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  • Difficulty Level:

    workshop-level-f F


Class Format:
Length: 8 Weeks
Lectures: Recorded and sent individually
Assignment: Deadlines each week
Feedback: Individually recorded and sent via email once a week
Live Q&As: Once a week

Summer 2017 Disclaimer: There are two classes being taught for the 2017 Summer Term. The first class, entitiled "Summer-A" will be on June 20th and is currently full and closed for registration. The second class, "Summer-B," begins on August 30th and is currently open for registration with a limited number of seats remaining. Please email for any questions or concerns. 


Intro to FX in Houdini is the perfect course for anyone wanting to jump head first into the world of VFX.

This course will give you an intro into almost every aspect of FX used in a professional pipeline.

Saber Jlassi is currently a Senior Technical director at Blizzard Animation in Irvine, California.

Saber will cover a variety of material and get into many technical low level concepts such as the maths, geometry and trigonometry involved in gaining complete control over an effect.

When it comes to making great FX, there aren't any push­button solutions. This course helps to lay that groundwork to understand what is going on under the 'hood'. Saber will take you step-­by-­step through the construction using production techniques in Houdini ­ right from looking at the UI and procedural modeling in Week 1, and eventually on to particles, rigid bodies, fluids and lighting. You will cover methods that give complete control when you're creating various fx, particles, rigid bodies, fluids, as well as procedural modeling and rendering, to name a few.

Finally, you'll bring in the various elements you have created together in one final scene.

Don't miss the chance to learn from one of the industry's most experienced Houdini professionals. 


DISCLAIMER: This class requires Houdini 15.5. If you are using Houdini 16 then you must be able to turn in valid hip files using Houdini 15.5.

Classroom Access Policy

CGMA policy states that all students will have access to classroom content for the duration of the class plus 4 weeks to review content. After this time is up classroom content will no longer be available.

For those classes with live Q&As, Q&A recordings as well as feedback recordings will be available for up to 6 months after the class is complete.

Certificate of Completion Policy

CGMA policy allows students to miss up to 2 assignments per class before they become ineligible to receive their Certificate of Completion.


Week 1 - Let's Begin! Learning the Houdini Interface and Creating Geometry


In this first week we will learn the basics of Houdini and it's procedural workflow, we will compare it to other 3d packages like maya and 3dsmax, and at the end we will start creating some simple geometry. The goal of this week is to understand the Houdini interface and the concept of proceduralism and get comfortable with it.


  • Introduction to Houdini Proceduralism
  • Houdini, Maya, 3dsmax, what's common and what's different?
  • Houdini Structure
  • Creating Networks
  • Intro to Copy Sop

Week 2 - Let's Model a Procedural Cathedral Interior


In this week we will refresh some math knowledge which will be the foundation for a lot of advanced fx that we will create later. We are going to dive more into proceduralism and point data manipulation in Houdini, we will create a pillar and a cathedral interior scene, all procedurally to learn the various aspects of geometry manipulation in Houdini.


  • What math do I need to know for FX in Houdini?
  • Manipulating point attributes using attribute wrangles and vop sops
  • Creating a procedural Pillar
  • Creating a procedural interior scene
  • Creating a procedural brick pattern and learning how to use the “For-Each loop” node. 

Week 3 - It's all about POPS - Introduction to Particles


In this week we will start playing with particles in Houdini, and how to create custom forces to manipulate the particle motion. We will setup a variety of fx layers and try out different emission techniques and learn how to break down a complex fx intro manageable particle sims. At the end we will take a look at the sop solver and see how we can create interaction between particles and geometry.


  • Particles fundamentals
  • Controlling simulations
  • Creating vortex motion force
  • Creating multiple particles setups and layering them to add complexity
  • Particle goals

Week 4 - Complex Fx are Simple - Introduction to Mantra


In this week we will look at shading and rendering in Mantra the various particle simulations that we did in previous weeks. We will learn how to break down a complex effect into several render passes while thinking about the compositing process and how things will be combined together. We will also learn how to read point attributes from the geometry to drive shader parameters.


  • Think like a compositor
  • Introduction to shading in Mantra
  • Using point attributes to drive shader’s parameters
  • Shading our particle fx
  • Rendering and Layering fx elements
  • Setting up render passes for a complex fx 

Week 5 - Let's Destroy What We've Created - Destruction in Houdini


In this week we will take a look at how to prep geometry for destruction and some good practice. We will then learn how the RBD system and glue constraint works in Houdini and for that we will be using the cathedral interior that we've created in previous weeks and destroying part of it. We will also learn how to create good collision geometry and how to deal with concave geometry.


  • Modeling for destruction
  • Intro to destruction and RBD
  • Intro to Constraints in Dops
  • Let's destroy what we've created
  • Best approach to create RBD collisions
  • What's Convex Decomposition?      

Week 6 - Let's Flood the Cathedral - Water Simulation in Houdini


In this week we will get introduced to flip fluid simulation in Houdini. We will start off by creating a malestorm setup in flip then we will move on to a more advanced example where we will flood part of the cathedral and have the water simulation interact with our rigid body simulation. At the end we will look at the whitewater solver and how to create foam in Houdini.


  • Intro to Flipfluids
  • Creating a malestorm
  • Best approach to create RBD interaction with Flip
  • Advecting RBD using the fluid motion
  • WhiteWater setup 

Week 7 - Pretty Images - Lighting in Mantra


In this week we will learn more about lighting and shading in Mantra and we will setup shaders for the various simulations that we've created, water, foam, RBD and the cathedral. We will light the cathedral and setup the various render passes in a way that will give us the most flexibility when comping the shot.


  • Intro to lighting in Mantra
  • More on Shading in Mantra
  • Lighting the cathedral
  • Water shading in Mantra
  • Foam shading in Mantra
  • Setting up passes for the water surface and RBD
  • Compositing

Week 8 - Smoke is Everywhere - Smoke Simulation in Houdini


In this week we will look at volumes in Houdini, we will start off with an in depth look at VDB volumes and how to procedurally model various volumetric fx. Then we will take a look at the smoke solver and learn how to source volume and how to setup good collision geometry. At the end we will take a look at volume rendering in Mantra and how to setup the various render passes.


  • Intro to volume modeling
  • Intro to smoke simulations in Houdini
  • Best practice to source smoke and collisions
  • Creating a simple smoke simulation
  • Create atmospheric effects using VDB volumes



There is an expectation that each student have a working knowledge of another 3d software package. Typically, Houdini has a steep learning curve and this class isdesigned to be fairly technical and students who do not have an understanding of general 3d concepts can quickly fall behind. Even though the course says it's fundamental, the instructor will be touching on a variety of advanced subjects starting from the second week.


Houdini's Apprentice education edition software is available as a free download, and is all you will need to take this workshop.



VEX In Houdini
with Anastasia Opara

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workshop-level-a A
8 Weeks 8 WEEKLY UNITS (starts: Jul. 22) (Sold Out) (teaching now) (starts: T.B.A.) (coming soon)