Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A brief look at Houdini 11

Houdini is probably one of the most powerful software when it comes to procedural modelling.

Having shown an increased popularity over the course of the years, SideFX has released a new, better version of Houdini. We can think of it as an enhanced version of Houdini 10 on steroids.
So what are the main features and major changes?

First of all, the performance has increased a lot when rendering. Compared to Houdini 10 it may not look like much, but trust me it's there and it's important.
While the general UI (user interface) is 90% the same as Houdini 10, this time we have some more tools to work with, as well as a new tool palette in the network editor.

A very neat feature is the program's ability to calculate vertex normals while in OpenGL mode.
The dynamics algorithms have been also improved. For example the Voronoi-based algorithm which is used for high quality fracturing of objects. It basically allows the user to determine the cracks in the wall for himself and all this just by mostly using the interface.

As for the rest of the tools, everything has improved since the previous version. There are some new fluid shelf tools, new tools for generating fur, the added support for cloth pinching and layering and some new CHOPS.
Houdini 11 now even supports Disney's "ptex" format.

The complete list of changes and features in Houdini 11 can be found below.

User Interface

  • New, bezier-style connectors in the network editors
  • New tool palette in the network editor offers a gallery of nodes which can be dragged into the network.
  • Seamless integration of particles into dynamics networks and dynamics into geometry networks. This makes it easier to focus simulations on particular networks instead of simulating everything at the same time.
  • Enhancements to bundles to strengthen light-linking workflow
  • Z-up support
Vertex Normals
  • Support for vertex normals in OpenGL
Network Rendering
  • Network-distributed IPR
  • HQueue for Windows and Mac
  • Gold release of Houdini Cloud rendering tools
  • Support for multi-resolution volumes with merging, feathering and surfacing tools
  • VEX Volume Procedural
  • Volume Quality setting in viewport
  • Camera frustum volumes with tapering values.
  • Higher quality viewport visualization of volumes
  • Support for Disney's "ptex" format
Point clouds
  • New point cloud surfacer with adaptive controls (generates a better surface than the existing particle fluid surfacer; 
more applicable to games)
  • New point cloud functions
  • New Fluid Shelf tools – target smoke, source from surface, resize voxel grid
  • SPH particle fluid solver up to twice as fast
  • Ability to rotate voxel grid to create non axis-aligned fluid container
  • More shelf tools for hair grooming
  • Control over guide hair distribution for faster interactivity while grooming
  • Combing direction can now be controlled by skin shaders
  • No need for rest attribute
  • Distributed wire solver output node
  • Support for cloth pinching and layering
  • Direct support for non-stretchy cloth (stretch/shear/bend constraints)
  • Ability to simulate 0D cloth particles and to attach 1D cloth strings to 2D cloth surfaces - this provides as unified cloth solver for particles, wires and cloth surfaces.
  • Distributed cloth solver output node
Crowd Control
  • New CHOPS (foreach, iksolver, objectchain, transformchain, vector ) – for crowds and more
  • New python module that lets developers easily embed C++ code into python code

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