academia and industry.

Tuesday | November 30, 2021

11:00 AM EST


John Moncrief & Christopher Hebert | SideFX

11:05 AM EST

Joe Raasch | Seneca College VFX, 

Gus Sanchez-Perez & Praptasha| MARZ,

11:40 AM EST

Merel Steeland  & Steven Engels | Howest DAE

12:00 PM EST

Andreas Chlupka | Fiftyeight 3D GmbH
Manuel Koster & Martin Streit | Darmstadt University

12:30 PM EST

Jorge Razon | Centennial College & Soho VFX

12:50 PM EST

Klaudia Kowalczuk| Dupe VFX, John Moncrief | SideFX

1:15 PM EST

Jean-Yves Arboit | HELha, Bruno Ébé | SideFX 

1:30 PM EST

Debra Isaac | Houdini.School, John Moncrief | SideFX

2:00 PM EST

Luiz Kruel & Nick Greco | Rockstar
André Thomas | Texas A&M

2:35 PM EST

Nelson Lim  | University of Texas at Dallas

3:10 PM EST

Louis-Philippe Clavet | Folks VFX
Robin Tremblay | Ecole NAD

3:35 PM EST

Seth Holladay | Brigham Young University

3:50 PM EST

Tristan McMahon & Anna Middleton | WETA Digital
Jack Parkinson | Yoobee College


Individual Recordings are available below.


11:05 AM EST
Staying Versatile and Optimizing Opportunities for Development  

Staying open to opportunities, wanting to learn beyond their expertise and being able to problem solve are key practices for recent grads wanting to join the industry. Hear from industry reps at MARZ VFX and a VFX professor at Seneca College about how to better position yourself for joining the industry. 

Joe Raasch is an instructor and the coordinator of the Visual Effects for Television and Film program at Seneca College in Toronto. He is responsible for the creation and oversight of the curriculum (which has included Houdini since 2009).  When he's not teaching he works as part of the in-house VFX department at Take 5 Productions where he has worked on such series as Vikings (History Channel), Locke & Key (Netflix) and Into the Badlands (AMC).  Joe started working as a VFX artist in 2001 and has been teaching since 2002. 

Gus Sanchez-Perez is an industry veteran with over 20 years of experience and has worn many hats, from animator in tv series, modeler and tools programmer in videogames, vfx artist in films, and even software product manager. Originally from Spain, started his career as a generalist in the UK back in the early 2000s working for companies like Dneg, MPC, Cinesite during the Harry Potter days. Moved to Toronto back in 2016 and work for MRX on multiple shows(Shape of Water, Hellboy, Resident Evil, The Strain...), his latest role there being fx Lead on the upcoming Netflix show Vikings:Valhalla. In August 2021 he joined MARZ (Monsters Aliens Robots Zombies) as FX Supervisor.  

Praptasha apparated in the VFX world 2 years ago and refuses to leave. Her previous tenures include the real estate and energy sector in various capacities of the HR function. She is currently heading HR for Monsters Aliens Robots Zombies Inc. as the Director, HR. Her interactions with the industry range between meeting interns looking at exposure in VFX to Heads of departments in studios that are looking for a change in scene.

11:40 AM EST
DAE-Research and its Ecosystem    

Within our research group we are constantly exploring new technologies and ways of collaboration, with students and with companies. This resulted in the creation of our ecosystem. During this presentation we will show how we work together with different stakeholders and what role Houdini plays in our curriculum as well as the impact it has on our research projects.

Merel Steeland & Steven Engels both work at DAE-Research, the research cell connected to the award-winning bachelor's degree Digital Arts & Entertainment (DAE), part of the university college Howest in Kortrijk, Belgium. Throughout its 3-year curriculum, DAE aims to shape absolute beginners into entry-level technical artists. The focus of DAE-Research is on innovation through game technology, for both the entertainment and non-entertainment sector, in demand-driven and their own applied research projects.  


12:00 PM EST
Fostering Confidence in Your Work & Advocating for Yourself   

Finding yourself and exploring your personal interests are essential towards figuring out what you want to do. In this discussion, you will  hear from a Creative Technologist at Fiftyeight 3D and faculty at Darmstadt University about how to cultivate the curiosity  to learn and explore different ways to apply your skills in order to have a more meaningful experience at work.

Andreas Chlupka started his journey into 3D in 1994 when he created 3D images for flyers and print ads. In 2000, he joined the team at FIFTYEIGHT and became a 3D generalist, learning the ins and outs of the animation production process.Over the past two decades Andreas has taken on many roles within the company, primarily as a Look-Dev and Rendering TD, Compositor, Architect, and Administrator of IT infrastructure.Today, his formal title is creative technologist, reflecting his passion for art and technology. Andreas loves to learn and share his insights. In recent years interpersonal relationships and communication became his primary focus — to better serve the team as a leader and foremost a collaborator and human being.

Manuel Köster is a Senior Technical Artist/Director who has been working in VFX/Animation on movies such as Dr. Strange, Cpt. Marvel, Lego Movie 2 as well as Peter Rabbit 2. Last year he switched to the Game industry and joined Crytek in an effort to enhance their procedural workflows, currently working on a new AAA game. He is a frequent teacher at the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt mostly for the program called "Animation and Game" where he is teaching the course "Bring your projects to life using Houdini."

Martin Streit works as an XR studio engineer in the Expanded Realities study programme at Hochschule Darmstadt, University of Applied Sciences. He loves to enable students around him to realise their visions. For that he provides, research and develops technology solutions and mentors students in the process of applying them to their projects.


12:30 PM EST
Entry Level FX Reel 101  

 Retain viewership and interest with your demo reel by adding contents relevant for the VFX Industry and avoid showing overused material.

Jorge Razon is a Visual Effects Supervisor, Professor and Mentor based in Toronto.  He’s been in the VFX industry for 19 years and worked primarily on feature films.  Some of his most recent projects include Cinderella, Umbrella Academy Season 2, It Chapter 2 and Tomb Raider.  Every project is a unique challenge and learning opportunity and that is what keeps him in the VFX industry. Aside from the VFX Supervising role, Jorge’s other tasks also include R&D, team collaboration, problem solving, and talent acquisition. Jorge enjoys sharing his knowledge and devoting his free time towards being a VFX Professor for Centennial College and a Mentor for CG Spectrum.

12:50 PM EST
Getting Over the Fear of Asking Questions Comes with Time  

New artists often experience impostor syndrome and doubt their skills when surrounded by colleagues with more experience. In this chat with new artist Klaudia Kowalczuk, you will learn about overcoming these feelings and how not being afraid to say you don’t know or don’t understand can help you overcome hurdles when in production. 

Klaudia Kowalczuk is a Digital Generalist with a range of skills in audiovisual and FX work, currently working as a Lighting TD at Dupe VFX. For years, she has been passionate about translating her imagination into images and sounds. Her professional background ranges from CFX and Lighting work, to Videography and Music Production. She has experience working on a range of tv shows and feature-length films, developing production-friendly workflows, and creating a wide range of artist-friendly Houdini tutorials. What she does can vary from day to day - She's an avid lover of self-education, so no subject is ever out of bounds for me. Outside of her professional life she loves photography, writing, dance, board games, the traditional arts, and all things music!  

John Moncrief is the Education & Training Manager at SideFX. John has been teaching various visual effects software packages to creative industry professionals for more than 20 years. He lives for the rush of seeing students experience "light bulb" moments! 


1:15 PM EST
How Houdini's Flexibility Motivates New Artists   

A new artist (and graduate of HELha) talks about their CG  learning experience, and how Houdini has been an encouraging tool to use on-the-job. A variety of examples of students’ work produced at HELha are also included.

*Presentation will be in French with English subtitles! 

Jean-Yves Arboit, expert and non-standard trainer working during the beginnings of digital imaging and atypical precursor in the teaching of 3D in Belgium, has long been a trainer in France (including SUPINFOCOM / RUBIKA for 30 years ), and also throughout the French-speaking world.Author of educational materials including books, DVDs, over 5,000 PDF pages, over 1000 online videos and currently working on "Realtime" FX / animation processes, he has collaborated with the biggest studios, including ILM by George Lucas. He currently coordinates the 3D Animation and VFX CGAcademy / HELHa department; this unique school in Belgium encapsulates three major orientations: 3D animation,  VFX and Games. It is the only school in Belgium to issue a diploma recognized by the European Union and accessible to all (€1,600  for 3 years!). Jean-Yves Arboit was thus able to bring together a team of speakers within CGAcademy / HELHa akin to the largest private schools.

Bruno Ébé is Production Trainer at SideFX. He has been in the CG industry for about 20 years and teaching to students and professionals for the last 5 years.


1:30 PM EST
Challenges of Online Teaching    

There are new teaching challenges with more students now learning from home versus in a physical classroom. Hear from Debra Isaac (founder and  instructor at Houdini.School) about how she overcomes the limitations of online teaching and helps prepare her students for the industry. 

Debra Isaac is a visual artist, animator, and the founder of Houdini.School. She has over 8 years of experience as a Houdini educator and currently teaches at Drexel University. She is passionate about scientific visualization, motion graphics, and emerging technologies. Her clients have included Intel, Mattel, and The UCLA Art|Sci Center. Debra also enjoys hosting monthly Houdini Battles and she co-organizes The Los Angeles Houdini User group (LAHUG). 

John Moncrief is the Education & Training Manager at SideFX. John has been teaching various visual effects software packages to creative industry professionals for more than 20 years. He lives for the rush of seeing students experience "light bulb" moments! 


2:00 PM EST
Meaningful Problem-Solving in Games Creation and Beyond  

Representatives from Rockstar Games and Texas A&M University discuss the delicate balance between developing tool-specific skills and establishing foundational knowledge. High-quality games require good concepting as well as technical finesse. Being able to show your process and having the ability to deep-dive into a particular aspect of a tool (rather than just presenting your final product) are huge advantages that demonstrate an artist’s potential value to a studio. 

André Thomas' passion for game-based learning resonates inside and outside of the classroom. A graduate of LCAD MFA in Game Design, he founded and serves as the director of the LIVE Lab in the Department of Visualization at Texas A&M University, where he also teaches game design, game development and interactive graphics techniques. In 2014, he founded Triseum, where he serves as CEO and leads the creation of its award winning academic video games. He is an EdTech Leadership award winner, National Academy of Sciences LabX advisory board member, National Arts Education Association lead instructor, and Chillennium Game Jam chair. André also has been invited to speak at numerous education and technology events both in the U.S. and abroad, including SXSW, TEDx, ASU-GSV, BETT, Chinese Academy of Fine Arts, Austrian Ministry of Education and European Schoolnet. His game-based learning insights and ideas are featured in the Huffington Post, Austin Business Journal, eCampus News and Learning Solutions Magazine, to name a few.With more than 25 years in CGI production, André has worked around the world on legendary video games, live action feature films and memorable commercials. Previously he was Head of Graphics for EA Sports Football games (including NCAA, Head Coach, NFL Tour and Madden, the longest running and most successful sports franchise in games industry). He also created graphics for such notable films as Men in Black, Con Air, Independence Day, Valiant, Ant Bully and Tomorrow Never Dies.

Nick Greco is the Director of Visual Effects for Rockstar Games, based out of Rockstar's New England Studio. Nick has close to 20 years of experience in the game industry, having started his career as an environment art intern back in 2002. Over time he found his true passion in VFX.  Working his way into a VFX leadership role, he now manages Rockstar's global team of VFX artists. Nick has worked on many AAA titles including: Bully: Scholarship Edition, Max Payne 3, Grand Theft Auto V, and Red Dead Redemption 2. Each project brings new challenges and opportunities to do something that has not been seen before. The introduction of Houdini into the pipeline for the VFX team has helped speed up workflows and raise the bar on what is possible visually in our worlds. 

Luiz Kruel is a Technical Artist working at Rockstar Games. Previously he was at SideFX Software, where he worked on the SideFX Labs team supporting games and film customers building tools and 3rd party integrations. Before SideFX, Luiz has worked on several of the largest franchises in the industry, including Halo, Call of Duty, Doom, Madden and Just Cause.


2:35 PM EST
Effective Houdini for Aspiring Beginners 

Have ever wondered if Houdini should be one of the first tools you learn on your CG journey? Maybe you have spent a ton of time learning Houdini, but you fear that you aren't headed in the right direction to becoming a sought-after Houdini artist? Well, this is the presentation for you.In this presentation, we'll talk about why Houdini might be the best CG tool for a beginner like you and how not to waste time learning while getting effective results that will earn you a spot as a junior Houdini artist at a studio and differentiate you from the crowd as a better artist/TD. Intrigued? Come join us at this presentation.

Nelson Lim is a CG Artist and Technologist with over a decade of experience in the CG industry.He has created VFX, developed technology and supervised teams on Hollywood feature films, commercials, games and live experiences while working for Industrial Light & Magic, Brazen Animation, Epic Games and Riot Games. Past projects include Fortnite, League of Legends, Warcraft, Pacific Rim,  Transformers: Age of Extinction, Battleship and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.Having been a Houdini user since developing the Houdini pipeline at ILM in 2012, he simply loves the Houdini way. He is currently an Associate Professor at The School of Arts, Technology and Emerging Communication (ATEC) at the University of Texas at Dallas where he teaches Houdini, VFX, Real-time Engines and Software Development. On the side, Nelson runs a VFX and Technical Direction YouTube channel at and The Effective Community for Aspiring FX artists and TDs at

3:10 PM EST
Making the Most of your Education

Maintaining communication with your peers and seeking mentorship from more experienced  individuals is very important. In this discussion, an industry representative of Folks VFX Montreal and an  instructor from NAD school discuss the importance of continuing to educate yourself, improving your skills and nurturing connections with people at different points in their careers. Doing so can help you land the job you’ve been hoping to find.

Louis-Philippe Clavet is CG Supervisor at Folks VFX Montreal. Being very passionate about sharing his expertise, he introduced many students and professionals to procedural workflows, simulations and compositing in studios, schools or at conferences. Being involved with his local VFX community, he founded the Montreal Houdini User Group in 2015 and has been running it with the help of its esteemed members ever since. Louis-Philippe won two Quebec Cinema Awards for Best Visual Effects. 

Robin Tremblay was a founder of the  NAD school training program in 1992 and still participates in the school's success to this day. He designs most of the NAD actual curriculum, including writing the UQAC digital design undergraduate program.Robin is also an  accomplished 3D artist, working for over 26 years in the field of CGI both as a trainer and within post-production companies such as Groupe Image Buzz and Rodeo FX. He has worked on more than 40 movies as a computer graphic artist since 1993.  He now acts as an independent consultant in the field of virtual environment, matte painting and particle simulation. He has a bachelor degree in computer sciences from Université Laval and recently completed a master degree in Digital Arts. 

3:35 PM EST
Balancing the Education of Soft and Hard Skills in a Houdini-Centered Production 

In Brigham Young University's Animation, a production experience is the culmination of students' BFA degree. A large group of 10-20 senior collaborate to set up a production pipeline and create a high-quality animated short film. This not only provides and environment for students to create demo-reel worthy work (hard skills), but it also gives them important experience communicating, leading, and making sure their work fits into a larger production (soft skills). A big question we ask is what is the right balance or trade off between focus on hard and soft skills in this experience, that properly adds value to a student's education and ability to get hired in the industry? As we present our approach to this, the role that Houdini plays is also a key factor in building multiple skills and opening industry doors for students.

Seth Holladay is an Associate Professor in the Animation program at Brigham Young University. He studied both Animation and Computer Science in college, which allowed him to move into the role of Effects Artist at Pixar Animation Studios on Ratatouille, WALL-E, and Up.  Now he is teaching 3-D animation art classes at BYU and doing research in physical dynamics simulations for film. He has mentored students on short animated films that have won over 10 College Television Awards and 4 Student Academy Awards. He also helped start up the video game capstone projects at BYU that have also won several national awards. 

3:50 PM EST
Don’t Hide Your Troubleshooting, Highlight It 

Fearing your mistakes will hold you back. Instead, you should embrace them and learn from them. Not only are hard skills important, but so are soft skills when it comes to working in the VFX industry. In this discussion, you’ll hear from WETA Digital representatives and a Yoobee College instructor on how you can enhance skills like interviewing and team collaboration. 

Tristan McMahon is the Assistant Technical Directors Head of Department at Weta Digital. He was made Team Lead of the ATD group in late 2014, and became the Head of the Department when it became part of the Shots group in July 2015.Tristan started at Weta Digital in 2002 as the sole charge night shift Render Wrangler for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. He went on to become the Manager of the Wrangling team during I, Robot and King Kong, then worked as part of the infrastructure team as a Systems Administrator before moving into an ATD role during the production of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.As HOD, he is responsible for identifying, hiring and training candidates to move into roles in the Shots Department at Weta Digital and acts in a mentoring/supervisory role during an ATD's first couple of years at the company.

Anna Middleton is passionate about creating respectful, authentic, and collaborative teams by championing inclusion, equity, and diversity. She supports her crew by enabling them to maintain a sustainable work/life balance while continuing to produce great VFX. Originally trained in ballet and contemporary dance, Anna went on to join a showband and worked as an entertainer and singer in NZ, Australia, and Asia for seven years. Graduating with a Bachelor in Broadcasting and Communications in 2003, Anna worked in various production roles for commercials and films before forming a video and stills production company, Flying Saucer, with her partner. Anna has worked as a Crew Manager at Weta Digital for the last six years, focusing on recruitment and career progression for junior artists by helping them obtain their dream roles within the studio.

Jack Parkinson is a Houdini specialist and Multimedia Tutor at Yoobee Colleges in Christchurch, New Zealand. 3D students at Yoobee learn a wide variety of skills, in all areas of the 3D pipeline. Using industry standard practices and workflows, students create engaging, portfolio ready, content. After numerous years teaching Design, Film, Animation and 3D Modelling, Jack steered his focus towards the VFX pipeline. Bringing the curriculum up to industry standard, Jack is now the resident expert on Houdini. In his spare time Jack is creating VFX for some independent productions, releasing later in the year. Outside of Houdini, Jack is passionate about cheese fondue and enjoys karaoke.