Learning Houdini Journal 23: Bookshelf Tutorial & Houdini News

Aug 17, 2016 at 10:21 pm by -gToon

This is the twenty-third entry of 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 22, I worked through the first two lessons in a series of modeling tutorials from [gametutor.com](http://www.gametutor.com/live/home-live/), which has a particularly good focus on the Houdini to Unity game pipeline. In this journal, I will finish out the lessons and complete the tutorial. I'll also cover some of the very cool news I got while attending the recent Siggraph conference where Side Effects announced coming updates to Houdini

Gametutor.com Tutorial: Adding the Shelves, Adding the Books. Finished Project
This particular tutorial is for beginners and is just under an hour long and consists of 5 lessons. I finished the intro and first lesson, which was primarily getting the work environment in Houdini set up.

Basically, at this point it's a matter of using expressions (you really have to learn expressions to make Houdini sing) and copy/transform nodes to create the shelves. From there it becomes a bit complex as far as getting the books done. The process consists of utilizing previous nodes and copying them to get the dimensions and functions right. A box node that uses the points already created gets you past the first step.

One particular node that was new to me in this process was the "foreach" node. Here's what the Houdini documentation says about the "foreach node":

This operator has two main functions:

For Each Group/Attribute: Break the input geometry into pieces that correspond to each group or attribute value and run the SOPs on each piece. The result is then merged together to form the output.

For Each Number: Repeat the set of SOPs a set number of times, feeding the result of each iteration back to the start.These effects are achieved with the help of the Each SOP which will handle the culling
of the geometry or the acquiring of the feedback geometry. Add new SOPs after the Each SOP inside the subnet.

In the case of the bookshelf, we select foreach primitive/point we remove some and transform (thickness, etc.) others to become the bookshelf geometries we need for the bookshelf. Sounds complex, but it really works well when you are looking at the attributes of the node. Finally, skipping to the end of the tutorial we have the parametric bookshelf that is a digital asset so you can change the size of the bookshelf and all of the books adjust accordingly.

In total, the tutorial takes about 30 minutes, but adding to this is time spent on research and fixing mistakes, so the total is about 1.5 hours. I really like the tutorials at Gametutor.com and recommend them especially for those who want to use Houdini Apprentice to create digital assets for a Unity game project.

Houdini Siggraph Road Map
Side Effects had presenters at their Siggraph booth for several days. I attended several and enjoyed them very much. However, the final presentation on Wednesday, August XX, was by XX and it covered the future plans for Houdini 16 and beyond. Side Effects spends considerable time working with their customers and uses this valuable feedback to carefully plan future updates/improvements to Houdini.

One addition to Houdini that has been requested by users is in the modeling and animation areas. Future additions to Houdini include robust updates to animation including easy rigging of characters. Another update will focus on making nodes easier to work with and visualize in the application. And these are only a few improvements that were proposed. If you'd like to watch the full presentation, it's available below or at SideFX Vimeo channel here.

Houdini Roadmap Presentation | SIGGRAPH 2016 from Go Procedural on Vimeo.

Next up: Time to start working on my own projects in Houdini!

Sections: Tips + Tutorials

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