[Sidefx-houdini-list] Houdini, I love/hate you

Michael Montoya montoyland at gmail.com
Wed Sep 15 14:35:08 EDT 2010

As a relatively recent newcomer (coming from Maya) my advice is to start
with Sops. Get your head around these networks first as they will lay an
invaluable foundation and prime your brain for thinking procedurally. The
benefit is that, because you are operating in geometric space, they are the
most visual and, for an artist, probably the easiest to comprehend.

In particular, play with the copy sop and stamping parameters to create
instances of some parameterized geometry upstream of the node. After this,
try your hand at writing a very simple Vop Sop (maybe one that creates a
ripple deformer). Do this and you will be well on your way to tackling
 other networks (ROP, COP, DOP VOP and CHOP). Jumping directly into fluids
might yield a bumpy ride as you have been experiencing.

There are also invaluable resources out there: I highly recommend Peter
Quint's series on Vimeo. He is an excellent teacher because he doesn't
simply use a paint-by-numbers approach, but explains the logic behind his
approach so that you can "learn to fish" as it were. This, by far is the
most important thing about being a competent Houdini user - understanding
the value of one approach over the other - being able to weigh and asses the
benefits and consequences of one particular workflow over another.

Ultimately any production is but a series of decisions. The beauty of
Houdini is precisely that it opens up so many options at a very low level so
that ultimately it is the artist, not the software, leading the
decision-making process. This can obviously be frustrating at first, but
over time I think you will appreciate the flexibility.

If you can afford it, CMI Studios offers a very reasonably priced
subscription service that covers lots of ground in great detail. Procedural
Cities remains one of my favorites.

Good luck and hang in there, it's well worth the effort and I promise you
will be richly rewarded for your efforts!

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