Thursday, October 19th, 2023 Posted by Jim Thacker

Sneak peek: Houdini 20

Posted on 19 October 2023. Houdini 20 is now shipping: check out the key features here.

SideFX has released sneak peek at Houdini 20, the next major version of its procedural 3D software for VFX, game development and motion graphics, which is due next month.

Houdini 20.0 features updates to the software’s major toolsets, particularly to character rigging and animation, to the simulation tools, and to the Karma renderer.

Many of the features shown in the video are updates to the Karma renderer, the CPU version of which officially became Houdini’s default renderer in Houdini 19.5.

Some of the new features are listed as being specific to Karma XPU, which runs on both GPU and CPU; the rest are presumably common to Karma CPU and Karma XPU.

  • Karma XPU fog box
  • Karma XPU Nested Dielectrics, Absorption, Dispersion, Cryptomatte
  • Karma fur shader with medulla support
  • Hex tiling
  • Physical sky
  • Distributed multi-frame and multi-shot rendering
  • Updated render statistics

In addition, the update improves support for MaterialX, the ILM-developed open standard for rich material and look dev data:

  • Material linker, material catalog, AMD MtlX library
  • Thin walled transmission for MtlX Standard Surface

Rigging and animation
Another section of the video covers new animation features, continuing the work done with the introduction of character rigging and retargeting framework KineFX in Houdini 18.5.

  • New animation environment: Selection Sets
  • Video reference in viewport

New character FX features include:

  • Feather system
  • Feather procedural for all Hydra delegates

As usual, there were also a large number of updates to Houdini’s simulation toolsets, including fluids, the Vellum solver for cloth and soft bodies, and Pyro for smoke and fire.

  • FLIP volume combine
  • SOP whitewater solver
  • Bubble generator
  • OpenCL ripple solver
  • Redesigned Houdini ocean procedural with support for all Hydra delegates
  • Vellum wind shadow
  • Projectile motion
  • Sticky collisions
  • Pyro: density driven gravity

In addition, the video shows updates to Houdini’s rigid body dynamics system, including a car rig created using new RBD twist cone constraints.

Other features
Other new features shown in the video include tools for creating art-directable clouds.

  • Cloud tools: Skybox
  • Noise-driven cloud shapes
  • Art directable hero clouds
  • Generate cloud shapes from polygons

The video also shows a Room Map VOP – which appears to be an implementation of parallax mapping to generate fake 3D interiors for buildings – plus quad remeshing for retopology, and machine-learning-driven terrain generation.

Outside the core application, Houdini Engine for Unreal gets a new tool shelf.

Price, system requirements and release date
Houdini 20.0 is due for release in November 2023. SideFX hasn’t announced an exact date.

The current stable release, Houdini 19.5, is 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. Find full pricing on SideFX’s website.

There is also a free Houdini Apprentice educational edition and a lower-cost, rental-only Houdini Indie edition. See a product comparison table here.

Read about Houdini 20.0 on SideFX’s website
(No extra information at the time of posting)

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