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canadianboy

Best Way To Learn Houdini

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Hey guys. Well ive been using Houdini for about 2 weeks now ive got my way around the UI down pretty good and I can do some basic stuff. But how should I start getting into the deeper aspects of the software? Like expressions and getting alittle more creative? I mean there are so many nodes and expressions that its hard to know what to use to try and accomplish something. Ive watched alot of tutorials where they have been using expressions but they dont really explain why your using it and such. So im just wondering what approach should i take into learning the more complex things with this software? THis is really such a different beat from C4D which is what ive been using.

Adam

Edited by canadianboy

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To tell you the truth the best way to learn is to give yourself a little project to do. Houdini is fairly huge as far as software packages go, so it'll be really hard to methodically go through all the nodes to figure out what they do (although that might be an interesting exercise at some point). To this day I still forget about some SOPs/COPs/CHOPs/whatever...

Really, what I would say is important is getting to know how Houdini works and the flow of it all. Once you've come to grips with that then the rest isn't too much of a problem.

But if I were you I'd come up with a project and then post here whenever you're stuck and we can help you work through it. The interesting part is that if you ask 10 different people how to do one thing you'll get 10 different answers, all of which may be a good way of doing it :).

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will do marc! Ive already done a few projects like making a wrecking ball knock over some bricks and stuff but I think they best thing to do would be to completely finish it with textures and work on getting a grasp on Mantra. Its so much more different then any renderer ive used especially c4d's native renderer. Do you have any suggestions for small projects? I really dont even know where to start with Houdini. Learning c4d years back was pretty simple. Ill definatly post my progress on the forum. Ive got plenty of ideas for VFS shots but they are way above my stage.

Edited by canadianboy

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One advice I can give you, Adam, if you don't mind (I was thinking about it recently and I'm so proud of these ideas that I have to share it ;) :

Houdini is extremely powerful and reach tool. Too reach to not embarrass or intimidate its users for a long time. Even seasoned masters admit they don't know *everything yet. This has a bad impact for a new user. You feel as you can't do it instead just doing it! I'm serious here. Try and you will succeed!

This is like a "3DMax syndrome" (no offense): "does anybody know the tutorial on how to make a box?" Literally I know a number of Max users who can do only what they were shown... this is not Houdini. All docs (even if they were far more complete then they are), all expression, hscript, Python, VEX, and all operators' references won't help you unless you give it a chance. There is no sense to study all expressions one by one or learning VEX as French.

The point is that because Houdini is a kind of visual programming language itself, naming a problem usually means solving it. Name you goal, analyze it, investigate, break it into pieces, draw a sketch... dare to dream, be a master, you rule not the app. you use! No one will tell you how to do your job! Once you get that point, you'll have a good attitude to work in Houdini ;)

Example: My friend ask me recently about deforming mesh with a mesh - something like a cheap cloth simulation made for cartoon animation. He is a experienced Maya artist, he can build a rig in Houdini, he knew what the attribTransfer SOP is for, still he couldn't put it together, he thought this gonna be some magic, he needs more docs, instead trying to do the easiest thing, repeat exactly the same deforming setup for cloth as for a skin (what he could do pretty well). If you want to deform cloth like a skin, what could be simpler then use a rig to deform a cloth, isn't it?

Now this happens to all of us even after years of using Houdini. If you don't know the solution for your problem it's very possible you didn't name it correctly. Named problem is somehow self-solving-puzzle in Houdini.

This is specially true for someone familiar with 3d in general. Switching to Houdini for a Maya master usually causes rapid happiness of freedom and scream of endless joy! Finally they can do anything they were always dreamed about. Up to the point they discover things Houdini can't do well;) like a shader preview in viewport, lack of gradient editor in VOPs or other silly annoying thing.

Good luck and good fight! ;)

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will do marc!

Hey canadianboy, my first complete scene done in Houdini was the same scene i've done in 3dsmax and before that Pov-Ray.

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thanks Marc & SYmek, it was a good read.

I figured out, the more often you use same nodes, the more you get a sense of feeling for them.. what they does, what they stand for, what they good for and where its power relies to.

i guess its a huge learning process like in every new tool you learn (i came from C4D to Maya to XSI in the last 6 years) and finally decided to join the dark side.

the first weeks are the hardest and then it flows more and more. as all previous poster said.. its trail & error.. just looking at nodes and imagine what they can do is not very helpful.

I wish you the best for learning houdini. also you wanna check out those free 3dbuzz tutorials and breakdowns.. they give you a good solid start i guess.

-J

Edited by JDenker

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I remember when I was learning I would just throw down random SOPs and drag the sliders to see what they would do to my geometry. I'd just look at the looong list of SOPs, see which one sounded interesting and give it a try. That's the nice thing about Houdini is that you can branch off at any point and just experiment to see what happens.

I still have a folder called "Copy SOP mistakes" somewhere. There's nothing like wiring up a copy SOP incorrectly to produce some amazingly unexpected results :).

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WOW, thats cool I started with POV-Ray also! Here's my first 3d scene (writing equations for animation curves is no easy task for a 3d newb I might add). POV has no GUI :)

http://www.andrew-lowell-productions.com/a...misc/flower.mov

Having taught 3ds Max, I think sometimes Max (probably Maya as well) makes it too easy for people and they miss basics though. Houdini doesn't really have that problem.

Hey canadianboy, my first complete scene done in Houdini was the same scene i've done in 3dsmax and before that Pov-Ray.

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My first 3d scene was when I was 16 in POV-Ray... 3 chrome spheres over a reflective water grid.... oooo... took about 16 hours to render 1 frame on my 286 (or xt, I can't remember). good times :)

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My first 3d scene was when I was 16 in POV-Ray... 3 chrome spheres over a reflective water grid.... oooo... took about 16 hours to render 1 frame on my 286 (or xt, I can't remember). good times :)

Water was also cool, but checker grids rendered faster :rolleyes: . One thing that I guess we all learned from those days is "optimize" hehe.

andrewlowell - Unbelievable cool, I can't even imagine how you coded that. A friend of mine still teaches some pov-ray as an introduction for computer graphics at the university. Do you still have that scene?

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Water was also cool, but checker grids rendered faster :rolleyes: . One thing that I guess we all learned from those days is "optimize" hehe.

andrewlowell - Unbelievable cool, I can't even imagine how you coded that. A friend of mine still teaches some pov-ray as an introduction for computer graphics at the university. Do you still have that scene?

Ha!, I'm not sure if I still have the scene, I made it on my first hand-built computer (took around two weeks to render), that computer died a horrible death ... it might be on a backup cd somewhere. I will look for it tonight ...

Yeah I think POV-ray would be an excellent introduction to 3D graphics. I learned lots of stuff in POV about proceduralism that I forgot when doing max, and only dug up once I started with Houdini, POV code from what I remember has got to be just about the most straightforward code for 3D.

Edited by andrewlowell

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Ari's tutorials at SideEffects were good but he goes pretty fast and there's a lot of basic concepts he seems to assume I know.

 

I started taking Garman's Houdini Intro at VizyAcky.com and it's pretty straight forward.  He goes over essential nodes kinda one by one and helps get a good foot into the door.

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I think all these are great suggestions to get help to start learning Houdini. Even if you're an experienced user I still think cmiVFX have some pretty good resources too!

 

I'm available for contact if you have any questions drop me a private message, I got given limited amount of discount codes for cmiVFX!  :)

 

check out their latest Snow simulation and ink FX including a rendering masterclass.

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