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Intelligent Setups for Automating Character FX

Description: Hear insights on how Animal Logic builds and automates their Character FX pipeline. When production began on Peter Rabbit in 2017, Animal Logic had the unique opportunity to build their Character FX cloth and fur toolset from scratch. Faced with many technical and artistic challenges, the team had to think outside the box to ensure the toolset was completed efficiently and on time. Adam explains how the team used intelligent Houdini Digital Assets to automatically input animation geometry, process skin de-intersection, simulate cloth and fur, and export geometry to downstream departments. You will also hear how Adam and his team devised methods to allow artists to easily step in and make shot specific changes.

Speaker(s): Adam Katz, Animal Logic

Punching above your Weight

Description: Alt VFX's Nick Angus covers transitioning a studio's pipeline to Houdini-centric. Alt started with 6 people and a couple of freelance artists. They burst out of the gate with an amazing commercial, then reality sunk in that they were limited by "off the shelf" tools, and when new jobs came along that had a huge variety of needs, they realized they needed to become far more innovative - and started to look at Houdini. "One interesting piece of advice I received was to think of Houdini as more of a 3D operating system," says Nick, "I tasked myself with learning as many aspects of Houdini as I could before I proposed rolling it out as a full solution, and we then moved our lighting, FX, and fur/feathers over to Houdini entirely. We realized that training was far less intimidating than we had thought, as people could just bite off small parts at a time. A lighter only needed a day or two to get up to their normal speed."

Speaker(s): Nick Angus, Alt.VFX

Houdini: You're learning it wrong (no really this time)

Description: In Part 2 (no really this time) of the 'Houdini: You're learning it wrong' series, Matt covers the technical pitfalls, workflow and incorrect assumptions people make when jumping from another package to Houdini. • Spreadsheet vs outliner • All in one vs lots of obj nodes • Hda's vs references (split screen) • Attributes vs baked maps • Manual layout vs clever (the @P.x += @ptnum*check('spread') example) • Not everything needs sim • Do everything in the one package vs rig and animate elsewhere, bring caches into Houdini • Network topology like a map you navigate, get familiar with vs containerised stuff that's often a hindrance • Over vexing things, over proceduralism • Stop reading copy stamp tutorials • Crashes and bugs are probably you, until it isn't. Initially you blame yourself, but over time you can start to indentify when its houdini being weird. Give it about 2 months. • Tab menu, shift-tab trick, first letter of nodes trick • Template vs display vs output nodes vs null vs capital letter nodes

Speaker(s): Matt Estela, The Animal Logic Academy, University of Technology Sydney

SideFX Solaris: A Production Perspective

Description: A retrospective look at the challenges and advantages of using the Solaris Lookdev, Layout and Lighting tools on a full-feature production at Animal Logic. After migrating to a full USD pipeline at Animal Logic, the FX department had to create a feature-rich set of tools, which allowed them to import and deliver FX and character FX through USD. To do this they developed a workflow in Houdini's Solaris. Join Luke for an in-depth look at the how's, why's, challenges and BIG advantages associated with building a new suite of tools in Solaris - and how this fitted into their production pipeline.

Speaker(s): Luke Gravett, Animal Logic

Doing Big Work with a Small Team

Description: You don't always have the resources of a big team and budget, but with the right techniques Houdini can help you do more with less. Matt shows some tips and tricks used while working in production, to help manage a larger scope as a small team or freelancer.

Speaker(s): Matt Ebb, Freelance

Fun with Reaction-Diffusion in Houdini

Description: Reaction-Diffusion is a fascinating type of simulation in which the concentrations of multiple diffusing chemical species in a reaction is simulated spatially, for example on a pixel or voxel array. It also can be made to work on poly-meshes and poly-wires over edge-connectivity, or even just on points in space. The values representing the chemicals are then updated according to one of many different formulae that each have their own different kinds of dynamics. Dan's work has focused on a formula called 'Gray-Scott', which he extended in several ways and discovered some very interesting things. He also wrote an experimental formula based on a tweaked classical 2D 'Orbits' fractal step - which led to many interesting results!

Speaker(s): Dan Wills, Rising Sun Pictures

Open Firehawk: Hybrid Open Cloud Infrastructure & PDG

Description: Open Firehawk is an initiative by Andrew Graham to automate direct access to cloud infrastructure at lower cost and with more control than prior solutions were able to offer. It also seeks to resolve issues of vendor lock in – it is open source, community focused and seeks to provide as much render power to artists as efficiently possible. Particularly for the Houdini user, it approaches heavy VFX scenarios by leveraging SideFX PDG to handle dependencies across multiple locations and avoids transport of heavy data unless necessary. Open Firehawk automates creation of VFX architecture with open source infrastructure as code. The design is fully automatable, and uses tools like Hashicorp Terraform, Vagrant and RedHat Ansible to procedurally build out from scratch any onsite and cloud-based render nodes, schedulers (AWS Thinkbox Deadline), OpenVPN, and virtual NAS appliances (SoftNAS). This approach potentially enables usage with multiple cloud providers in the future. We provision Deadline as a scheduler which is free to use with AWS, and SoftNAS as it is the most affordable and performant NAS appliance that could be automatically provisioned in AWS with excellent support

Speaker(s): Andrew Graham, Firehawk VFX

New RBD Workflow Tools in Houdini 18 | Nick Petit

Description: Houdini 18 introduces a number of new RBD workflow tools to enhance and simplify the creation of Bullet simulations from within SOPs. Nick walks through the new tools using practical (and some less practical!) examples.

Speaker(s): Nick Petit, SideFX