Thanks to everyone who joined us at the Houdini HIVE at GDC 2023 in San Francisco to learn about our latest releases, talk with Houdini artists, or watch presentations conducted by industry professionals and SideFX product specialists. It was great to see you!

Recordings of the presentations are available below. 


Check out the Houdini HIVE Theatre presentations by industry professionals and SideFX product specialists.

Presentations | Wednesday, March 22

9:00 AM PST

Christos Stavridis | SideFX

10:00 AM PST

Thomas Tobin | Rainbow Studios

12:00 PM PST

Corentin Ambroise &
Quentin Poulaert
 | Appeal Studios

1:30 PM PST

Urban Bradesko | Theory accelerated

2:30 PM PST

Ashraf Ghoniem | Blizzard

4:00 PM PST

Damien Pernuit | SideFX

Presentations | Thursday, March 23

10:30 AM PST

Erik Hallberg | Embark Studios

11:15 AM PST

Darko Pracic | Embark Studios

12:30 PM PST

Danicka Oglesby | SideFX


Wednesday Mar 22

Wednesday 9:00 AM PST
Proceduralism for Games? Short answer is YES. 

In this talk, Christos is going to talk about proceduralism, what it is, and why you should use procedural systems, when developing games, to make your life easier and have more time to pet your cat.

Christos Stavridis is a Technical Artist at SideFX as part of the Labs team.He has a master’s degree in audiovisual arts, work experience in education, and some experience in talking about himself in the third person. He brands himself as an Apprentice of Dark Arts and that is one more reason no one takes him too seriously. He has a curious nature about how everything works and a constant hunger for knowledge. In the past years, he has become obsessed with proceduralism, making tools for artists, and hexagons. 

Wednesday 10:00 AM PST
Tools to Build a World in One Day 

In this session, Thomas Tobin, Lead Technical Artist at Rainbow Studios, covers creating a framework for efficient asset creation and best practices, allowing an art team to prototype significant scale levels that appear as finished worlds rapidly. Thomas will highlight the key workflows to increase the quality level dramatically with minimal effort. In addition, he will demonstrate the technique and toolset that anyone can make to create a believable environment in a matter of days. This process allows them to sell a concept environment and quickly iterate with a client cost-efficiently.

Thomas Tobin is a Lead Technical Artist working @ Rainbow Studios. Trained initially as a game designer, he has a firm understanding of how levels are designed and has worked hand in hand with the art team. Previously working on two AAA titles, he has experience working on procedural world tools, optimization pipelining and character tooling. Using this experience, he has built out virtual worlds with an extremely small art team at Unity. For the past few years on the side, he has been teaching Technical Art, Houdini for Games and world building with the Vertex School to help mentor the next generation of Technical Artists. Formerly working on Unity Sports with Mocap, Volcap and environment generation. 

Wednesday 11:15 AM PST
You Asked Me to Make the Flipbook Exporter Better. Let's Do It.  

In this talk, Mai will showcase a brand new version of SideFX Labs Flipbook export tool with improved quality, speed, and most importantly, flexibility. This tool can be used for pyro or other types of FXs. New in-game shaders were created to deal with different needs and complexities in your production. These improvements were made in close collaboration with industry VFX veterans, whose generous feedback helped us refine the tools and workflows. 

Mai Ao is the Lead of SideFX Labs and a technical artist with many years of Houdini experience. With a master's degree from Carnegie Mellon University, he has a background in computer science, graphics, and fine art. Mai went on to work in game production on high-profile projects with Industrial Light & Magic and Walt Disney Imagineering, responsible for building Houdini pipelines, VFX, shaders, and optimization. At SideFX, Mai is passionate about serving the community and helping to push the boundaries of real-time technologies.

Wednesday 12:00 PM PST
Embellishing Outcast 2 open-world with Houdini  

The team behind Outcast 2 will be presenting at the GDC conference, sharing their experience of using Houdini to create an open world for the game. The talk will cover topics such as using Houdini for spawning foliage, static meshes or gameplay, applying textures to landscapes, and handling procedural open worlds. Attendees can gain insight into the team's workflow and pipeline, and learn how Houdini can be utilized to achieve ambitious open world design with a small team.

Corentin Ambroise started his career by studying video game art. During his studies, he developed a passion for creating visually captivating games, which led him to co-found Frostyfroggs, a video game development company that aims to create innovative and engaging games.Currently working as a Houdini artist at Appeal Studios, Corentin has been able to further enhance his expertise in video game art. He utilizes Houdini to add foliage and large volumes to the game world, as well as to create visually stunning effects.

Quentin Poulaert is a Lead Tool Programmer at Appeal Studios, specializing in C++ and Python. With 8 years of experience working in the VFX, new technology, and gaming industries, he has a good overview of production problems related to 3D, Animation, Game development, or even team management. His background as a technical project manager enables him to bridge the gap between creatives, developers, and managers. He tries to achieve this by developing great tools and automated pipelines that increase team productivity, allowing them to focus on their day-to-day work.

Wednesday 1:30 PM PST
Axiom for Games and Cinematics 

We will showcase a variety of examples of Axiom in action and its use cases for real-time FX and pre-rendered cinematics. 

Urban Bradesko is a multidisciplinary artist mostly known for his Explosions. He has worked on Destiny 2 cinematics, Gears of War 5, Love death and Robots, Deathloop cinematics and many more. Currently, he works with Matt Puchala at Theory Accelerated where Axiom is being developed.  

Wednesday 2:30 PM PST
Stylizing Effects at Blizzard Animation for Cinematics 

 We will be exploring the various methods of effects stylization that we do at Blizzard across the many variant IPs. Learn how this intersects with the game vfx and how this deep collaboration creates some of the most memorable effects in our cinematics. 

Ashraf Ghoniem has been the FX Department Head at blizzard animation for the last 4 years. He is responsible for the overall creative direction, pipeline, and management of the Fx team for pre-rendered and in game cinematics at Blizzard Entertainment. Before coming to Blizzard, he was an FX supervisor at WetaFX in New Zealand where supervised the last two Avenger films. And notably won a VES award for FX simulation for his work on Avengers Infinity War. 

Wednesday 4:00 PM PST
Houdini Engine for Unreal: The Road Ahead 

In this session, Damien will be covering the latest development and features that were added to the Unreal plugin and Houdini Engine API, as well as a roadmap of the upcoming changes and optimizations that will be available in future Houdini releases.

Damien Pernuit is a Senior 3d Software Developer at SideFX specializing in thedevelopment of Houdini Engine and its Unreal Plug-ins. Before joining SideFX, he was a Senior Software Engineer at Digital Surf in Besancon, France for 10 years, working on the 3d visualization and analysis of microscopic data. As part of the SideFX pipeline team, Damien's goal is to develop the functionalities that will help bring Houdini's features to Game Engines.

Thursday Mar 23

Thursday 10:30 AM PST
Embark Asset Processor  

In this talk I will go through how we use our internally built Asset Processor in order to quickly build and iterate on game assets. The Asset Processor provides an easy-to-use UI inside of Blender where users set up their process input. It then runs complex Houdini processes in the background, allowing users to ignore most of what it normally takes to build game assets, bringing asset creation times down from weeks to days, and iteration times from hours to minutes. I will showcase features of the Asset Processor, the guiding philosophy behind it, and the technical implementation of it.

Erik Hallberg works as a Lead 3D Artist at Embark Studios. He has 11 years of industry experience, 6 of which he has been working with Houdini.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Thursday 11:15 AM PST
Embark Landscape Creation

This talk will be about Embark’s use of Houdini for creating realistic landscapes for Unreal Engine. The first section will be about our workflows for how an artist shapes out the world using LiDAR data and the Gaea bridge. I will compare our LiDAR processing setup in PDG with previous LiDAR workflows where artists had to learn complex GIS applications, like GlobalMapper. Then we’ll look at our export/import setup from Houdini to Unreal Engine. Next we’ll go more in depth and demonstrate our in-house heightfield utility HDAs, highlighting the benefits of working with landscapes in 3D rather than 2D, showcasing Houdini’s strengths not just as a procedural tool but also as a tool where non-technical artists can be enabled to make large landscape changes that are beautiful and realistic, even in a fast paced production environment for free to play games.

Darko Pracic is an Environment Art Lead at Embark Studios. He has worked in games and film for 15 years with 3d and environment art and he has been getting more and more into tools and tech over the past four years.

Thursday 12:30 PM PST
What's Happening in SideFX Labs

Learn what we've been cooking up in SideFX Labs this year, from developing new tools to improving legacy tools, standardizing development practices, and a sneak peek into our future projects!

Danicka Oglesby is a technical artist on the Labs team at SideFX. She enjoys creating tools and systems that solve common problems, ease workflow strain, and generally improve the quality of life for artists. She has worked previously as a gameplay programmer on VR experiences, on improving and maintaining a Houdini city generator pipeline, and on developing editor tools for artists in Unreal and Unity.

Thursday 2:00 PM PST
Accelerating Workflow: Rapid Iteration with Houdini, ZBrush, and Substance 

Explore how Houdini, ZBrush, and Substance Painter can be used together to create an efficient workflow for creating environment art. Learn how to leverage Houdini’s procedural capabilities and ZBrush’s sculpting tools to create and refine assets quickly, as well as using Substance Painter for texture creation.


Ian Smith is CG Supervisor at NSC Creative, an award-winning studio specializing in immersive and large format media for VR, Themeparks, Expos and Fulldome. Ian has also developed a number of personal projects in Unreal Engine 5, using Houdini, ZBrush and Substance 3D with a focus on creating detailed environment art using efficient workflows.