3 Stellar New Improvements In Houdini 18

3 Stellar New Improvements In Houdini 18

January 9, 2020
Ben Thompson

The ever-popular Houdini 18 is more powerful than ever, and we're breaking down why.

Earlier this year we covered some of Houdini 17’s most exciting features, as well as why you should learn Houdini. Now, SideFX’s industry-favorite procedural VFX software has made the leap into its next iteration with Houdini 18.

Today, we’ll take a look at just three ways Houdini 18 enables you to produce VFX with more power and control than ever before. First, here’s a sneak peek video showcasing many of its new features:

Optimization for Lookdev, Layout, and Lighting with Solaris

Solaris is a new context for non-destructive Universal Scene Description (USD) editing, featuring node-based lighting operators (LOPS). It’s specifically designed with an emphasis on lookdev, layout, and lighting workflow enhancement within all the latest versions of Houdini.

It also features a beta version of a native Hydra-USD renderer, called Karma, as well as third-party rendering support for Pixar RenderMan, Arnold, Redshift, and AMD ProRender.
LOPS is an important part of Houdini 18, and you can learn a lot about how it works in the tutorial below:

Intro to Houdini 18 | Part 5 | Solaris & LOPS from SideFX Houdini on Vimeo.

If you’re interested to learn more about Solaris, you can view SideFX’s full presentation on Solaris at Siggraph 2019.

More Speed and Customization for Destruction FX

Houdini 18 users can also expect a faster workflow and the ability to guide the direction of more destruction element parameters. Material fracturing now allows for custom geometry operations for even more unique fractures.
As demonstrated above, shatter simulations no longer show pre-shattering in the render. This means no more fumbling through the simulation to find the right moment to turn off the non-shattered simulation once the shatter occurs.

Also, chipping simulations are much more natural than ever before, thanks to improved breakpoints within the rigid body simulation.

Guided simulation enhancements are a great new addition to Destruction FX tools in Houdini 18, and you can see an excellent example of that below.

New in Houdini 18 - Pyro RBD Solver: Guided Simulation from Entagma on Vimeo.

Better CG Smoke and Fire Tools with PyroFX

While the easiest way to incorporate smoke and fire VFX into a scene is with our smoke and fire VFX assets, if you’re working on a 3D animation in Houdini you’ll be glad to know Houdini 18 brings much more detail and control to CG smoke and fire.

The new Sparse Solver intelligently focuses on solving only for the active parts of the simulation rather than the entire simulation as a whole.

SideFX Labs

Since we shared all the exciting ways SideFX’s Gamedev Tools were enhancing the game development pipeline, Houdini 18 has now transformed Gamedev Tools into SideFX Labs, a massive platform boasting over 150 tools that integrate with your existing Houdini workflow to optimize your time spent creating VFX.  

SideFX explains the reason for this shift to the “Labs” moniker was to provide recognition of the fact that game developers and artists aren’t the only ones who can benefit from this VFX-enhancing toolkit.

Make sure you take a look at all the tools Houdini has made to empower its users to produce better VFX, and if you’ve never taken the plunge into learning Houdini, this article can point you in the right direction!

Of course, Houdini has several other great new features you can read all about on their website, so make sure you take a look for a full list of feature updates in Houdini 18.

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