[Sidefx-houdini-list] houdini for sci-viz and other nefarious purposes ...
darran at edmstudio.com
Fri Jun 22 22:51:16 EDT 2007
Hopefully this doesn't come off sounding like a commercial ...
We just finished putting together a 4-minute promo reel for our nascent
interactive design company, www.edmstudio.com. The reel, viewable via a
link on our home page, is a mixed bag of scientific visualization and
interactive museum work. After editing, it struck me that Houdini was
leveraged on the bulk of these projects. For sciviz work, Houdini's
proceduralism is a natural fit. But we have started to see real value
in Houdini as part of our digital-to-physical pipeline.
For example, a museum approached us wanting to convert ten greyscale
images of dinosaur skeletons into brass "touch-plates" with relief
carvings and accompanying braille lettering. We investigated sand
casting and electric-discharge-machining before settling on computer
numerically controlled (CNC) milling. It turns out that the
industry-standard software for converting from a bitmap image to a
SolidWorks (CNC-compatible) relief mesh costs $6k! (I know this because
we went to the trouble of getting a demo from the company's New York
rep.) Given the high cost and the one-off nature of the job, I created
a "good enough" version of this software as a Houdini digital asset in
the course of an afternoon. The machined plates look and feel wonderful
to the touch.
For the quantum computing visualization, fully half of our time was
spent on ensuring scientific accuracy. When the quantum dots zip back
and forth carrying out a quantum error-corrected controlled-not
operation, the sequence of movements is correct. When the electron
cloud distorts, the underlying silicon lattice is visible. The
scientists really appreciate this attention to detail - and Houdini
saved us repeatedly. (Of course maybe its just as easy to accomplish
via Maxscript or MEL; I'd like to think though that we have a secret
In the augmented-reality game at the beginning and the 3D sliceable head
demo later on, Houdini is used to author our real-time assets. With the
forthcoming python integration and houdini-object-model in H9, we're
hoping to push this a lot further.
And separate from all this, my business partner (and brother) Andrew is
an architect who is really interested in applying Houdini/proceduralism
to physical design. When he talks about the drudgery of AutoCAD not
"knowing" that "if I shift this wall, this window needs to relocate", I
In summary, there's no real point to this email. It's just one of those
touchy-feel situations, the man in love with his tools. I'm so glad
that when I turned up at the ANU Vizlab in 1998, they were using Houdini
and not 3DS Max ...
Darran Edmundson [darran at edmstudio.com]
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