Top 5 Reasons To Learn SideFX Houdini

User avatarAugust 25, 2017
SideFX Houdini is a very powerful procedural 3D software package that is becoming increasingly popular within the VFX industry. It has been used in countless blockbuster feature films, TV shows and video games including Iron Man, Game of Thrones and Uncharted.

If that isn't enough to convince you you, in this post I want to give you my 5 top reasons to start learning Houdini today!

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Harry Houdini

SideFX Houdini has been named after the famous magician Harry Houdini who lived from 1874 to 1926. Houdini was most well known for his daring escape acts. He would be handcuffed, strapped into straight jackets, trapped under water or even buried alive and always managed to escape even the most challenging situation.

Houdini died at the age of 52 of peritonitis, an inflammation of the lining of the stomach. He inspired millions or people all over the world and in turn gave his name to this powerful 3D software package.

Top 5 Reasons to Learn SideFX Houdini

Houdini is used in the VFX Industry

As I mentioned above, SideFX Houdini is increasingly used in the VFX industry. Due to its procedural nature, it offers a very different approach to working with 3D compared to more traditional tools such as 3dsMax, Maya or Cinema 4D. It especially excels are creating physical based effects such as destruction, smoke, fire as well as fluid simulations. And, most importantly, it gives artists absolute control over every aspect of the scene at any point in time.

Need to create an explosion that freezes in mid air, with the smoke turning into black fluid dripping onto then floor and then evaporating? With SideFX Houdini, you can create that effect.

Check out the epic 2017 Houdini Showreel . You may recognise a lot of big blockbuster feature films.

With Houdini growing in popularity within the VFX industry, it is definitely a tool worth knowing!

No plugins needed

I believe one of the main reasons that SideFX Houdini has become so popular within the VFX industry in the first place is that it does not require any plugins to create those impressive Hollywood grade VFX. You can create massive explosions, fire effects, smoke, ocean and fluid simulations using nothing but the core functionality of Houdini.

That is not to say that it is easy to do. Houdini is a very complex program and it takes a long time to learn and even longer to master. However, you do not need any plugins to create essentially any effect that you can imagine. To me, as someone constantly looking for that next plugin because my software doesn't have feature X, this is a huge win!

Great Inbuilt Renderer - Mantra

SideFX Houdini comes with a great inbuilt renderer called Mantra. You don't need any 3rd party renderers such as VRay or Renderman to get amazing images out of the software. Mantra is a physically based renderer that creates beautiful images and supports anything you could want from subsurface scattering to volumetric rendering.

It is fairly easy to use, offers a plethora of different rendering options and works hand in hand with Houdini's powerful material system.

Free Apprentice Version Available

A lot of software tools are expensive. 3dsMax, Cinema 4D and Maya can cost you thousands of dollars each year. Some of them offer educational versions, but if your student years are behind you, you will have to pay big just to use them.

SideFX Houdini on the other hand comes with a FREE Apprentice version. You can download and use this version of Houdini to learn and experiment and build up a personal portfolio that you can then use to apply for jobs. Simply sign up for a free account and download the software for your operating system.

The free Apprentice version of Houdini does however have a number of limitations:

  • You cannot use it for commercial work
  • Render output is limited to 720p
  • You will see a small watermark in the bottom right of your renders

If you want to remove those restrictions, I can recommend upgrading to the Indie license. It removes the watermark, gives you full 1080p renders and you can use it for commercial work. At $199/year it's a pretty fair price for a great piece of software. Especially if you compare it to the thousands of dollar you would have to pay for tools such as 3dsMax, Maya or Cinema 4D.

Operating System Independent

Finally, SideFX Houdini is available for Windows, Mac OS and Linux. No matter what operating system you are on, there is a version that will work for you.

SideFX Houdini can be pretty demanding on your hardware, especially if you get into volumetric or fluid simulations. However, even a fairly standard PC or Mac should be sufficient to start creating some amazing content with it and understand the core concepts of this powerful procedural 3D software package.

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I am passionate about providing high quality VFX & Film Making Edutainment online. Check out my training courses on Udemy
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