Houdini Engine

Houdini Engine lets you load Houdini Digital Assets into other digital content creation apps such as Autodesk Maya, Cinema 4D or the Unity Game Editor. You can also use the Houdini Engine API to create your own plug-ins for proprietary applications. Houdini Engine can also be used on the farm when you distribute key tasks such as rendering, simulation, motion and geometry caching. Houdini Engine gives you command-line access to Houdini's powerful node-based architecture. You can use the Houdini Engine in batch mode to feed the render farm and process distributed dynamic simulations.

SideFX Plug-ins


With the Houdini Engine, Houdini Digital Assets can be loaded into Autodesk® Maya® with procedural controls available to artists. These assets can interact with Maya geometry and the results can be rendered in the Maya UI.



Create procedural game art using Houdini Digital Assets loaded into the Unity game editor. Create unique environments and props that can be modified using parameters on the asset.



Open the door to powerful procedural workflows with Houdini Engine for UE4. Load Houdini Digital Assets into the Unreal Editor and manipulate parameters to get the right look for your game.


Partner Plug-ins

Cinema 4D 

Houdini Engine for Cinema 4D brings high-end VFX tools to this popular 3D tool. Artists will be able to load assets into Cinema 4D and integrate the results with their existing scenes.



Bring Houdini Digital Assets into this popular Windows-based 3D modelling and animation package. This plug-in is available on github and is being generously developed by Hideki Suzuki.



The Houdini Engine API can be used to create plug-ins for any number of applications. If you are interested in creating a plug-in for your favorite app, you can get started right away!


Batch Processing

A Houdini Engine license can also be used to batch process Houdini scenes on the farm. Whether you are rendering to Houdini Mantra, processing a large fluid sim or combining a library of assets into a single scene, Houdini Engine provides behind-the-scenes control. Here is a taste of the kinds of things you can do with Houdini Engine on your farm nodes.

Distributed Rendering 

Houdini’s Mantra renderer works by processing scene description [.ifd] files created by Houdini at render time. To free up your workstation from this task, you can utilize Houdini Batch to create these .ifd files then send them to the unlimited Mantra tokens which come free with each license of Houdini. Houdini Batch can also output scene files for other renderers such as .rib files for RenderMan.

PYRO FX | Distributed Sims 

To create smoke and fire, VFX artists can turn to Houdini’s Pyro FX tools to simulate and render volumetric fluids. Just like FLIP fluids, you can partition these fluids and distribute the parts to your farm using Houdini Batch. The speed and memory advantages make this a great way to meet key deadlines. You can also break Pyro FX simulations into unique clusters to more efficiently distrubute the parts.

FLUIDS | Distributed Sims

In Houdini, FLIP fluids provide a unique combination of particle and fluid dynamics to create realistic simulations of flowing and splashing liquids. In Houdini, these processor-heavy calculations can be sliced into smaller simulations that are distributed to the farm. These slices not only speed up your overall simulation time but also allow for bigger overall sims because the total memory used is split into smaller, more manageable chunks.


To quickly explore multiple iterations in Houdini, you can turn the Wedge tool to re-render or re-simulate a shot multiple times, using different parameter settings. This approach lets you easily compare results with different values. Houdini Batch can be used to rapidly generate different wedges and can add text to the output file name or stamp a settings watermark on the resulting images to identify the impact of each wedge on the result.


As an animation or VFX is passed from the creation stage to final output, it is often useful to cache out geometry to disk using either .bgeo or Alembic files to lock down motion and deformation and make the rendering process more secure. Houdini Batch can be used to manage this output as changes are made to your scenes and assets. This geometry could be a deforming character, points from a particle sim or a surfaced fluid simulation.

Pipeline Tools


Python can be used to launch and drive Houdini Batch from within your existing pipeline. You can use scripting to make Houdini Batch a part of your wider pipeline and to integrate it fully into your workflow. You can also use scripting inside your Houdini scene files to customize your solution using either Python or Houdini's hscript.


Studios can integrate Houdini Batch into their existing queuing solution or use HQueue, a free Python-based job manager to distribute simulations, renderings and other Houdini processes. The same HQueue technology is used by Houdini to connect artists to the Amazon EC2 Compute Cloud which provides access to render nodes for a reasonable hourly rate.


With Houdini’s Digital Asset technology it is possible to encapsulate and store scene components into easily updatable parts, then manage the scene layout using an external asset management system. With Houdini Batch, asset-based scenes can be easily built on the farm. This approach ensures that the latest assets are in place and makes it easy to re-process shots using updated assets down the line.