Welcome to the Houdini Page!
No, I’m not referring to the magician / escape artist, but the software created by the Side Effects company.
For over twenty years Side Effects has been providing artists with procedural 3D animation and visual effects tools designed to create the highest-quality cinematic results.
I’ve been tinkering with Houdini on the side since around 1999. I’ve never understood anything (or much anyway) of it, but I’ve always been fascinated by both Side Effects as a company and their products, not to mention what those that really knows the software produces with it! Mind-blowing!.
I remember back when I purchased a Houdini Apprentice HD license for version 9 i believe, the customer support and follow up from the company compared to something like Adobe or Autodesk, it’s simply two different worlds! It was the step up from the free version, costing like $99 I think, and still enjoyed the same service as if I’d been a Houdini Master (now Houdini FX) customer paying $4.500 a license!
A (too) short introduction to Side Effects Software
In the beginning there were two: Kim Davidson and Greg Hermanovic – animation enthusiasts with a flair for UNIX coding.
In 1985 they joined Omnibus, a pioneering company in the then emerging world of computer graphics. They immersed themselves in production, writing their own software and creating visual effects for film and broadcast.
PRISMS are born!
In 1987, with an opportunity to bring 3D graphics to a wider audience, Davidson and Hermanovic created Side Effects Software and released PRISMS. Developed and rigorously tested in production, PRISMS was a procedural graphics application which would lay the groundwork for Houdini.
Many versions and re-writes later…
Now in version 14, Houdini is a well integrated tool in many parts of the CGI industry.
Many consider Houdini only to be a high-end VFX solution that takes years to master. This is not the case. Houdini’s 100% procedural approach to anything from modeling a box to creating an ocean simulation has made it more and more popular as both a general tool platform, now supporting what is known as Houdini Assets that may be both created and shared by competent artists and TD’s and incorporated directly into a pipeline consisting of other tools, like Autodesk Maya and Unreal Engine. This is possible through the use of the Houdini Engine, a plugin available for a growing number of 3D content creation packages.
Who uses Houdini?
Companies all over the world are using various bits of the vast Houdini Package to deliver professional results in a timely manner. Here is a short and by no means complete list of some of them:
Side Effects Software has twice been recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences for Houdini and its breakthrough procedural based technology. In addition, Academy Awards have been given to many films which relied on Houdini for the creation of their visual effects.
Side Effects is also committed to the growth of skills in the industry as demonstrated by the Houdini Apprentice program that gives digital artists the chance to build skills and create demo-reel content using Houdini free of charge.
What many people don’t know is that both the creators of Blender 3D and Softimage XSI (Now abandoned Autodesk project) was influenced by early versions of Houdini 3D, and share more commonalities than one could imagine.
So, even though it’s not completely free (except from the mentioned Apprentice edt.) you only have to part with $199 to get a version of Houdini FX that you can use for both commercial and non-commercial projects, only limited by the Full HD resolution on exported animations. On still renders there are no such limits.
Considering the regular full price for the product the Houdini Indie version is a bargain.
Here is a show-reel demonstrating some of the Houdini powers, and most of this is rendered using the built-in Mantra renderer.