In Part 2 (no really this time) of the ‘Houdini: You’re Learning It Wrong’ series, Matt covers the technical pitfalls, workflow and incorrect assumptions people make when jumping from another package (eg Maya) to Houdini.
1) Houdini Spreadsheet vs Maya Outliner
2) Points vs verticies
3) Understanding contexts: don’t get confused by the diving up and down
4) Template vs display vs output nodes vs null vs capital letter nodes
5) Attributes at different levels, points vs verts vs prims
6) Tab menu, first letter of nodes trick
7) Tab in viewport vs tab in network editor
8) Shift enter to auto connect new nodes
9) All in one vs lots of obj nodes: pros and cons
10) Network boxes are evil – use colour and sticky notes instead
11) HDA’s vs Maya references: how they’re similar, how they can be used to construct scenes, impose order
12) Attributes vs baked maps
13) Manual layout vs clever (the @P.x += @ptnum*check(‘spread’) example)
14) Not everything needs sim, do as little sim as you can
15) Time dependency: be aware of it, use it to your advantage
16) Do everything in the one package vs rig and animate elsewhere, bring caches into Houdini
17) Network topology like a map you navigate, get familiar with vs containerised stuff that’s often a hindrance
18) Over VEXing things, over proceduralism
19) Less python!
20) Stop reading copy stamp tutorials
21) Crashes and bugs are probably you, until it isn’t. Initially you blame yourself, but over time you can start to identify when it’s Houdini being weird. Give it about 2 months.
22) When attributes can drive sop parameters, when they can’t, how to know in advance (per point/prim vs global control, generally don’t try)
HOUDINI FILES: https://sidefx.co/2DtuKDT
Matt Estela is VFX Lead in Residence at The Animal Logic Academy, University of Technology Sydney. He teaches VFX and VR as part of a Masters of Animation and Visualization. Matt also maintains CGWiki, a popular website for Houdini training, and prior to UTS spent nearly 10 years at Animal Logic in Lighting, FX and CG supervisor roles.