Thursday, July 11th, 2013 Posted by Jim Thacker

Side Effects announces Houdini Engine

Side Effects Software has announced Houdini Engine: an API that extracts Houdini’s core technologies into an engine that VFX facilities and game developers can integrate into in-house tools and level editors.

The initiative eliminates the need to bake out and export data when working with Houdini in a pipeline: by enabling other tools to handle Houdini Digital Assets, the key parameters remain directly editable within those tools.

“In essence, we have turned Houdini into the world’s most powerful plug-in for any number of DCC apps,” commented Side Effects President Kim Davidson.

New plugins for Maya and Unity users
Freelancers and small studios benefit too: Side Effects is working on plugins for Maya and Unity based on the API.

The video above shows workflow between the applications in action: first, a custom Voronoi shattering effect is created inside Houdini as a node network, then the network collapsed into a single node.

Any parameters controlling the effect that are exposed at the top level automatically receive their own controls within the host software’s UI once the resulting Digital Asset is imported into Maya or Unity.

“Since all of Houdini’s tools can be wrapped up into Digital Assets, all of these tools are available to the host applications,” notes Side Effects’ Robert Magee during the commentary.



A Houdini Digital Asset inside Houdini (top) and Maya (above). As well as importing custom assets, Side Effects’ new plugins will enable Maya and Unity users to use ready-made assets from the Orbolt online store.

Both plugins are still in development, but anyone interested in beta testing them can register at the Labs section of Side Effects’ website.

During beta testing, the plugins will be free. Side Effects tells us that if it then decides to bring them to market, it will decide on pricing at that point based on demand and feedback during the beta period.

Read the official Houdini Engine news announcement