[Sidefx-houdini-list] disappearing HDA parameters

Robert Magee rmagee at sidefx.com
Fri Jun 6 10:52:35 EDT 2008


A couple of releases ago, Autodesk put out this movie for their asset  
tracking in Max8. It starts out as a single window where all the  
dependencies in a scene are laid out and their current status is  
outlined (links broken, etc..). From this window links can be re- 
established and even swapped out for other versions as needed. This  
system offers a one-stop-shopping for working with local assets. They  
can then extend that to a network as a "stage 2" of the system:

http://download.autodesk.com/media/3dsmax/asset_tracking_max8_380k.mov

Without going to a full blow asset management system (aka tactic),  
would something like this meet the needs outlined in this thread? It  
would be very helpful to figure out exactly how far people would want  
us to go. When we spoke with customers on this in the past, the  
requests seemed to lean towards a system that was open and not tied  
too tightly with Houdini. A Houdini-centric set of tools might be  
easier in the short term to get people started.

Robert


On 6-Jun-08, at 10:21 AM, Ken Ouellette wrote:

> Paul's problems (I'm assuming here, but based on a hunch of how he has
> worked in the past) is partly on how he is using HDAs. To that  
> regard I
> don't think he is out of line asking for a bit more support to make  
> the
> packaging and transport/sharing of HDAs easier.
>
> Yes for a small centralized studio it is easier to self manage and  
> regulate
> the changes. For a larger pipeline people will naturally build tools  
> to
> support some sort of revision system, even it is just a slight twist  
> on the
> autoBackup of HDAs and symlinking those to a none versioned reference.
> Opdepend was an helpful addition for getting some help, but the  
> process can
> still become complex quickly.
>
> There could be some things that Sesi could do to support  
> encapsulated HDA in
> HDAs a bit easier. That has always been a bit of a problem as  
> finding what
> is inside one and understanding its dependencies can be a bit of a  
> pain.
> Then add to the fact that finding certain disk based references  
> (textures,
> geometry, etc) can be a again a bit of a haul to make it work easily.
>
> Hopefully some of those basics are easier to handle with python. I  
> haven't
> looked, but even if you made up your own methods to handle all the  
> cases it
> would take you a while. It all depends on how absolute you want to  
> be in
> your version of the asset, not just the HDA. The HDA itself is a  
> container
> with parameters, you can inject some of its components (geometry,  
> and low
> rez textures) but other items like high rez textures, and rib/ifd  
> files
> either don't work in the context (I know Renderman doesn't like it,  
> not sure
> about Mantra). So when it comes down to it there are a lot of  
> support files
> you need to consider when you are planning out your pipe.
>
> It gets more complex if you start to encapsulate HDAs inside HDAs  
> and then
> it can become very important for the order in the loading/ 
> instantiation and
> then add the dependency issues across these nested HDAs. The  
> flexibility in
> Houdini makes it really difficult to contain. Having had a large  
> role in
> building two asset management systems for Houdini, it is very  
> difficult to
> keep things agnostic and actually requires more structure then you  
> would
> expect. There are many ways to create HDAs  and it becomes a job  
> just to
> support the different methods. That is part of a natural process of  
> having
> and maintaining a pipeline vision and should be expect with every  
> system
> though. I do feel it is more of a challenge in Houdini than in other
> products ( <cough>Maya<cough>)
>
> When I saw what Sesi was doing with python and H9 I really stressed  
> to them
> that with a hand full of people any studio could quickly flesh out a  
> very
> sospicated pipeline if they had some experience in doing it in  
> previous
> versions. Having Sesi provide blue print type examples on how to set  
> up a
> system would be great but also starts a slippery slope for them.  
> Where does
> providing added value stop with support? That is a difficult problem  
> for any
> software vendor and one most avoid. I can't blame them
>
> The embedded browser is very helpful to develop an app to handle the
> management of the assets, but there are challenges that inherit to  
> using
> that environment. Thankfully Sidefx has made huge efforts to remove  
> a lot of
> these but there are still cycles to be spent finding ways to around  
> them. In
> the end it is the same problem of Sidefx entering a slippery slope  
> of where
> to draw the line for support.
>
>
> For "a irritated Georg"
>
> Encapsulation for a entire can be easy to implement but has serious  
> draw
> backs for updates, both HDA wise and parameters. On the Wild we had  
> a fairly
> strict rule that we supported only HDAs, which added its own  
> complexity to
> making things (think of how hard it is/was to make a dynamic  
> parenting HDA).
>
> We knew what  HDA's whet into a hipfile and what verison they were,  
> we also
> saved out all the animation for the files. In some cases we wrote out
> geometry and had special HDAs to handle those cases.
>
> Saving and versioning entire hipfiles and keeping track of the  
> versions of
> any HDAs inside....  for a production pipeline is a bit easier and  
> can offer
> some benefits, but still has some drawbacks. That method that was  
> used as
> well post "the Wild" in a number of shows.  There are always  
> challenges
> about updating versions and handling animation.cmd files.....  
> keeping track
> of changes between saved hipfiles when it comes to non-HDA elements  
> anyone
> can create in Houdini. Connections parenting all that jazz
>
> The real power is to find a method to manage all the information and  
> push
> changes out on the fly. Then you complete the circle of the pipeline  
> and you
> have the ability to make large sweeping changes effecting renders  
> going to
> the farm.
>
> I should stop now.. that is long enough to read :)
>
> -k
>
>
> On Fri, Jun 6, 2008 at 7:48 AM, Pablo Giménez Pizarro <pablogipi at gmail.com 
> >
> wrote:
>
>>
>> El 06/06/2008, a las 13:33, Peter Robbinson escribió:
>>
>>> Hi,
>>>
>>> It had a lot to do with the asset manager.
>>> There were specialists, Michael being an important one, who were the
>>> responsible for developing and maintaining the digital assets.
>>> The artists on the production floor accessed the appropriate assets
>>> for
>>> a given scene through the embedded browser. Core used the embedded
>>> browser to present an interface to the asset manager. Artists only  
>>> had
>>> access to the approved assets for an assigned scene. There were ways
>>> to
>>> access earlier versions of assets, but only when problems were
>>> encountered. The assest manager allowed artists to report problems
>>> (bug
>>> reports) and these were automatically reported to the appropriate
>>> department.
>>> Michael play a big part in getting that system to work, it was quite
>>> remarkable. That's not to say it worked well all the time, there  
>>> were
>>> plenty of work-arounds necessary and it took time to get working
>>> right,
>>> but it was certainly the best pipeline I had ever encountered.  
>>> Keep in
>>> mind Core used version 6 of houdini on that production and digital
>>> assets were brand new.
>> Thanks for the explanation Peter.
>> Now I think that you are agree with me that to take the most from HDA
>> you need some management tool.
>> I am not talking to have this complex system developed at CORE but
>> something simple and easy for the small studios that use tools that
>> can be used by big houses to develop their own management systems
>> (like the otlversion command for example)
>> In my opinion SESI did really well with the character picker and pose
>> library tools, something like this, in the browser will be great. The
>> pose library for example is not the most advanced tool, but it works
>> out of the box and for a small studio do the job and if you need to
>> extent it you can.
>>>
>>>
>>> PeterR
>>>
>>> Georg Dümlein wrote:
>>>> Michael Goldfarb <goldfarb at coredp.com> schrieb:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>> The Wild was made almost entirely (like 95%+) without hip files...
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Sorry for the noobish question , but:
>>>> How does this work?
>>>> Are you using HDA that contain the complete scene?
>>>>
>>>> a irritated Georg
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>>>
>>>>
>>>
>>> --
>>> "gravity is not a force, it is a boundary layer"
>>> "everything is coincident"
>>> "Love: the state of suspended anticipation"
>>> "To get any appreciable distance from the Earth in
>>> a sensible amount of time, you must lie."
>>> "Easy, is not how you make a living."
>>>
>>> _______________________________________________
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>>
>>
>>
>> ---------
>> Un saludo
>> Best Regards
>> Pablo Giménez
>> pablogipi at gmail.com
>>
>>
>>
>>
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----
Robert Magee
Product Marketing Manager
Side Effects Software Inc.
www.sidefx.com

416 504-9876 x327






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