Not making progress learning Houdini? We are busting a few myths about learning Houdini that might be holding you back!
Okay. This myth I love because I’ve fallen into it before. In today’s video. We are talking about the myths about learning Houdini that’s most probably tripping you up in terms of your learning.
Hi, I’m Nelson Lim. If you don’t know me, I’m a digital artist and technologist. In this channel, I help CG VFX artists level up their skills and mindsets so that they can create more, earn more and live more.
Houdini is Hard to Learn
Okay. So let’s address the elephant in the room. Houdini is hard to learn. Well, that’s not necessarily a myth about learning Houdini, but one of the things you need to understand is that Houdini is a very open ended system. So the problem that a lot of beginners experience learning cookie that makes Houdini hard to learn is that they run into many rabbit holes and there are literally thousands and thousands of rabbit holes that you can chase. And each one of them to be fair. And to be honest, are all interesting rabbit holes to chase.
So what do you do? You basically need a system in place that’s going to keep you focused. So you avoid chasing those rabbit holes, avoid being distracted by those things that really don’t matter to you as a beginner learner at this point in time.
So what do I mean by focus on the basics? I really mean focusing on key concepts, such as proceduralism noise, basic,particles, like really getting to know the particle system, because really a lot of things built on your concept of particles and simulation, and you will use it throughout.
For many of you who do not realize it, even Houdini’s water system – the flip solver is a particle based system. So is grains. Everything is many things in CG is based on particles. So getting a good grasp of particle simulation is extremely important. And as a Houdini artists or Houdini effects artist, a good grasp on basic rendering and shading is really, really critical.
So these are the things and the basics that I really highly encourage you to focus on.
Alternatively, I would say, sign up for a good solid course taught by, by a good mentor with professional,with industry experience and a good record of being able to teach,uyou know, explain concepts and explain not just the, what of the steps, but the whys and hows and how things relate to each other. I mean, that’s really critical to learning any new knowledge, but more importantly, it’s extremely critical,to learning how to be an effective houdini artist.
Houdini is not a beginner’s tool
Okay. Let’s really bust this myth about learning Houdini. Houdini is not a beginner’s tool.
Now I have seen so many people say that I have seen even industry professionals say that, you know, “I don’t recommend you to learn Houdini as your first tool because it’s not for beginners.” That is absolutely not true.
In my opinion, Houdini is the best way to actually learn CG skills, especially if you don’t have a background, if you’ve never used Maya before, if you’ve never used any of the other software, blender, whatever, if you’ve never used any of that before Houdini is a great way to begin learning CG skills.
And the reason is because Houdini is such an open-ended tool, you really can learn anything inside of Houdini. You can learn the basic concepts of modeling you being texturing all the way down to rigging animation. Although I know that’s not what it’s mostly useful, but as it beginner, you know, there are concepts in there that you can most definitely use to read really simple things, animate really simple things. But as you go into rendering simulation, all of that Houdini, so open-ended, it actually helps you to have a deeper understanding of what’s happening.
So what I find is that a lot of CG beginners, if they start off with Houdini as one of their first packages like myself, I mean, it was one of my very first packages moving into the industry. Your understanding of CG concepts becomes so much deeper because you can explore when you have questions. Why does a certain thing a certain way? How does how is it that your particle solvers work a certain way? You can literally dive inside the node and figure out how are they calculating some of the things. So Houdini in my opinion is a great way for beginners to begin.
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Houdini take a long time to learn
Next myth about learning Houdini – It takes a long time to learn.
Well, any digital content creation application is going to take a long time to learn, especially if you’re coming in fresh with not much basics in 3d or CG. So that’s a given. However, with Houdini, it doesn’t take longer than any other software package to learn. In fact, I think with the right structures in place, you can learn really pretty fast.
So if you’re trying to learn Houdini simply following tutorials and following the steps and just replicating the steps, then what you will find is, “Yes, learning Houdini and effects could actually take a long time”. Because the problem that you face is that all you’re doing is you’re only able to replicate the exact same steps that the tutorial talks about. However, you can’t do anything from scratch. You don’t really know how to apply it into your own situation anymore, because what you’re really doing is a rote learning. You’re not really understanding the why’s and the house.
I need to know complicated math
Kay. I see lots of people being stressed out by this myth, which is that I need to know complicated math. As a beginner the kind of math that’s involved is very basic. You know, obviously arithmetic, you must know how to add,uand do your basic arithmetic, but,ualso really you just need to know really basic vector math. So, mf you’re not familiar with that Khan academy has a whole bunch of free content out there for you to learn very basic fact, the math, what is a vector? You know, how does it point to specific direction in three-dimensional space as well as how, how does it point to maybe the magnitude, the strength of that factor? Umow do you add different directional factors together to give you a different, hirection or vector, that kind of stuff, you know, but fairly basic, oh, basic 3d stuff.
Also, you just really need to know what the math does and how it does that math. You really don’t have to derive it, prove it, or even like literally code up. There’s some function out there for you to use. And you’ll find that more complicated math, like matrices and even dot and cross products that kind of math can come later when you need it, as and when you need it as, and when you encounter it and you have to know how to use it, to solve certain problems, that’s when you really want to do your learning. And even that is not really very complicated. So there you have it. Houdini doesn’t require you to learn very, very complicated math in order to use it. Okay.
I need to know how to code.
And another myth to bust is the myth that I need to know how to code.
Nope, you do not need to learn how to code. That is a node to do everything that you need to do in Houdini. And if for some reason you don’t find that sufficient Houdini has a visual scripting language, you know, just like unreal engine as blueprints, Houdini has VOPS and VOPS is Houdini’s of a visual scripting language, which you can use. And it’s very intuitive, very artist friendly. You’re just wiring nodes to form basically what is a programming syntax. And that’s not even something that you necessarily must use. So there you have it. You don’t have to write any code if you don’t want to. And most suddenly as a beginner, not absolutely critical.
The Effects Demo Reel Guide
Hey there, I just wanted to point out that I have a free 10 page effects demo reel guide. That’s available. It’s a 10 page PDF available for free for you that I created. And in it, it contains lots of tips and best practices as to how to cut it affects demo reel. It’s going to get you more interviews and land you possibly your effects, dream job.
Now in it, I cover lots of ground as to what kind of, what’s a portfolio piece. How do you even create a portfolio piece? What are the things that beginners need to really watch out for in terms of creating an outstanding demo reel? And I also include two checklists in there for you when you’re working on your portfolio pieces, as well as when you’re cutting that demo reel together.
So please remember to find it in the description below, I’ll leave it there and click on the link and it will bring you to where you can download the effects demo reel guide.
I need to master Houdini
All right. Okay. This myth about learning Houdini I love because I’ve fallen into it before. Uh and it’s the myth that I need to master Houdini.
And I still hear it every day from my students. I need to master Houdini.
So here’s the truth. No one can truly master Houdini.
So why do I say that Houdini is changing all the time, literally all the time with every dot release, with every major release, there’s so many changes that are going on in Houdini, new additions, et cetera, et cetera. And you will find that as a production artist, there are certain areas that you lean towards you veer to what you tend to specialize in, or even depending on the production. There may be certain skillsets that you develop more in a certain production over the course of a year, and then in the next production in other different it’s sort of required. So what you will find is the more you learn, the more, you know, the more you realize you don’t know, that’s how deep Houdini is, and it’s not necessarily Houdini. That’s how deep CG is altogether.
So one thing I want to encourage lots of beginners is just enjoy the process. There’s no need to be impatient and just realize that you’ll never ever master Houdini or any other DCC application altogether.
Uh and that’s okay. That’s a good thing. The more you learn and the more you realize you’re not mastering because you realize the gap in knowledge that you need to fill, or you want to fill. That’s good. It means you’re growing. It means you have area for growth.
I just need to know more technical skills
All right, this last myth about learning Houdini is really a myth that it’s kind of unspoken. Most people buy into it, but they don’t really say it out loud. And that’s the myth that I just need to know more technical skills.
So many people behave as if, if they’ve just got all the right technical skills, they are going to succeed. And that’s just a big outright lie. You can see so many people chasing after tutorials chasing after learning.
And I think don’t get me wrong. I think that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing to be passionate about your learning of the technical skills, but you also have to realize that pursuing these technical skills are not necessarily the only components that determine your success as an artist, as a CG practitioner.
So I’ll list two more skillsets that often get neglected in the process of pursuing technical skills.
One is your eye for aesthetics. So as a, an artist, you can’t get away from your eye for detail, your eye for what is pleasant, interesting, beautiful. That kind of eye needs to be trained your eye for what is realistic. What’s not that kind of creative aesthetic. It takes time to be trained and I don’t see many people pursuing after that.
And so that should be one of your goals besides achieving high amount of technical skills, which I’ve seen being shown in portfolios pieces from very hardworking, aspiring young beginner artists. But you can see also that they lack the creative aesthetic eye, they have not spent so much time training.
The second skill that is really important is your social emotional skills, because a lot of times in production, you work as a team. So you really have to interact very closely with a team working together, and your team works with other teams as well. So your ability to take responsibility and ownership of your work, as well as how to communicate that with other people, how to work together as a team, that kind of stuff is really, really important as well. And so those are things that as a artist, as a human being, I think you should spend some amount of time as well, developing.
All right, there, you have it, the myths about learning Houdini and effects. So have you bought into any of these myths? If you have, let me know in the comments below, I love to chat with you and hear what are some of the lies and myths that you may have bought into that may just be tripping you up in your journey of learning Houdini effects. So I’ll see you next week on this channel.