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Houdini Starting Tips

  • One of things that I cannot stress enough is File Caches. These are beyond useful.  When I was starting out, I made the foolish decision to ignore file caches altogether! In my head I was convinced that they were not really necessary and the cache out times were too long. Well, now I know better. It is way better to cache out particle sims/whatever sim you are working on, than to skim through your timeline and hope for the best. In a file cache you can load your cache from your disk space, and the play back speed of your sims will be much better. Just remember you need to add the .$ onto your named file cache.

  • The other thing to remember: If you don't need colliding objects in your scene, don't add them. Your render times will be through the roof, and so will your sanity.

  • Matte Shadow is a material you can apply to your ground plane. This is a godsend if you are exporting your EXRs to Nuke for a bigger project.

  • Understand your Geometry Spreadsheet. As soon as you understand how to watch how your attributes are operating, you are going to have an easier time problem solving. When things go wrong in Houdini, everything can get really hectic if you don't understand whats happening behind the scenes.

  • Motion and Velocity Blur looks great. But if you are compositing your FX into something later, it might be more convenient to add your motion blur in post. The reason I'm saying this is one: if you render your motion blur wrong, and it's baked into your Houdini file, you will have to re-render everything. Secondly, it's way more easier to place a single node for blur down in nuke,and edit it from there. This will give you a lot of control over your scene and FX.

  • Understand your render settings in Mantra. You can't create a great scene if it's rendered incorrectly. 

Overall, These's are the starting points as a beginner I would recommend you study. These were also the first things I didn't study starting out because I thought they were boring.  But if you would like to create some great works of art, look into these things mentioned above or visit my help page he

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