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How To Get Started In Houdini

How To Get Started In Houdini

Houdini may seem daunting to learn, so we've put together a great starting point to begin learning!

For VFX artists that want to launch a career producing Hollywood-level CGI, Houdini is one of the most powerful programs you can aim to learn. Notoriously challenging and incredibly complex, Houdini isn’t the type of program you can learn overnight.

In fact, it’s not even the kind of program you could probably learn after dozens of hours of YouTube tutorials.

Houdini is often taught in classrooms at VFX schools throughout extensive courses, and it can take years to master. However, there are a lot of great resources available online to help you get your bearings and begin your journey to learning one of the industry’s most dazzling VFX tools.

Check out this recent sizzle reel from SideFX that showcases Houdini’s latest capabilities!

Benefits of Learning Houdini

We’ve shared our reasons for why we think Houdini is a great platform for VFX artists to unleash their creativity, and also discussed some of the latest innovations available to VFX artists in Houdini 18.  

Not only can Houdini produce animations and VFX for Hollywood, but it also offers an array of game development tools. You can even use it in a pipeline for developing assets for export into the Unreal Engine. So, learning one program could offer a myriad of possibilities for your VFX career across various industries.
One of the biggest advantages of Houdini comes down to its unprecedented level of procedural generation. Adept Houdini artists can produce magical worlds from nothing, with fluid dynamics, cloth and hair simulations, destruction simulations, and much more.

Where to Learn Houdini

If you’re interested in learning more about Houdini, the video series below is the perfect place to start. Not only does it cover an overview from a beginner’s standpoint, but it also offers a glimpse into some of the most helpful areas to focus on when learning Houdini, effectively maximizing your time and effort.

Because Houdini is so advanced, it can be intimidating or even impossible to follow along with most Houdini tutorials out there without first establishing a foundational understanding of the basics. This series’ emphasis is on sharing the most elementary aspects of Houdini for those interested in learning more.

It will help you decide whether or not it’s something you’d like to pursue, and it’s also a great way to build that solid level of insight that will help you be more confident in the future as you progress into learning more about the program. Below is the first video of the series.
For the entire playlist, click here!

Beyond jumping into YouTube videos, there are several other places you can learn Houdini. If you are serious about a career in VFX, be sure to check out our coverage of some of the best places to learn VFX online.

One of those mentioned is The VFX School, which specializes in Houdini, and offers a very unique approach to its curriculum. Rather than pushing you through tutorials that may not really be in your field of interest, they offer three different courses that each have their own emphasis on Houdini production.

First, Tabletop Food Simulation is a perfect course for anyone interested in product-driven commercial VFX. From splashy liquid physics to photorealistic fruit and colliding coffee beans, the course will help equip you with the knowledge needed to produce glossy TV-ready VFX.

This course is for students who are already well-versed in 3D concepts, but may be new to Houdini.

Tabletop Food Simulation - Vol 01 | Teaser | The VFX School from The VFX School on Vimeo.

While “product VFX” might not necessarily sound as exciting as producing action scenes or animations for Hollywood blockbusters, the commercial industry is full of opportunities for VFX artists to tackle big-budget projects on a regular basis, and is certainly a career worth considering.

They also offer a “Film FX” program that shows you how to replicate popular superhero VFX, as well as the “Houdini Renascance Program,” which is a comprehensive course that walks you through 32 hours of intensive training to deliver your first Houdini project with confidence. 

One thing to keep in mind with the VFX School’s training is that it’s currently focused on Houdini 17, not Houdini 18 (the latest version).  

Applied Houdini is another great source for deep training in Houdini. Tutorials are taught by Steven Knipping, a Senior Rigid Body Destruction / FX Technical Director at Lucasfilm's Industrial Light & Magic.

He’s worked on films like Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, Avengers: Endgame, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Aquaman, bringing his years of blockbuster VFX experience to dozens of Applied Houdini courses. 
You can also find several great free tutorials and previews of other premium tutorials on his YouTube channel.

Lastly, if you decide to pursue a certification in VFX from an accredited institution, Gnomon’s Certificate in Digital Production / VFX Animation Production is a great way to go. You’ll receive extensive training in not only Houdini, but also After Effects, Realflow, Maya, Nuke, and more.

No matter which way you choose to learn Houdini, focus on building content for great demo reels as you grow your understanding in one of the most best and complex VFX programs available!

First time here? ActionVFX creates the best pre-keyed stock footage for VFX and filmmaking. (We also have some great free stuff!)

From Fire and massive Explosions to Blood and Gore VFX, we have the largest VFX library in the world ready to be composited in your project. Check out over 3,400 VFX stock footage elements right here

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