fxphd - HOU202: Intermediate Techniques for Houdini TDs
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Genre: eLearning
Houdini is often used at major studios to bridge the gap between custom R&D/engineered solutions, and the end result produced by the artist. Very often the Houdini artist must take on a variety of technical challenges such as physics, rigging, logic, and scripting to accomplish the shot or task.

The topics in HOU202 are geared towards better preparing the artist/TD for challenges they may encounter in a studio setting by guiding students through production scenarios. The first scenario is the development and deployment of a geometry breaking system using Houdini SOPs for procedural geometry processing, as well as Houdini DOPs for rigid body dynamics to create breaking effects. The second production scenario will guide the artist through the process of assembling a simple Houdini rig for crowd deployment, along with the development of a procedural crowd placement and randomization system using digital assets, hython (houdini python) scripting, and CHOPs.

With these examples the Houdini artist can improve his/her on-the-job decision making process by learning skills such as when to choose proceduralism vs hand sculpting/animation, knowing the right time for scripting, and how to use Houdini's native features in simple ways to produce complex effects.

The instructor for the course is Andrew Lowell. Lowell's feature film experience using Houdini includes Mummy 3, Aliens in the Attic, and most recently the Massive/Houdini TD on Invictus. Lowell has been involved in multiple disciplines such as music recording/mixing, video editing, compositing, and 3d visual effects. He now uses Houdini as his primary 3D application because of it's ability to work interchangeably with sound, 2D, and 3D data. Lowell is recognized in the Houdini community for authoring a popular book on Houdini Music/Animation/Sound techniques. His teaching credentials include leading classesfor Side Effects Software and general classes in 3D graphics for several years.

class syllabus

Class 1: This lesson introduces the first project and guides the viewer through the creation of a cutting tool. The focuses of this lesson include Houdini tool development practices as well as cookie and for-each sops.
Class 2: Prepping geometry for dynamics The needs and preparations of geometry going into a dynamics simulation, as well as some general good practices during a breaking sim.
Class 3: Merging Keyframe animation and simulated motion. How to animate objects before a simulation to skillfully address art direction required on a destruction shot.
Class 4: Corrective manipulation during simulations. Various ways to make things behave a little better during a simulation when custom shaping is required.
Class 5: Assembling a sim. Ways to turn simulated geometry into a working render or geometry element and discuss the needs of baking, rendering, and secondary elements.
Class 6: Beginning the second development project and create a basic delegate rig for crowd population. The needs of the rig and tools are outlined and various optimizations are discussed and demonstrated.
Class 7: Starting the creation of a crowd population asset, Hython script will be used to create multiple and varied rigs at object level based on a variety of specifications.
Class 8: Placement and attributes. Creating the point system responsible for crowd population and adjustment.
Class 9: Exploring Houdini's procedural motion capabilities to animate the crowd. Using Houdini CHOPs we will use various techniques to turn a small collection of motion into a much larger and more varied variety for use with crowds.
Class 10: Final implementation and roll out of our crowd to a particle system. This will bridge the final steps between development and roll out and discuss and show various approaches to tool and template design.

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