Course overview Course overview
Create Dynamic FX for film & games
Intro to FX using Houdini will give an exciting introduction to a variety of FX capabilities in Houdini. This course is designed to focus on VFX that are commonly called for in the film industry today. We will go over procedural modeling, fluid FX, particles FX, rigid body destruction, smoke, and lighting & rendering. Each week we will focus on a certain procedural aspect, while maintaining a wider perspective of Houdini's incredible capabilities. This course will strengthen your practical knowledge in VFX, and give you a greater understanding of Houdini's common uses in VFX companies. | *Note: Students can still take the course with a computer that has less performance, but the computations will take longer and some simulation won't be as high resolution due to RAM limitations. | Houdini's Apprentice education edition software is available as a free download, and is all you will need to take this course.
Intro to FX Using Houdini WHAT YOU’LL LEARN
The more you know, the better.
Your journey starts here
Lectures by Manuel Tausch
Manuel Tausch is the co-founder of Stormborn Studios in Vancouver, Canada, a boutique studio that specializes in Houdini effects. Over the course of 10 years Manuel has worked on over twenty feature films at some of the most prestigious studios around the world, including Weta, ILM and Sony Imageworks. Manuel is always trying to push the boundaries of procedural FX and enjoys building complex setups, programming tools and tackling challenging shots. He loves sharing knowledge and is constantly trying to improve his techniques. Manuel considers Houdini his tool of choice when it comes to building intricate FX rigs.
spring TERM Registration
Feb 11, 2019 - Apr 26, 2019
Oliver Wildt / Winter 2018
It is a great course so far and the things i am most interested are still to come (Particles, FLIPs, RBDs and Volumes) Overall i have zero complaints. I also would like to point out that you really feel that you want to teach people and not just show how stuff is done. This a great thing about the Houdini community in general but its something that should always be acknowledged.
Peter Tong / Winter 2018
I really like the course and the way you taught. I'm excited with those VEX coding and would like to learn more. Looking forward to your more advanced course coming soon. Thanks for you great work!
Grzergorz Olesniewicz / Winter 2018
I like how you've structured this course and how you are teaching. Having knowledge doesn't always mean you have the skill to pass it on to someone, but you definitely have it, that's why I find this course so awesome.
Martino Ferrara / Winter 2018
I want to spend two words on your workshop: for a beginner like me, this course was a real game changer, I struggled a lot, every week, but I know for sure that mastering these materials that you gave us will be the foundations of my future works! (and that's really motivating!)
Alasgar Hasanov / Winter 2018
Thanks for such a unique and interesting course! The course was for sure very unique and intense(the most intense Houdini course I have taken :D).
Companies that hire our students
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Receive personal individual feedback on all submitted assignments from the industries best artist.
1+ Year Access
Enjoy over 365 days of full course access. This includes all lectures, feedback, and Live Q&A recordings.
Certificate of Completion
Earn a Certificate of Completion when you complete and turn in 80% of course assignments.
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Simulating Tower Destruction
Interview with Greg Oleśniewicz
Hello, my name is Greg. I’m from Warsaw, Poland. I work as a Senior Motion Designer in the advertising industry. I’ve always liked watching massive effects in movies or games and I decided that I wanted to know how to do that kind of stuff, so here I am. As for now, I’m focusing on learning as much as I can. I don’t know if it will take me to the games or film industry, but I’m kind of open to that as I love both the same way.
CGMA Course Goals
My goal was to get a grasp of Houdini in general. Before I was watching many tutorials and managed to get through them but without understanding what was really going on. I wanted to start to understand Houdini, not just to learn a few tricks. And I can say I’m 100% satisfied with this course.
It took me a long time to decide on taking it since it does cost a few bucks, but it’s really worth every dollar. Having a mentor like Manuel Tausch who’s actually there for you not just to get by but to help you to improve is what makes the difference. If you can’t decide whether it is worth it and if you should take it – it is and you should. Do it, it’s awesome!
To correctly describe in detail how the simulation works I should write a book about it, but I’ll try to keep it short.
The main word for every aspect of this sim is proceduralism. The tower is built procedurally, the way it’s fractured is procedural, the way it collapses is procedural and so on. In practice, it means that anytime I want I can go back and change anything. It takes more time in the beginning to build all the complex systems, but after that, I don’t have to remodel anything. For example, if I want to change the number of floors in the tower to 5, I can just move the slider to 5 and everything automatically updates. I think in production it is crucial to be able to go back to any step you want and make a quick change.
The sim structure is kind of layered. As I’ve mentioned the tower is built procedurally. As for the fracture of the tower, it’s made with custom-made HDA which uses Voronoi Fracture and looks up the geometry to specify how much and where the cuts should be made. The geometry for the cuts is manually placed as it is more of an artistic choice where they should appear.
The fracturing is divided into two parts: the lower tower part and upper. The lower part gets some initial velocity so it explodes at the beginning of the sim. Then the fractures get constrained with some attributes telling them when they should break.
The bolt is just 2 curves that emit particles, no physics here just vex and some custom attributes. There are a few layers of small effects added to make it look pretty.
The simulation gets triggered with the distance threshold from the bolt and when the lower part explodes the upper part follows.
The collapsing is a physics-based simulation. The only custom additions are limits for the speed of collapsing parts so that they don’t go too crazy.
Smoke & Debris
When the collapsing is done and cached, it’s turned into points which are the source of the smoke and the debris. They share the same source but these two elements are done independently from each other because at this camera angle there’s no need for the debris to interact with the smoke.
First the smoke. This is something that took most of the time to make it look as it looks now. It’s mainly physics-driven with some custom fields here and there to enhance it a bit. The way to make it look good is going back and forth and adding one effect at a time. I’ve added the turbulence, tweaked it until I was satisfied, then added some disturbance and so on. For the sake of the optimization, it’s divided into wedges. The calculation took a LOT of time.
The debris is something Manuel suggested I should add after the course, – and here I want to thank Manuel for staying in touch after the course was finished and helping me to take this scene to the next level. There’s a lot of debris but only a small percent is visible because of the smoke. Nothing fancy with this sim. They re-emitted from the points with some custom initial velocity and rotation. The emission also fades out until the end.
And that’s about it. It just took a crazy amount of time and constantly going back and forth, but is totally worth it.
The start was pretty simple: a few pieces, a small liquid container with big resolution, a few points. With every iteration it’s all growing bigger and bigger, the calculation takes more and more time. It’s really important to start simple and build on top of that.
During the course, I’ve learned a few lessons. The first would be to divide everything into smaller parts and not to try to simulate everything at once. The second – cache everything. It really makes your life easier especially when you are building one effect on top of another.
But the most important thing is that I started to understand the logic behind it all, not just Houdini but also math behind VFX, coding and so on. And I’ve learned it thanks to how Manuel build this course. The materials are really hard, and there are so many topics in the course that I can’t imagine getting all this knowledge in such a short period of time by just watching tutorials online. And trust me, there’s also a lot of things you won’t find in the online tutorials.
I’m really happy that I’ve decided to enroll in this course and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn Houdini. Thanks to CGMA and to Manuel Tausch!