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Houdini Mid/Senior FX TD - Necessary Skills

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It's a little bit of a how-long-is-a-piece-of-string question.


I've spent around 6-7 years now gradually augmenting more and more of my workflow with Houdini, to the point where as of the start of this year I stopped using Naiad, and moved over to using Houdini exclusively for all of my work.  Before that, I fumbled around for about 4 years using Maya exclusively, trying to find my calling.  (At first, I was convinced I would be a character-rigger... hah!)


I'd consider myself senior when it comes to fluid sim, and varying levels from senior down to complete novice for everything else.


I have essentially no formal programming education/training, and I've never used the HDK.  My pure math skills are distinctly sub-degree level (although Dot and Cross Products are now my lifelong friends).  I know enough hscript to get by, and I'm only just starting to get my head around vex and python.

I would say that I have a comprehensive skill-base in Houdini, and good problem solving ability.  But obviously there are aspects that I would be completely useless at.




Houdini is just one of those packages that can and will take anyone a lifetime to come close to "mastering", and of course, the state of the art will inexorably move ahead of you the whole time.

You don't really become senior... you just become *more* senior.


To be honest, what feeling of seniority I have feels like it's far more attributable to my increasing confidence in my abilities, rather than the abilities themselves.  I sometimes look back at stuff I did 6 years ago, and it's often just as inventive and complex as what I'm doing now.  I just know how to more effectively apply those abilities to attain results quicker and more consistently now.


I guess if I went by that metric, and as much as I love Houdini, I'd say that becoming a Senior FX TD means the same thing no matter what package you train in.  Houdini just happens to be the best tool for the job in a lot of cases, so a lot of experienced TDs tend to gravitate towards it (and maybe kick themselves for not paying it more attention when their tutor introduced them to it way back at University :-P)

Edited by danw
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It all vfx disciplines:


Mid level: up to almost as skilled as Senior but might not be able to deliver the work without assistance.


Senior: No excuses to not deliver what was promised and able to execute to levels at the top of the industry. 

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Lead, Senior, Supervisor etc often have a non-technical component...can you run a group of other artists etc...

I know lots of people who are better TDs than I am but either can't or don't want to have those kinds of responsabilities....

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