Learning Houdini Journal 09: Animation Basics

Dec 27, 2015 at 12:48 am by -gToon

This is the ninth entry of what will be a year-long journal on learning the 3D application Houdini, created by Side Effects Software. Houdini is a sophisticated application that is widely used in the production of visual effects for Hollywood films such as Big Hero 6, Mad Max: Fury Road and many others.

In my previous Learning Houdini Journal 08, I continued my learning of the materials and rendering process in Houdini. I created a shader from scratch and applied them with tweaks to the race car model that is the main prop in my Intro to Houdini 15 from pluralsight.com, which I'm using as my initial start in learning houdini 15.

Animation in Houdini 15
Although the Houdini 15 manual begins the animation process by describing the traditional pose-to-pose and straight-ahead animation styles, the instructor of the Intro to Houdini 15 at pluralsight.com has decided to start in a different way and I like it a lot.

Mr. Moncrief gives you the basics of keyframe pose-to-pose by using a box and a plane and then showing you how Houdini 15 uses the translate and rotate attributes to create the animation on the timeline. It's a little clumsy compared to other 3D applications I've used, but still effective. The difference is the Mr. Moncrief wants you to see that this style of animation for the project we are doing (the racecar) is much too time consuming. What he wants to introduce you to is Dynamic Animation in Houdini.

dynamic animation

Dynamic Animation
Dynamic Animation in Houdini is essentially using the real-world dynamics system in Houdini to create a RBD (rigid body dynamic) object (the box) and a static object (the plane), then let Houdini run the animation like you were dropping a box with gravity on the ground in the real world: much, much faster and more realistic animation.

Then after you have set up the basic box drop, you can go inside of the parameters of the box adjust the friction, bounce and velocity of the object to get it to look the way you want it to.

Under the hood (in the node network) it becomes very complicated, although still intuitive. I'm not sure I understand all of the networks involved in this part of the dynamics system in Houdini and I'll need to watch the video in the Intro course several times to get it down.

Next: More animation lessons in Houdini 15!

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