Houdini 16 Gets Heightfields, Erosion and a whole lot more

Started by penboack, February 12, 2017, 06:47:08 am

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Side Effects have added Heightfields to Houdini 16.
It looks as if it may, in effect, have put World Machine type functionality into Houdini.
They are presented at their launch event, the recording of which is here.
The section on Heightfields is from 01:26:00.



Yes, they have made a fantastic job with this new heightfield operators collection.
I had the chance play with a Beta since a month or so, and I will hardly come back to WM, or any other terrain generator.
I really appreciate the freedom of using anything I want to generate heightfield.

I can't archive (yet) the subtlety of some WM erosion settings, but I'm pretty sure it's a matter of training/testing.
And as everything in Houdini, there is no black box, you can tweak, adapt or rewrite the erosion module to match your needs. (something out of my league  8))




Relative to WM or world creator, what is the difficulty level for the user as far as terrain generation go's? And would u mind to post some images and share more thoughts please?
It has been eaten.


Watch the video Badger, it shows exactly how you work to create terrains. It's similar to TG and WM in that it's node-based, but it's definitely harder than WM, WC, TG, or any other 2-letter acronym software. ;) It's incredibly powerful, especially since you can for example run a fluid or crowd sim (or a boolean modeling operation!) right on the terrain within the software without having to export/import if you make changes. That aspect is very powerful. But Houdini is quite complicated to use.

- Oshyan


Hello guys,

Hi TheBadger !,

I do not have the right to post any images until the software release (21 of this month), I've already been caught once.
As for the difficulty, I would no be as definitive as Oshyan.

I have started a subject on the Modo forum last year :
http://community.thefoundry.co.uk/discussion/topic.aspx?f=4&t=123450&page=0 .

Here's a video about 'learning Houdini' created by Jeff Wagner.

Yes Houdini is a very complex software, but the key is the find an entry door, one field of interest you would like to start with.
With that in mind, starting to explore Houdini by only focusing on Terrain generation can be a very good idea.
Especially because this set of new tools are really easy to use.

Looks like training material will be release soon about all the new features, including terrains generation.




I did buy a 1 year Indi hd licence way back when. But at that time I was just learning modeling. I found even maya is a better modeler than houdini at that time and never ended up using it. about time to try again I think.

Please say more when you are allowed too, paq!

It has been eaten.


From what I have seen so far - I am very impressed!
Not to speak of how happy I am for any 3D app going so strong NOT coming from AD.
I am definately going to check it out (again) on 21.2.

TheBadger, if you had your Houdini encouter before version 15 you should try it again.
It has been made much more accessable for non-proceduralists.

cheers, Klaus
/ ASUS WS Mainboard / Dual XEON E5-2640v3 / 64GB RAM / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 TI / Win7 Ultimate


Damn... Do I have enough brain cells left to take on Houdini one more time? It will be hard to resist given the new features. From the video the terrain features look interesting, if not as specific to various types of erosion
that are built into WC or WM+Geoglyph. However the ability to combine all of the Houdini operators into the terrain is enormously appealing. Think about this running thru your canyon terrain!:


:P :P!





A quick export test from H.heightfield toTerragen.
I haven't tested every existing format, just sharing one that works.

Just add an heightfield_output node at the end of the scene graph.
Format : tiff, single channel 32b. Don't forget to choose 'height' in the image channel output.

Of course you can also embedded every existing mask (flow map, deposit, etc) in different channels and create you ownsplat map.


Hi paq,

Thank for posting.

I have played a little with Houdini 16 Apprentice, but of course the Heightfield output is in Apprentice is limited by the render size limitations of Apprentice and is watermarked, which could be interesting!

By the way SideFX support is amazing. I reported an issue with the Help System breaking and had a reply from support within 30 minutes and a fix within an hour (they have moved the user interface from qt4 to qt5 http://doc.qt.io/qt-5/qt5-intro.html which is causing a few issues.

Have you tried exporting an Alpine Fractal Heightfield from TG to H16?
I think that it would be difficult to produce an Alpine Terrain in H16, but would be happy to be proven wrong ;)

I tend to think that WM or WC are better choices for terrain creation unless you need a workflow that allows you to repeatedly change the terrain in which case having everything in Houdini would obviously be better.

I do think that as a general 3D package for anyone wanting a low cost solution that allows you to do freelance work Houdini is really the only option other than Blender.


Hi penboack,

Here's a piece of terragen alpine HF. Nothing special, just use the HF_File operator and import your .exr from Terragen. All default settings.

I can't recreate this specific Alpine field in Houdini, but you can use the Worley noise from the noise operator to create some interesting mountain shape.

Finally here's a little procedure, combining a very rough fracture simulation, converted on the fly as heightfield, and processed by a couple of HF operators (distrortion, erosion). There are so much more possibilities than a specialized software like WM.


Oh my goodness...! That is absolutely amazing. Is it really that simple to bring a TG terrain into Houdini? The terrain modifiers seem very powerful. So the operators are capable of erosions: how about thermal and hydraulic types? Looks like a Houdini tryout is in order. Thanks for sharing this Paq.


It would also be possible, I expect, to make the fractured plane (nice idea) into a Vdisp map (even a plain grey map) and displace in TG, then add Daniil's erosion plugin.