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Learn how Vertex Animation Textures (VAT) provide an efficient and powerful solution for recreating complex and non-traditional animations and FX in real time. Because VAT only uses textures and shaders to achieve the visuals on the GPU, it has a much lighter performance impact on the CPU, compared to traditional skeletal mesh animations. These lessons use the VAT 3.0 which offers a more streamlined workflow, additional advanced features, and a lot more customizability.



Simon is a tech Artist that loves building procedural tools and assets. By adding more and more procedural approaches to his workflow, he is able to build 3D models with speed and flexibility. During his studies at Digital Arts and Entertainment, he taught himself how to work with Houdini. After his studies, he started working on Ary and the Secret of Seasons at eXiin. Currently he is a Houdini freelancer and focuses on creating procedural content.

More from Simon Verstraete


  • art3mis 2 months, 2 weeks ago  | 

    Very useful. Thanks. Where are the sample files?

  • art3mis 2 months, 2 weeks ago  | 

    Never mind. I see the link at top.

  • Parpa 2 months, 2 weeks ago  | 

    This doesnt work with apprentice version since it cant export FBX.

  • Eason_Zhong 2 months, 2 weeks ago  | 

    After clicking 'Unreal Engine Plugin and Guides' in VAT node, I don't see anything new in the pop up window, like those new Material Functions. Any links for downloading those utilities please?

  • haijijuevip 2 months ago  | 

    thanku ~ wannask Why VAT doesnt work with niagara(its Jitter a lot when I use [ niagara/mesh render/apply the right Mat ] the effetc doesnt right~ ) Looking forward to your reply~

  • samirpatro2001 2 months ago  | 

    Can we also use high-res rbd fractures with chipping or interior details as VAT in Houdini?

    • samirpatro2001 2 months ago  | 


      • Siver 2 months ago  | 

        You can do high quality RBD fractures with VAT, of course it might cost a bit performance in unreal. Like I mentioned in the first video the more pieces and animation the bigger the textures. Here is a detailed example https://twitter.com/sidefx/status/1437455046774513677
        What you can do is combine VAT and trigger particles systems at that location with smaller details and smoke.

  • MarcoMeeuwse 1 month, 4 weeks ago  | 

    Hi Simon,
    First of all, thank you so much for creating these tutorials. I hope you have some time to shine some light on how to add textures to these models. I can't find a texture slot to add a texture for the brick / concrete wall or a simple water texture. I can't find if VAT comes with an export for the UV map or something?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Siver 1 month, 4 weeks ago  | 

      It depends what method your are using for example with the RDB you should be able to use the "base color" material input for adding textures.

  • 18950403839 1 month, 3 weeks ago  | 

    I use my own models,but it Warning
    Do not include the vertex attribute "uv2", "uv3", or "uv4" for Rigid-Body Dynamics (Rigid) mode. They will be overwritten.

    • 18950403839 1 month, 3 weeks ago  | 

      delete the attribute is ok.thanks~

  • livinskyalex 1 month, 3 weeks ago  | 

    I am trying to run an animation at a specific time. I create a dynamic material instance. I change the set scalar parameter "Auto Playback" to 1. Nothing changes. Perhaps you need to use a different function?
    Everything works with "display frame", but not with "Auto Playback".

    • livinskyalex 1 month, 3 weeks ago  | 

      Changing Playback speed to 0 works. But is this the most optimal way.

      • livinskyalex 1 month, 3 weeks ago  | 

        But no. Changing "Playback speed" from 0 to 1 does not start the animation from the beginning ...

  • ttpetra 1 month, 3 weeks ago  | 

    Hi Simon,

    Thank you for this tutorial. I have a question about creating the material in unreal. The documentation provided on artstation says that '"Create a new Material and call the VAT Material Function of the mode you need e.g dynamic remeshing (fluid))" but after that there is not much to go with. unlike the legacy method where we copy a sample shader code from houdini and the material network is created in Unreal. With the 3.0, how do we set up the material in unreal?

    • ttpetra 1 month, 3 weeks ago  | 

      So sorry. I have seen the answer in the video

  • ttpetra 1 month, 3 weeks ago  | 

    I followed your tutorial for fluid but the look up texture option was not available in the material instance. Any tips on how to fix this?

  • jkxblueandwhite 1 month, 2 weeks ago  | 

    Hi Simon, I followed your tutorial for fluid but I have an error with the Labs_vertex_animation_textures node

    Invalid source /out/Fluid_Simulation/objects/TEXTURE/msg_fluid
    Error: Dynamic Remeshing (Fluid) mode expects unpacked polygon primitives. One or more unexpected primitive types are found on the input geometry. Consider using Convert SOP to convert your geometry type to "Polygon"

    Thank you

    • Siver 1 month, 2 weeks ago  | 

      The error tells you to unpack geometry and they all need to be of the same type "Polygon".
      For Example in the fluid video at 4:19 you will see that I need to convert the simulation to a polygon.

  • RyanGillespie 1 month, 2 weeks ago  | 

    Hello, I've been looking through the VAT 3.0 Complete Guide: Part 1 on Artstation, watching some of the Labs VAT video tutorials by the SideFX Labs team, and reading the SideFX Labs docs pages. Great job on putting the docs and training materials together.

    I've been working with the dynamic remeshing material function and my sim is working in Unreal 4. I saw that we do have the ability to export UV information in a couple of different ways. Either using the red and green channel in the color texture or in the position and color alpha channels. I'm not exactly sure how to leverage these channels in the material node network once these textures are exported.

    Is there additional documentation or an example of an Unreal material set up somewhere? It's a bit out of my wheelhouse. Thanks in advance for your time.

  • woshixiaoge93 1 month, 1 week ago  | 

    I have a problem.Dynamic Remeshing (Fluid) mode,When I run the first Pass,It warned me,Points are folded into more than 99 rows in the animation data uv channel,please,increase Target Texture width. But I've given it very high ... turn on Preview Texture Size ,But I don't know what the calculated size represents,how to know the specific size of the value? Can anyone help me answer it, thank you

    • Siver 1 month, 1 week ago  | 

      There is a change the fluid setup you have has too many points or high polycount.
      All the data of the simulation need to be compressed to textures which mean you will have a limit.
      The more points and frames you have the bigger the textures, currently 8K textures are the cap and with that you can do already a lot.

  • lhx940851993 3 weeks, 3 days ago  | 

    Is there any relevant documentation about the corresponding material shader in the engine? I found out that in the shader of UE, the attribute of geometry will be encoded into the material data, such as "active pixels ratio X". I don't know these special coding roles, although the idea of VAT is very simple, it is relatively difficult to use the data exported from Houdini in our own engine.

    • Siver 3 weeks, 3 days ago  | 

      Currently there is no documentation on how you could implement this in your own game engine. The VAT data has a lot of compression to save data in textures, vertex color and uv channels. Would recommend looking at the Unreal version and breakdown what is needed to create the effect, if you would need assistance you could try sending a mail to support to see what would be possible.

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