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Side Effects releases Houdini Indie

Friday, August 8th, 2014 | Posted by Jim Thacker

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Originally posted on 6 August. Scroll down for updates.

Side Effects has tweeted that it has some “big news” to announce later this week, in time for Siggraph 2014 – and attached an image bearing the teasing words ‘Houdini Indie’.

Given that Houdini already has the free Apprentice edition for non-commercial work, it’s tempting to assume that this might be a new lower-priced commercial edition of the software, perhaps along the lines of Maya LT.

That would make a lot of sense, given that the work Side Effects has been doing with Houdini Engine makes Houdini a lot more interesting to games studios, and that to get the really interesting bits – the simulation and dynamics tools – you currently have to buy the $4,995 Houdini FX, not the $1,995 standard edition.

Either way, it’s got the Houdini community buzzing. We’ll post more details when Side Effects announces them.

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Updated 8 August: Houdini Indie is now shipping, and it’s pretty much what we speculated – and more.

It is indeed a low-cost version of Houdini, but it isn’t specifically targeted at games artists: Side Effects points to MONSTRO!, Chris Romano’s recent short, as proof of what indie animators can achieve with it.

Unlike Maya LT or Modo SE, it isn’t a cut-down version of the parent product: you get Pyro FX, fluids, particles, cloth, and all the other good stuff from Houdini FX too.

Plus, there’s a new indie licence of Houdini Engine, so you can then get all that good stuff into Maya – and soon, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, Unity and Unreal Engine – in interactive form.

(If you just want the geometry, it imports and exports both FBX and Alembic.)

So what’s the catch?
Houdini Indie saves in its own .hiplc and .otllc file formats, so you can’t exchange assets with the standard versions of Houdini – so there’s no using it as an extra low-cost seat within an existing Houdini pipeline.

And render resolution is capped at full HD for animation (stills are unlimited), so it’s less use for indie VFX work – although you could still use it to create FX set-ups, then render in Maya via Houdini Engine.

Who counts as an ‘indie’ artist?
For the purposes of licensing, Side Effects defines an ‘indie’ as anyone that makes under $100K per year, whether they’re a studio or individual freelancer, so Houdini Indie replaces the old $99 Apprentice HD edition.

Unlike Apprentice HD, it’s rental-only, but at $199 per year – plus another $99 per year if you want Houdini Engine – it’s cheaper than Maya LT. And obviously, it’s licensed for commercial use. Pretty neat.

Read the full news announcement about Houdini Indie on Side Effects’s website

View a feature comparison table of all the editions of Houdini

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