The Patrick Nugent
Technically Pretty // 3D, Motion & VFX

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Learning Houdini - Resources

Last month, after some prodding from a fellow mographer, I took the plunge and started digging into the world of Houdini. I'm obsessed. I often feel like SideFX took my favorite nerdy bits from Blender, After Effects, and Processing and swirled them all together into a genius workflow alongside their hyper-powerful VFX and simulation tools.

Fun Fact: Houdini isn't just for pyro and massive simulated destructions (but those ARE pretty damned fun).

I always assumed Houdini was just a niche product for high-end vfx added in at the end of a production pipeline. From what I can tell I am far from the only one to hold this misconception. It can do all that classic Hollywood FX work, sure, but that's not what makes Houdini so uniquely powerful. This wizard-like power (seriously, it's fun) derives from a total conceptual shift that differentiates it from other 3D tools and it all boils down to one beautiful little word: Procedural.

Proceduralism is at the core of every tool in Houdini from simple box modeling to soft-body simulations and per-point attribute expressions. Watch any of the excellent (free!) SideFX produced training material and you are bound to hear the engineers and trainers talking about how to "think procedurally." I'll save my pro-proceduralism spiel for some other time, but I encourage you to check it out.

For now I leave you with this list of training materials for Houdini, though this list is really a study-guide for myself to return to. Full disclosure: This list was kickstarted from the list created by Houdini vet Ben Watts here.  I'll be updating this list as I discover more. I hope you find it useful.

(Oh, and if you're just starting in 3d world I'll have a list of Blender resources soon too. I <3 Blender)

  • SideFX Produced
  • YouTube & Channels
  • Training Sites
  • Houdini Specialists (vaguely sorted from least to most technical)
    • Rohan Dalvi
      • I can't stress enough how great and wide-ranging Rohan's training materials are. I keep buying new ones. He's at the top of this list for a reason.
    • Peter Quint (youtube / vimeo / home)
      • The classic. PQ is the original Houdini internet-guru. His videos online are a bit old now but they cover the fundamentals so well that they are easily must-watch material.
    • Hossam Aldin Alaliwi
      • I haven't bought any of these yet but after watching the trailers I am eager to get my hands on them as soon as I can afford it. Linear Mathematics! Hooray!
    • Entagma
      • The new hip kids on the block. Showing off advanced concepts in style. 
    • CgWiki
      • Remember text-based tutorials? Well Matt Estela does and they are excellent, brief, well organized and loaded with animated gifs. heaven.
    • Ryoji CG Memo
      • an eclectic mix of useful tid-bits and examples.
    • Deborah Fowler
      • Dig into the advanced stuff with a VFX pro
Patrick Nugent