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Houdini combines superior performance and dramatic, ease-of-use to deliver a powerful and accessible 3D animation experience to CG artists creating feature films, commercials or video games. With its procedural node-based workflow, Houdini lets you create more content faster to reduce timelines and enjoy enhanced flexibility in all your creative tasks. Houdini is ideal for modelers, lighters, character riggers and animators to use on its own or as a layout and lighting tool for visual effects created in Houdini FX.


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Houdini includes a wide variety of polygon, NURBS and subdivision surface modeling tools. Procedural techniques can be used to maintain a robust construction history and to create complex models such as environments.

Beyond Construction History. As you work interactively in the viewport, Houdini creates networks of nodes to keep track of all your modeling actions. Houdini efficiently manages the nodes to make sure you are working efficiently. Easily copy and paste parts of the node network into new networks to accelerate work. This lets you freely revise parameters on your nodes, branch off to explore new ideas or set up switch nodes to compare topologies while continuing to maintain a high level of productivity.

Big Hero 6 © Disney, 2015

Build Environments That Grow. To model CG environments piece by piece can be a daunting task for a modeler. With Houdini, you can set up procedural networks that build environments out of a smaller kit of parts. Once the system is in place, you can easily add randomness, paint specific features such as height and scale, and eventually grow the solution to any size. In production, you can even use low-resolution pieces to set up your model then swap them out at render time for added levels of efficiency.

Clean Geometry. Building a model is one thing. Building a model that animates, renders or exports properly to a game engine is a different matter altogether. Houdini give you low-level access to every aspect of your geometry and provides procedural techniques for making your geometry production-ready. Create clean, adaptive geometry from complex or messy inputs then optimize your poly-count or even create LOD ( Level of detail ) geometry for realtime gaming engines.

Cloud FX and Volumes

Book Of Life © Reel FX, 2015

The Cloud FX tools offer an artist-friendly way of building, sculpting and rendering cloud formations. This workflow utilizes sparse volume sculpting tools created as part of the OpenVDB open source initiative.

Cloud FX Tools. As you work interactively in the viewport, Houdini creates networks of nodes to keep track of all your modeling actions. Houdini efficiently manages the nodes to make sure you are working efficiently. Easily copy and paste parts of the node network into new networks to accelerate work. This lets you freely revise parameters on your nodes, branch off to explore new ideas or set up switch nodes to compare topologies while continuing to maintain a high level of productivity.

Houdini Volumes. Houdini Volumes utilize a constant tile compression scheme that is good for holding dense volumes with continuously varying values such as fire and wispy smoke or continuously varying Signed Distance Function SDF fields.

OpenVDB. Fully integrated into Houdini, OpenVDB is an open source C++ library comprising a novel hierarchical data structure and a suite of tools for the efficient storage and manipulation of sparse volumetric data. It is developed and maintained by DreamWorks Animation for use in volumetric applications typically encountered in feature film production.


Ambition © Platige Image, 2015

Houdini has an animator-friendly workflow which includes a channel editor, dope sheet and interactive timeline. Set keyframes on any parameter or use Houdini’s Advanced Motion-editing tools for even more control.

Animator-Friendly Workflow. Animators can easily set keyframes on selected objects then edit the results in either the timeline, channel editor or dope sheet. Channel groups can be created and pinned to make it easy to set many keyframes on multiple parameters to block out motion. Houdini has other animator-friendly tools such as Heads up display (HUD) handles that provide quick access to key parameters.

Channel Editor. Powerful channel editing tool for easily adding and modifying keyframes quickly and easily. Supports channel editing, dope sheet and a keyframe expression spreadsheet view for complete control over your channels. Animation Time Groups an be set up in the Channel Editor to manage key poses in your animation. You can bind keys to a Time Group handle and label the vertical bar handle.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 © Sony, 2015

Channel List. Use the channel list pane to work with individual channels or organize your channels in to groups to pin animation curves in the channel editor. Channel groups work with the dope sheet to give you the ability to easily re-time and rework channels inside groups.

Flipbook Blocking. Houdini’s flipbook can be set up to only play back frames where your character has been keyframed. The flipbook plays back in real-time and holds the frames based on their proper timing. Animators can then quickly move the frames around in the flipbook to adjust the timing then export the results back into the 3D scene. A real time-saver on the production floor.

Character Rigging

Killzone: Shadow Fall© Guerrilla Games, 2015

From cartoon characters that squash and stretch to hyper-realistic digital creatures, character rigs continue to get more and more sophisticated to meet the growing expectations of audiences. Houdini provides a robust character solution that can be used as part of a visual effect or as a larger animation pipeline.

Robust Rigging Tools. Full set of interactive rigging tools for building characters from scratch including a choice of multiple inverse kinematic, forward kinematic and no kinematic solvers. Constructing bone chains then paint and modify skin weights. Choose between bone or muscle-based deforming your skin.

Character Assets You Can Rely On. Characters in Houdini are created as Digital Assets that encapsulates entire rigs inside an single asset with top level controls for the animators to work with. No need to wade through hundreds of objects to find where your animation lies. The animation channels reside on the top level node. Rig updates are easy to accomplish and completely reversible. Animation curves are persistent on the character asset. No fear of loosing a frame of animation when updating rig hierarchies since the animation lies at the top of the character asset.

Express ©Transistor Studio, 2015

Auto Rigs Shelf Tools. Rapidly create character rigs using a wide variety of asset parts for a complete solution. Supports biped rigs and quadraped rig defaults or hook together any number of body parts. Quickly create mono-leg to multi-legged creatures with multiple sets of arms, spines, heads and more. Hook any part to any hook point on the rig as you build it procedurally.

Interactive Muscles And Skin. Multiple skinning methods from standard capture weighting, capture pill regions along with three different methods of muscles without having to bind the skin to the bones. Muscles are discrete skin deformers, not bound at all to the skin.


White House Down ©Prime Focus, 2015

Houdini’s lighting workflow provides a flexible and powerful environment for managing lights, building shaders and defining the look of a shot. Environment and GI lights work well with Mantra’s physically-based rendering.

Off-the-Shelf. Complete set of lights from point, area (sphere, disk, grid, any geometry), spot lights, geometry lights, volume lights for fire lighting effects, distant sun lights, Environment lights for support of spherical and cubic HDR images for Image Based Lighting (IBL), sky light with realistic sun model, GI light to seamlessly use photons to reinforce direct, indirect lighting and caustics, geometry portal lights for efficient rendering of interiors using HDR images and more.

Frima Studios project© Frima Studios, 2015

Lighting Workflow. Full set of lighting tools including a render preview window, ipr render view with snapshots, object appearance tree view for quick assignment of materials to alembic and packed primitives, Light Bank and light linker panes to manage light linking to objects for diffuse, specular contribution and more. Full linear lighting and rendering support for many types of LUTs throughout the entire interface and viewer.

Alembic Support. Alembic scenes and Packed primitive archives work with the Data Tree view in either Object Centric or Light centric modes along with Packed Edit Geometry nodes to give you a lot of flexibility. Each Packed Edit node is used to assign level of detail for each object in the archives, assign shaders and also link lights to objects.


At the back-end of any CG project is where you render all your lights, geometry, and effects. With Houdini, you can rely on a robust built-in rendering solution called Mantra or full support for a wide variety of third party rendering options. Whatever route you choose, Houdini is the ideal environment for bringing together your render layers and reliably feeding the farm.

Production-ready Mantra. More and more studios are discovering the performance benefits of a Mantra render pipeline. With a strong shading language behind it and the ability to choose between micropolygon, raytracing or physically-based rendering, you will quickly learn how Mantra can benefit you. Unlimited Mantra tokens with either Houdini or Houdini FX makes this an even more attractive option.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 ©DreamWorks, 2015

Top-notch RenderMan Support. With Houdini you will enjoy a tightly integrated interface to Pixar’s RenderMan® and RenderMan compliant renderers which includes a node-based RenderMan shader builder and support for test renders in the 3D viewport.

All Renderers Welcome. Houdini also provides integrated support for other thrid party renderers such as mental ray™ and Maxwell™. With Houdini’s new Python support you can easily write your own hooks for whichever renderer you prefer.


Houdini includes a node-based compositor which is perfect for creating slap comps. Lighters can test out render passes before sending plates to artists working with other compositing apps.

Multi-threaded. Fully tile based threaded compositor with a full set of tools to create compositing effects with blurs, color correction, channel mixing and swapping, outlining, and more.

File Format Support. Support for a large number of image formats including OpenEXR2.0, various tiff formats, gif, jpeg and more.

Custom Filters. Construct your own composite image generators or filters using VEX/VOPs.

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Henry Yamin showcased an impressive procedural generator and shared a comprehensive guide on how it was made.

Learn How to Set Up a Realistic River in Houdini With This Tutorial

Andrea Sbabo shared a comprehensive guide on creating a realistic river with Houdini and Nuke.

Animator Makes a Gorilla Breakdance With Houdini & Redshift

Tomas Kral's digital 3D zoo got a new realistic animal.

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Houdini Creator SideFX is Hiring Developers

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