[Sidefx-houdini-list] disappearing HDA parameters

Pablo Giménez Pizarro pablogipi at gmail.com
Fri Jun 6 12:41:59 EDT 2008

For all the topics we have been covering in this thread can be  
splitted in 3 areas:
- Versioning
- Dependencies
- Asset managing and tracking

Every topic depend from the previous, is impossible to have  
dependencies tacking without a correct versioning and again is  
impossible to have a correct asset management without versioning and  
So following paul the first thing is to have something easy to make  
the versioning in the HDA, for example why there are only an  
otlversion, not and hda version? And why is so hidden in an hscript  
For me makes really sense to have in the Type Properties window a  
section to manage the version of the current operator I am editing, so  
if I make a change a can change the version easily, and check the  
version in a friendly way.
Will be great that when checkout an HDA, when you click Accept in the  
type properties for example, the tool looks for all the dependencies  
on other HDA and the corresponding version, so you can save the info  
of all your dependencies with the tool and then if any problem arrives  
loading or using the tool you can compare your current HDA with your  
dependencies. Also a tab like "Dependencies" in the properties dialog  
will be really useful.
All of these will be accesible via python if you want to do things  
And lastly and mainly useful for small houses will be something  
similar to the tool proposed by Robert about the tracking asset in 3D  
Studio. At this point big houses can use all the versioning and  
dependencies tools provided by Houdini to develop their own management  
For small studios a tool that have a data base that keeps track of  
files and assets in your scene is really useful.
Again we can use the example proposed by paul about deb packaging  
The deb packages database in Debian doesn't contain the binary data of  
the packages themselves, only the metadata and the links to the  
location of the data. It is possible to develop an interface on top of  
many open source tools, like sqlite, or berckeley database, to create  
a data base that keeps track of all the HDA defined by all the otls  
included in the search paths, track the versions, track external files  
these are using, hip files, etc ...
For me the first two are really needed, this last will be great for  
small studios and definitelly add value to Houdini, but is not a must.

El 06/06/2008, a las 18:06, paul simpson escribió:

> hey robert,
> for sure - that would be useful functionality.  my points about
> differentiating between package and asset management certainly
> weren't solely directed at you.  i believe that it's very important  
> that we
> all get on "the same page".  (god - i hate management speak!) ;-)
> -p
> 2008/6/6 Robert Magee <rmagee at sidefx.com>:
>> Paul,
>> My interest in the 3Dmax example was not the fact that it covered
>> other types of assets (textures, geometry etc) but that it has an
>> interface that offers a flattened list that could work well for
>> Houdini Digital Assets. I like the fact that it gives you path and
>> status info. In the case of HDAs it could also offer a menu of "older
>> versions" in case you need to go back. I also liked that it could  
>> work
>> at a scene level or be expanded to handle studio-wide management.
>> Robert
>> On 6-Jun-08, at 11:13 AM, paul simpson wrote:
>>> hi robert,
>>> thanks for putting this link up.  i think this summarises the
>>> magnitude of
>>> the misunderstanding over the last few years.  it seems most people
>>> (including sesi?) are getting confused with digital asset management
>>> (ie,
>>> textures, external shaders, geometery) and HDA package management  
>>> (ie,
>>> digital asset dependences).  to me, the former is an open ended
>>> potential
>>> quagmire that i would rather sesi leave alone for now.  the latter
>>> is imho
>>> an essential tool that we needed (4 years ago) in order to create  
>>> and
>>> package HDA's that in turn use other HDA's within them.  the two are
>>> *very*
>>> different subjects!  (you could - in time treat all external files  
>>> as
>>> digital assets - buts that an entirely different topic for now).
>>> to reiterate - i see the latter as very important as i would like to
>>> share
>>> assets from old jobs, other shops and houdini exchange without
>>> having to
>>> worry about which other assets each one is using.  really, we need
>>> all the
>>> assets to be included in a search path - and each asset can use
>>> either the
>>> latest - or an earlier version all happily and transparently.  i'm
>>> thinking
>>> about continuity between jobs here.  i see this as a universal
>>> requirement.
>>> i would like this logic to be implemented initially in a bare bones
>>> fashion
>>> by sesi - and made open so individual shops can then taylor to their
>>> own
>>> needs.  (please look at debian package management for a great
>>> example of
>>> what i mean).
>>> the video you point us to refers to the former.  so, to answer your
>>> question
>>> - i would rather any have the hda dependency system implemented
>>> rather than
>>> this tool you refer to.
>>> we all need to be clear what we're trying to talk about.  part of  
>>> this
>>> problem is sesis fault naming HDA's or (OTL's) as "digital assets".
>>> it's a
>>> very generic term within the industry which often refers to texture
>>> maps,
>>> geometry files - as in the 3dsmax example you posted.  nomenclature
>>> is very
>>> important - and needs to be 'normalised' somewhat - or at least
>>> de-obfuscated.  sesi needs to take the bull by the horns and get  
>>> more
>>> production savvy asap.
>>> this subject has been talked about at cross purposes for over five
>>> years
>>> now!  :-)
>>> -paul
>>> 2008/6/6 Robert Magee <rmagee at sidefx.com>:
>>>> 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
>>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>>> Sidefx-houdini-list mailing list
>>>>>>>> Sidefx-houdini-list at sidefx.com
>>>>>>>> https://lists.sidefx.com:443/mailman/listinfo/sidefx-houdini-list
>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>> "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."
>>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>>> Sidefx-houdini-list mailing list
>>>>>>> Sidefx-houdini-list at sidefx.com
>>>>>>> https://lists.sidefx.com:443/mailman/listinfo/sidefx-houdini- 
>>>>>>> list
>>>>>> ---------
>>>>>> Un saludo
>>>>>> Best Regards
>>>>>> Pablo Giménez
>>>>>> pablogipi at gmail.com
>>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>>> Sidefx-houdini-list mailing list
>>>>>> Sidefx-houdini-list at sidefx.com
>>>>>> https://lists.sidefx.com:443/mailman/listinfo/sidefx-houdini-list
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> Sidefx-houdini-list mailing list
>>>>> Sidefx-houdini-list at sidefx.com
>>>>> https://lists.sidefx.com:443/mailman/listinfo/sidefx-houdini-list
>>>> ----
>>>> Robert Magee
>>>> Product Marketing Manager
>>>> Side Effects Software Inc.
>>>> www.sidefx.com
>>>> 416 504-9876 x327
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> Sidefx-houdini-list mailing list
>>>> Sidefx-houdini-list at sidefx.com
>>>> https://lists.sidefx.com:443/mailman/listinfo/sidefx-houdini-list
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Sidefx-houdini-list mailing list
>>> Sidefx-houdini-list at sidefx.com
>>> https://lists.sidefx.com:443/mailman/listinfo/sidefx-houdini-list
>> ----
>> Robert Magee
>> Product Marketing Manager
>> Side Effects Software Inc.
>> www.sidefx.com
>> 416 504-9876 x327
>> _______________________________________________
>> Sidefx-houdini-list mailing list
>> Sidefx-houdini-list at sidefx.com
>> https://lists.sidefx.com:443/mailman/listinfo/sidefx-houdini-list
> _______________________________________________
> Sidefx-houdini-list mailing list
> Sidefx-houdini-list at sidefx.com
> https://lists.sidefx.com:443/mailman/listinfo/sidefx-houdini-list

Un saludo
Best Regards
Pablo Giménez
pablogipi at gmail.com

More information about the Sidefx-houdini-list mailing list