New course: <em>Houdini FX Tool Building Foundation</em>

New course: Houdini FX Tool Building Foundation

site news | September 24, 2019

This introductory level offering, taught by Robert Thomas, aims to get you started with a solid base of the foundations of tool building, showing how to create a complex Houdini file so that it can be run in dozens or even hundreds of shots with minimal effort in a pipeline. The course is primarily focused on a Houdini concept called OTLs, which is a way to build our own nodes out of other nodes. To that end, the course starts by making an object-level node that automatically generates emission geo from any arbitrary camera.

Those course shows how to provide hooks to users so that they can customize parts of the setup, how to create custom viewport handles, and how to improve the setup by finding inefficiencies and fixing them. You’ll learn how Python is used to control Houdini on a deep level with the OTL’s HDAModule, as well as looking at how to leverage various specially named scripts to further customize how Houdini treats the new node types.

Robert studied visual effects at the University of Texas, Dallas, where he took two semesters of Houdini and fell in love. His passion for Houdini and effects work blossomed during an internship with Side Effects, and six months later he landed his dream job at Digital Domain working on the Roland Emmerich film 2012. During his 10+ years at Digital Domain, Robby was attracted to tasks where he could build Houdini setups for other artists, and support those artists, solving any technical issues along the way.

This course is part of our new Houdini curriculum, which will roll out continuously over the next several years. The curriculum was designed by Andrew Lowell and aims to provide skill-based paths for artists who wish to focus on a certain specialty. As more courses are released, will we provide more details about the various courses and learning paths. Courses already released as part of this curriculum include:


There’s nothing quite like being given several dozen shots to do and watching your lead’s eyes widen when you have a compelling first version ready for each of them by the next morning. By the end of this course, you’ll be well on your way to creating the kinds of setups that let you do just that.


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