Just nine months after artists first got their hands on Houdini 14, Side Effects Software has announced the release of Houdini 15 with onion skinning, new shader building tools, crowd ragdolls and Houdini Engine 2.0. This new version enhances modeling, rendering and animation tools to meet the needs of generalists, animators, lighters, and game makers while the VFX tools become faster, more scalable and more efficient at handling big data.
"With this release, Side Effects is working hard to bring Houdini's modeling, rendering and animation tools up to the level of its VFX tools," says Kim Davidson, President and CEO, Side Effects Software. "With more game studios creating content using procedural techniques and commercial studios looking for artist-friendly tools, Houdini 15 offers a well-rounded solution."
What's New in Houdini 15
With Houdini 15, modellers will be able to work more efficiently with a new tweak edit workflow, edge sliding and new tools such as PolyBridge, PolyExtrude and PolyExpand 2D. For working with hi-res models, new retopology tools provide a way of building low-res geometry out of high-res geometry.
These improvements will be particularly useful for game artists building procedural tools for use in game editors such as Unity and Unreal. The PolyExpand2D tool in particular was built with game modeling in mind.
Rendering in Houdini 15 is faster and richer with improvements to shader building, material overrides and support for RenderMan 20. Shader Building, in particular, has been enhanced with a new shader library, a rebuilt Shader FX menu, Layered Materials and a cartoon shader.
Material stylesheets create a production-level workflow for creating and managing material overrides. Easily set up random textures and variances in material settings to give a unique look to a collection of similar items such as crowd agents.
The animation workflow in Houdini 15 is better than ever with onion skinning, a pose library panel and improvements to the dope sheet. This makes it easier to pose and keyframe characters within Houdini.
New simple male and simple female rigs provide sample characters that you can use to explore the animation tools in Houdini. Each is built as a digital asset and includes setups for the character picker and pose library. Riggers can open up the assets and explore the networks to learn how to rig in Houdini.
Ragdoll dynamics have been added to the Houdini 15 crowd tools along with limb detachment, fuzzy logic and better crowd behaviour. It is now easier to set up material and geometry variations and tools have been added to set up explicit target locations.
You can look through the agent CAM to see things from an agent's point of view and the tag visualizer can be used for enhanced inspection of agents' states and properties.
New PolyExtrude with Curve Input
Houdini 15 will make VFX artists more productive and capable of bigger, more dynamic FX. The new adaptive PBD lets you focus grain simulations on collision areas. New viscous fluids tools such as Lava, Melt Object and Emit Steam give artists quick access to a number of typical FX.
Fluid and PBD simulations can now be distributed Simulations to multiple nodes on your farm to create and manage the resulting big data. These simulations let you accomplish more and the results fit together seamlessly when rendering.
With Houdini 15, many features have been added with game makers in mind. From new modeling tools such as PolyExtrude, PolyBridge and PolyExpand 2D, to UV Editing enhancements to new Retopo tools, it will be easier to build game art in Houdini 15. Texture baking and support for tangent space normal maps are important improvements.
For game makers taking advantage of the Houdini Engine plug-ins for Unreal and Unity, the new thin client support and overall improvements make it even easier build Houdini Digital Assets that work inside your chosen game editor.
UI MODEL RENDER ANIMATE CROWDS HAIR/FUR VFX HOUDINI ENGINE 2.0
GGX and PBR - GGX and PBR support in the viewport.
UDIM - The viewport can now display UDIM textures.
Mari Textures - The viewport can now display Mari-style tiled textures.
UV Display - New options for highlighting geometry/UV boundaries, and overlapping UVs.
Normal Maps - The viewport can now display world-space normal maps.
Onion Skinning - There are now display options for onion skinning.
Subdivision Curves - Curves can now be subdivided in the viewport.
Open GL ROP - Improved output node for rendering to disk using Open GL.
Tag Visualizers - Displays an object's name in a selectable tag pointing to it, even if it's offscreen.
Volume Visualizer - Displays a moveable cross-section of a volume.
Visualize geometry - Helps visualize the output of different nodes in the network. Any visualizations you attach to this node will be applied to the node it's wired from. You can hover over a geometry node and press X to rewire the Visualize node onto that node.
Black Box Assets - You can now create "black box" assets that can be freely distributed and used without a license, but cannot be inspected or modified.
Show on Connect - The Disable when and Hide when syntax now supports the pseudo-functions ninputs() and hasinput(n) to allow hiding/disabling depending on whether an input is wired.
.hda - Houdini now saves asset libraries with a .hda extension instead of .otl. Houdini still recognizes and loads files with the old extension.
User Data - You can use the hou.HDADefinition.setUserInfo and hou.HDADefinition.userInfo methods to store and retrieve arbitrary text data on an asset.
Python Panels - Python panels can now use hou.ui.createQtIcon to access Houdini icons and QIcons. Python panels now support drag and drop from Houdini into the panel.
Menu Customization - Houdini 15 improves the menu customization XML format.
HDK - HDK plugins can now register mouse hooks in the viewport.
For a full list of features click this link. Houdini 15 is available in a variety of packages along with a free demoversion. Be sure to visit the Side Effects Software website for complete information
Houdini 15 Sneak Peek from Go Procedural on Vimeo.