Brendan Dawes
Analogue + Digital

That Was The Week That Was — 12th January 2020

The Entagma Houdini tutorials are always really high quality, so I wasn't surprised to see just how good this series of videos were detailing what's new with Houdini 18, having finally got around to upgrading.

I really loved the new Group Expansion SOP — which allows the expansion of a group of points along a form, something I did a few experiments with which worked out quite nice. I can see myself using this in the future.

After sharing some experiments on twitter of the curl noise stuff, this tweet suggested I might look at the LIDAR data from the 2008 House of Cards video that Aaron Koblin and Google created. The data that's there is not the full data for the song, but there's about 70 seconds — enough to play around with.

Houdini makes it trivial to bring in this kind of Point data, using the Table Sop (which I then used an expression tied to the frame number to reference the correct csv files to import) so after a few minutes I had a couple of things running which showed promise. I'm now putting together a little HD sequence made up of lines and a particle system.

One thing I hadn't realised before was when things are simply a point, you can't add a material to them unless you use an Add Sop to attach a particle primitive to each point. It then renders the materials on the points.

A workflow I found which worked quite well was creating an Alembic output of all the animated points (2101 frames in total) which I then used as a basis for all my other experiments as an imported Alembic.

Learning those few things make all these little experiments worthwhile. Without messing about making this stuff, I can't discover the fixes to these little problems or these little idiosyncrasies.

On the Thursday I went to see the latest Star Wars movie with the same friend who I had seen Episode IV with multiple times, forty two years ago. Yes it was the same narrative as that same film, but it was an enjoyable, well crafted, entertaining end to the saga.

I also watched about half of The Nightingale. As I had read, it's certainly a difficult, uncompromising watch. I need to finish it this week, but only when I feel ready for it again.