First commercial done in Houdini

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Werner
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First commercial done in Houdini

Post by Werner » 15 Jun 2016, 08:52

Hi guys.

Just wanted to share our first Houdini commercial.

Don't go to hard on us. This was a good learning experience, and we had so much fun doing it.

We had the characters from previous commercials, but everything else was done in Houdini. Fire away if you have any questions.


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Rork
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Re: First commercial done in Houdini

Post by Rork » 15 Jun 2016, 09:07

Hi Werner,

That looks pretty good in my book ;)
I think Houdini was also the logical choice for all the snow effects I guess. They look great.

Now you switched from SI to H, can you tell what problems, difficulties or differences were most hard to tackle, coming from SI.
And how did your workflow change regarding animation, rendering etc.

cheers,

rob
SI UI tutorials: Toolbar http://goo.gl/iYOL0l | Custom Layout http://goo.gl/6iP5xQ | RenderManager View http://goo.gl/b4ZkjQ

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Werner
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Re: First commercial done in Houdini

Post by Werner » 15 Jun 2016, 13:48

Thanks Rork. Glad you like it. \:D/

I think the biggest problem we experienced was to let go of Softimage project structures and workflows. :)
Luckily most artists on the team was super positive and very happy to move over.

Houdini is a file referencing system and should be used as one. Once we started to bake out geo and animation, everything went allot better.
The non destructive nature of Houdini is bind bending, and it will be hard to use anything else again.

Here are some pros and cons during the project...

pro
- modeling was not as hard or bad as everybody made it out to be. We love the node history and made tweaking models super easy.
- Overall navigation now feels more friendly than Softimage. We love how every part of Houdini looks and behaves the same as the next...not like Maya. :ymsick:
- animation was quick and easy to get into. Our animators did submit some smaller RFE's to Sidefx, but nothing big.
- Hip File sizes are small because everything is read and referenced from disk.
- Lighting was fun. The environment made it simple but we were impressed by the viewport and light quality.
- FX stuff is amazing. VDB's rock, but basic repetitive particle setups with randomization could be easier (like ICE).
- Overall non destructive tools and workflow that kills anything Softimage can do.

cons
- Can't transform objects or components independently in local mode. Hope they can get this in by H16, because it is a big one for me.
- Creating complex rigged HDA's was trail and error. Not enough info out there, but we learned allot.
- Not enough time spent on shaders and materials. This is one area we need to learn lots more.
- Stylesheets interface needs work...it's powerful bu fairly new, so more work needs to be done in this area.
- Time was divided between doing the job and learning how stuff works. Next one will be better.


I will add to the list if I remember more.

Thanks again for the kind words.

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Rork
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Re: First commercial done in Houdini

Post by Rork » 15 Jun 2016, 14:29

Hi Werner,

It seems most pro's and con's are similar for us 'Softies' ;)
Having spend most of the last year in Maya (and setting up a new pipeline for it), the move to Houdini file wise isn't that different.
Lot's of external and referenced files, so that was easily translated to something for H.

And the two Houdini projects last year were mostly shading/rendering related.

My biggest thing with H still is that it feels like 'Inception' a lot of times. Nodes, inside nodes, inside nodes, inside nodes and no real visual clue for it.
And the UI/workflow needs some more 'artist' love, it's still too technical. Yes, the stylesheets thing is a good example.
That also goes with the way you access the nodes. It's nice to be able to pipe in formulas all over the place, but with ICE its more convenient and easier to set up.

What does blow my mind is the flexibility. e.g. Import a model, grab some geo of it, blast it into a separate piece, import that into a new node, start remodeling/add stuff, shatter, do Bullet FX on top, and still being able to go back in and redo things at the beginning. :)

So.. rendering. Did you use Mantra, or Arnold?
And how did you do the 'trees on mountain' scattering? I haven't found a way that is as easy as in ICE. So many ways to skin a cat in H :(
Would love to have my old workflow translated to H, and maybe make a HDA out of it.

cheers for any more on this, very interesting stuff :)

rob
SI UI tutorials: Toolbar http://goo.gl/iYOL0l | Custom Layout http://goo.gl/6iP5xQ | RenderManager View http://goo.gl/b4ZkjQ

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MauricioPC
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Re: First commercial done in Houdini

Post by MauricioPC » 15 Jun 2016, 14:47

No complains from me. Great work!

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FXDude
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Re: First commercial done in Houdini

Post by FXDude » 15 Jun 2016, 15:51

Nothwisthstanding any Houdini reservations, The result is indeed excellent!

Congratz and very good work!

NNois
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Re: First commercial done in Houdini

Post by NNois » 15 Jun 2016, 16:39

Cool, great job !
Rork wrote: And how did you do the 'trees on mountain' scattering? I haven't found a way that is as easy as in ICE. So many ways to skin a cat in H :(
Would love to have my old workflow translated to H, and maybe make a HDA out of it.
Here is a live example on how we can scatter trees in Houdini, that's pretty similar to Softimage IMO.
It's not my thread so here is a like to the picture, let me know if you want the hip
https://www.dropbox.com/s/suyf2xe9x7h4b ... r.jpg?dl=0

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Werner
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Re: First commercial done in Houdini

Post by Werner » 15 Jun 2016, 17:52

Thanks again guys.

Rork, scattering objects is super easy.
We set up density attributes and use the paint SOP to isolate areas where we want it. Then you pipe that into a
scatter SOP using the density attribute. Now you just use a copy SOP to instance the trees on them. Randomization can happen with the Attribute Randomize or copy stamping. Let me know if you want a example hip file.

We used Mantra for rendering. Another area where I feel we need to improve on, but time will tell.
After the Solidangle/Autodesk news, we decided to focus on Mantra.
Render nodes are unlimited, so that is a massive bonus.

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Rez007
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Re: First commercial done in Houdini

Post by Rez007 » 15 Jun 2016, 18:35

You and your team did a really great job! Nice work and thank you for the info too.

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Mathaeus
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Re: First commercial done in Houdini

Post by Mathaeus » 15 Jun 2016, 21:03

Great work! So, snow is based on volume shaders, 'uniform volume' or something? Also, if "Creating complex rigged HDA's " means creating HDAs with CHOPS inside, would be great if team is able to share some info, tips, small tutorial, whatever. This summer I'm planning to streamline some rigging - deformation Houdini work from last year, any info from "reality" is welcome.
The renderer "turtle" used by this scene, is not currently available. The "turtle" renderer will be used instead.

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Werner
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Re: First commercial done in Houdini

Post by Werner » 15 Jun 2016, 22:32

Thanks.

Mathaeus
The snow emission was allot of fun to do.
I used VOPs to calculate the reflection angle between the base normals of the snowbaords to the N of snow slope. This gave me velocity angles for particles which was multiplied with the velocity of the boards moving forward. Vel was then transferred to the particles to drive them based on snowboard angle and speed.
Very similar to something like this done by someone else... https://vimeo.com/157520096
Once cached, I then converted the millions of particles to VDB from particles. Then converted this to mesh and used billowy smoke as a shader. Extra particles was rendered with various size fractured objects copied as packed primitives to add to the course snow effect. In Mantra we had 1 bounce to scatter light in the volume.

The snow slope geometry was deformed with attribute transfer of red colour and ray SOP inside a SOP solver. Nothing special here...same as Softimage footstep setup.

I will ask the riggers to give me feedback on HDA problems the had. I know they had some character picker setup problems inside HDA's but that seems to be sorted now. We finished another short commercial which I can't show until it goes live, but this time the HDA's were done better....with FEM cloth simulation. It worked out well I think.

Now I hope to get the team up and beyond our previous quality level. This can only be done over time once people can be creative again without having to learn basics while working on tight deadlines. In the mean time I've downloaded 3dCoat trail. :) Between this and Houdini I feel like a kid again. :-B

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Rork
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Re: First commercial done in Houdini

Post by Rork » 16 Jun 2016, 09:44

@NNois: Thanks for the setup example, will have a look at that. Sharing of the .hip file is always good in these threads. ;)

@Werner: Interesting stuff on the snow. It's very nice to see how you picked up H, and ran with it.
How was Mantra regarding rendertimes? It's often named as slow, but I have the feeling it's more sensitive to proper settings, as with MR.
Personally I'm still waiting for Solidangle to release the new version of Arnold, so it can be used in H15.5. They just released a new core, so it can't be long now.
It will be nice to make some comparisons.

Just keep the info coming, it's really nice to see the work after a successful transition away from AD ;)

rob
SI UI tutorials: Toolbar http://goo.gl/iYOL0l | Custom Layout http://goo.gl/6iP5xQ | RenderManager View http://goo.gl/b4ZkjQ

NNois
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Re: First commercial done in Houdini

Post by NNois » 16 Jun 2016, 10:50

Rork wrote:@NNois: Thanks for the setup example, will have a look at that. Sharing of the .hip file is always good in these threads. ;)
Here is it, that's exactly the same thing Werner was speaking, but the randomisation is done via VOP (the ICE way), note I added a slider to blend between using Y or the normal of the polygon as a starting point of the orientation.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/2tunwl0wa8ylu ... hipnc?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/suyf2xe9x7h4b ... r.jpg?dl=0

In my point of view Mantra win over Arnold, with Mantra you massively get a real interactive render view even if you edit the geo etc !!
How many time you push the button "Destroy Scene" in Arnold ???? sadly if you go to the Arnold route you keep that unproductive thing...
To add a point for Mantra, he has the exact same quality of Arnold, plus he has the Disney shader ;-).

The cons of Mantra is IMO:
- Effectively a little slower than Arnold, just a little. To be balanced with the time you win in lookdeving with it with the unbeatable integration.
- You can add to that a little clunky way of working with shaders : with mantra you don't start with nothing like in arnold where you put a standard etc. With mantra you pickup Uber Materials, like a Surface material or a Principled material, great but... if you want to edit it, the network under it is so dense you just can't. So you have to force you Starting with a blank shader (Surface shader builder) and build it from scratch and put your "Standard" (called Surface Shader or Principled Shader) and plug it to the output. This takes only 5sec but you have to work this way if you are used to work with shading network in softimage ;-)
Last edited by NNois on 17 Jun 2016, 10:45, edited 2 times in total.

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Rork
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Re: First commercial done in Houdini

Post by Rork » 16 Jun 2016, 11:18

@NNois: cheers for that! Already learned a trick or two looking through your scene :)

rob

Edit, replaced the paint with bounding box selections, and set up two sets of trees :)
It all starts to make perfect sense now.

Image

P.S. Back to the original thread ;)
SI UI tutorials: Toolbar http://goo.gl/iYOL0l | Custom Layout http://goo.gl/6iP5xQ | RenderManager View http://goo.gl/b4ZkjQ