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Hey guys!


I'm approaching my senior year at University and I've been trying to think of a project I can start on, or a procedural system/tool I can create in order impress recruiters. My instructors don't know much about dynamics/Houdini in general since they have experience in other fields, so I'm not able to get any feedback as to what VFX recruiters look for in a Demo Reel. I have multiple projects I've completed but none that I feel really stand out. If you've had experience in the industry I'd love to hear some insight as to what makes a great dynamics reel, and any project ideas/challenges would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

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There's environment FX and character FX. Depending on which one you like to do I can suggest different directions.

The first: A house getting blown up and catching fire then it gets washed away by water. (differentiated rigid bodies, pyro, water)

The second: Create a groom or two for a furry/hairy and dress them in 2/3 different styles. (cloth, fur, hair)

Pick one. Either way you've covered all your bases.


Don't stress what recruiters are specifically looking for. They're looking for whatever their current show needs, and they're not going to tell you ahead of time and you would never have enough time to demonstrate that by the time they're done crewing up. It's just luck for the most part, and who you know. So send out a bajillion reels and good luck!

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I'd recommend picking one primary FX area and digging deep... the worst thing I chose to do for my major project back in the day was to attempt to take on modelling, rigging and animating a character along with full cloth sim and particles/dust sim.  The environmental FX was probably the most important element to the tone of the thing, but I got mired so deep in the character stuff and cloth sim I never even got that far.


Rigid bodies + pyro + water sounds great on paper, but I'd say it was way too ambitious.  Perhaps try them all out in mini-projects, but ultimately pick one and go with that.  Also, I'd say unless you're actually into character stuff, steer clear... I realised a bit too late in the day that modelling/rigging/animation really didn't inspire much motivation in me :-P


Ultimately, anyone recruiting out of uni isn't going to be looking for an expert in a wide range of effects - they'll be looking for someone who can solve problems and bring something to a decent level of polish.  You'll learn the wider range of skills once you're employed :-)

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“Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,

Or what's a heaven for?” ~Robert Browning


Hehe, fair point.  Reach far, just don't reach *too* far :-P


The thing I've found with pretty much all FX throughout my career is that by the time you're half way through building a setup for a simulation, especially when using a procedural tool like Houdini, you'll have uncovered 10 other problems that you'd just love to have the time to study and develop entire other setups for... one month-long project can fill up your "must-get-around-to" list for the next 2 years easily :-P  If you plan ahead, you can allow yourself some tangent-time, and that'll ultimately feed back into making the original project better.


I also find I tend to have the most fun when I dig deep into one small area.

Edited by danw
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