No matter if it is an animation or game project. Both industries benefit from what a Houdini Procedural Artist has to offer:
– Non destructive outputs: You can always go back and modify what is created, instead of starting from scratch
– Reusable: Any task can be promoted to procedure (tool-HDA) to be used again and again by many artists. If you go further, you can set a pool of tools to benefit all team members.
– Allows addressing huge workloads impossible to manage with traditional techniques or by hand
– Improves the workflow: Non destructive, iterable, flexible, open to changes, organic, inviting to explore
– Reduces producing times: Creates art rapidly whilst technically correct in a fraction of the time compared to other methods
– Provides support for other departments: VFX, animation, lighting, etc
– Integrated: Allows mixed workflows, so that it is possible to integrate it within the pipeline totally, partially or simply as an external vodoo thing, that outputs assets
I will focus this answer within my scope which are:
– Procedural modeling
– HDA (tools) for asset creation
I like to think of procedural modeling and tool design as the opposite to ZBrush. Imagine you are modeling a brick within ZBrush, adding some edge damage here and there. You can add details exactly wherever you want them, exactly the size and orientation. -you want it exactly there…but you have to place them all manually.
On the contrary if you create a tool with Houdini to output bricks, I can design it so that you have control on how many of them there are, how big, how small…but I can´t easily place a scratch in a specific part of the brick.
The more stuff I create the more I think the proper approach is finding a good balance between well-defined design guidelines and artistic results.
Most times, you don´t have to create a hyper realistic brick, but something that ressembles a brick enough, according to your visual target.
So, as a conclusion, I would say you can´t aim for explicit control over vertices, but over design guidelines.
Below there are the most common ones, but basically anything that requires visuals can benefit from it:
– Cinema, animation
– Research and Science
– Design, automotive, industrial
You asked the creation of a Houdini tool. Once it is created, you can manipulate them interactively within Maya, 3dsMax, UE4, Unity and Cinema4D to create assets and environments, through Houdini Engine plugin.
You need to state:
Wheter You are an indie studio (make <100$/year)
When the plug-in tries to load a tool (HDA) then an appropriate license is checked out.
So, if you are an indie studio, you are eligible to get the “Houdini engine” (thats the name of the plugin) for free (link here), so I will be creating the tool with “Indie license type”.
If you are a bigger studio, you need a studio license type(link here), so I will be creating the tool with “Studio license type”.
In other words, the tool created is license type-aware. This is important.
What platform you will use to run the tool
The official plugin (called Houdini Engine) ships with support for UnrealEngine, Unity, 3dsMax, Maya and Cinema4D), by the way, you can also develop your own custom plugin, in case you count on a programming department.
In theory, any tool will be loaded successfully in any of the mentioned platforms, but from experience I can tell it won´t behave the same due to the target platform limitations.
For instance, 3dsMax is not able to represent curve-based ramps, whilst UE4 and Maya do.
Another example, you cannot type values lower than 0.001 within Maya, whilst UE4 accepts that.
Therefore, I need to know the target platform in advance to make it behave as expected.
I can provide you with:
– Procedural modeling
– HDA (tools) creation
These two services can address a lot of tasks involving a 3D production. To name some:
– Modeling: Props, vehicles, weapons, characters
– Level design and generation, worldbuilding, dressing
– Terrain and landscapes
– Concept, lookdev, visual development
– Scan processing, etc.
Basically it focuses on creating procedures rather than assets.
To fully understand it you need to change your mindset a bit: we are used to destructive workflows, where a change involves redoing lots of stuff.
If you were modeling a bike the traditional way, with all the details, including the wheels, handle, drive mechanism…if I asked you to change the wheel radius once it is finished, it would involve a lot of re-doing and you would probably curse me.
On the contrary, if that same tool was created procedurally, you could ask for a change like that and it would spread through its dependencies. For instance, the bigger wheel would thicken the tyre, which would raise the handle a bit higher, etc. Of course, for this to happen, the tool has to be done properly, there is no magic involved.
This topic has been extensively covered by great artists and staff from sideFX (the compnay behind Houdini), you might find useful this video
It provides a way of solving problems of scale and deal with workloads in a flexible way, which are essentially too great in numbers to do by hand or that require accuracy and lots of iterations. It is especially useful for dealing with repetitive, big technical tasks so that allows 3D user to focus on art rather than low productivity tasks.
While the current 3D procedural landscape is incredibly crowded, it’s crowded for a reason:
Procedural Generation drives results.
Sure, it’s highly competitive, but that’s why you need to create more assets and faster with outstanding quality.
Procedural Modeling and Digital Assets for content creation might become vital for getting your project shipped: Level design, worldbuilding, setdressing, procedural textures, vehicles, weapons, characters…almost every stage of a production involving 3D content can benefit from it.
No matter the industry, companies are investing big in proceduralism, and they’re seeing results.
Procedural Generation Is Cost Effective.
While traditional techniques for worldbuilding and modeling require a continuous investment of resources -in the form of many different softwares to license and a lot of manual work, using tools and procedural modeling cost much less and is far more impactful and flexible than traditional 3d methods.
Procedural Generation boosts your potential.
You can create a lot of high-quality, stunning 3D content for your project. Creating a complete ultra-detailed world is possible. It is just a matter of designing the proper tool.
There are over 128.000 3D artists in Artstation, the leading showcase platform for games, film, media & entertainment artists. That´s a lot to choose from.
Only a few have actual movie and AAA game experience. And even fewer have skills regarding procedural content generation through Houdini. When asked about it, a lot of artists overpromise and undeliver. Or worse, they execute under your expectations that can cause permanent damage to your project.
The good news there are plenty of red flags you can spot before committing a contract. Look out for warning signs like:
- Below-industry prices – the adage, “You get what you pay for” still rings true.
- Lack of transparency – if you´re not getting access to shipped game or movie titles, they ´re hiding something.
- Guarantees – the old “money back guarantee” is how they grab your attention, but there are zero guarantees in digital content creation.
- No case studies – proficient artists should have success stories to share. Otherwise, how do you know they’re able to produce results?
- Vague strategies – you should know exactly how it is planned to produce assets before you sign a proposal.
Aside from these red flags, you also have a lot of aspects to consider when evaluating hiring a procedural artist.
Ask these important questions as you’re shopping around:
- Have they both required technical and artistic skills?
- Is their art in house or outsourced?
- Who has had success with them in the past?
- What are the specific services they offer?