Friday, March 15th, 2013 Posted by Jim Thacker

Side Effects Software ships Houdini 12.5

Side Effects Software has released Houdini 12.5, a major update to the 3D animation and VFX software.

Houdini 12.5 adds new cloud and ocean surface-creation toolsets, and incorporates the DreamWorks-developed OpenVDB volume-sculpting technology.

The new Cloud FX system, which makes use of OpenVDB, enables artists to sculpt and light clouds: something the signature graphic for the release, which shows clouds in the form of the Houdini logo, illustrates to good effect.

Fluid simulation also receives an overhaul, with tools for setting up animated ocean surfaces, then generating FLIP fluid sims from those surfaces, with a unified solver for generating spray and foam, and a separate tool for mist.

The software’s cloth, hair and Bullet physics simulation systems have also been updated, with the video above showing the interaction between fluid and rigid body simulations.

There are also a lot of other new features – more than you might expect in a standard half-point update – including new volumetric lighting options (shown above), improved relighting workflow in the IPR preview renderer, and a new Alembic primitive that removes the need to bake Alembic data into Houdini geometry.

“We actually considered for a moment rolling this out as Version 13,” Side Effects told CG Channel.

Houdini 12.5 is shipping now on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Pricing remains unchanged, following last year’s price cut to the Houdini FX edition of the software.

Side Effects Software, an industry leader in 3D animation and visual effects software, is proud to announce the immediate release of Houdini 12.5 which offers a wealth of new and enhanced features including Cloud FX, Ocean FX, OpenVDB volume sculpting tools and an optimized lighting and rendering pipeline with built-in support for delayed-load Alembic primitives.

The new Cloud FX tools offer an artist-friendly way of building, sculpting and rendering cloud formations. This workflow utilizes sparse volume sculpting tools created as part of the OpenVDB open-source initiative. The integration of these tools is the result of a direct collaboration between DreamWorks Animation and Side Effects Software.

Houdini 12.5 includes an Ocean FX Wave tool which deforms geometry into animated oceanscapes using volumes. You can visualize the results in the viewport and either render the geometry as is or export an animated texture to use as a displacement map. The Ocean FX Wave Tank tool goes even further and lets you generate a FLIP fluid simulation derived from an animated ocean surface. For even more realism, a unified Whitewater solver
is available to create spray, foam and churn based on the underlying FLIP fluid sim. A new Mist tool can then be used to further enhance the whitewater effects.

Igor Zanic and Thomas Hullin are two VFX Artists who beta tested Houdini 12.5 and its FLIP fluid tools. “Houdini 12.5 has the best fluid solver on the market. It is fast and reliable from large scale liquids to small viscous stuff,” says Thomas. “With the power of Houdini’s node-based procedural workflow you can really optimize your simulation. And the integration of Rigid Body Dynamics and FLIP fluids is extremely powerful,” says Igor.

The lighting and rendering pipeline in Houdini 12.5 has been significantly enhanced with relighting options and optimizations in IPR [Interactive Photorealistic Rendering]. Primitive support for file types such as Alembic resulting in much lighter data passing to either the viewport or the Mantra renderer. These enhancements make Houdini much more robust when working with huge data sets and demonstrates one of the key reasons studios are taking a closer look at Houdini’s Mantra renderer as their “goto” renderer.

Houdini 12.5 includes many additional features including Volume lights, new Bullet RBD constraints, a new PolySoup primitive type for optimizing large models, point primitives, a powerful Surface remesher and more.

Houdini 12.5 can be downloaded from immediately. Houdini, used for modeling, animation, character rigging and rendering, is available for as low as $1,995 and Houdini FX, used for visual effects such as particles,
Pyro FX and fluids, is available for as low as $4,495.

These prices include the first year on the Annual Upgrade Plan which gives you access to production-level technical support, daily builds and all major upgrades. The free Apprentice Edition can also be downloaded today and Houdini Apprentice HD is available for an annual fee of $99.

Visit the Houdini 12.5 web page

Read a full list of features in Houdini 12.5