Siggraph 2015 Rewind - Athanasios Pozantzis: Houdini and Cinema 4D R17

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Houdini Engine support in C4D R17 offers powerful procedural possibilities

Athanassios Pozantsis (aka Noseman) demonstrates the powerful possibilities provided by Houdini Engine support in Cinema 4D Release 17. Procedural assets created in Houdini can be loaded into Cinema 4D if you license the Houdini Engine.

04:44Icicle Generator
08:49Getting Houdini Assets
11:37Flip Tank Fluid Sim
15:17Fracturing Asset
17:28Point Attributes and Vertex Map Input
19:21Viscous Fluids
22:36Plastic Deformations
23:28Houdini Expressions Inside C4D
26:00Melting Object
30:04Material Support
31:07Voxelizer Color
32:51Volume Selector
33:46VDB Smoothing and Merging

Noseman demonstrates several assets he and others, including Simon Fiedler, have created for use in Cinema 4D, including an icicle generator, dynamic fracturing, a flip-tank liquid simulation and voxelizer.

Houdini Engine assets will be available via the Orbolt store.



- Let's begin with the following question, What is a Houdini Engine? And in order to explain that, we have to take a step back and imagine in today's market it's very aggressive competitive products, employee poaching and all sorts of aggressive movements from competing companies and a couple of companies in the market, aside from Side effects and MAXON, decided that there could be another way. Side Effects has this fantastic V-effects program called Houdini and it's and it's full version costs like $7,000, but worth every single penny and they said okay, let's do something. We're going to strip away the interface, wrap it all in a little box and allow other applications to use Houdini as a plugin. Now can you imagine that? One of the most powerful V-effects software, they decided to allow their own program to become a plugin for other applications so they created a series of libraries the API and it allows third parties like MAXON, which in this case we're the first party, but from a Houdini point of view we are a third party, to create plugins so that we can load Houdini files inside Cinema 4D. I think there are versions for other applications. The only one that's developed by the host development team MAXON in this case is The Houdini engine plugin for Cinema 4D. It's developed by MAXON from of course in collaboration with Side Effects. So the Houdini engine does one very simple thing. It allows us to load Houdini files into cinema 4D not only that, it allows those files to have parameters so that we can control the Houdini file from within Cinema 4D and part of what I'm going to do today is show you a series of these kinds of assets, how they work and what are the concepts behind them. One of the very few times when I do keynote presentations blah, blah, blah I said that and just as an overview, this is the general concept. We have a C 4D document. In that document. Let's assume we have a C 4D object and a Houdini digital asset. Now every time the scene updates what happens is that the C4D object goes down to the little cogs and wheels of Cinema 4D and gets evaluated. At the same time the data from the Houdini digital asset with any associations from the Cinema 4D file goes down to the engine which is the full Houdini product, the full thing nothing missing except for the interface, gets evaluated as it would in Houdini in the same amount of time and the result gets sent back to cinema 4D merges with the cinema 4D component, comes around and updates. So what we get is an actual Cinema 4D object and let me show you , don't press next to show them, and this is the one thing I'd like you to see this is the licensing structure of Houdini. Now I'm not going to explain this. It's easy to understand and if you go to you will find the link to certain YouTube videos I made proudly, that explain the licensing structure and all the things about the Houdini Engine and you'll find this chart as well, so this will allow you to see which license you need in order to run what. So yes, pretty much done with our presentation, I mean the keynote part of it, so I can quit that software. Good. So I'm in Cinema 4D and first of all, a shout out to my friend Simon Fiedler. Peace brother. Simon had an accident with his motorcycle oh sorry- with his bicycle going downhill the other day and kind of the messed up his knee I told him that next time you make a dynamic bicycle and you put it down the hill in Cinema 4D but he was kind enough to give me some assets. He's a Cinema 4D user and he's been starting to create stuff in Houdini as well, and I'm just going to show you his website. I think it was somewhere here, last closed window it wasn't this one. Oh, it was in Firefox there you go. So it's Simon Fiedler, he does amazing work and you have definitely seen his work because he's worked very closely with the Ike sponsor as well that do all these fantastic things with Formula Ones and spaceships and gooey green liquids and whatnot. So yeah, check him out. Thank you again Simon and bye bye Simon. So number one- One of the assets he created is the icicle generator and I'll just render in a second. So there you go. Physical renderer. What are we seeing here just so that you get an idea. That little green thing with a Houdini logo the little spiral is called an asset generator. That is the asset essentially. The little two children underneath, they're the little mesh objects with the H for Houdini, are the output generators and that is where we get the result from the process that the Houdini engine does. Now in this case, I've just put two Cinema 4D materials, One of the rock and one of the icicles. I was told by a friend that these are stalactites and then I realized because he's from California. He hasn't seen an icicle so he thought it was a stalactite. I don't think that you get ice anywhere around the valley. I just put two materials and this is the output. What does this look like if I click on it in the attribute manager, we get a certain number of attributes. This is insignificant for now. We have our little input and then we have all these things like icicle density, I can change this number, press enter and you will see some calculations are taking place and the whole structure changes. So essentially what we have here is a generator, just like we have a generator when we create a circle and then extrude object and put the circle as an input to the extrude object. It gives us a mesh. So we have a generator, we have an input. This gets processed inside Cinema 4D and spits out a mesh. This is exactly what the Houdini Engine does, only the calculation for what we are creating happens in the Houdini Engine and is a Houdini file essentially, this little thing here. Now let's see what the advantages of these parameters are. The specific asset has been created, by default, to create a sphere. That sphere gets capped, it gets deformed, on the deformed mesh we create an ice sheet and from that ice sheet, stem icicles that's what works inside, the inner workings and it allows us to change our object to something like a Taurus for example, are going to make it visible here you can see there's a Taurus, going to just go around and I'm going to drop the Taurus in the input this time here, and it's going to do its little calculations and going to generate the icicles and now I can get rid of this Taurus, oh, it won't render anyway, so who cares. And you will see now that we are actually rendering, come on render, there we go, with a new shape so Taurus, cap, deform, ice, icicles, that happened again in the Houdini engine and this is the outcome. Let's make it a bit more challenging and a bit better looking just by adding my name as an input. My name makes everything look better. So Heaven knows man somewhere here, just so that you can see the Noseman text, there it is and now the input geometry is a motext object. Now this is one of the advantages, the developers at MAXON did a great job. Any, any valid cinema 4D object can be used as an input- anything and you don't have to make it editable, you don't have to do anything. You just drop the object as an input and everything works. As you can see now we have Noseman, we have the layer sheet and I can go and change my icicle density to 100. Again, it's going to do some calculations. Down here, it's going to say- it did it already that's faster I than expected it and I'm going to render it one more time so that you get an idea of the flexibility. Now the S is more visible so that gives you a first idea that- wait a minute I can create plugins? Yes, that is the idea. You can create plugins which are basically Houdini set ups and open them up in Cinema 4D. There's a lot more to it. We're going to see many more things. One commitment that MAXON is making is that, within the next few months there's going to be an effort to create- MAXON is going to create a lot of assets ready for Cinema 4D artists. Now there's a place on the Internet called the Orbolt store,, Orbolt Smart Asset 3D- Smart 3D Asset Store. If you go here, log in, do whatever you have to do, you will find any assets available and we will make it- it is part of the plan within the next couple of months to start uploading assets for Cinema 4D users so you can start doing more things. So write down this address and log on. Of course, you can ask me what kind of things, you're going to ask me. What kind of things. And let's go and see what other things we can do. Simon was kind enough to give me another asset I think you told me not to show it but what can you do? You're in bed, bandaged knee. Sue me. So now this has a bit more calculation and it takes geometry and it cuts it in slices so you have that opportunity. Anyone that gets R17 the Houdini plugin is going to be part of it, so you're going to install R17 and you can find a new pipeline menu and everything you need about the plugin if you don't have the engine, it's going to tell you to get Houdini installer is going to find the proper installer from the internet point you there. Download it and it will tell you exactly what to do and believe me when you get your hands on this, because Side Effects is kind enough to allow it's Cinema 4D users to get I think for a month of free license for the engine so you are going to have the ability when you get your hands on R17 to test it out and you will see that it's one of the stablest pieces of technology in line with Cinema 4D practices. Anyway, so this is a slicer, we get put in a Taurus or anything we want, go to the asset tab and we change things like the number of slices and we can see that there is a calculation going on under the hood. Now, one thing I need to tell you. Whenever this thing goes on and we wait for something, that's not Cinema 4D. We had to make it very, very clear. That's the Houdini engine working. If it's a complex set up is going to take more time and the minute that's finished we have the result in milliseconds. The overhead is, I think it's close to zero. So let me close this down and let me open another asset. This is one I made. I'm quite I'm quite proud of it because it's part of the demo videos I did and this is actually a flute simulation inside Cinema 4D. I'm going to press play and you'll see this is real time, this is not cached. I'm going to explain the- I'm going to let it run because, I'd like you to see one very particular function of the Houdini asset. If the Houdini asset itself has been designed to cache particles or anything like that, the cache is read after the first pass, so what it's doing now, it's calculating and it's writing. I think these are 250,000 particles. It's quite light, but it's actually writing the data somewhere in this and when it's finished- there you go. So although functionality that Houdini has is taken into account so we have- It's like using Houdini inside Cinema 4D. There's no other way to explain it, so let me show you something about this asset. You can see we have a two different outputs we have- I hate these balloon helps. I think there's a switch somewhere. So we have a mesh output but we have a particle output as well. So we can bring particles from Houdini in the same way and we can see them here. We can always go to our simulating particle settings and all that and see what groups are available and everything. So these are thinking particles now, which we can treat them as such. But, let me show you something else. Let me move my playhead somewhere here where the splash is a bit more dramatic, and I'm going to click on this asset which is red and it's red not because it's angry like me, but because it doesn't have the inputs it needs to provide us an output. So it's saying, "Come on guys, do something I need some more information here." This is a mesher, this is a mesher. It's made by Side Effects and it utilizes the excellent meshing tools they have in Houdini and it's very simple. You just drop your particle output in here and badda bim badda boom, you have a mesh output and you put some water on it and you render, and you render water. Now how cool is that? How cool is that? I'm going to say it until I hear some noise, How cool is that? Yeah! It's very cool. Oh, I can hear them shouting from the Internet. We've got the volume off. So yeah, we can do Flip fluids. The other parameters I've exposed in this asset which I have made, and I'm proud of it, it's not easy to make in Houdini you don't believe me I know. So we have the resolution of our particles, we have the water level, we have a size of our container, so this very simple asset allows us to do a little flip tanks. Now we will have flip tanks that can take the shape of other objects, but that's for smarter people to make. But it will be an asset that you can create any shape container and do splashes and whatever you want and water movement will be available for you. Now with the Houdini 15, they announced that their meshing algorithm, you can actually get extremely smooth surface and all that. It's going to be magical. The combination is stellar. Anyway, I'm getting excited for something I've been working on for over a year and a half now. Let's move on. Flip tank. Everyone likes breaking things including me- explosions, planets, all that stuff. So here we have a standard Motex objects here you go, we have a standard Motex object. And we have a collision Q which is basically the surface here and this little asset where you drop in an object a fracture, a collision that you can have a constraint, now this was made for us. I asked for it was made for me by Side Effects and I had no idea what the constraint is, but that's another story. But if I press play the following thing happens- it starts falling. The dynamics that are occurring at this point are not Cinema 4D dynamics, they are Houdini dynamics. So each frame, it's going down to the Houdini engine, it's getting fractured, the geometry is getting returned it's been textured and it's here. So this is a fracturing acid. I'd be like, "Okay, I can get I know [inaudible 0:16:14] make it invisible, blah blah blah. What you can do is go here and say- you can't do this I bet you, oh I need to see the rocks so I'm going to do this. So I just change the text and it will break. I don't think this is good publicity for Noseman though, maybe I should put this up on the on the rocks, but anyway. So this is one of the natures of the workflow that because you can feed in any kind of a Cinema 4D object, you don't lose the procedurality that Cinema 4D is famous for. So you don't have to make things editable and all that and have a other copies and so forth and now even with a take system is like woo. So let's continue. Are you liking it? Are you liking it? I know it's the third day, it's coming to an end. Just give me something, please. Work with me, work with me. So let's go on. I love this one, I love this one. There you go, so a new principle. Look at that little weight tag. So Houdini has this capability of assigning attributes everything, everything. You can just assign attributes everywhere. Polygons, points, attributes, you can call a points phanasis or nose man it doesn't make a difference. You can just do that for no particular reason, but you can do it. But we need to find a way, a C 4D way, of bringing attributes from Houdini inside Cinema 4D. We don't support attributes for everything okay. That's why it's much simpler to use Cinema 4D. We have explicit attributes. A point is a point. A point is not phanasis by no stretch, but since Houdini can do it we need to find a way. So we bring any attribute in as a weight map, a vertex map, or a weight map for each point it assigns a float number from zero to one. So that means that you can bring point color information using three of those one for red, one for green, one for blue. In this case what I've done, I've created this asset again that the only thing it does it takes a polygonal plain surface in the clone, into that surface, it takes any object in the clone and what you do, you start painting in a vertex space and it creates- just select this, but actually scales the object based on the value of the vertex map. So just imagine there's a step further, we can start painting at our forests and stuff on mountains and all that, all that cool stuff so that was- I only show that not to show my capability in Houdini but to show that we can actually bring attributes okay. Just wanna make that clear. There's no self promotion going on here. So cake and syrup and everyone likes cake and everyone likes syrup on their cake. So viscous fluids, because we can bring in simulations, we can make cakes and dress them up with all sorts of condiments and all that. Now the reason to slow it- well it is a bit fast on my laptop but anyway. It's slow because it's doing quite a few things it's got three fluid emitters, one for chocolate, one for syrup and one for cream. Then after it's created a simulation, it actually sends the whole thing for meshing and it's coming down- well you know viscous fluid simulation is not going that bad. I'm going to let it run for a while just so we can get all three emitters into play or I can do something else. I can stop this. Did I press click? I'm going to move it- where is my camera. Do I have a camera here? Yes I do. So there you go. Let me do this. So I have these three little blobs up, so it's the three emitters. Now if I render this not only we can see the three distinct emitters that have been shaded with three different ways we actually have a blend of the stuff. We can see the cream and the chocolate blending. Now you'll ask me of course, "How is that possible? Well it's quite simple. I'm going to take this and take it outside and making a copy of it, making it editable. I'm going to copy and then go and paste it in here okay. So I pasted it. Let me frame it here. I'm going to get rid of my three materials and I'm going to show you what each and every one brings So each and every one of those vertex maps is bringing the mask of each unique material. So the first one is chocolate, second one is cream, and the third one is syrup and I'm using these in the following context for anyone that doesn't know, I'm sure you do but I have to show it, I'm an educator. I have to show everything. What is called a vertex map shader and lets drop this little bugger in here- not in here actually, there you go and I'm going to assign the material and render it and you'll see that I'm creating a mask based on the data that came in from the vertex map and this way if I use the luminance in the alpha channel, I've got chocolate and its masked by this. I've got syrup, it's masked by the other one and so forth. This way I can create these fantastic blends and just to give you an idea, I have the actual movies somewhere here and just watch this. This is just a render of what we saw before and look at that. The color's blending, just because we are utilizing the best possible way the data that comes in from Houdini. The limitation is fantastic, absolutely fantastic. I can hear the gears grinding your heads. "What am going to do with this, what am going to do with this going to make cakes." So yay! Cake and syrup. How are we going for time?. Oh, we're going well. We still have time. I'm going to slow down a bit. So, plastic deformations- everyone loves Jell-O. Okay, Jell-O is it's good for you. Jell-O is good, even if you look at it like it's wobbly and it's fun and here we have, once again, in Motext and I'm going to press play and this thing starts falling. So the particular asset creates two objects- the ground plane which is our ground plane, dynamic ground plane. Ooh, look at that, interesting. The other one is geometry and any point I can go and change my text and as previously this will change. Let me show you how this looks. So there you go. Jell-O rendered in Cinema 4D and so forth. Let's continue here. We close this, let me open something else. Plastic deformations. Okay, for anyone that dabbles with any kind of a very simple code, this is a nice little surprise here. Now first of all, you're going to see an expression I'm using in here. I will make this invisible, good. I have made an asset that just creates a plane. This plane has polygons and I have a polygon selection here, which is called Group One and have material assigned to the group one so my red material was assigned to specific group. What this expression does- now the asset itself is not anything fantastic, but this is very interesting. What you see here is an expression in Houdini's native expression language and it says anytime you see a dollar sign just like with our tokens, a dollar sign is a parameter, so $PR is a primitive. So in a Houdini world, a polygon is called a primitive and the point is called the point. Okay but a polygon's called a primitive. So we are saying that of the total number of polygons here, modular for anyone who knows what modular is, only create a selection that contains only the polygon which is equal to the frame. So I'm pressing play and the frame drives the evaluation of this here because #F is the integer for frame. So you can create expressions in all Houdini's expression languages and use them in your assets. So you can actually create assets which have huge complexity depending on how much you want them to be. So it's a huge thing that now inside Cinema 4D we can utilize Houdini expressions and it's- yeah I find it very, very interesting because we can do something like this. I want to make a selection where the primitive number is larger than ten. So it's going to go to all the polygons whose index is larger than ten make them a selection or smaller than something. So you can create if you have a small mathematical model in your mind you can find all sorts of algorithms on the web or you can actually create patterns going in a most simple manner you can imagine just by creating one plane and one selection which abides to certain rule. Okay. Let's continue ten. Melting object- now this is not good looking but again I made this and what this asset does is the following- we have some particles here and I have a thinking particle set up which is just a [inaudible 0:26:16] and it creates a group called Heat. And when I fire particles- the blue particles are actually the melting object. Look at that. When the particles come close to the blue particles they heat them up and because they heat them up, they decrease the viscosity. Yeah. Anyway it makes it softer and the whole thing collapses. So if I take the output of that simulation, did I press play? No I didn't. If I go to the mesher and include for example, you can always go and do the following thing. Go to thing in particle settings and drag the output group you want so the melting particles are these ones DPimport01. Grab them, those ones. I can grab these and put them in my- there you go. So I actually made an object that not only melts but based on the temperature the color changes and I'd like to show you again it's not a well made, a good looking asset, but actually it's functional because that is what you get as a result and that's just my firing thinking particles that have a certain parameter heat and the way I did it I said, "Okay take the velocity and depends on the velocity heat it up more or less so if we are firing particles that are slow it doesn't heat that much, it melts in a much slower manner. Let's continue. Simple cloner. So it's kind of interesting because we can create assets that create clones. So here I have an object and a sphere where onto its surface we're cloning cubes. I can make a copy because what I've done here I've dropped the null called clones as a clone. So I can make a copy of my cube, move it out of the way and now I'm copping two cubes. Now even though I did the mistake of putting the asset itself in here the Houdini integration has been made in such a way that it won't freeze your system. They've got a great job to avoid these errors and now I'm going to select this and say okay, why don't I have like a thousand of these, 10,000. Why don't I have like 100,000 of these. So do these calculation blah, blah , blah, de , blah , de, blah, de, blah. 100,000 cubies. I'm going to make my sphere a bit bigger. I'm going to wait for the calculation de, de, de, de, de, tat- 100,000 spheres and watch this now. Oh I need to do it this way. Run- there you go. Sorry. So it's 200,000 cubes. Now mind you this a trick. I'm not going to tell you what the trick is but it actually works and I've done test with a million , two million cubes and all that and the view port is responsive. I'm going to tell you the secret. Because the way the engine works, it returns one object and as you know Cinema 4D has this unparalleled ability to handle large polygon counts so because this comes in as one object it can manipulate it in great speed and there's been implementation for materials as well. Let me make this a thousand. Let me make my sphere smaller because this is kind of important what I'm going to show now. I'm going to go in here and I'm going to get rid of one cube make this editable. Let me turn this off for a second, go and see where my cube is if I make it visible first. I'm going to select- simple stuff- I'm going to select one edge I am going to create a material with a noise in the color channel. I'm going to say I'm going to change the noise to something more interesting and for the texture, UV good and I don't want to drop it on here so it's created a selection and I'm going to turn this on and you can see the all cubes have the material and that's actually- it was instantaneous. But it actually went down the engine created material brought it back. So we can do that with the objects that have a materials on them and you can see every single one of them is an identical copy of the original cube. I hope you sense the power that comes with. I can, I hope you can. So what's [inaudible 0:31:16] color. Let me see if this is in here. Yes, the little guy. This is another asset that was created by Side Effects and it was more as an experiment so it's a simple Voxeliser. So what it will do in clone it will create a little cubes on any surface but then you can do something else you can bring in an image. I'm going to go here, I'm going to go to my Houdini Engine, I'm going to go to my Voxeliser color, I go to my text. That's my son and if I render this, hey, it's my son drinking his milk in the morning, because each and every one cube got the color from the plane so you can see how fast this Voxeliser is. So all these are cubes, these are not pixels. These are actual cubes. I can go here of course and say okay I'm going to do the following- the parameters allow you to make your voxel size bigger so I can render this and have this. I can make it smaller or render this, so this is not such a difficult asset to create. I didn't do it, but Side Effects did it. If you have any version of Houdini like The Apprentice and you can open you can import the assets, you can get for Cinema 4D, you can actually open them in Houdini and check them out. They're unlocked, so you can go and do your experiments, learn, do whatever you want so feel free to go and dive in. So a Voxeliser or volume selector, this is a yet again another example, what we can do. So here we have an input geometry and I've dropped this connect object in here and what I have is all sorts of primitives and wherever these primitives intersect with our figure object it creates a polygon selection now mind you, the figure is not editable but because what is sent to Houdini is a meshed version of whatever we put there, we actually receive polygon selections so you can do all sorts of things and keep your procedureality without having to make things editable in this way. So yeah, I can move this cube it whatever the cube is, it gets added to the selection a bit more. [Inaudible 0:33:48] emerge and again this is another one of those things which I find interesting because Houdini has a very good open VDB workflow one of those things is the mesher. So what's happening here is we get all these objects, we stick them in Houdini and Houdini take the whole thing and creates a volume out of it, blends the volumes because volumes can blend, and then re-meshes it so we can have quite a fast and efficient, what can we call this? Like metal balls? Depending on the accuracy and resolution of the objects you get a result. But everything is live, that's a good thing. I can change this to MAXON and you'll see that it will do the calculation and change. So these are just a few, I don't know if I have anything else to show in terms of examples. I will show you the movies one by one. This is interesting. So what's happening here is that when the object receives some kind of deformation, plastic information, some kind of force. I've promoted that attribute to become a mask in a vertex map. So you can colorize things based on the stresses they have and you can create all sorts of interesting things like anything that starts stretching, it changes color as well and you can make it seem like this has been- I think I rendered this with Arnold hence the beautiful motion blur. Anyway, I can't remember.cake and syrup1 we saw that, very watery. Cake and syrup 2 I just change one parameter and rendered again a bit more thick. Now all these little flickers, that's because my mesher was low resolution, you know I was in a hurry to get things out see how they work and so forth. Believe me, especially with Houdini 15 these things are going to be absolutely perfect and faster as far as I've been told. Let me show you this. For some reason I didn't bring the asset- crowd simulation. There you go. This is actually a cinema body render- zombies and all that kind of stuff. Zombies. My melting object, I'm not going to show it again. I feel totally embarrassed about that but I can show you the phone splash again and again and again. This is another version I did. I would say it's quite convincing to say the least. Yeah, and this had a fast turnaround because I created the asset actually, it took me like an half an hour to create the phone and everything else, download logos and so forth, this was set up lighting rendering in an hour. Let's make a phone with water jumping up and down. Now this is a most interesting of all, now visually it's atrocious. You can see it's a work in progress and all that. So what's the set up of this, this is a flip tank just like the one I did but we have white water so we have the water undulation, we have white water, which is the spray and we have the particles and then we have spray which is this misty stuff. This is a render from inside Cinema 4D. There's one little catch. It's Arnold, so yes Cinema 4D doesn't support VDB volumes and renders like that but Arnold does. Arnold Cinema 4D that is. So my asset was made so that it exported the VDB for the mist, the water mist in a file sequence that was named after each frame and the Arnold renderer would actually read the VDB while it was merging the Cinema 4D elements with it and this is one it's just a direct render from Cinema 4D. And not only that, the smoke asset I made for Arnold specifically you can get an object, put it as an input and have smoke coming out from cubes that are moving with a random effect that has animation on it and it works perfectly. Seamlessly and it doesn't interfere at all with Cinema 4D. Arnold reads the file, merges the geometry, gives you the outcome. You can see everything, all the volumetric light works with the VDB volume and so forth I would like to ask you Did you like it?
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