VEX in Houdini | CG Master Academy

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VEX in Houdini

An 8-week course on mastering the power of VEX in Houdini; learn to create sophisticated tools that leverage the latest features of VEX like geometry creation

Course overview Course overview

Course Overview

Become a master of VEX in Houdini

This course is a comprehensive introduction to the use of VEX in Houdini. Some of what you’ll learn includes: implementing collision deformers, Laplacian and Taubin smoothing, Perlin Noise, and implementing our own fBM noise, different shaders in VEX, volume manipulation, pyroclastic noise, terrain erosion, and more.


Course Format:   Standard
Lecture Type:   Pre-recorded
Feedback:   Individual recordings
Duration:   8 weeks
Assignment:   Due each week. Expect to spend 10-20 hrs/wk viewing lectures, q&a, and assignments” to classes
Q&A:   Once a week
Materials:   Latest Houdini
Skills level:   Advanced
Prerequisites:   Comfortable knowledge of Houdini and its principles and programming experience, preferably in a C-like language (C, C++, MEL, RSL, Java)


What you'll learn

The more you know, the better.

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The first class deals with setting up Houdini to work with VEX and VOPs and starting to get our feet wet with writing a few geometry deformers in SOPs. We will be talking through the theory behind Laplacian and Taubin smoothing and learn how to implement those algorithms in VEX.
One of the fundamental principles in VFX is noise. We will be looking in detail into the theory of noise and learn some specific terminology and compare different functions in small VEX examples. We will then go ahead and implement our own fBM functions which we will then use to create procedural effects like a fireball and lightning. We will touch upon how to treat noise functions on animated characters and then slightly bend our minds to create amazing patterns using the concept of domain warping.
Main topic of this week is geometry creation. We will be growing some grass curves, implement features on how to even animate it, and learn how to turn them into polygonal geometry we can render. We move on to implementing our first SOP solver to create some actual animated lightning --applying what we learned about noise and geometry creation.
This week focuses on the great Grey Scott Reaction/Diffusion model. We will learn about it’s theory and how to implement it in VEX. With the resulting setup we will experiment in various ways, to create some amazing naturalistic looking pictures.
Another often used method is flocking. Used for birds, fish or spaceships, the flocking mechanism by Reynolds - often referred to as BOIDS - is a fundamental principle driving many workflows in VFX. We will look into BOIDs theory and then learn about and implement a full flocking setup with behaviours like separation, alignment, wander and cohesion and instantiate geometry to the simulated points to create a flock of birds.
Growth algorithms are an important part of VFX work. Veins, magic, plants and other vegetation can be created with space colonization algorithms. We will be looking at the principle of seed and feed points, create ivy overgrowth and bushy plants to populate a 3D scene, making it more believable and life-like.
After dealing a lot with polygonal geometry, our focus will shift to other primitive types. We will be looking at the principle of advection by moving points and volumes through a velocity field and also implement a volume displacement setup to create cloud like effects. We will learn how to use point replication to increase the detail of point renders in a geometry context but also as a render time procedural. We will extend that excursion into rendering land by writing a more complex procedural that turns points into fur at render time.
We finish off the class by learning about concepts of Thermal and Hydraulic erosion. We will apply those algorithms to write our own VEX setup, creating highly realistic landscapes to be used in VFX or Games.

Taking your skills, to the next level

Johannes has had a varied and illustrious career in the VFX industry, with over 10 years experience in Visual Effects. As Lead FX Artist at Framestore, Johannes' recent credits boast an array of VFX heavy Hollywood productions, including; Marvel's Avengers Infinity Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and is currently working on Pokemon Detective Pikachu. He has a background in Computer Graphics and Software Engineering and is a Houdini aficionado for a decade now. Johannes is an Entertainment Engineer at heart and runs a small Indie Game Studio and conducts experiments in Augmented and Virtual Reality


April 17th!

Spring TERM Registration

Feb 8, 2021 - Apr 26, 2021




April 17th!

Pricing & Schedule

Even though our courses are the most affordable for the quality of education.

These Finance Options allow you to focus on your goals instead of the barriers that keep you from reaching them.

Employer Reimbursement

Animation Guild CSATTF

Payment Plan

Companies that hire our students

  • Naughty Dog
  • Luma Pictures
  • Google
  • EA Games
  • DreamWorks Animation
  • Blizzard Entertainment

environment design Benefits


What makes this learning experience unique?

Personal Feedback

Receive personal individual feedback on all submitted assignments from the industries best artist.

1+ Year Access

Enjoy over 365 days of full course access. This includes all lectures, feedback, and Live Q&A recordings.

Certificate of Completion

Earn a Certificate of Completion when you complete and turn in 80% of course assignments.

Flexible Learning

Learn anywhere, anytime, and at your own pace with our online courses.

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