Monday, July 18th, 2022 Posted by Jim Thacker

Sneak peek: Houdini 19.5

Posted on 18 July 2022. Check out this story for more details on the new features in Houdini 19.5.

SideFX has posted a sneak preview of Houdini 19.5, the next version of the procedural 3D software.

It features changes throughout Houdini’s toolset, from 3D modelling to character effects, fluid simulation, Pyro smoke and fire simulation, the Solaris scene layout system, and Karma, Houdini’s new render engine.

In the story below, you can find a list of everything shown in the video, complete with timecodes.

Updated 21 July 2022: Houdini 19.5 has now been released. We’ve left this story online as the timecodes for the video may be useful, but you can read a detailed run-down of the new features here.

Fluid simulation

Houdini 19.5 features several updates to FLIP fluid simulation workflow, including simulation up-resing, and the option to use any arbitrary shape as the boundary for a FLIP simulation, as shown in the image above.

00:24 SOP FLIP workflow
FLIP fluid sourcing and solving available in SOPs

00:43 SOP FLIP viscosity

00:53 SOP FLIP configs
“Many convenient set-ups” for FLIP in SOPs – examples include lava, beach, waves, ocean

00:58 SOP FLIP Boundary
Custom FLIP boundaries

01:02 SOP FLIP Domains
Resizeable domains with multiple collisions within tank

01:07 SOP FLIP Upresing
Balance low- and high-resolution sims to capture detail where needed

01:22 Kelvin Wakes (via SideFX Labs)
New time-independent deformer

3D modelling

The 3D modelling toolset gets a reworked Curve tool, though most of the completely new tools are available through SideFX Labs, SideFX’s set of experimental Houdini add-ons.

01:26 Curve Orientation
Enhanced Curve tool with orientation and auto-tangent support

01:34 PolyScalpel (via SideFX Labs)
“Highly versatile” cutting tool for curves and surfaces

01:54 PolyWireUV (via SideFX Labs)
UV generation for polywire geometry
Output rig to pose and deform with Houdini’s new KineFX rigging toolset

Smoke and fire simulation

Pyro, Houdini’s toolset for smoke are fire simulation gets performance and workflow improvements.

02:40 Pyro Source Instancing
GPU-accelerated instancing and turbulence

02:50 Environment Lights
Enhanced lighting for volumes like smoke and clouds in the 3D viewport

02:57 Content Library
Free, render-ready Pyro project files for Houdini’s Karma renderer, Unreal Engine and Unity


Solaris, Houdini’s USD-based toolset for scene layout and lighting, continues to evolve, with new brushes for populating scenes with objects, then orienting them by ‘combing’ them like a hair groom.

03:18 Layout Line Brush
More dedicated brushes for building environments in Solaris

03:30 Render Region
Moveable IPR window in the 3D Hydra viewport

03:37 USD asset database
Create, save and load individual database files for quick access to assets

03:45 Layout Paint Brush
Place USD assets with random scale, orientation and distribution

03:55 Layout Stack Brush
Vertical asset placement with optional spacing, randomised translation and rotation

04:03 Layout Comb Brush
Orient USD assets based on the direction of cursor: works rather like a hair groom brush

04:22 Light Filters (available in the Karma renderer)
Gobo and barn door
Light projection and gel

04:45 Light Filter Networks (available in Karma CPU only)

Crowd simulation

Houdini’s crowd simulation tools get a reworked look-at system for crowd agents, with artists able to use other agents or point clouds as targets, plus an ‘attention span’ control for gaze duration.

05:08 Crowds LookAt
Redesigned and expanded Agent LookAt capabilities

Hair and fur simulation

The changes to the hair and fur toolset this time round are mainly workflow improvements for real-time hair grooming, with the full changelog also listing an interactive hair cutting tool.

05:22 Grooming improvements
Mirrored brush actions also work on asummetrical grooms

05:40 Hair HDA procedural
Generate simple fur and/or deform complex hair grooms at render time
Works with Karma CPU, Karma XPU and any Hydra delegate, including RenderMan and Arnold
Does not consume a Houdini Engine licence

Karma renderer

Both the Karma CPU and new Karma XPU render engines reach milestones in Houdini 19.5, with Karma CPU now “ready to take over render duties” from the legacy Mantra renderer, and XPU moving into beta.

05:51 Karma Ocean
Dedicated ocean rendering with Karma Ocean LOP
Encino waves in Ocean Spectrum SOP

06:16 MaterialX Nested Dielectrics

06:21 Ongoing Karma XPU development

06:29 Facing-ratio and Curvature VOPs
Karma CPU only

06:31 Rounded Edge VOP
Karma CPU only

06:44 Coving
Watertight subdivision/displacement in both Karma engines

06:50 MaterialX SSS
Random walk subsurface scattering

06:57 Motion Blur
Dedicated Motion Blur LOP for simplified set-up

Character effects

Character artists get improvements to Vellum, Houdini’s position-based dynamics solver for soft tissues, but new rigging toolset KineFX mainly gets workflow and performance improvements this time around.

07:02 Muscles and Tissue
Vellum muscle, tissue and skin sims: fastser, more accurate and robust
Improved tissue sliding

Other new features

You can find a complete list of changes at 07:25 in the video. As well as those covered earlier, they include:

Karma CPU
Texture baking (beta)
Auto-crop post process
Motion vector and heatmap AOVs

Karma XPU
Bump mapping
Volume velocity blur

Character effects
Pose-space muscle deformation with FEM Deform
Ability to define rigid portions on skin via cavity maps
Ability to paint ‘soft tissue’ constraints on incoming rigid geometry
Tissue layer thickness and muscle compression controls

Shallow Water Solver SOP: very fast 2D solver customisable via masks

Integration with Unreal Engine and Unity
Unreal Engine 5.0 support, including on macOS
Unreal Nanite support for output meshes
Skeletal mesh I/O from Unreal
Output SOP support for Unreal End Unity

Redesigned LIDAR import with richer format
New spiral generator
Hexahedron primitive support

New tools available via SideFX Labs
Fast remesher
Tubular UV unwrappers
Physical ambient occlusion
Fast Gaussian curvature
Spectral feature tranfer
Geometry data-scan and mesh-scan clean-up
Buildings from patterns
Hair groom exporting to Unreal Engine

Pricing and system requirements

Houdini 19.5 is now available for Windows 8+, macOS 10.15+, and Linux distros.

Houdini FX costs $4,495 for a node-locked licence; $6,995 for a floating licence. Houdini Core, which lacks advanced simulation tools, costs $1,995 for a node-locked licence; $2,995 for a floating licence.

There is also a free Houdini Apprentice learning edition and a lower-cost, rental-only Houdini Indie edition. Both save in their own file formats and have feature restrictions. See a product comparison table here.

Read a more detailed run-down of the new features in Houdini 19.5.