A Few Words with Alvaro Castaneda
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A Few Words with Varomix

I remember glancing at a disintegration tutorial years back done in Houdini but at the time the application was still so foreign to me. Once I began working more with Houdini, the name varomix kept popping up when searching for Houdini training. I was impressed by the disintegration tutorial and a few others he had created at the time so I signed up for some of his training. I was pleasantly surprised at the laid back style of teaching and the cool tools he was creating whether in Houdini or Python. Needless to say, I watched a bunch of his stuff. Varomix has created a […]

Using the op Operator
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Using the Op Operator

I’m sure you’ve seen the op operator while on your Houdini tutorial journeys or rummaging through .hip files. It usually goes something like this: op:/path/to/node Cryptic stuff. I know, I was like ”WTF is that?” when I first saw it. Turns out it’s rather handy. What is cool about the op operator is that it allows you to grab live data from another node elsewhere in your scene. Let’s try to break it down with an example of sorts. Beer with A Straw Imagine you’re on a beach and there are several bars around. One bar in particular changes its selection of premium […]

Disable Primary Rays in Houdini
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How to Disable Primary Rays in Houdini

A common thing to do in 3D workflows is to make an object invisible to the render engine. Either completely invisible or invisible but still cast shadows and reflections. In geek parlance, no primary rays but secondary rays. If you are a Cinema 4D user, you can achieve this through the Seen by Camera option in a Compositing Tag. Houdini users are accustomed to the Phantom option. At least this is how I came to learn it by. So how to we disable primary rays in Houdini? Phantoms Objects In early versions of Houdini, you could disable primary rays by checking on the Phantom […]

Inspecting The Houdini hou Module
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Python Parameter Expressions III: Auto Import

So we covered basic Python expressions and how to work with custom functions. Alright, that’s nice and dandy but how do we get Houdini to load our custom functions so they are always available? Custom functions can auto load in a couple of ways. You need to setup a few of things but it’s quite straightforward. Today, we will look at how to auto import our functions so they are always available. If you need to catch up, here are the previous posts: Part I – Python Parameter Expressions I: Basics Part II – Python Parameter Expressions II: Custom Functions Part III – Python Parameter Expressions III: Auto […]

Show Hidden Files Thumbnails
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Show Hidden Files and Thumbnails

Being a UNIX nerd, I love navigating the file system through the shell. I’m partial to the shell because this is where I learned the fundamentals of programming. It also makes me feel like I’m controlling the Matrix. Just like David Hasselhoff would. One thing in Houdini that I kept wondering about was why I couldn’t see hidden files when I had an Open Dialogue window open. This is despite having Show Hidden Files checked in the Preferences. Here is how to show hidden files and thumbnails in Houdini. Open Sesame I accidentally stumbled across this little gem. When you open a file […]

Python Parameter Expressions II: Custom Functions
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Python Parameter Expressions II: Custom Functions

Did you know Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad fame once appeared on the game show The Price is Right? No joke. It just goes to show anything is possible. I wish I could be on The Price is Right. You know what else is possible? Using your own custom Python functions in Houdini parameter fields. How might this be handy? Well, imagine you created a custom random or noise algorithm or maybe you developed a set of custom utility functions. Sounds helpful doesn’t it? Let’s see how we can go about creating them. You can find the other parts here: Part I – Python Parameter Expressions […]

Reverse Node Connection
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Reorder Node Input Connections

Sometimes, the most glaringly obvious things elude you. It practically sits right in front of your eyes and you totally miss it. So this is one of those basic keyboard shortcuts you should know right from the beginning. I knew it was possible but for some crazy reason I didn’t know the keyboard command to reorder node input connections in Houdini. Switcheroo I reverse node connections in Nuke all the time so I don’t know if it was sheer laziness or somehow I expected the answer to seep into my brain through osmosis. Anyways, if you want to reverse the input connections […]

qLib – Asset Library for Houdini
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Procedural Asset Library for Houdini: qLib

So now that you have become nice and cozy with Houdini, it’s time to step it up a notch and at the same time make your life easier. Don’t you wish some of Houdini’s operators had that one extra parameter to do certain things? Maybe a weight option or better yet, how about having certain operators for commonly created objects as opposed to creating them from scratch. For example, certain predefined curve shapes such as rounded squares or a cat shape. Ever wish you could just drop down a camera rig operator? Well, you are in luck because the folks over at […]

Houdini Python Parameter Expressions
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Python Parameter Expressions I: Basics

Expressions, expression, expressions. They are everywhere in Houdini. It’s one of the many things that makes the software so powerful and sooner or later you’re going to have to face the music and get your hands dirty with them. More specifically, I’m talking about Python parameter expressions. If you’re just starting out, most likely you will encounter HScript expressions but let’s say you have some Python knowledge and you would like to leverage that. Well, you are in luck! Houdini allows you to use Python expressions in its parameter fields just like you would HScript. Of course, it’s not a […]

Inspecting The Houdini hou Module
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Inspecting The Houdini hou Module

Lately, I’ve been playing more and more with the Houdini Python API. One of the things I like to do when learning a new Python module is inspect the module itself to see what it has to offer. I can access the Houdini documentation for this but I usually end up using the Houdini shell for inspecting the Houdini hou module1. The dir() Built-In A nice way of inspecting Python modules is by using the built-in convenience function dir([object]). The dir() function takes in an optional object and spits out a list of names in the current scope. This function behaves differently depending […]

Houdini hconfig utility
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The Houdini hconfig Utility

Michael Knight was a smooth dude with his fluffy hair and fancy talking car. At the flick of his wrist, he would summon his car KITT and it would do his bidding. However, when Michael needed KITT to do something special, he had to pull into the “Semi” Mobile Unit to have something added or customized. Basically, it was like sending the car back to the manufacturer and waiting in the lounge area having cold coffee and not having a remote to change the channel on the TV. If you pretend for a moment you’re Michael Knight, or Garth Knight […]

Multiple Houdini Instances
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Multiple Houdini Instances on OS X

If you’re a Cinema 4D user, one overlooked feature is its ability to quickly copy and paste objects between several open documents or scenes. Believe me, it’s gold. When you’re designing and ideas are flowing, the last thing you want is having to shut down and reopen applications. You can sort of do the same in Houdini. On Linux and Windows, you just open multiple instances of Houdini by using the icon1. However, on OS X, it’s not the case. It may not be as sexy but here is how to open multiple Houdini instances on OS X and have several scenes […]