Who is the target user base for Houdini? Has it changed over the years?
Bill Self: Our target user base has evolved over the years. Traditionally, our customers have largely been in the business of creating animation and visual effects for feature films and commercial work. In more recent years we've noticed that many of our customers are using Houdini for game development, and with that we've seen a real opportunity to better serve their needs by connecting Houdini with game engines via the Houdini Engine.
With Houdini Indie, we've also made Houdini more accessible to smaller studios and freelancers whose businesses are in still in their early stages.
Houdini has a rep for being difficult to use: is this really true? Why do you think this rep has spread?
Houdini has an openness to its architecture that allows advanced users to push it beyind the limits. We can see how this can imtimidate newcomers, but we've also worked very hard to make Houdini's user interface one that is friendly to all. The shelf tools enable artists to quickly set up a shot and we have also implemented a more familiar user interface for users coming to Houdini from other software packages. Today there is also a great wealth of learning materials available to learn Houdini with created from a wide variety of sources including us Side Effects, third party online educators, classroom educators, and community tutorials.
Are there indie filmmakers you can recommend who use Houdini?
I strongly suggest that you check out the Monstro! from Toonlets Animation. Every shot in this short film was created using Houdini in some capacity (rendering, rigging, animating, hair, cloth, water, smoke, lightning... and a very small crew.
What was the goal in developing Houdini R15?
With this release, we felt it was important to enhance the modeling, rendering, and animation tools in order to make it friendlier to generalists, game artists, animators, and lighters. Of course we are always working to tighten and improve Houdini's complete toolset in order to make it faster and more efficient, and many improvements along these lines have been implemented in Houdini 15, with for example Distributed VFX which allows complex data-heavy simulations to be broken into chunks and processed on multiple machines.
Can you tell me a little about Houdini documentation?
Houdini documentation has always been embedded in the software via an embedded web browser. More recently we have introduced an additional in-Houdini feature called WebKit Support which is another means of making media-rich documentation more immediately accessible to the artist.
Houdini is an advanced procedural modeling, animation, effects, simulation, rendering and compositing package. You can download the free Apprentice version of Houdini 15 at the company's website.