HScript Memory Command
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Checking Memory Usage In Houdini

This may not be the most exciting or life changing Houdini tip you will come across. I’ve been developing some scripts that need to check the Houdini memory footprint. I figured this bit of information may come in handy for someone out there. There are specialized applications and utilities at the OS level that provide this information. However, I needed something I could access programatically. As luck would have it, checking memory usage in Houdini is built right in. Memory Usage I mentioned while developing some tools, I needed to check the memory usage in Houdini for some conditional statements. My initial thoughts […]

The Geometry Object
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The Geometry Object

So you have decided to learn Houdini. You have a new scene open and you drop down a box. Now you want to change the divisions of the box. You see that there are several tabs in the parameter window for the box such as Transform, Material, Render, Misc but nowhere do you see the ability to change the subdivisions of the box. What gives? Welcome to the Geometry Object. Object Level One thing you have to remember is that in Houdini, when you drop down a Box or Sphere node at the object network level, that top level node is just a container for your actual geometry. […]

Toggle Safe Area Shelf Item
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Creating a Video Safe Area Toggle Shelf Tool

Since my work is primarily for video and interactive domains, I have a need to check my video safe areas often. Not a big deal. Almost every animation application has the ability to toggle the safe area guides on or off. Houdini is no different, however, it takes a few steps. Enough to be a bit annoying. In this post I’m going to show how I went about creating a shelf tool that toggles the safe area guides on or off. Shelf Sets, Tabs, & Tools The shelf is the strip of icons along the top of the main window and is composed […]

Drag and Drop Tools
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Drag and Drop Tools

Since I’m riding the Python boat, before I get back to some more Python in Houdini, I wanted to throw out this tip for those wanting to create custom tools and to further wet your appetite a little bit. After all, this is how it all starts. Let me show how easy it is to just drag and drop tools on to your shelves. Shelf Tools The preferred way to create reusable tools in Houdini is by creating an HDA or Houdini Digital Asset. Oooh! Fancy! But what if you just need a temporary thing. Something rough that is just meant for […]

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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 […]

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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 […]