Setting up Houdini on a headless linux server

I will go briefly through the process of setting up Houdini on a headless linux server.

In our project we had access to Nvidia VCA hardware which was running CentOS 7.3 and did not have a X server.

This hardware has some decent computing power in it and we wanted to offload some of our rendering on this computer. We were rendering with Redshift renderer which scaled pretty well on multiple GPUs. We also just fitted into Redshift’s limit of max 8 GPUs.

To be able to do more general-purpose jobs (simulations, caching) on the VCA and to simplify submission process we decided to setup both Houdini and Redshift on it.

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Setting up Houdini on a headless linux server

Precision in Houdini

In my recent project in Houdini I was often hitting precision limits of 32-bit floating point numbers. This led me to figuring out what number precisions are used in Houdini and how can they be accessed.

In this post I will take a look at various contexts of Houdini and will mention floats, but the situation for integers should be the same.

Currently it looks that single precision (32-bit) floating point numbers are used in most operations and transferring data between nodes often happens in this format too. However this situation seems to be likely changed in the future releases of Houdini.

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Precision in Houdini

Houdini tip | Houdini native SDF volume into VDB conversion

Recently I found an interesting problem while trying to convert Houdini dense (native) SDF volume into a VDB SDF volume. My primary motivation was to save space – to discard voxels, which were too far away from surface. This is one of the main reasons why VDBs are usually superior to dense volumes. Note that in this post I will not go too much into details about volumes, but will post some links at the end of the article which explain the basics.
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Houdini tip | Houdini native SDF volume into VDB conversion

Learning resources about VFX and CG

I would like to share with you a collection of presentations, research papers and theses on various topics of VFX or CG.

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I am used to collecting good learning resources and keeping them around in case I will need them later. So it happened that my small list grew and I realized that I have quite interesting things collected from various places.

So I decided to create a repository at GitHub where I will continue to gather useful information which I come across. I am not trying to re-create a database of all recent cutting-edge research. It is more oriented on resources which are easier to understand, like presentations with notes and pictures 🙂 I have been most interested in resources about FX and volumetrics, so it is missing stuff in other areas like cloth simulation etc..

And this is also one of the motivations to host it on a git: similar-minded people can contribute with their areas of interest and hopefully we will end up with a nice pool of information which we can quickly refer to when needed.

I tried to make an easy system for adding new entries – simply add them into a json library file and the page will be automatically updated. More info about that in the repo.

I hope that you will find this resource useful 🙂

Learning resources about VFX and CG