Nontraditional Approaches of Using Houdini

Intro

Houdini is a procedural machine. As of late, it's software potential is growing with every passing year, and more options and creations can be done with the program. However, Houdini is starting to overlap with other industries, as it's tools can be used for more than just visual effects and animation. In this chapter we will review some non-traditional uses Houdini is being used for. In a coming one, In another article I also talk about how Houdini could be used for in the future. (You can find this article HERE.)

Medical Rendering

Now when researching this topic I couldn't find too many articles regarding Houdini in the medical field. However, I jumped on my LinkedIn and found a bunch of artists who use it in their day to day rendering jobs.  I'll have their LinkedIn listed below if anyone is interested. But these artists helped make a big chunk of the information listed in the rest of the article.

I found a few companies such as Meditech International, that hire artists to render medical advertisements for them. However, they hire any artist that can do the job, not just Houdini users. This isn't bad, but it just means that this market for 3D jobs is a bit more fluid and open to more freelance opportunities than solid ones. As well as uses for other softwares beyond Houdini.

There also is lot of medical visualization FX companies in the United Kingdom. One that I explored was a company called Touch Surgery. They are a company that builds simulations for different medical procedures. Then they place them in an app so future patients of those procedures can explore what they will be going through. It wasn't clear on their site which software they use, but whichever software they are using seems to be doing the trick.

DG Medical Animations is another company that seems to be using the 3D world to it's advantage. This company also makes animations for larger medical and research companies. It also has a  blog I would recommend checking out. It talks about certain overlooked topics. (HERE) Such as how medical 3D animations can be used in a court of law to represent defendants and prosecutors. As well as how 3D animations can better explain procedures or treatments better than a pamphlet or a book can.

The medical field also employs many motion graphic designers as well. Which is great for the growth of motion design and animation in the 3D field.

NASA Development and Scientific Visualization

NASA is starting to grow and develop more CG art and design into the world of space and aeronautics. You may remember way back in the early 2000's and prior, NASA relied on traditional artist to visualize outer space, satellites, and other worlds. Now NASA as started to move over to 3D renderings and simulations for visualizing extraterrestrial space. NASA also uses Houdini for other things, but we'll discuss that later.

As of May 2017 a research paper is available online that shows how Houdini can be used for visualization purpose on astrophysics. Because Houdini now has Python tools that can used inside the software, it makes it perfect for bringing in large datasheets for visualization. as well, there is now also a website to now help train artist and researchers to use Houdini in there work for astronomy and other NASA work.

NASA is also making video games! They are doing this to help teach children about space travel, and the public about further research it has done. Since video games are popular in our community NASA figured it would be a perfect way to educate people about it's purpose. Most of these games are based off of NASA's current projects they develop in there labs, so they can gather more public interest on them.

A few other companies such as Blue Waters is aimed at training scientists and other users with different visualization softwares. One of them being Houdini. The occasionally give seminars about how to import data into the software to people already in the science industry. They also give tutorials as well. Currently, the main industry they are showcasing Houdini to is the super computing Industry.

Architecture 

There seems to be a a lot of artists and companies out there who provide architectural rendering. There is so much information out there about architectural rendering in Houdini and other 3D programs out there, I almost had a hard time making this section. There are so many companies and artist out there exploring the world of architecture and development that is a huge job market for anyone branching out from the VFX industry.

Houdini has some amazing procedural tools as previously discussed. These are undoubtedly amazing for quickly creating apartments, housing structures, and other modern buildings you might see around a city. Most homes and structures are designed in computer generated environments today, as it provides a better way to market the structure to buyers.

There are a few companies such as Hariri Pontarini Architects in Toronto that employ CG artists to render and design towers, and other aspects of interior design. By using the world of CG, they are able to simulation realities of currently non-existing buildings, and also how the buildings would appear during certain times of the day. 

The program Grasshopper 3D is also used in this field for easier ways to create abstract designs. Grasshopper is similar to Houdini as it is a node based program. It is designed as well for structural modeling, procedural modeling, and a non-script approach to design.  Junichiro Horikawa is an architecture/Houdini artist that uses both programs to feed into his abstract design, and architecture practices. I highly recommend checking out his talents on his site and YouTube. He's currently exploring multiple ways to combine the 3D world with systems and designs.

 

VR is currently growing as a tool in this category as well. It's being used as a way to show clients what a completed building might look like, give them a walk around a prospective home, as well as other ways to give them pros and cons of completed designs.

The architecture industry also uses 360 video, Augmented Reality, Ambisonic Audio, Augmented Virtuality,  and Cinematic VR to also market it's products to people. All of these visualization systems can be used with Houdini. Houdini can provide the models, simulations, lighting or other assets to the chosen system the client would like developed.

The Current Standing of Houdini Outside the VFX World

Houdini's software potential is growing. Currently, it's seen more as a visual effects software than an overall development program. This could be due the fact most of the trained users of Houdini are visual effects based, or come from an animation background such as myself. If you don't have employees that know how to use or develop the software differently, you are most likely going to only use it for one purpose only.

I think that aerospace companies such as NASA are doing the right thing by bridging science and computer art together. However, I think one step farther they could take it, is encourage universities and colleges to create programs based for bigger simulation artist positions. This could help encourage a background in workers to think both in a 3D space and in an artistic one. Also, by having artists on a VFX team that have worked for science based companies such as NASA, the film industry could hopefully be able to add more realism into visual effects. Or even better, use these college programs to train future clients about what should look real on the silver screen.

References

Adaptive Fluid Simulation Using a Linear Octree Structure: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=7837&context=etd

SIGGRAPH '19- ACM SIGGRAPH 2019 Talks: https://www.siggraph.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Open-Access-for-SIGGRAPH-2019-Talks.html

product / medical visualization and illustration: https://www.sidefx.com/forum/topic/22854/

Scientific Visualization in Houdini: https://bluewaters.ncsa.illinois.edu/webinars/visualization/houdini

Houdini for Astrophysical Visualization: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1538-3873/aa51b3

Houdini for Astrophysical Visualization: https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2017PASP..129e8008N/abstract

Rohan Dalvi: https://www.rohandalvi.net/home

Featured Artist: Serjan Burlak: https://www.gridmarkets.com/serjan-burlak

AVA Studio: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ava-studio-4b217173/

Meditech International: https://www.woundscanada.ca/news/149-clinic-meditech

Daniel Smollan: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielsmollan/

 

Jitendra Sahu: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jitendra-sahu-8499826a/

What is AR, VR, MR, XR, 360?: https://unity3d.com/what-is-xr-glossary

Sergei Falaleyev: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sergei-falaleyev/

A Game Designer Walks Into NASA Astronaut Training: What Other Industries Can Learn From Us: https://yowconference.com/talks/jennifer-scheurle/yow-2019-sydney/a-game-designer-walks-into-nasa-astronaut-training-what-other-industries-can-learn-from-us-10882/

Make a Moon or Mars Rover Game: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/learn/project/make-a-moon-or-mars-rover-game/

What's NASA doing making video games?: https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/129635/Whats_NASA_doing_making_video_games.php