Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video Part 3: Houdini, tools of VFX, part of Artists and Their Work: Conversations about Mograph VFX and Digital Art.
- It's interesting that certain tools tend to become, a lot like artists, certain tools tend to become thought of for one thing in particular. It's easy to forget, you know, that they have other capabilities. Do you composite or mostly in Nuke or do you find you're doing a lot of compositing? - I do do some compositing in Nuke. Mostly to get a handle on what a specular pass actually does, what a diffuse path actually does.
- Mmhmm. What I can actually do with a normals pass. - Mmhmm. Theoretically I know that with a normals pass I can do some re-lighting. - Mmhmm. But how does that actually work? What nodes do I have to use? What math do I actually have to use? So I can demo that for the compositers who not only don't have time to learn it, but don't have any plug-ins that work for them. - Right, right. So you find that experimenting with the composite and stuff effects and helps your 3D work. - Absolutely, it helps me communicate with the other departments and that's really the biggest thing to making the work go by faster.
- Mmhmm - Making iterations easier, so they can talk to me. Say, "Oh, hey, can you make this "thing like this for me?" and that's necessarily in the job description, - Mmhmm - but it's not necessarily a personal relationship. You kind of have to build that as you're working. - Right, right. - So you want to, you want to know everyone's name - (laughs) - and then you want them to know that you're open to suggestions - Yay - and you're really, you're there to help them.
- Right. - Even if you're in 3D and they're in 2D, You have one more "D" but that doesn't mean you're better. (laughs) - (laughs) It's not a D arms race. - No. - So tell me about this thing you've been building here while we've been talking. - Well, my intention was to have a fluid splashing down and catching on fire but - I was distracting you a little bit. (laughs) - I was a little distracted there at the end but what I was able to do, is this want I want? That is not the right node, that's why I'm having problems here.
There we go. What I have been able to do is create an emitter. - Mmhmm - Have it balance off of something. - Mmhmm - Have kind of a dynamic noisy emitter. - Mmhmm - And then it disappears into a sink at the bottom. - Nice. - Those things are all immediately available from the Shelf. One of the things that Houdini's really worked on is their user interface. - (mumbles agreement) - It's gone from super technical and gray and unfriendly to colorful and helpful and really high level.
- Is there, inside this file here, you know, maybe you could walk us through a couple of the nodes, like, you know, the emitter itself. What's causing the particles to come out of the sphere? - Sure, so here's the sphere, jump in there it's just that basic geometry and it's this creates surface volume which, let me set it's control b, there you go. Which actually has a whole bunch of stuff in the guts.
- Oh, wow. - Which basically builds velocity volumes and particle volumes, through this interface. - Nodes within nodes. - Oh yeah, procedurality and nested nodes is how Houdini builds it's power. So I'm telling it to have a curling noise - MmHmm - at a scale of 12 and we can actually visualize the velocities here.
- Oh wow. It shows you the speed and direction of the particles. - Yeah. Kind of looks like electricity at the moment but - (laughs agreement) - each of those curves is a single vector through space. - Mmhmm - So if a particle was going over one frame it would make that trail. - Right, right. - So after those volumes and particles are created they go into this dot network. - Mmhmm - Make that big again.
They're read in over here - Mmm - as a source - OK - and that actually points up here back to the original geometry. - Gotcha - One of the other things that feeding in here is the sink. Which was that big box underneath. - Mmhmm - So, there it is, so this kind of smoky volume here - Mmhmm - all of the particles, all of the density that's coming in here gets killed. - Excellent.
- Instead of just running off into infinity. And then the collision object, is box one, comes in over on this side. - Mmm - Right after the solver itself. So box one is there. - Nice - And then afterwards, it gets read let's make this a little cleaner. It gets read up here. - Mmhmm - So you can kind of see the particles. Gets some surfacing with FDBs.
- Mmhmm - And then I cashed it out here, that's what that- - And that enables the playback speed. - Yep, yep, yep. So it's some quick stuff. I could, I also changed the viscosity of the fluid. - Mmhmm - Up and over here, there's actually a couple places you have to do it. You can do it here. - Mmm - I can actually make it way more viscous.
I don't know if that's entirely visible. - A little bit, a little bit. - I do see a, definitely a difference in the flowing - Let's make it nearly, nearly solid. - Well that shows a huge difference now. - See how it's like, kind of like toothpaste? - Mmhmm - And it doesn't, the viscosity doesn't need to be global either, I can do it on a point by point basis. - Wow - Or have it based on a collision with something else - Mmhmm - Or even have it change over time.
- Nice - Yes, so let's have it go from so let's have it start not very viscous and then as it goes along it's going to get just more and more viscous. - Mmm, mmhmm. - So that's some of the easier stuff to do. Some of the things that come out of the package but Houdini has all of this stuff, all of the pieces that build it available to you.
- Mmhmm - So you can look how it's built, build you're own thing or chop it down to make something way more efficient. - Mmhmm - Or add on your own things or combine, combine pieces. - Nice - As you learn. - So throughout your career you've had a lot of stages in your development that have all kind of coincided with technology in the industry, technology that you've had access to. You know, can you tell me a little bit about how you've been able to keep up with that and not only about yourself, but how other artists are able to, or can be inspired to keep up with it and how, maybe, they can, they and you can give back to the community and to make things much easier to grasp.
- The thing about advancing technology and making things faster is it just makes it easier to get into it. It makes it so people coming out of high school can have four years of MAYA experience - Mmhmm - and say they have a demo real of a tiger crawling up a mountain. - (laughing) - Which would have been completely impossible 20 years ago. - Yay - So I feel like I'm being bested by the kids coming out these days.
Like they've got more of an advantage, but there's still the work experience. - Mmhmm There's still an artistry as well. I mean at the end of the day, the tools don't make, you know, who you are as an artist. The art makes you are as an artist. - Your ability to take critique. - Mmhmm - Your ability to work with a crew. - Mmhmm - That's probably the biggest thing to instill in new workers. - Mmhmm - Or new artists.
I think the best advice is classical art training. And learn to get your eye used to the real world. - Right. - Even if you're going to abstract it, even if you're going to use water colors or paper cutouts, - Mmhmm - There's still emotion and shape and form. - Yeah - That you have to have your eyes open to. - Mmm - One of the things I hear a lot from high prestige places like ILM and Pixar, is they want to see your sketch book.
- Yay. - They don't care if you're a programmer or an animator, they want to know that you can look at the world - Mmhmm - and then bring that information back and then translate it onto the paper, into 2D. - Wow. And the quality of the sketches isn't nearly as important as the fact that your sketching. - That you're sketching, that you're look at life - Mmhmm - that you know how to look. - Mmhmm, mmhmm. - Even programmers and pipeline people, I was just talking to a good friend of mine, Dan, he keeps sketch books, he was just saying that over the last six months where he's been unemployed, he's filled out a stack of sketchbooks.
- Wow. - Just going down to the coffee shop and sketching people. - Wow. - Because, remember at the base of it, it's art. - Mmhmm. - We're entertaining people, we're pulling them in. - Yeah. We're showing them new stories.
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