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Houdini Training

1 INTERFACE GUIDE: FINDING YOUR WAY IN HOUDINI

All of this is described in detail in the online documentation. This is an overview to help you find your way quickly when you are beginning in Houdini. As you first read the document, find the corresponding parts in the interface, or refer to this if you get lost. In conjunction with this, you can refer to the Houdini Editor Types Map document, which serves as an excellent map or reference as you work through Houdini's interface. To start, let's just break down the Houdini interface into its main parts. No matter what your Houdini may look like right now, it consists of each of the following elements. Below you'll find a brief explanation of each part.

Main Elements of the Houdini Interface Menus Panes Desks Message Area Cook Controls

Playbar

Animation Controls.

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1.1 PANES

The panes are your dashboard for driving Houdini. They provide access to editors that let you view and manipulate whatever you are creating in Houdini. Depending on what setting you choose, each pane has the same potential capability as follows:

Panes = your dashboard for driving Houdini:

Set Type: (to edit the different aspects and types of operations in Houdini). Resize: (to configure your panes how you'd like to work). Adjust and Modify: (the content you're creating in houdini). Add/Delete: (panes as needed to accomplish the tasks you may be doing in Houdini).

These panes can then be organized into DESKS so that each time you work, you have as many different configurations as you would like. (We'll get to desks next.)

1.2 BREAKING DOWN THE PANE.

STOWBARS

The first thing you must know about is the stow bar. This lets you hide or "stow" the different parameter windows in your pane.

1) Stowbar (stowed) (click to expand the window).

2) Stowbar (unstowed)

PANE CONTROLS

The key to working with these panes is all at the top portion of the pane. If you get lost, look at the top of the pane at your pane controls and from this you can set where and what you are working with.

Pane Controls = everything you need to navigate and adjust is at the top of each pane.

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Houdini Training

It's handy to think of the pane controls as divided into three parts.

1) Pane Navigation Controls 2) Pane Type Menu 3) Pane Setting Controls

1) Pane Navigation Controls = on the left.

Here you designate what kind of pane editor (see below) you'd like to work with through the editor menu

2) Pane Type Menu = in the middle.

Here you decide what type of editor you'd like the pane to be.The arrows and bookmarks let you remember these settings.

3) Pane Setting Controls = on the right.

Here you can link panes to other panes, copy, expand, close and split the panes.

1) Pane Navigation Controls - the Editor Menu: lets you designate the type of pane.

Viewport = to view and create your content. Network view = to layout your operators. Parameter view = to adjust parameters for the operators. Geo Spreadsheet = change values and attributes (SOPs, POPs).

Channel editor = edit keyframes and channels for animation.

Custom panel = custom interfaces to help with workflow. Textport = direct entry of hscript commands. Manipulator list = manage all your handles and manipulators.

2) Pane Type Menu: Sets the type of editor you need to use to work with your content.

Cameras, objects, nulls, cameras, lights. Objects at the local level - where you build everything. Complete editor for creating/editing particle simulations. Interactive editor for building shaders. Interactive editor for building procedural textures. Editor for building shader operator networks. Channel editor for motion, channels, and visual expression building. The new version. The old version. For setting up rendering (of images, geometry, etc.) Remember as you're working, you can always glance up to this and know exactly where you are.

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3) Pane Setting Controls: lets you adjust, add and close panes.

Under the circle are number choices to link panes - each pane with matching numbers will be linked. Copies the pane Expands the pane to full size. or tears off a copy.

Add panes.

Close the pane. This links panes to nodes - as you click on your nodes, this ties the pane to the parent network's current node. This lets you move the playbar to this pane.

SWAP AND SPLIT BARS

Additionally, to help arrange the size and placement of each pane in relation to each other, you have the swap control and split-bar.

Swap bar = [ click on this once to swap adjacent panes.

Split bar = [ click on the split bar and drag to reposition the split bar.

1.3

DESKS

Now that you've got an understanding of what a pane is and how to configure it to your preference, you can learn how to arrange the panes into desks. By setting up different desks for different tasks, you can have ready for you any combination of editors and viewers, and in this way, Houdini is organized in the

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Houdini Training

way you prefer to work. 1. So to start, let's take a look at the desks you've got already. These may vary, if your configuration has been changed from the defaults, or you have added, deleted or adjusted the desks yourself. The following info in addition to the manuals should give you all the info you need to set up your desks.

From the Desks menu, you can select any default or preset desks you have created, or which exist on your system.

This lets users have a common interface to which they can refer, for production situations, or training, and lets you have a setup to which you can return each time you work. Some people prefer to organize and prepare a range of desks, others simply configure on the fly as they work. The choice is yours.

2. In order to set, add, or delete desks, you must bring up the desktop manager, which is under the Dialogs menu.

DESKTOP MANAGER

Location: where you save the .desk files.

Note: if you have problems, the location may be write protected.

Click to add a new desktop.

Note: when you add a new desk, it automatically appears in alphabetical order as Desk #. You might have to scroll down to find it.

Apply and Accept the changes made.

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3. Besides the main buttons for adding desktops etc. there are a couple things to highlight here. If you play around with the panes, and find your desk unfamiliar and wish to revert to the way it was, to the left of each desk is a menu. From that menu you can select revert.

If you click the flag next to the desk, no changes will be made to the .desk file. So you can make changes as you work, and not worry about your desk getting changed.

If the green flag is selected, no changes will be made to the .desk file. Click to revert to previously saved settings.

Select to show hidden desks. Click to hide a desk.

1.4 MENUS

So now that you've got an understanding of the panes, and how to arrange them in desks, let's take a quick overview of the menus. I'll just highlight a few things, but

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I would suggest familiarizing yourself with the menu contents for later reference.

FILE MENU

Open, merge, save and create new files, and desks. desktops, and quit Houdini.

Recently opened files.

EDIT MENU

Because you can set the playbar in any pane, this lets you reset it to the bottom of the screen. Many of the preferences you need to set are under this menu.

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PREFERENCES MENU

The Preferences menu includes a large variety of preferences you may need to set as you work in Houdini. Those pointed out below you will likely need to find sooner than some of the others.

Preferences for anything to do with operator node tiles. Preferences for setting different viewports.

Preferences for tools and toolbars (when adding operators).

If you have this checked, Houdini will automatically save keyframes as you make changes to a parameter that already has an existing channel.

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Houdini Training

Make sure you take a look at the viewport preferences to set the style of viewport tumbling for your mouse that you like.

If you're looking for a familiar style, try the 80's style Euler tumbling.

This increments the file number each time you save. This is recommended for less chance of file corruption.

DIALOGS MENU

There are many menus to explore in the Dialogs menu.

The first you'll probably need to use are the desktop manager, and the hotkey manager.

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HELP MENU

Make sure you explore the online documents and tutorials.

1.5 PLAYBAR CONTROLS

The animation controls are pretty intuitive, but there are a couple necessary controls you might not find right away. If you unstow the range tools found at the lower right hand side of the panel, you'll find a few things. 1. Most importantly are the global animation parameters.

GLOBAL ANIMATION PARAMETERS

2) Click to bring up global animation parameters.

1) Click to stow/unstow frame range tools.

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Another handy thing to know is the setting for real time playback.

Check to approximate real time playback.

1.6 COOK CONTROLS

Make sure this is set to Always, otherwise Houdini won't update as you make changes, and you'll be wondering why! On an NT system - hit the E key to interrupt cooking. On other systems, click the interrupt button that appears. This shows you that Houdini is busy "cooking" or processing data.

1.7 MESSAGE AREA

As you're working, Houdini will send messages at the top area in the middle of your screen, as to which mouse to use, or what to click. As you're learning be sure to look there for help.

1.8 ADDITIONAL HELPFUL TIPS

Besides those main areas of Houdini listed above, there are a couple other tips that can help you find what you're looking for as you're working. One thing to keep in mind is that menus change according to context, so as you switch the type of content you're working with, these menus will update.

C \

Remember! As you change the context, that menu will change too. If you cannot find a command or hotkey you need, try C \ and you will probably find what you're looking for along with the associated hotkey. This indicates there is a pulldown menu underneath.

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Parameters = whenever you see one of these plus signs, that means there are associated parameters underneath - they are almost always located near the associated item. For example: All the display parameters are stowed on the right side of every viewer. As you can see, all of the display options are available under the little plus sign located near the display parameters. The camera parameters are located under one of these buttons underneath the viewport and near the camera buttons.

For all buttons, if you hold your cursor over them, pop-up help appears to indicate the button's use.

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