Artwork by Pascal Beeckmans



PDG is a procedural architecture designed to distribute tasks and manage dependencies to better scale, automate, and analyze content pipelines for Film, TV, Games, Advertising and VR.

PDG is designed to describe these dependencies visually using nodes that generate sets of actionable tasks then distributes them to multiple cores on the same machine, the compute farm, or even the cloud. PDG provides a rich set of stock nodes to enhance productivity, and manages the dependencies smartly to minimize recompute upon changes.


Introducing Task Operators

TOPs is PDG technology being applied to Houdini. TOP nodes integrate seamlessly with the rest of Houdini. This brings the power of PDG to FX workflows, but is not limited only to FX. Games, Motion Graphics and other workflows can also benefit, as can technologies such as Houdini Engine.


Intro to PDG


VFX TOP Workflow


Accessing PDG Technology

Houdini and its node-based workflow is often referred to as a pipeline-in-a-box. With PDG, you can break this box wide open to scale up to a bigger procedural pipeline. PDG lets you organize and schedule tasks then distribute them intelligently to your compute farm to work in parallel. 

PDG works inside Houdini in TOP networks, or in a separate PilotPDG application. PilotPDG can process TOP graphs created in Houdini, or work with other applications that don't involve Houdini at all.


Pipeline Dependencies

PDG can describe large parts of your pipeline to ensure that assets are being loaded, processed and saved out efficiently. The fine-grained dependencies can ensure a minimum of compute upon a given change. The TOP nodes can play a number of different roles that will replace manual labour and scripts that can bog down a complex studio pipeline. You can even set up TOP networks that fetch other TOP networks to create multiple levels of abstraction within your pipeline.


Pipeline Workflows


Iterations & Variations

A key workflow in PDG is the wedging workflow that lets you quickly create multiple iterations of a design. This lets you output a contact sheet that can be used to evaluate the iterations to make the best choice or choose many prop variations to richly populate your scene.




Prop Variation

Artwork by Entagma


Houdini Workflows

Houdini artists can take their work to the next level with TOP networks enhancing existing workflows, to take advantage of the compute farm to parallel-process geometry networks and dynamic simulations.


SOP Integration


Crowd FX


with Game Engines

For Gamedev, Houdini Digital Assets can already be created to work inside Game Engines such as Unity or UE4. Now with PDG, you can set up visual procedural systems that capture the relationships between various assets, rather than treating each asset as independent from the others. When a change is made to part of a level, PDG can figure out which terrain tiles, vegetation assets, roads and buildings are affected, and make sure that only those are updated in parallel without re-cooking the whole level.


GameDev Workflow

Artwork by Kenny Lammers | Indie-Pixel


Data Synthesis, Augmentation, and Hyper-Parameter Space Search

Machine learning involves lots of trial and error with large datasets and correspondingly large compute to train with those datasets. With PDG, you can synthesize or augment lots of data to help train Deep Learning systems, and try multiple Hyper-parameters on ML models simultaneously.


Terrain Erosion


Terrain Sketching


Extensive PDG Toolsets

PDG comes with a wide range of nodes for managing dependencies, loading, downloading and zipping files, importing data from SQL, JSON, CSV or XML, scheduling talks with HQueue, Tractor or Deadline, and processing images and Houdini assets.

You can also use Python to create custom solutions or write your own TOP nodes to add your application into the mix. This extensibility is one of the key benefits of PDG because you can make it a true partner for all of your pipeline apps.


TOP Nodes


Houdini FX

Task Operators in Houdini FX give artists access to PDG to create high level wedging and pipeline workflows for VFX projects.


Houdini CORE

PDG is also available in Houdini Core and gives access to Task Operators to manage and distribute pipeline tasks. 



PilotPDG lets you process TOP nodes and  digital assets from Houdini or use other apps to graph non-Houdini workflows.





Houdini Indie

Houdini Indie can access PDG using Task Operators to distribute tasks to a small compute farm using up to three Houdini Engine Indie licenses.


Houdini Education

Schools will have access to PDG in Houdini Education and will be able to distribute tasks to the school compute farm using Education engine licenses. 


Houdini Apprentice

PDG is also available in Houdini Apprentice for learning purposes but can only work with the local scheduler to process tasks on your local computer. 



Learn how to leverage PDG's node-based workflow to build robust pipeline workflows using tutorials created by industry professionals and SideFX.