Thursday, October 31st, 2013 Posted by Jim Thacker

Side Effects Software ships Houdini 13

Side Effects’ third and final sneak peek video for Houdini 13, which shipped today. Watch the others here.

Side Effects Software has released Houdini 13, adding a number of interesting new simulation features to the procedural 3D package, and overhauling its lighting toolset to handle dense production scenes better.

Better integrated soft-body sims
If you’ve been following the developer’s Halloween-themed teaser campaign, you’ll already have seen the release’s headline feature in action.

Houdini 13’s new Finite Element solver analyses stresses on solid objects, then either bends or breaks each shape accordingly, generating squishily realistic soft body effects with volume preservation.

The solver links to existing simulation tools, opening up the possibility of complex multi-physics interactions.

In the press materials, VetorZero FX animator Fabiano Berlim is quoted as saying: “Now I can emit particles that generate heat based on friction, which lights a fire, that causes a solid object to expand and break.”

Faster rigid bodies, particles and fluids
Other new simulation features include improvements to the Bullet physics solver (shown in the video above, but not quantified) and the particle simulation tools (now “up to 10x faster”).

Particle sims can also now be cached and scrubbed in the timeline, and there is a new Axis Force that uses 3D volumes to control particles, for greater art directability.

The existing FLIP fluid solver also gets a few new features, including a new mist solver. FLIP simulations can also be layered on top of Houdini’s OceanFX surfaces, to generate realistic splashes.

Fluid surfacing speed has also been improved, thanks to support for the DreamWorks-developed OpenVDB volumetric format, first introduced in Houdini 12.5.

Support for OpenEXR 2 and OpenSubdiv
Houdini 13 also supports a couple of other notable open standards: OpenEXR 2 for deep compositing of renders generated by Houdini’s Mantra renderer in Nuke, while OpenSubdiv improves viewport subdivision display.

The implementation of OpenSubdiv integrates natively with Mantra and supports crease weights.

Reworked, Alembic-compatible lighting workflow
Finally, the lighting workflow has been reworked to handle large production data sets more efficiently, offering a new data tree view for assigning materials and lights to the objects and groups found in Alembic files as well as Houdini’s new Packed Primitive objects.

All told, another sizeable release. Houdini 13 is available now for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Pricing remains unchanged at $1,995 for the basic edition and $4,495 for Houdini FX.

The free Apprentice edition and the $99 non-watermarked Apprentice HD edition have also been updated.

Read more about the new features of Houdini 13 on the Side Effects Software website