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XGen vs latest Hair, Fur , grooming tools in Houdini


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Anyone use both XGen and the new Hair Grooming tools in Houdini and can offer an opinion on pros, cons, of each?

I assume XGen is the industry standard for hair generation and grooing in feature film work but wondering if that is because it is 'better' or has simply been around longer?

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we've just finished a project involving several digital doubles (closeup shots, some curly hair, long hair and braid). mainly for the reason of having not enough houdini artists available for the project at that time, we decided to use maya and xgen. at some point, we ended up exporting some of the haircuts from maya to houdini, finishing the groom there and exporting back to maya for rendering (just because everything else was already done in maya). pointless to say this was far from a smooth workflow but with xgen, some things we were unable to do. for the next project, I think we'd rather go entirely houdini way. 

my personal opinions:

you might be fine with xgen if you have maya artists that really know how to use it and are aware of all it's pitfalls. it is definitely easier and faster to start with and deliver first look iterations. however, there are some unfortunate limitations and bugs (i guess) that can make more complicated haircuts and especially changes late in the process very frustrating and time consuming. also, you have to count with the possibility of loading a maya scene and finding out that your xgen hair is gone (and your own hair too after seeing that :)). very frustrating.

with houdini, you'll probably need some more time to figure things out - hair workflows there aren't as straightforward as in maya and you might miss some convenience tools at current time. it may be also a bit slower in terms of viewport interactions than xgen. generally, it's like everything in houdini. more difficult to master and you'll need to spend more on hardware, but you'll never run into situation where you aren't able to push something further unless you make the whole thing again. complicated haircuts (long hair, braids), interactions and changes (!!!) can be handled much more easily. transferring a haircut to a different head also seems to be quite easy (although we haven't done that, so don't take this for granted), so it is potentially huge time saver if you have more characters with similar hair or if you're doing hair stuff frequently. if you're thinking about building solid hair pipeline i'd opt for houdini as it is much more flexible and seems to be more future proof than maya. 


Edited by davpe
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