News

SideFX is proud to announce the release of Houdini 16.
Posted on Feb. 27, 2017, 10:32 a.m.


    Houdini 16 unleashed

    SideFX is proud to announce the release of Houdini 16.


    Houdini 16 is a feature-packed release that includes:


    • - A brand new Network Editor designed from the ground up to be faster, more customizable, and easier to organize.
    • - Radial Menus for faster access to your favorite tools.
    • - Modeling tools such as Poly Fill, Smooth, and brand new Booleans.
    • - A 2D/3D Terrain Generation workflow that includes height fields, 2D erosion, and support for importing LIDAR/Geo-fill.
    • - Character animation tools such as Auto-rigging, Invisible rigs, and Bi-harmonic Capturing.
    • - Rendering tools such as a New Material Context and a new Principled (Disney) Uber-shader.
    • - VFX tools include enhancements to FLIP Fluids such as Suction Force and improved Viscosity.
    • - Ocean tools now include Layered Ocean Spectra for non-tiling oceans, the ability to hand-animate a hero wave, and Guided Ocean simulations.

    There are many more new features in the new release. here. Please refer to the What's New section in the Houdini 16 documentation for a more complete feature list.

Houdini 16 Down Under
Posted on Feb. 27, 2017, 10:41 a.m.


    Houdini 16 Down Under

    Houdini 16 is out and our experts are returning to Australia this week to bring you up to speed on the latest features and improvements to look for in Houdini 16. Keynote and Details can be found here.



Houdini 16 coming soon
Posted on Feb. 23, 2017, 9:23 a.m.

    Houdini 16 Coming Soon!

    In case you missed it. Check out the key new features, including walkthroughs by the technical artists and developers who built it. Keynote and Details can be found here.

Houdini 15.5 released
Posted on May 31, 2016, 5:19 p.m.

    Houdini 15.5 released!

    "Houdini 15.5 delivers great production-inspired features both to our established community and our emerging user base. There’s a lot more included than in a typical point release, as we’ve been able to finalize a wide range of features well ahead of our major release schedule." Details can be found here.

Third Party Rendering is being added to Houdini Indie
Posted on April 27, 2016, 10:03 a.m.

    Third Party Rendering is being added to Houdini Indie

    Third Party Rendering support in Houdini Indie will be available when Houdini 15.5 is released at the end of May 2016. All of the renderers listed here will work within the existing Houdini Indie render limits - 1920x1080 for animation sequences and unlimited for still images. Rendering in Houdini Indie will go directly to the renderer without saving out render description files.

    Details can be found here.

Houdini Engine Indie is free!
Posted on April 26, 2016, 10:17 a.m.

    Houdini Engine Indie is free!

    Houdini Engine Indie works with all of the Houdini Engine plug-ins including Unity, UE4, Autodesk Maya, Cinema 4D and Autodesk 3DS Max. These plug-ins let game devs load Houdini Digital Assets which can be created in Houdini Indie or downloaded from the Unity Asset Store and the Orbolt 3D Smart Asset store. Details can be found here.

Houdini 15 released
Posted on Oct. 16, 2015, 12:28 p.m.

    Houdini 15 released!

    Huge release with tons of new features. This brings Houdini to a bigger part of the pipeline while the VFX tools become faster and more efficient at handling big data. Full feature list is here.

New Houdini demo reel online
Posted on Aug. 20, 2015, 1:26 p.m.

    The new Houdini demo reel is now online

    Side Effects Software is proud to release the 2015 Demo Reel featuring the work of Houdini customers worldwide. The shots in this reel are a small sampling of all the amazing work created by the Houdini community of artists. A great deal of dedication has gone into every frame. Congratulations to all the artists and studios responsible for these fantastic shots!

The Houdini 15 sneak peek is now online
Posted on Aug. 19, 2015, 12:34 p.m.

    The Houdini 15 sneak peek is now online

    Houdini 15 introduces new modeling, rendering and animation tools for generalists, animators, lighters, game makers and VFX artists. This brings Houdini to a bigger part of the pipeline while the VFX tools become faster and more efficient at handling big data.

Houdini Engine for UE 4!
Posted on April 6, 2015, 12:18 p.m.

    Houdini Engine for Unreal Engine 4!!!


    Exciting Houdini Engine news.. a public beta for the Unreal Engine 4 plugin is available. It lets you use your procedural asset inside the Unreal Editor. While in beta you can test it using existing assets ( here on Orbolt under the Unreal category) or build assets in either Houdini, Houdini Indie or the free Houdini Apprentice edition.

    Click on image for more info
Houdini 14 Released!!
Posted on Jan. 15, 2015, 5:23 p.m.

    Houdini 14 has been released!!


    Awesome new features such as new sand solver, crowds, hair tools, animation layers and improvements to existing tools.
    Go get it!!
Houdini 14 Sneak Peek!!
Posted on Dec. 8, 2014, 11:20 a.m.

    Houdini 14 Sneak Peek!!


    An early sneak peek at some of the new features in Houdini 14! Santa is bringing some awesome gifts this holiday season.

    Happy Holidays Everyone!!

    H14 Sneak Peek

Asset Request Winner!!
Posted on Oct. 3, 2014, 3:24 p.m.

    Asset Request Winner!!


    Congratulations to Carlos Castro!! He's our winner of Houdini Indie! His request was the one with the highest number of votes.
    Houdini Destruction Tool


    Thank you all for submitting your requests. To all our potential authors, have a look in the Request Area.. there are some great ideas to draw inspiration from.

Indie Support!
Posted on Sept. 12, 2014, 11:05 a.m.

    Indie Support!

    Orbolt now accepts and fully supports Indie assets. The site will autoconvert files on upload just like Apprentice assets so they can be sold and shared with others. Let us know if you have any issues or questions support@orbolt.com





Asset Request Contest!!
Posted on Aug. 28, 2014, 3:12 p.m.

    Asset Request Contest!!


    With introduction of Houdini Indie and Houdini Engine Indie, digital assets are becoming one of the main conduits in easily sharing Houdini procedural workflow and it's features.. now at a great price! With the Houdini Engine users can share their work not just between other Houdini users but also with users of other DCC applications.

    Orbolt provides a central hub for Houdini digital assets. We have gathered a varied collection but we want to hear from you.. the users! What assets are you looking for? What are some ideas that you wish were made into assets? This could be anything from a PyroFX explosion to a Houdini Engine asset that lets you create a procedural modeling effect in Maya. We have added an area on Orbolt where you can submit your asset requests and vote/comment on others.


    Our Indie contest rules are simple.. submit an idea for a digital asset and win!. That's it! All you have to do is make a request for an asset that you would find fun or super useful. The winner will be the asset request that gets highest number of votes from other users. Grand prize will be Houdini Indie! The contest will run until end of September so you have plenty of time to think about the next ultimate Houdini Digital Asset.

    Click to submit your asset request!

    Good luck everyone!!

Houdini Indie Released
Posted on Aug. 16, 2016, 4:07 p.m.

    Houdini Indie Released

    Side Effects Software has launched Houdini Indie, a $199/year version of Houdini that contains all of the animation and VFX tools and is available under a limited commercial license to independent animators and game makers. As well, they have launched an Indie version of Houdini Engine, a $99/year version of Houdini Engine available for limited commercial use.

    Houdini Engine Indie provides an inexpensive way to make Orbolt assets available to Houdini, Maya, and Unity users for limited commercial use, as well as to Cinema 4D, 3D Studio Max, Unreal Engine, and other tools in the future.

    Houdini Indie and Houdini Engine Indie will both use a new limited-commercial file format for digital assets. Orbolt will soon support this file format, both for uploading and downloading assets.

    The full details are available here.

Maya Orbolt Browser!!
Posted on Aug. 16, 2016, 4:10 p.m.

    Maya Orbolt Browser!!


    With advent of Houdini Engine, assets created in Houdini can be used and shared across many different host applications. Integrated workflow between Orbolt and Houdini Asset Browser makes the process quick and easy. To improve the user experience, a new feature has been added to the Maya Engine Plugin. Just like Houdini, Maya users now have access to their own Orbolt Asset Browser!

    It can be accessed by going to Houdini Engine menu and choosing Orbolt Asset Browser. This will open a new window that shows all the assets the user has downloaded. Using the asset is as easy as just clicking on the asset icon. This will instantiate the asset in the scene. The browser automatically keeps track of all the assets that the user downloads from Orbolt so they are available both in Houdini and in Maya versions.




    Easy of use is an important factor in making Digital Assets accessible and fun to use in other applications through the Houdini Engine and its respective plugins. Let us know if you have any suggestions on how to improve the process even more.support@orbolt.com
Orbolt's out of beta!!
Posted on July 15, 2014, 1:02 p.m.

    Orbolt's out of beta!!


    We're out of beta!! Many improvments have been made to make the user experience more enjoyable, both from the content creator side as well as from the artist side.
    Firstly, we have added asset requests area. If you don't find the asset you need you can request one! The page also includes comment and votes section so you can discuss asset ideas and submit your votes for other peoples requests.

    Asset requst page

    Second, we now support partial uploads. You can upload your asset in multiple stages (otl files, screenshots, icons). The asset info will be editable so changes to any section can be made at any time before you decide that it's ready to be submitted for review.
    Asset upload page

    Let us know if you have any questions or comments support@orbolt.com
Engine Asset Creation!
Posted on Aug. 16, 2016, 4:12 p.m.

    Engine Asset Creation!


    Here's a great video of asset creation for Houdini Engine and Maya plugin. Mark Spevick, head of 3D at Escape Studios, made this awesome Intermediate Houdini workshop, walking you through the process of making an asset in Houdini, and transferring it into Maya using the Houdini engine plug in!

    Let's Make An Asset In Houdini! VFX Festival Workshop with Mark Spevick !

Orbolt Updates!
Posted on June 26, 2014, 12:13 p.m.

    Orbolt Updates!!


    Summer is upon us but we're not taking a vacation just yet! Some exciting work is being done to help you the asset users as well as the authors. These additions will make the process of hunting for that perfect asset more robust and efficient.

    First, we're adding an asset request area on Orbolt! Finding an asset is easy enough but what if that asset doesn't exist yet? What if you're a Houdini Master that's not sure which of your ideas will be the ultimate asset? The request area will help with both of these. As a user you will be able to request a specfic asset if you can't find that special something on Orbolt. This in turn will help the authors in choosing which asset to create next, by judging public interest in the idea.

    Second, optimizing asset upload process. Uploading a single asset is easy enough but uploading multiple assets with various dependencies can be time consuming. The changes will help authors upload all of their assets at once as well as mark them 'in progress' so they can update things like icons/screenshots/descriptions at a later date. This will help simplify the workflow and make it less error prone.

    Ultimately Orbolt is all about Digital Assets and we want to make the creation and sharing process as smooth as possible. Any question or comments feel free to drop us a line support@orbolt.com
Houdini Engine and Cinema 4D!!
Posted on Aug. 16, 2016, 4:13 p.m.

    Houdini Engine and Cinema 4D!!


    The Houdini Engine continues to grow, with MAXON announcing its intention to partner with Side Effects to develop a plug-in; slated for release before the end of the year. The collaboration gives Cinema 4D artists direct access to Houdini Digital Assets for a more integrated procedural workflow.



    For official announcment have a further look at Houdini Engine for Cinema4D
Houdini Engine and Digital Assets!!
Posted on Feb. 19, 2014, 11:44 a.m.

    Houdini Engine and Digital Assets!!


    Houdini Engine and Maya/Unity plugins open up a new world of possibilites. Here's some short videos to get you started.

    Digital Assets for Maya plugin Quickstart

    Copy Asset for Maya plugin

    Staircase Asset for Unity plugin

    For more videos and content files check out SideFX Labs!

    Let us know if you have any issues support@orbolt.com


Happy New Year!!
Posted on Jan. 10, 2014, 2:15 p.m.

    Happy New Year!!

    Here's to another fun and exciting year!

    Speaking of exciting be sure to check out the Houdini Engine assets for Maya and Unity.

    There has been tons of updates as we take your input in regards to function and usability. Build your assets in Houdini, share them on Orbolt and try them out in Maya or Unity. Check out the videos for tips and tricks in building your assets to be compatible with Houdini Engine on the SideFX Labs.


    Now is the perfect time to give a shot and let us know what you think SideFX Labs Forum or email us support@orbolt.com!
Powered by Houdini!
Posted on Nov. 19, 2013, 12:17 p.m.

    Powered by Houdini!
    Side Effects has announced immediate availability of the experimental Houdini Engine plug-ins for Maya and Unity.

    These plug-ins serve as a bridge to all of the power of Houdini from Maya or Unity. They load Houdini Digital Assets into other software packages, with full access to the assets' parameters and procedural power. You can author assets in Houdini and load them in, or simply download assets others have created without knowing how to use Houdini.

    These experimental plug-ins are free for a limited time. During this limited time period they will also load in assets created using Houdini Apprentice, which is also available for free.

    Just as the plug-ins are connections to Houdini, Orbolt is the vital link to assets. It offers a central location for users to get and share their Houdini digital creations. The site offers a quick and efficient way to find assets that are designed to be used with the Houdini Engine and the respective plug-ins.



    But we're not done yet! It's just a first step: the plug-ins are still in an early experimental form, and you have the opportunity to guide their development. The next step is to gather feedback to improve the workflow and user experience. This is your chance as asset authors and users to tell us at support@orbolt.com how you think the process can be enhanced. Ultimately all of these tools are designed to help you become faster and more efficient, and to make the creation process more enjoyable.
Houdini 13 is released!!
Posted on Nov. 6, 2013, 12:43 p.m.

    Houdini 13 is out!!
    Side Effects has released Houdini 13

    Some of the new features include a finite element solver for bending and tearing FX, a new multi-threaded particle architecture integrated into Houdini’s existing dynamics context and a new lighting workflow to efficiently handle massive datasets.

    On the Orbolt side a new Houdini version has been added to the min/max asset requirements on the upload page. Authors can now specify which versions of Houdini are supported by their assets.
Celebrity in the midst!
Posted on Nov. 6, 2013, 12:14 p.m.

Invalid License Signature fixed!
Posted on Sept. 20, 2013, 11:32 a.m.

Orbolt In Studio Environment
Posted on Sept. 29, 2016, 10:30 a.m.

    In this guide we'll go over how to setup Orbolt assets in a studio environment. File locations, licensing, copyrights, user management are common questions when it comes to using assets in a studio.

    Users

    Since the Orbolt website and the Houdini Asset Browser use 'User' paradigm to match and track downloaded assets, the name of the studio account created on Orbolt will become the name of the structure path. For example, when you create a 'studio_name' user on Orbolt and download an asset or sync your account in the Houdini Asset Browser, Orbolt will create the default asset_store structure. If you decide to customize the path to somewhere else on your network, that path can be set so that only network administrator/supervisor has write permissions. Artists including the render farm would be able to read and use the assets but updates/downloads would be limited to only those that have access/password. Another option is to create multiple users per department such as 'studio_vfx' or 'studio_rnd'. This would allow grouping of assets by their intended usage.


    Location

    By default, all of the assets are downloaded and stored in the listed locations below in the 'asset_store' folder. The contents include the otl files containing Houdini Digital Assets, example hip files, and asset licenses. One thing to note, the asset license is separate from the Houdini license. It is created once at download, and is permanent after that. If needed, it can be moved with the assets to a different location, or if deleted it can be recreated on demand by syncing with the website. Also, asset licenses are only required for HDAs that are copy-protected. If the asset is free, it can be copied anywhere just like a regular otl file (license file is not required).

    Default location of the asset_store folder:

    ~/houdiniX.X/asset_store/user/otls
    Please note, the tilda (~) in front of the path is your home directory on your local network. For example, if Jim's home directory on on his local network is 'jim' and his account on Orbolt is called orbolt_jim, the default location for Jim's asset_store folder on Linux would be:
    /home/jim/houdiniX.X/asset_store/orbolt_jim/otls

    Windows: ~/houdiniX.X/asset_store/user/otls
    Linux: ~/houdiniX.X/asset_store/user/otls
    Mac: ~/Library/Preferences/houdini/X.X/asset_store/user/otls

    In order to use the assets in a studio environment, the location for the asset_store folder must be overwritten by specifying the HOUDINI_ASSET_STORE_PATH variable in your /houdiniX.X/houdini.env respective to the Houdini version being used. This will allow systems/pipeline personnel to customize it, to fit the studio pipeline and allow asset usage on the render farms. For example, if you decide to move the assets to a location on your network, you would need to put HOUDINI_ASSET_STORE_PATH = path_to_your_network in houdini.env

    After you set the path, you will need to launch the Houdini version that has the houdini.env with the variable you had set. Once that version of Houdini has been launched, go to the Asset Browser in Houdini and sync to Orbolt. Orbolt will launch your browser for you to authenticate the studio account you had created and once it has been connected, it will sync your assets and recreate the structure according to the path + studio account name created on Orbolt you had set. Downloading an asset through Orbolt will also recreate the structure as long as the variable is set is on your default Houdini version.

    For example, if you created the account cg_studio on Orbolt and had set the HOUDINI_ASSET_STORE_PATH to the path_to_your_network, The next time you sync or download an asset, it will automatically create this asset_store structure with your Orbolt account and folders appended to your path:

    path_to_your_network/asset_store/cg_studio/
    path_to_your_network/asset_store/cg_studio/hip/
    path_to_your_network/asset_store/cg_studio/icons/
    path_to_your_network/asset_store/cg_studio/licenses/
    path_to_your_network/asset_store/cg_studio/otls/


    Connectivity
    Network security is a big part of the studio environment. To aid with that, asset licenses are permanent and the Asset Browser does not require internet connection to function. The initial asset download/syncing can be done on a dedicated machine with external connection and then copied to a custom location. Assets can be used on machines that have no internet access.


    Royalty Free Usage
    In terms of usage licensing there two choices. The Standard Royalty Free License and the The Editorial Royalty Free License. They both allow assets and content generated by them to be used royalty free. The Editorial License is a superset that includes the Standard License with one main restriction. Usage is restricted to one of journalistic/non-commercial nature. (for more info see this FAQ link). Since a studio is usually working on a commercial project, assets that use the Standard Royalty Free license scheme should be used. To aid with that Orbolt website search can be restricted to assets with only particular license type (search toggles can be found on the Search page and under More->License Type on the left hand side). If the studio is using/cleared by their legal department to use assets from other providers such as Turobosquid, then they are clear to use Orbolt as the legal agreements are the same.


    Ultimately Orbolt and it's assets are built around our user community so let us know if you run into any issues or have workflow improvement suggestions ( support@orbolt.com).
Changing asset location
Posted on Aug. 22, 2013, 11:57 a.m.

    Changing asset location



    We've added an environment variable 'HOUDINI_ASSET_STORE_PATH' that lets you override where the asset store files are kept. This should help with rendering assets on the farm. By default otls/hips/licenses are stored in the following locations.

    Windows Username/My Documents/houdini12.5/asset_store/user/otls
    Linux ~/houdini12.5/asset_store/user/otls
    Mac /Users/username/Library/Preferences/houdini/12.5/asset_store/user/otls

    To use the variable, copy 'asset_store' folder and it's contents to location of your choice on the network and set the path in 'HOUDINI_ASSET_STORE_PATH.

    If needed the default user can be changed in '../asset_store/users.json' .
The Time to Start Building Assets is Now!
Posted on July 17, 2013, 5:29 p.m.


    The Time to Start Building Assets is Now!

    With the announcement of Houdini Engine from SideFX Labs, the playing field has changed and the possibilities are becoming limitless. It opens up a whole new world for Digital Assets and an entire new audience for the authors.


    In short it offers integration of Houdini technology into other applications through Digital Assets. Users are able to take advantage of the full power of Houdini in the environment that they're comfortable in. The entry barrier has lowered and it's never been easier to jump into Houdini.

    Houdini Digital Asset Flow
    Digital assets can now flow from Houdini to Orbolt to a custom digital content creation app such as Maya or Unity. The Houdini Engine provides a bridge that connects other applications to the Houdini universe.

    So what implications does this have for Orbolt?

    For asset authors, this opens up a whole new facet of users that will be able to experience your work. Those that aren't familiar with Houdini or working in a pipeline based around other packages are now able to use your assets. All of the controls and functionality that you've put into the setup are still there, but now are functioning in the host application thanks to the Houdini Engine.

    For artists, they are now able to use the assets in their favorite environment. The Engine opens up features that are unique only to Houdini and allows other users to experience them in their package of choice. You get the power of Houdini in app of you choice.

    The world of Houdini Digital Assets is expanding. The great news is that you can start creating them at no cost today. Orbolt will take assets created in Houdini Apprentice and convert them into commercial format on upload. This allows authors to create full, commercial assets that can be shared with others or sold!


    Now is the perfect time to start working on your assets! The Houdini Engine and Orbolt extend the user base and allows you to share you creations with other artists. It's a great day for Houdini Digital Assets!
Side Effects Labs!
Posted on July 16, 2013, 10:59 a.m.


    Side Effects Labs!

    Big news!!
    Side Effects opens up Labs and one of the first announcements.. Houdini Engine!!!

    SideFX Labs


Website Update!
Posted on June 12, 2013, 5:05 p.m.


    Website Update!

    * Random failures with https connections have been fixed
    * The author of an asset can see the number of trial, Apprentice, and commercial downloads for an asset just by visiting the asset page
    * The author of an asset can now send private messages to someone who added a comment
    * The asset node type (Object/SOP/SHOP/etc.) is now displayed on the asset page
    * The version log history has been made easier to navigate


To embed or not to embed.. multiple assets and example hip file.
Posted on April 22, 2013, 4:51 p.m.

    To embed or not to embed.. multiple assets and example hip file.


    Example hip files are a great way to show off your assets, demonstrate usage and workflow. The hip file is uploaded after the main asset otl file has been uploaded and processed by the website. One of the current limitations is that the hip file can contain only single asset. The asset can have multiple subassets inside of it, but at the top level there's only a single one.



    This can be problematic if the asset is part of a bigger workflow and represents a single step in a chain of steps that you'd like to explain. Here is where asset embedding comes in. Ordinarily asset definitions live in an otl file. But, it is possible to save the definition into the hip file itself. By bringing up Type Properties on the asset node and replacing 'Save To Library' file path with keyword 'Embedded', the definition of the asset will be saved into the hip file itself. This will allow you to include extra assets into the example hip file, even though they're not part of main one.

    One caveat to note with embedding assets in this manner, is that they must be unprotected. Embedding a copy protected asset while technically possible, wouldn't work as the user would be missing the needed license. If a case like this presents itself, another approach is recommended. The easiest way to deal with it is to save nodes with needed data by locking them. Instead of saving the asset definitions you're saving the data needed for the main asset to function. While it's not optimal since the actual geometry gets saved into the hip file potentially increasing size; it would still allow the asset to use these nodes to show off it's functionality.


Assets In The Orbolt Cloud!
Posted on March 28, 2013, 4:23 p.m.

    Assets In The Orbolt Cloud!


    Asset versioning, management, distribution is something that users have expressed interest in. One of the things that's often overlooked is that Orbolt provides you with the platform to do just that.



    The assets uploaded to the website are available anywhere and anytime. Switching to a different machine in another location around the world.. no problem! Login into the website and your current Houdini session Asset Browser will download all of the assets you've had before. The store always has the latest version.

    Useful workflow tip.. by creating a simple 'Custom Pack' asset, that contains all of the assets you'd like to group together (they can be just a group of disconnected nodes); you allow users to download a pack of assets with a single click. This is quiet useful if you have a collection of utility assets that are best distributed together.

St. Patrick's Contest Winner!
Posted on March 18, 2013, 4:34 p.m.

    St. Patrick's day Contest Winner!!

    ..and we have a winner!!!
    Congratulations to Miguel Pérez Senent!!

    Link to the video
    Looks like the Houdini 12.5 HD license found quiet an appropriate home!

    We invite you to join in!



    Send your entries to support@orbolt.com

    .
    Just like December's Holiday challenge, we're offering prizes for the best entries!
    Stay tuned for updates which will help you win a Houdini Apprentice HD subscription!

    See how assets were put to use for the last contest:

Houdini 12.5 is out!!!
Posted on March 14, 2013, 2:20 p.m.

    Houdini 12.5 is out!!!


    TORONTO: March 14, 2013 - Side Effects Software, an industry leader in 3D animation and visual effects software, is proud to announce the immediate release of Houdini 12.5 which offers a wealth of new and enhanced features including Cloud FX , Ocean FX, OpenVDB volume sculpting tools and an optimized lighting and rendering pipeline with built-in support for delayed-load Alembic primitives.


    Houdini 12.5 + Orbolt Assets = Profit!

    Side Effects Houdini 12.5 Announcement

March Contest Update
Posted on Feb. 22, 2013, 2:47 p.m.

    Assets for St. Patrick's day contest

    Earlier in February we announced a contest coming this march! And to make sure that your well prepared for it, we're going to supply a few assets which can be adapted to a St.Patrick's Day theme.

    This Hat Asset will fit nicely on your leprechauns head, or perhaps just serve as a prop in a pot-o-gold composition. Whatever you like!

    Remember to send your entries to support@orbolt.com

    for a chance to win!. Contest deadline is this March 17, 2013.

    Stay tuned for more assets to assist you with this challenge. And remember, top entries receive a Houdini Apprentice HD subscription!
Uploading Dependencies via Author Tools
Posted on Feb. 20, 2013, 9:23 a.m.

    Have we got dependency issues?

    Not unless you consider innovation a dependency... This post is a follow-up to Part1 on upload via the Asset Author Tools RMB menu.

    Use other assets in your own

    We've noticed that some authors are beginning to use store assets within their own, bigger assets. This is pretty cool because it lets us build upon each others work! It does raise a few speed bumps however. The most common issue with this is how to handle these dependent assets.

    Previously, in part 1 of this tip, we outlined how to skip a few steps when uploading your assets to the store by using the Author Tools RMB menu.

    The image below shows a convenient way to upload assets with dependencies, directly from Houdini. One of the virtues of this method, is that it handles all the renaming, installing, and referencing of the dependency assets.

    Upload the lowest-level assets first, and work your way to the top.




    Once you have all you dependencies uploaded to the store, save your hip file to use and example file.



Asset Author Tools; Upload Tips
Posted on Feb. 19, 2013, 4:34 p.m.

    Special tools make authoring easier!

    A while back one of the developers published some Asset Author Tools to help artists create assets. There are some little-known advantages to using these tools that I'd like to share with you.
    The main advantages are
    • Upload directly from Houdini
    • Embed extra files, (automates opdef commands)
    • Handles renaming of asset to unique "store namespace" version for you.
    First, see the installation tips here .

    Direct upload from with Houdini lets you skip a few steps!!

    With the Asset Author Tools installed, you can just RMB over and asset that you are working on and you'll see some new commands available. Notice the "Upload to Orbolt Asset Store..."


    Uploading this way will:
    • Prompt you to login at the store
    • Scan your file
    • Open the upload dialogue (leave it open for now)
    • Send you back to Houdini
    • Install the store version of the asset into your hip file



    Now is the perfect time to save the hip file as an example file.


    The store version of your asset has your user account name appended to it. It now replaces the original asset. The hip file can now be saved as an example file to upload. Use the "Browse" button on the upload dialogue to include this file with you upload.

    The last thing you'll need is an icon, about 500x500 pixels square to showcase your asset. Screen-shots and YouTube or Video URLs are also great to have, but you can easily add them later.
Houdini Artists love your work!
Posted on Feb. 15, 2013, 3:43 p.m.

    There are Houdini Artists working at night for you!

    ..well, it's night somewhere on the planet right?
    On the average day here, we have at least two Houdini Artists working with your files. Part of their job is to review incoming assets (fun!) and assist with any upload problems. The assets coming in from the community are really cool!

    Keep up the good work!



    Staff Artists are Busy

    Houdini artists here also spend a bit of their time creating assets for the store too! Right now we're focused on creating tools for learning, and reviewing incoming Assets from you. We do this as a way to seed the store with fresh content, and ensure that there is some free content for hobbyists and students.

    We have made our content fully documented, and annotated so as to set a decent example. It's mostly playful stuff, much of it geared towards demo material and learning tools. We don't really intend to be in the authoring business though. We figure that when it comes to content, you, the community will do better than us.

    Our Role is to Facilitate

    We view our customers as the artists, for whom we provide tools. The Orbolt Asset store is intended as a tool and resource for our community. The community artists provide the content
    • Secure it if they choose
    • Sell it if they choose
    • ..At a price they choose.

    We offer infrastructure for this:
    • Free, organized distribution
    • Security
    • QA
    • Customer communication
    • Version updates
    • Support
    • Integration into Houdini.


    There are lots of benefits to working with the Orbolt Smart 3DAsset store!"

    BTW, the figure at the desk pictured above is Male Motion Capture from the Orbolt Asset Store!
Valentine's day best wishes from the Orbolt Asset store.
Posted on Feb. 14, 2013, 12:16 p.m.

    Happy Valentine's Day!

    We thought we'd send you this festive image...hope you don't mind that we chose this instead of sending chocolates or long-stemmed roses!



    Send a Video !

    While approach might work for a store website, we recommend that you not try this with your significant other (I did last year and ate dinner alone as a result, sniff).
    If you want to make a card to go with the flowers you're rushing out to buy at the last minute, feel free to start with ours! Here's a hip file with some bouncing-balloon-like hearts, and a comp network which allows you to add a special someone's name. Or you can just send a URL to this VIDEO !



    Get the Houdini hip file HERE

    Note: This scene file uses the free HDRpath Environment Asset .
High value assets can save you time and money.
Posted on Feb. 13, 2013, 9:34 a.m.

    Honest Pricing for High-Value Software

    What's your household budget for Console games?
    And how does that compare to your budget for mobile games/apps?
    ...and which do you spend more time with?

    It's pretty common to pay $40-60 for a console, or $2 for a smartphone App.
    Collectively, we do this thousands of times each week* .

    Does the $2 app entertain me 1/20th of the console game? Not necessarily, but each type of purchase does come with different expectations. Consumers are aware that console games can cost millions to produce, whereas apps often are perceived as being made after hours, on a shoestring budget. As a result, one costs more than the other. Consider what you're getting: each has different production quality, and represents a different scope of product altogether.




    Free vs. Paid
    This topic pertains to Houdini asset authors and customers alike. Deciding how much to pay, or charge for your Houdini Digital assets can be a difficult task. The time required to make these assets, and the production value they provide, certainly factor into their price.

    At the Orbolt Asset Store, we're sharing and selling visual effects, tools and experiences ( to name a few). But we could make an analogy to the game industry and ask "Do I want a console game, or a mobile app?". Both are available here.


    Variety is the spice of life!

    As our community continues to grow, you're going to see a wide range of assets and prices. We recognize that different customers have different needs and expectations from our store. Hobbyists and students may prefer free stuff to experiment and learn with, whereas production studios are more likely interested in higher-end "developer" assets which offer major, plug-in like, functionality.



    Even a modest After Effects plug-in can run $500 bucks or more. A major plug-in for Maya, such as RealFlow can cost thousands of dollars. When you consider these costs, the value of Houdini digital assets becomes really apparent.

    The Orbolt Asset Store is a resource for the global Houdini community. Whether as a "first touch" point for new users, or a go-to place for the most seasoned veterans, the Asset store is your place for Houdini Digital Assets.

    Links

    Learn more about Houdini digital assets (webinar).

    Did the 'games" analogy make you want play a little? No prob! There's a a video game-like asset in the store:
    Arcade Bug Hunt
March Contest
Posted on Feb. 9, 2013, 10:26 a.m.

    St. Patrick's day Contest

    We're hosting another artist challenge! St.Patrick's Day is Sunday March 17th.
    We invite you to join in!


    You don't need to be Irish, or wear green to participate in this contest. Heck, if you can spell the word Irish, you qualify! Just have a sense of fun and use any asset from the Orbolt Asset Store to help make an original composition.
    Send your entries to support@orbolt.com

    .
    Just like December's Holiday challenge, we're offering prizes for the best entries!
    Stay tuned for updates which will help you win a Houdini Apprentice HD subscription!

    See how assets were put to use for the last contest:

Major toolsets could be coming your way.
Posted on Feb. 13, 2013, 9:32 a.m.

    Is an asset a brick, or a factory?

    Houdini Digital Assets (HDA) can be as small, like simple material shaders, or large like a suite of tools with major Plug In functionality.

    Of course there's a description for each asset at the store, which helps a lot. But really you need a test drive to truly appreciate what you're getting, whether it be a brick, or a whole factory!



    Trial period makes it risk-free

    When you download an asset, you're not just getting a polygon model, you're getting software. Which is why we refer to them as "smart" assets . Features and functionality vary from one asset to the next, and authors price them accordingly. We appreciate the value of your hard-earned money, so we've included a free trial period with every asset. You can try before you buy, and be confident with the asset before you've been asked to pay a cent.

    We're starting to see more ambitious works uploaded at the asset store. Which is great! We're thrilled at the prospect of seeing these larger scale assets, and want to encourage you to use the free trial to evaluate them..and to offer feedback as well!

    Let you developers know what you think.



Example files are good as Gold
Posted on Feb. 6, 2013, 3:56 p.m.

    Example files Rule!
    There has been a lot of positive feedback about the example files which come with assets from the Orbolt Smart Asset store! To a customer checking out an asset for the first time, these files are almost as valuable as the asset itself.



    There are a few ways to check out these files. Firstly, on initial download, an example file should open which demonstrates the assets key values. Secondly, once you've downloaded the asset, you can always return to this example file:
    • Go to the asset browser.
    • RMB>Load Example File over the asset.



    Authors Can Add Extra Help Files

    Example files are a great starting place for customizing assets. If you're an author and you'd like to add a second or third hip file, you can send them directly to support@orbolt.com

    and we will host the file and provide you with the url to paste into your asset description!

    If your help file is render-ready, there's a good chance that it will get featured on the Homepage!
    We want to show off your work!
How to add inputs to your asset
Posted on Jan. 31, 2013, 11:48 a.m.

    Author Tip: Asset inputs

    Asset authors need to predict how their assets will be used, and expose all the right functionality to their customers. One of the most basic, and occasionally overlooked features, is the simple ability to allow the asset to be parented to other objects.

    By default, you can parent to an asset, but not make a child of it (parent it to another object).
    This is simple enough to change though.

    Change The Default Input Value

    Basic tab and change the maximum inputs to 1. This will add an input to your asset node. You can see this change in the network view.


    Set The Output Transform

    Now that your asset can be parented, you can optionally specify ANY node in your asset to be used as the transform. By default "input1" is used, which will be the top of your hierarchy. Usually this is what you want.
    Occasionally, it's useful to specify something different, perhaps lower down the hierarchy.

    e.g. A specific transform node with a custom pivot point.


Checkout problems with PayPal and Visa on Jan 28th 2013.
Posted on Jan. 29, 2013, 1:46 p.m.

    PayPal had issues yesterday

    To all of you who were affected by PayPal's service interruption yesterday, we offer our apologies for any hassle. Read the news HERE .

    We have made changes to handle this kind of interruption better, should it reoccur.



    Apparently PayPal wasn't the only one to experience grief yesterday. Visa was also affected all across Canada. read more HERE .

    Are there any conspiracy theorists out there who think that the timing of this is a little weird, just a few days after the last Anonymous sentencing ?
Adding Images to Help Cards
Posted on Jan. 27, 2013, 8:44 p.m.

    Add Images to help cards

    Here's an image which demonstrates how to include custom images in your digital asset's help card.

    In order to display these images, they must be embedded into the "extras" tab of your Asset.


    Then they need to be referenced in using text in the "help" tab.
    Most images can be referenced in by using this line in the "Help" tab
      [Image:opdef:.?Image.jpg]




    There is also an option in include a custom icon at the top of the help card.
    This is referenced differently:
    • Custom Icon, usually small (48x48) at the top.
    • #largeicon: opdef:.?Image.jpg
    This can also be specified on the Basic tab.
    Note that png file with transparency is supported.



Creating High Dynamic range images
Posted on Jan. 25, 2013, 5:36 p.m.

    Creating HDR images

    This post outlines a few different methods for creating HDR images.
    It continues where Part 1 and Part 2 of Image based lighting left off.

    Mirrored Ball Method

    One of there easiest, and least effective ways to make an hdr image, is use "mirrored ball" approach. In this case, photograpsh need to be taken from a single perspective, at 10+ different exposures and merged in Photoshop or HDRshop.

    Surprisingly, when "unwrapped", this provides almost 360 degrees coverage. This approach also shows imperfections in the sphere itself. Note the scratches on the surface metal, the distortion of the surface, not to mention the fact that the photographer and his tripod are in the middle of the picture.



    This is the jpg version of the resulting image in it's original "Mirrored Ball" layout.



    Panoramic Transformations

    Differnt 3D packages expect IBL images in different layouts. Houdini's environment light expects a LatLong layout (also called sphererical mapping). Below is the "unwrapped" version of the image.

    In this case, HDRshop was used to convert the "Mirrored Ball" layout to "LatLong". Artifacts such as the occluded area facing away from the camera, and the photogrphers reflection, were corrected in Photoshop.


    (HDR version Here).

    Wide Angle Lens Method


    Another approach is to use an ultra wide angle lens. Depending on your camera, a 4-10mm lens can provide a nearly 180 degree field of view. With this much coverage, you can capture 360 degrees from 3 perspectives, which are later merged and stitched in Photoshop.

    The trick with this approach is that the 3 perspectives must each be photomerged into their respective hdr images. Then the lens distortion must be removed. Then the three images need to be stitched together. This takes a lot of cloning and image manipulation, but the resulting image is high quality. Compared to the mirrored ball anyways...


    Using a Pano head

    By far the most labor intensive method is to use a panoramic head. This involves taking photos with a standard lens, from 48 perspectives to capture the entire 360 field of view. Keep in mind that you need 10+ exposures of each perspective. Then you need to merge and stitch the results.




    This is for the hardcore, to be sure.

    People using this approach are known to hack their cameras firmware to automate the bracketing of shots. High speed and high capacity memory cards are required to handle the volume of RAW photos.



    The time required to take so many photos usually results in ghosting artifacts: this is caused when objects such swaying trees and grass are in different positions from frame to frame. Lighting conditions can change with a passing cloud etc.
    Usually dedicated software is required to handle the stitching.

    Using a specialized camera

    There is a company called Spheron which produces a specialized camera for just this task. For the ultra high end, this is probably the way to go.
Working With HDR images
Posted on Jan. 24, 2013, 12:18 p.m.

    What's the problem with jpgs?

    Typical photographs can either display extreme highlights or lowlights, but not both at once. In the example images below, note how the exposure allows either the interior room to be exposed, or the exterior parking lot. This makes them poor choices for use in IBL (image based lighting) and as displacement maps.

    This post is part 2 of a short series on image based lighting. Part 1 here .


    Imitating real-world lighting

    In real life, your eyeball can handle both lighting conditions at the same time. In order to create photo-realistic lighting in CG images however, you need wide range of exposures. In other words, a more dynamic range of lighting.

    HDR images contain multiple exposures and therefore produce better results than their jpeg counterparts. For example luminance values of jpeg can be recorded as values of 0-255 (black to white) vs an HDR which can have ranges of 0-20,000+ (negative black to super white)!


    The photos above were use to create an HDRI for the HDR Path Environment Light asset.


    Can my cell phone can do that?

    Probaby not.
    Not all background images are created equal. To complicate matters, the term HDR has been hijacked by the consumer camera market. Lots of cameras and smartphones can take panoramas. Some will even do so at multiple exposures, combine them, and call this an HDR image....which it isn't. When several exposures are combined like this, and saved as a jpeg, the result is a "tonemap" of an HDR image. Although camera companies are using the term HDR..


    High Dynamic Range Image format


    Standard jpegs have 8-bits of information per channel. HDRs have 16 or 32 bits. So they take up more disk space and are only supported by a few formats such as Radiance (.hdr), Open Exr (.exr). Tiff-16, and Tiff-32 (.tif).
    Very few cameras in the world shoot these natively. Usually one must purchase these images online, or create them in photoshop from multiple exposures.
    When these images are used in a CG rendering context, one needs to be aware that the panorama can come in many different layouts. Just like a map of the world is like an unwrapped sphere, so is a panorama. Commercial HDR images (for rendering) can come in many standard layouts. These correspond to how the image will be applied to a virtual sphere or cube at render time.

    Here are a few examples of environment map layouts:

    Stay tuned for a post on creating your own HDR images!
Image Based Lighting Basics
Posted on Jan. 23, 2013, 3:22 p.m.

    Image Based Lighting Basics

    It's fairly quick and easy to get photo-realistic results using image-based lighting.
    By using Houdini's built-in tools, or by supplying your own HDR (High-Dynamic Range) image, your renders can inherit a deep, rich color and shadows from real world locations.



    The shelf tool "Environment Light" is a straightforward approach to IBL. Simply create the light and specify an image for it to use. This should be a panoramic image with 360 degrees of view. Also, you'll get much better results if you provide an HDR image (as opposed to a regular jpeg).

    This is what a parorama in Latitude Longitude layout looks like:


    And here is an HDR version of this image to try in Houdini.
    A high res version of this image will be found in an upcoming asset : envLight_HDR_Beach

    Intro to the Environment Light

    Once an image is chosen, the results can be seen immediately.Below is an image which demonstrates some of the various options for the light.


    Portal Geometry

    Another option is to include "Portal Geometry"
    This allows you to mask out part of your environment image so as to simulate outside light coming into a room through a window or open door. In the example below, a simple sphere with a few faces removed illustrates the dramatic effect Portal Geometry can have.

    Once the portal geometry is specified in the light, and "Use portal" check ON. The original geometry can be be hidden. It will still affect the render untill checked off again.

Contest Winners!
Posted on Jan. 23, 2013, 5:58 p.m.

    Holiday Contest Results

    A few weeks ago we announced a contest to create a holiday-themed image using assets from the Orbolt Smart 3D asset store. Check out some of the finalists here...

    Houdini Apprentice HD licences available to the top finalists!
    So check your email if you entered the contest, cause we're sending you info on how to claim your prizes!


    The contest was open to everybody, and there were several prizes to be won. At the top of our list were users dryulya for the entry "Jazz" (above), and GrosseVieSale for his work "Carte_Blanche" (below).




    Some folks clearly had some fun with this contest. This dancing Santa really caught our attention. Pretty slick moves for a jolly old guy! The author informed us that a customized version of Male Motion Capture asset was used for this render.

    This also shows that one of the benefits of an unlocked asset is that users can really adapt it to suit their needs, or tastes...or sense of humor!





    Kudos to all who participated...watch your inbox 'cause we have a few runner-up prizes to give out. A hearty thanks to all!
Asset overview movies
Posted on Jan. 23, 2013, 5:57 p.m.

    Asset overview movies

    If a picture says a thousand words, then a video says 30 000 per second!



    For example, a VIDEO was recently added to the Rocky Ground Asset asset to highlight a new feature. This is an easy way for users to learn about your asset, and any updates you may have added!
Example File Guidelines
Posted on Jan. 24, 2013, 10:33 a.m.

    Author tip: Example hip files

    What is the best way to show off your work? These guidelines can help...

    It's a topic we've had a bit of time to wrestle with, and after working though a few [hundred] cases, we've put together these guidelines:

    Example files

    What we hope for in an example file is something which..

    Demonstrates key features and value of the asset.
    • Not every feature need be highlighted.
    • Captures the imagination/interest of the user.
    • Demonstrates a literal, practical application.
    • Preferably a production-case scenario of some sort.
    • Shows the asset is a configurable smart asset.
    • Shows different instances of the asset in different configurations.


    You can launch an example file directly from the Asset Browser using the Right mouse Button over the asset.:




    It is a goal of ours to have the user be able to click one asset in the store, and have it open in Houdini looking exactly like its screen shot preview. We really want to avoid the situation where the user downloads and asset, and gets...
    • A blank example file.
    • A file that opens with "incomplete asset definition" errors.
    • Looks quite different from the screen-shot image


    Guidelines

    Here are some possible guides to consider.

    When creating an example file...

    The scope of the file should be a single asset.
    • Dependencies are fine, as they are considered part of the single higher level asset.
    • Use of other, non-dependent, assets should be avoided.


    If use of another, non-dependent, asset is necessary for some reason, consider one of these work-arounds:

    Create an artificial dependency.
    • If those non-dependent assets are really necessary, perhaps they should (artificially) become dependants of the asset in question.

    • For example, if tool A's hip file absolutely needs to include tool B, then the author could create an instance of tool B inside tool A, to create an artificial dependency.
More Holiday Submissions
Posted on Dec. 21, 2012, 5:11 p.m.

    Holiday Challenge Submissions

    Sounds like a wrestling move, looks like peace and goodwill to mankind...it's a contest!
    We've opened up the forum so that users can now upload images HERE . The Prize for best entry is a 1 year Apprentice HD subscription!

    What are the contest details?
    Simple, just create a holiday themed image using Houdini. Then post the results on the forum .
    Or if you prefer, you can email them directly to support@orbolt.com


    To make it even easier, we've posted several holiday assets to get you going.


    (full image on the forum)


    Want the file? Feel free to play with this author's Ornaments! Here's the hip file.
    You'll need the Ornament , Pinetree and Screenshot Assets.
    Here are the source images:

    Fabric Colormap
    Fabric Bumpmap
    WindowReflectonMap

    Here's a preview of one sent in via support@orbolt.com!



    Keep 'em coming and claim your prize!

Shadow Pass Recipe
Posted on Jan. 9, 2013, 4:40 p.m.

    Intro to Layers

    Ever notice that CG images tend to have really black shadows? The truth is, %100 black almost never occurs in real life.

    The "Shadow Pass" recipe, mentioned here is good for all compositors. Give it a try next time you're comping a shadow pass.



    Shadow Recipe


    If you were planning on multiplying the shadows at 20% opacity, try 10% instead. Then duplicate the shadow layer and change the apply mode to overlay. On this second shadow pass, apply a levels operation and clip (reduce) the whites by %50. In other words, this overlay layer will have only %50 grey or darker in it.

    That's it! Your shadows will be a rich dark color, but not overly black or muddy.


    Basic composite example


    The following example illustrates how a single CG element was hastily composited onto a photograph. This particular example was done in Photoshop, but the workflow is pretty much the same in Nuke, After Effects or any other package.

    Step 1: Clean-up the image


    The backplate (photo) was taken with an iPhone as the owner went to work. There were some obvious problems with it; Utility lines and hazard pylons just to name a few. These were edited out just to reduce the clutter of the image. Then the levels were adjusted to lighten the forground shadows a little.




    Step 2: Import CG elements


    The goal for this shot was to simply add a big bow to the building. The Giftbox Asset was used to creat a big ribbon around a box shape. A beauty pass and cast shadow pass were rendered.

    Bear in mind, that in a production setting, this "beauty pass" would itself have been a composite of about 10 layers! e.g. Diffuse Color, Specular, Ambient Occlusion, Subsurface, Reflection etc..



    Step 3: Shadows on the building


    This is just a quick exercise, so only one beauty pass, and one cast shadow pass were created. This means that the shadows inside the bow itself will not benefit from the shadow pass recipe. It will only affect the shadows cast upon the building.



    This shadow pass was rendered using a box as a stand-in for the building. This box had a shadowmatte material applied to it.

    Some shadows had to be faked. In this case the shadow of the tree branches had to be added to the bow in order to match the building.




    Step 4: Re-Apply Foreground


    The foreground fence, tree branches and utility pole, needed to be duplicated from the background, and then re-applied over the bow. This was a manual masking or roto task. The edges of this foreground layer needed to be blurred so as to not appear overly sharp and artificial.


    Step 5: Final Composite


    Here is the composited image: A gift wrapped building. Some nice touches would be to adjust the bows color levels a bit, to add a specular pass, and maybe some noise to further sell it's integration with the photograph.
    Happy Holidays!

Putting 'smart' in your Smart 3D Assets
Posted on Dec. 21, 2012, 5:09 p.m.

    Putting 'smart' in your Smart 3D Assets.. ways to improve your assets

    In this blog we'll dig a little bit deeper and look at what makes a useful asset, and what exactly makes it 'smart'. Houdini digital assets allow the user to take their setup and wrap it into a single node. The author decides which controls will be useful and adds them to the top level. This in itself makes assets a great tool as it lets others use them without having to worry how they work.


    This touches on our first point which is asset purpose and abstraction. When creating a new asset or taking an existing setup and generating one out of it; it's useful to ask ...what is it's purpose?. Having a clear target to shoot for, makes the creation process easier and lets the author be consistent about the functionality. If the task to solve is a complex problem, break it down into smaller/simpler steps and create assets to solve these. Each asset tackles one aspect of the problem and solves it. By having individual components it helps to hide all the gory details that might be needed and abstract it into a simple concepts that a user will understand.


    As you build the asset, keep modularity and flexibility in mind. In terms of modularity the asset should contain all the needed pieces to function. This makes it easier to update later as you only need to edit single asset; instead of multiple ones. It's certainly possible to create an asset that has hundreds of controls and does multitude of jobs but when it comes to either fixing/updating, it becomes significantly more difficult. If it needs additional information try to set clear ways that the asset can get it (whether that's controls for merging additional geos, getting camera/lights/bones info, or writing out geometry to disk).


    It's a good idea to ask yourself which parts of the asset can be made procedural. Doing this during the build phase makes it easier rather than trying to procedurlize it after the fact. It will let you add specific controls and create a robust and flexible asset that has a lot of functionality. One thing to keep in mind is not to go overboard though. Houdini lets you easily add additional options and soon you might find yourself adding everything but the kitchen sink. Try to avoid the temptation :) If there's other piece of functionality that you think would be great to have, see if it's maybe a better candidate for another asset.


    It's the little things.. some additional things to keep in mind as you create your Smart 3D Assets. Grouping your controls by functionality will makes things easier to learn and use by new users. Setting proper defaults/min/max ranges will guide the users and make it easier to know what are acceptable values (if need be you can also lock the controls in Type Properties to place hard limits). Creating asset presets is a great way to show off the asset. One of the best ways to explain and demonstrate your creation is by showing it off with an example hip file. You can upload to Orbolt and the user will be able to learn from it. Describing the controls in the Help section as well as giving tips/tricks is another way to make it more useful (you 'did' write the Help docs.. right? :)

    Keeping the above in mind will help you in creating a great asset, that will be easy to use and allow you to change/update without too much hair pulling. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact us at support@orbolt.com.

    Also, have a look at Old Schools digital asset discussions for some great info.
    Old School Blog
Anatomy of a Blackhawk 3
Posted on Jan. 24, 2013, 3:25 p.m.

    Anatomy of a Blackhawk 3


    After creating on half of the hull, it was necessary to add windows and door openings. This was done by creating outlines and then projecting them on the hull surface.

    The results were trimmed; keeping the inside of the trim for windows and doors, and the outside for the hull.

    NEXT

Anatomy of a Blackhawk 4
Posted on Jan. 24, 2013, 3:29 p.m.

    Anatomy of a Blackhawk 4







    At this point, the basic hull, windows, and doors have been roughed in. Later we will examine the addition of extra details, surfacing and behaviors.


Anatomy of an Asset
Posted on March 13, 2013, 2:41 p.m.

    Anatomy of An Asset

    Ever wondered what goes on under the hood a digital asset? This blog takes a look at the modelling and early development of the Military Helicopter Asset

    First you need to start with some reference material. In this case photos of a plastic hobby kit were used


    These reference images were imported into the background display preferences and then used as a guide to lay down some curves.


    NEXT
Anatomy of a Blackhawk 2
Posted on Jan. 24, 2013, 3:31 p.m.

    Anatomy of a Blackhawk 2

    The process of duplicating, mirroring and then joining the sides, results in a surface that is neat and orderly (all the edges meet nicely). The basic process is to model one side and mirror it. Then model the top, and mirror it. Then tweak, then join.




    NEXT
What is this construction crew building?
Posted on Dec. 21, 2012, 5:05 p.m.

    Reno Madness?

    What exactly is this construction crew doing? The Holiday Challenge continues! Prizes!



    See the full image, and others HERE .
    Best entries will receive an Apprentice HD subscription!

    Contest details:
    Create a holiday themed image using Houdini. Then post the results on the forum .
    Or if you prefer, you can email them directly to support@orbolt.com




    Here are some free holiday assets to get you going.
Anatomy of creating a Houdini asset.. 1..2..3.. Profit!!
Posted on Dec. 7, 2012, 1:31 p.m.

    Houdini Assets and Orbolt
    In this blog we'll be looking at what it takes to create a standalone Houdini asset and upload it to Orbolt. We'll start with our fancy teapot model.

    This is our starting scene.

    Subnet your nodes
    If your setup has multiple objects, first part is to select all objects and collapse them into a subnet. This groups all of the objects into a single node. It makes sharing assets easy as a single node will contain everything that's needed. If you only have a single node/object you can skip this step if you wish (though you can still wrap a single node into a subnet, which future-proofs your asset as you may potentially decide to add more objects later on).


    Create Houdini Digital Asset
    Next step is to create a Houdini Digital Asset. Click with the right mouse button on the subnet node and choose Create Digital Asset. This opens a window that lets you name your asset and where to save the asset .otl file. (Operator Name is used internally by Houdini; users will see the label in the Tab menus).


    Build your asset interface
    After the initial creation the asset will have a transform and subnet folders. Since this is our custom asset we will add a control to adjust the shape of the teapot. You can drag and drop promote existing node parameters to top level controls as well as add custom parameters. To keep things organized we'll add our size control into a new folder called 'Controls'. Naming things and grouping them in the interface into logical parts makes the asset easier to use by others.


    Promote custom controls
    We'll expose the teapot size parameter by promoting it to top level. The goal is for all the controls to be at the top level of the asset so the user can quickly interact with it without having to worry about the internal setup. Drag and drop the 'Radius' on the platonic1 node onto the Controls folder in the asset Type Properties. Click Accept when done.


    Congratulations!! You now have your first Digital Asset with custom controls.


    Upload your asset to Orbolt
    One of the great things about Houdini assets is that they're a great way to share your work with others. Since everything is self contained in a single node, it's easy to give it to others. Orbolt makes this even easier by giving you a central place that assets can be uploaded and downloaded. Before we upload the asset, right mouse button click on the node and choose Match Current Definition. This will sync the asset with the latest changes (if you need to do additional changes you can always unlock it by clicking Allow Editing). Then right mouse button click on the node and choose Upload to Orbolt Asset Store.


    Houdini upload process
    The upload process makes sure that all the needed files are found and sends the file to Orblot.


    Orbolt info
    Once the file is uploaded, Orbolt upload page will open in your browser where you can fill in the details about your asset that other users can see. This is where you can show off your asset through videos/screen shots. Here you also specify the price point. It is up to you if you want to share your work with others or sell it and make some profit!!


    Hopefully this gave you a better idea about Houdini Digital Assets and Orbolt. If you have any questions or comments freel free to drop us a line at: support@orbolt.com

How to contact an a author.
Posted on Dec. 7, 2012, 11:40 a.m.

    Got a question about an asset?

    Contact the author directly through personal messaging. Here's how...

    From the asset page, click on the authors name. This will take you to the authors page where you can find the button for personal messages.
Holiday Card Assets
Posted on Dec. 11, 2012, 2:09 p.m.

    Holiday Card Asset Challenge

    Celebrating the holidays is getting easier. Our designers have made you these customizable greeting cards!

    In the previous post we gave you some of the pieces, now we've bundled 'em up for you.
    Check out the Decorated Tree , and the Holiday Card
    These assets are totally customizable...and a free!

    Post your images too!

    Try these assets and make a card. Then show your work HERE .
    Stay tuned...we'll be announcing prizes for the best posts!


    Now you've got no excuse not to send that special someone a nice, totally original Holiday card!

    HoHoHo!


    As always, you can post your comments, and let us know what you think on the Forum .
Holiday challenge update!
Posted on Dec. 5, 2012, 1:42 p.m.

    We decorated the tree over the weekend.

    But we're still deciding what belongs underneath. Maybe it you could use your personal touch. Rudolph and Santa had the weekend off and the designers here began decorating the tree in their absence. This scene was made with the tree, ornaments, and giftbox assets...Still needs toys though!
    If you'd like to give it a try, first download these three assets (They're free!)
    Ornament
    Giftbox
    pinetree
    ... and then install them into this scene file.

    Note that the scene takes about 70 sec. to load. To install these into the scene, go to your asset browser, RMB over the 3 assets (Pinetree, Giftbox,and Ornament) and "Install OTL Only"

    Also, feel free to post your feedback, requests, and images on the Forum
Holiday Challenge is warming up as December approaches!
Posted on Dec. 11, 2012, 2:07 p.m.

    Holiday Challenge is warming up as December approaches!

    Q: How do we QA Holiday-themed assets? A:We make greeting cards that you can customize! Yes, we're going to be posting everything you need to create your own Holiday card...and we sincerely hope that you can find some way to add your own bizarre twist to it. Stay tuned for our updated works-in-progress.

    Submissions Here


    Also, feel free to post your feedback, requests, and images on the Forum
Houdini Versions, Orbolt Assets, and You!
Posted on Nov. 23, 2012, 1:31 p.m.

    Houdini Versions, Orbolt Assets and You!

    This post covers the differences between Houdini/Houdini Apprentice when creating Orbolt assets.


    Below is a handy chart highlighting the major features of each version of Houdini Apprentice.




    One of the requirements of Apprentice version is that the software be used for non commercial work only. The good news is that it sill can be used to create assets that can be sold commercially on the Orbolt website! Any assets created with Houdini Apprentice or Houdini Apprentice HD will be converted at upload stage to fully commercial format. This lets anyone download Houdini Apprentice for free and start creating assets without any cost.


    The author decides if they want to give away the asset for free or charge for it. If the asset has a set price, an automatic Trial version will be available. This allows users to download and try the asset for 3 days free of charge. The time starts at the moment of download. It gives everyone a chance to play with the assets in the store, without any risk. Once the trial expires the user can choose to purchase the asset if they would like to continue to use it.


    Any assets that are sold will have two prices that the users can choose from. The Apprentice version, which will usually be cheaper to fall in line with Houdini Apprentice/HD pricing. This version can be used for non commercial projects and will taint the Houdini session into non commercial format. The commercial version of the asset can be used without any restrictions for commercial or non commercial projects.


    Any questions or concerns don't hesitate to ask at: support@orbolt.com

Holiday Contest is coming!
Posted on Nov. 16, 2012, 3:37 p.m.

    What, holiday season already!?
    30 minutes after Halloween ends, the holiday ornaments start coming out. Sheesh!
    We're holding off a little...

    Never one to miss the boat, the Asset store will be hosting a holiday challenge with a twist. Check-in towards the end of November and get your jingle bells on.

    We're going to give you a way to share a holiday greeting Orbolt style! Stay tuned for previews on the forum and FB.
Updates to the Orbolt Smart 3D Asset store, Nov 8th.
Posted on Nov. 9, 2012, 10:32 a.m.

    Don't launder your money, clear your cache! Yes we've updated the server to roll in some new features: Version history, enhanced uploads, and copy-protection for free assets. Upload your otl file and see what's new!



    Version History:
    Now when you upload or update an asset, you can new describe what changes you have made since the last version. This information is visible every Asset's page in the Orbolt Asset store, and will soon be available inside Houdini when you're prompted to update an asset.



    Copy Protection for Free Assets:
    Authors are now able to copy-protect free assets, should they desire. Until now, only paid assets could be copy-protected. Now, you can still give your asset away for free but hide how it works.



    Upload Enhancements:
    The upload page has been redesigned and streamlined to make it easier to upload assets. Managing icons has been simplified, especially when the otl file contains an icon that is different from the previous version's icon.

Please Upgrade to Houdini 12.1.119 or Higher
Posted on Oct. 30, 2012, 11:09 a.m.

    Houdini 12.1.119 fixes a bug related to checking for asset updates when one of the assets you have installed was removed from the store.
Coming soon:
Posted on Oct. 19, 2012, 5:53 p.m.

    Coming soon:  Version history for your assets, a redesign of the upload page. Also be sure to use the latest version of houdini for all the latest fixes!
Including an example file gets faster activation.
Posted on Sept. 27, 2012, 4:54 p.m.

    Authors: Including an example makes activation faster. Be sure to include a hip file when you upload your assets. This makes it much easier and faster to review and QA. Your customers will appreciate it too!
OpenID bug fixed when syncing
Posted on Sept. 27, 2012, 4:46 p.m.

    You may have experienced a strange OpenID authentication error when attempting to sync assets from Houdini, particularly when logging in with your sidefx.com account, but we have fixed that error.
Rate it: Hot or not?
Posted on July 2, 2013, 2:30 p.m.

    Hot or NOT? Rate an asset today! Or PM the author with feedback. Authors need to know that we're checking out their work. Who knows, you may just get an upgrade. Multiple ratings help set other's expectations before downloading an asset. Your ratings and feedback count!
Author Page Enhanced: change icon, add screen shots, rename asset...
Posted on Sept. 14, 2012, 10:31 a.m.

    The author page has been updated with several new options. You can now add/remove screen shots, change the assets store icon, and rename your asset.
VOP Support
Posted on Sept. 14, 2012, 10:31 a.m.

    VOP support has been added so uploading should work fine now. Try it out and let us know if you have any issues.
Add movies - Include a Vimeo or YouTube URL at upload time
Posted on Sept. 27, 2012, 4:32 p.m.

    You can add a Youtube or Vimeo URL to your asset! It will show up in your assets gallery alongside your screen shots. If you need to add the video URL after the fact, or add a second URL, simply re-upload the same otl file. The store will recognize it (you'll know because many of the entry fields will be pre-populated with your previous answers).
We now support copy-protected free assets
Posted on Sept. 27, 2012, 4:34 p.m.

    Free assets can now be compiled. Use the checkbox to enable this option when you upload your asset
Please upgrade to a new build of Houdini 12.1
Posted on Sept. 27, 2012, 4:34 p.m.

    Please upgrade to Houdini 12.1.65+ fixes. This build fixes a bug with the following scenario: - You install the trial of asset A. It depends on asset B so Houdini downloads the trial of asset B. - You install the commercial version of asset A. The Orbolt store will also give you the commercial version of asset B. However, Houdini won't download the commercial version of asset B because it believes that asset B is already installed (becaues the trial version is installed) For those of you on Linux, there is also a fix for a problem where VOP nodes would fail and Mantra would not start when launching example files from the Orbolt store.
Press Release: Orbolt Smart 3D Assets
Posted on Sept. 27, 2012, 4:39 p.m.

    TORONTO: Aug 7, 2012 - Side Effects Software Inc. and Orbolt™ Inc. are proud to announce the beta launch of the Orbolt™ Smart 3D Asset Store which gives digital artists access to world-class 3D assets from a source they can trust. Unlike ordinary 3D assets, smart 3D assets are infinitely adjustable and can be animated and rendered in Houdini™, a procedural node-based animation and VFX tool created by Side Effects.

    With CG projects under significant cost and deadline pressures, 3D artists need access to a wide variety of 3D assets. From fully-rigged props, to render-ready visual effects, to animatable characters, to game assets, Orbolt holds the key to a whole new way of working. At Orbolt, members of the global Houdini community apply their knowledge and expertise to deliver a growing set of completely customizable 3D assets.

    “The Orbolt Smart 3D Asset Store leverages the collective expertise of Houdini artists worldwide,” says Kim Davidson, President and CEO, Side Effects Software. “Houdini is used by top studios to create the best animation and VFX for feature films, commercials and video games. Now that knowledge can be wrapped up and shared with the wider CG community.”

    One of the key goals of Orbolt is to bring together talented CG artists to create smart 3D assets using Houdini’s Digital Asset technology. Artists can join the Orbolt community and become asset authors. They can set their own prices and let Orbolt deliver the assets to the world. Smart 3D assets can be authored using either a commercial version of Houdini or the non-commercial Houdini Apprentice edition.

    “Smart 3D assets can be built using sophisticated techniques that are wrapped up into a single node with an artist-friendly interface,” says asset author Kim Goossens, from the NHTV University of Applied Sciences. “Artists can then adjust the controls to make the asset their own. And for asset authors, the Orbolt store offers a great way to share knowledge while benefitting financially.”

    As each asset is uploaded, the Orbolt team tests and verifies it before publishing. This process ensures that assets work properly and can be trusted by the community. Only the best quality assets will be made available for sale. To join the beta program as either an artist or asset author, visit the Orbolt website and register. All CG artists are encouraged to join this exciting new site and see what smart 3D assets can do for you.
Welcome!
Posted on Aug. 2, 2012, 11:41 a.m.

    We're live (in beta)!

    Welcome to the all-new Orbolt smart 3D asset store. We're excited to see what the Houdini community can do, so if you don't have it already, download Houdini and start creating.

    Things to do:
    • 1. Make an account.
    • 2. Download an asset.
    • 3. Download another asset.
    • 4. Upload an asset.

    Have fun!

    If you have any questions, or if you need help, contact us at support@orbolt.com.

    Thanks,
    The Orbolt Team
Blog posts
Press releases
Updates