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Musetatron

AAA Production quality character animation in houdini?

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    I am new to houdini. I just play with it for 30 min and I think this software operation make much more sense compare to Maya (exept vertex pushing/pulling) . The GUI is clean and logical. Everything flow nicely that I consider using it as my main app.

    The problem is I want to do realistic character animation. Can anyone some example of  ridiculously amazing character animation made entirely in houdini? Or is it just not efficient to do CA in houdini compare to Maya?

    Sorry if this like app vs app thread. I just want to know if anyone doing CA in houdini for a living at all.

 

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Character animation has absolutely nothing to do with software, but the artist...

Houdini has the potential to create some amazing rigs which animators could use, but I'm unaware of any major studio using it for animation, only a few small boutiques. But that's purely down to pipelines and animators being used to something and don't want to learn a new package, rather than Houdini not being good enough for it.

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      I am a beginner in 3D so I don't have much choice except to follow what other has done. Maya is production proven CA app. There is loads of tutorial and script on CA anound the web. But it's hell to work with if I don't have TD friends near me. I cried many time redoing all the work because of some stupid error(which I guess because I don't know maya well enough). It has too many pitfall to fall.

     But in my situation of doing CA, guess I am stucked in the Mayan-labyrinth for a while until I master all the rigging technique from maya tutorials out there, then transfer those skill to houdini.

Edited by Musetatron

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That's a fair call. Make sure to do some Computer Science on-line courses too; as all programs run on a compute, the more you understand that tool, the better the 3d artist you will be.

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Houdini has the potential to create some amazing rigs which animators could use, but I'm unaware of any major studio using it for animation, only a few small boutiques.

People keep saying that yet I haven't seen a single rigging tutorial. Not even a hip file :(

- there's that for Maya. It's start to finish, a wonderful course that gives you all the basics. And with Houdini you get a bunch of prebuilt assets consisting of tons of nodes grabbing data from each-other. I spent an entire day reading the help file and browsing through the network of a leg rig. As much as I hate saying it, I learnt nothing. I've had more success dissecting the pyro solver than trying to understand how I'm supposed to approach rigging in Houdini ;/

 

I don't mean to sound disrespectful but in my opinion SideFx would do great if they were to do a basic tutorial on that rather than showing us how to deform tubes or add noise to volumes :(

 

Doh. I'm just whining. Excuse me.

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Guest mantragora

People keep saying that yet I haven't seen a single rigging tutorial. Not even a hip file :(

 

Maybe you didn't looked hard enough?

 

http://www.3dbuzz.com/training/bundle/houdini-rigging-bundle

http://www.3dbuzz.com/training/view/h9-advanced-character-rigging/character-setup-limb-control

http://www.3dbuzz.com/training/view/houdini-character-rigging-2/spinal-setup-control

 

There is more than enough knowledge in these to get you started.

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I don't mean to sound disrespectful but in my opinion SideFx would do great if they were to do a basic tutorial on that rather than showing us how to deform tubes or add noise to volumes :(

 

I've noticed with H14 SESI released a ton/tonne of short tutorials that express features quickly - It'd be worth writing a Request Feature Enhancement for this to them; especially as Autodesk goes subscription only soon and most people want to escape from that!

 

RFE link.

http://www.sidefx.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=768&Itemid=239

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Guest mantragora

...  especially as Autodesk goes subscription only soon and most people want to escape from that!...

 

You mean that people really don't want to pay for one year of Maya subscription (2000 euro with VAT) to which they would also had to add around 3 plugins (each costs more than $800) and instead they prefer to spend this amount of money to get Houdini Indie + Substance Designer/Painter Indie + Zbrush + Modo + buy couple new parts to their computers + add to this pack free UE4 + Unity? (And that will probably cost even less than 1 year of Maya + 3 plugins)

 

But who am I kidding. You can't do 3D without Maya. Right?

EDIT:

Of yeah, I forgot to add FREE Fusion to this pack:

Houdini Indie + Substance Designer/Painter Indie + Zbrush + Modo + buy couple new parts to their computers + add to this pack free UE4 + Unity

EDIT2:

And FREE Visual Studio Community.

Edited by mantragora
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Maybe you didn't looked hard enough?

There is more than enough knowledge in these to get you started.

You're the second person I've seen recommend them so far despite them being quite old. I guess I'll grab a subscription to check them out after all. Thanks.

 

@marty, yes, I just sent them a request. And knowing how busy they are, I feel like a complete douche >.> Either way, I'll check those 3DBuzz tuts out.

 

 

// you forgot the Indie version of Mari which is dirt cheap :P

Edited by Georgie

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Guest mantragora

You're the second person I've seen recommend them so far despite them being quite old. I guess I'll grab a subscription to check them out after all. Thanks.

Tools didn't changed since then soo...

// you forgot the Indie version of Mari which is dirt cheap :P

Yeah, but I'm not sure what they allow you to do with Mari Indie. With Houdini/Substance Indie versions you get full software + $100K limit. Do you have the same with Mari Indie or is it some limited version with ton of restrictions?

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You mean that people really don't want to pay for one year of Maya subscription (2000 euro with VAT) to which they would also had to add around 3 plugins (each costs more than $800) and instead they prefer to spend this amount of money to get Houdini Indie + Substance Designer/Painter Indie + Zbrush + Modo + buy couple new parts to their computers + add to this pack free UE4 + Unity? (And that will probably cost even less than 1 year of Maya + 3 plugins)

 

But who am I kidding. You can't do 3D without Maya. Right?

 

Even though we are fully houdini based right now, to balance the scales I have to say your math doesn't seem quite right. You can't compare Houdini indie and Maya (Maya Lite would be more appropriate), but besides that. I would actually much prefer Sesi going to subscription pricing, especially if there were some more affordable options for monthly and quarterly rentals. If you want to be up to date with software you're paying yearly anyways, however on a rental basis you can easily scale up and down and projects come and go. Even better, you can easily budget for software, because you know exactly how much 5 licenses cost for the duration of the project, rather than buying a bulk of licenses and having a bunch of them idle if you need to scale down following months. 

 

As sad as I am saying it, we are actually considering switching many parts of production back to maya, mainly for costs reasons (and character animation tools, which are far ahead in maya, just to link it back to this topic). But yes if Indie is enough for you, then you're absolutely right. 

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Guest mantragora

Even though we are fully houdini based right now, to balance the scales I have to say your math doesn't seem quite right. You can't compare Houdini indie and Maya (Maya Lite would be more appropriate), but besides that.

From House perspective it may be not. But from perspective of a freelancer it's perfectly correct. Hover I do the math, Maya is a shitty option for me.

That depends on a company type, but with Houdini Engine you could leave those Maya parts and use it to fill the gap. I don't think that forcing everyone to go Houdini is a good choice. Doing so you will produce many frustrated people. Nodes are not the best option for everyone. Just like Maya messy interface with its scripting nightmare.

Edited by mantragora

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I don't think that forcing everyone to go Houdini is a good choice. Doing so you will produce many frustrated people. Nodes are not the best option for everyone. Just like Maya messy interface with its scripting nightmare.

 

I absolutely agree with this. Animators don't touch nodes almost at all, that would be mayhem. With well packaged rigs and tweaked (simplified) animation layout, all animators who tried is so far actually enjoyed it a lot. There are some issues of course (reusing animation, viewport speeds etc.), but overall every maya/max animator who we had to try it, was animating within a day, without moaning too much. Quite the opposite, they love fetch and blend nodes. It's very easy for them to switch spaces for anything.

 

Modelling is of course completely outside Hou. I don't need a bunch of modellers on antidepressants  :wacko: .

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Just to add something to thread. First of all, I don't think it is only about nodes-or-not -nodes. Nodes are present everywhere today, in Blender or Modo too. Obviously, not for everything. Somehow, it seems that nodal, flexible approach fits better into setups for long, 'flat' execution, like rendering or simulation, maybe not for a lot of small interventions, all the time, like animation or non- procedural modeling. When animating, I'd like to have my parachute as well packed as possible, with as much smaller number of controls.

But, animating is not the only activity related to characters. For small example from field, I'd believe I know very well. I'm running a small hair system, solely based on Softimage ICE - I've heard a ton of complaints about it, but no one about nodes itself. Through releases, main work was related to make it as much 'clean' in eye of artist, still keeping the ICE speed. Also, ICE structure, with recognizable logic ( in eye of artist, again), helped a lot to keep it alive thorough the years. I can say much more about this, but let's say it short: in ICE and this small system, user is able to do everything in single network, without diving into nodes, each parameter has a connectable input for another node - all that without writing a single letter, except name.

That said, I think 'without writing a single letter, except name' is especially important. Let's say that Modo, as an reference of artist friendly app, has nodes - but it's also very strict when it comes to forbidding the expressions in GUI.

 

Anyway, about Houdini and characters, I think it's much more about overall, of app which is more an platform, from top to bottom created to please to TDs, with small user base, without recognizable tradition when it comes to animation, with a lot of unusual solutions.

 

Just personally,  my reasons for leaving the key-frame animation and characters to Softimage, most likely Maya in future:

1: Unique implementation of constraints in Houdini. In H constraint seems to be just and additive to local SRT. In Softimage and Maya, it's 'weighted override", plus there's nice option  for 'baking by keys' of constrained animation, back to local SRT. I have habit to use this on the fly, during animation process. It's not ideal method, but I have it in muscle memory.

2: Some CHOPs looks like created more for simple hierarchies, not for characters. Lag CHOP, if I'm correct, works on local SRT. Motion FX creates an entire chain of SRT compensations, just to make to to work.

3: It's not procedural enough, compared to Sotimage ICE. 'Capture' attribute is not directly usable by other SOPs, While in ICE, making the custom envelope ( skin ) deformer, belongs to beginner - intermediate level.

4. General dispersion of info all around. In Max or Blender, noise modifier over function curve is nicely displayed in animation editor, while H CHOP equivalent opens the new window, leaving me to compute... manually. Constant diving and switching through networks, where I have to open the node parameters, just to find *on what* this thing is applied. Much harder to live, compared to Maya.

 

On flip side, Mantra itself seems to be fascinating enough, for few years of rendering experiments, SOP modeling nodes are small ecosystems,  finally all that solvers in H. "Small charming beast" called Maya LT, is affordable and perfectly fits over not-so-strength H features, Houdini import is better than anything. So, no big deal to delay the 'character in Houdini" theme, for a while...
 

Edited by amm

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Even though we are fully houdini based right now, to balance the scales I have to say your math doesn't seem quite right. You can't compare Houdini indie and Maya (Maya Lite would be more appropriate), but besides that. I would actually much prefer Sesi going to subscription pricing, especially if there were some more affordable options for monthly and quarterly rentals. If you want to be up to date with software you're paying yearly anyways, however on a rental basis you can easily scale up and down and projects come and go. Even better, you can easily budget for software, because you know exactly how much 5 licenses cost for the duration of the project, rather than buying a bulk of licenses and having a bunch of them idle if you need to scale down following months. 

 

As sad as I am saying it, we are actually considering switching many parts of production back to maya, mainly for costs reasons (and character animation tools, which are far ahead in maya, just to link it back to this topic). But yes if Indie is enough for you, then you're absolutely right. 

 

 

I think that houdini can achieve fantastic rig but after some study including watching 3dbuzz tutorials i still think maya is a better choice for animation pipeline for the following reason.

- the most important point is interaction with the UI for the animators, i simply find maya more confortable and better for operation with lot of interaction

- sesi is pushing essentially fx for now, until there are no true desire from sesi to bring the best animation package i prefer to stick with maya

- most of the best riggers are working with maya

- animators love to work with maya and they run away when i said it would be cool to animate in H

- going the painful road of going against the flow is justify only when the tool you learn and integrate is far better than the current standard

 

when i will see custom rig like those in H

 

it will be the time for a change. :)

Edited by sebkaine
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Modelling is of course completely outside Hou. I don't need a bunch of modellers on antidepressants  :wacko: .

 

You know that this will be changing ya? My current guesstimate is that next year we will be modelling Houdini; that's the best window of opportunity to satisfy the XSI users that want to flee AD.

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    As I have gather from this topic. It's sad there's no real alternative to maya in the serious CA line of work right now. University teach maya because of job position count.  Making tutorial for maya make more money. Writing script for maya sell more. Making a blog about maya get more view count. It's like the full ecosystem of money revolve around maya. Autodesk take advantage of this fact and release under developed/buggy maya  because they know people will have no chice..

    I'm  new to this 3d business so I don't know if i'm being too negative or if Autodesk is that bad. As far as I gather from Cgtalk they don't hate maya as  the foundry or reddit forum. I don't know why though.

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i still think that 3 main branch of people have to live together in CG

- the artist , who hate tons of buttons everywhere , and who essentially want to focus on pretty pictures and create in the most straight forward way

- the tds, who love technics and art and who really love to go down to the metal of the machine to build impressive assets and pictures

- the R&D guys who just focus on the API and the workflow and want to bring the best tool ever.

 

Maya unfortunatly was the only one with XSI before AD kill it to fulfill the need of those 3 categories. Now i would said that none of the 3D software are satisfying

for the 3 categories. Maya is now really has been for TD's and Houdini is still not on par with Maya / Modo / Max for artistic stuff.

 

I honestly think that it's nearly impossible to make artist and TD happy in the same package , because what they love and want is full of antagonism.

 

I think trying to make Houdini a user friendly app has a risk of loosing the reason why we love it as Nerds.

 

In CG talk i've said previously that imo the best way to solve this for sessi would be to split houdini in 2 package with the same core but with a very different UI.

Houdini Artist => would be a tool very simple and very user friendly which would only be a place to interact with OTL

Houdini Core => would be the toolbox where TD and R&D guys assemble tools for artist

 

In the logic, it's exactly what SESI is doing with Houdini Engine inside Maya , but in that case we would load OTL into a software which has

- the exact same core structure than houdini

- an UI very close to softimage which was a masterpiece of fast and efficient workflow choice

- hide / offuscate all the complex stuff of houdini that are useless from an OTL user pov.

 

Trying to make TD's and Artist happy inside the same UI is trying to make compromise beetween people who have often radical opposite view.

Giving to those people an UI that is think to blend exactly with their mind is the best way imo and having 2 flavor of houdini would be the best choice.

- one that look like XSI / Modo

- one that look exactly how  houdini is actually :)

 

While Houdini Master (FX) is now becoming the standard in many companies. Houdini Escape is not so much use and the area it cover modeling / animation / rendering

doesn't look to be very popular in reality. Make a lot of work on houdini escape with:

- price tag on par with maya and renting model more flexible +

- a refund of the UI that would follow a switch of paradigm from a technical eyes pov to an artist eye pov ,

would be a great way to compet with Maya imo.

Edited by sebkaine

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