Project Aero: Procedural Content Creation in Houdini

Project Aero: Procedural Content Creation in Houdini

Denis Kozlov shows the magic behind his tool developed for rapid design of aircraft concepts.

Denis Kozlov is doing some magic with Houdini. His Project Aero, the software he developed for rapid design of aircraft concepts, is a great example of procedural possibilities. 

Basically, Project Aero is a set of tools meant for procedural content creation inside Houdini. So, it is not a standalone product and you need to Houdini to use the toolkit. There is a detailed breakdown of this project here

By no means Project Aero is complete or flawless, but hopefully it takes the concept far enough to illustrate the benefits and possibilities of procedural creation of 3D assets. Getting another individual version of the same model is a matter of seconds. Automatic non-identical symmetry and procedural surface aging controlled by few high-level sliders also help to escape “the army of clones” issue that 3D models sometimes suffer from. Deeper variations like repainting or restyling the skin and panels are done in a breeze. The set of detail modules is easily extendable and parts of the existing design can be swapped and reused. Depending on the toolset’s design objectives, generated models could be automatically prepared for integration into a particular pipeline (Like textures could be baked out, LODs automatically created and parts named in a chosen convention, exhausts and moving parts marked with special dummy locators or attributes, etc).

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And of course the workflow is non-linear from both design and development perspectives. The first means that you can always go back and change/adjust something at the previous stages of work without having to redo the later steps (like a change in the wing position on a hull of a finished model will make all the related surfaces recalculate to allow for the new shape). And the second refers to the ability to use the toolset while it’s being developed, which means that in a production environment artist wouldn’t have to wait for a TD to finish his work – the tools would be updating in parallel, automatically adding new features to the designs already being worked on.

Denis Kozlov 

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Project Aero has been created as an internal tool and is not currently available for sharing or distribution. The developer is interested in collaboration on development of procedural content creation systems, but restricts these opportunities to commercial projects only.

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