How common is houdini for tech art?

was hoping some of you could shed some light my question: as the title says, how common is houdini for technical artists?

I am currently an FX artist in the VFX industry but have started to become the sort of problem solver person in my studio, building tools and scripts for people, solving complex problems that aren’t “standard” and I enjoy this part of my work a lot more than doing shot work.

as someone considering to transition to gamdev / tech art, how common is houdini in this role? the tech art role varies a lot from studio to studio, so it can be hard for me to really tell if houdini is being widely used in the industry - in your experience, how common is it to have houdini as a requirement for tech art in the current state of the industry?

thanks a lot for your time!

The popularity of Houdini is generally going to scale with the size and complexity of the a studio’s production.

  • A small indie studio probably won’t want to commit to hiring a Houdini-specialist and paying for a seat knowing that they will almost certainly need to bring in Maya and/or Blender artists as well.
  • On the other hand once you get into the “AA” range (35-75 person teams) Houdini can be a positive force multiplier – one or two houdini artists can build and maintain a procedural pipeline to supplement more conventional art production without seeming like a luxury purchase.
  • On big AAA games it’s highly likely that somebody will want to bring in Houdini either for high end VFX work or for specialty pipeline stuff. Nowadays I’d bet that most studios in the 300 + range have entire Houdini based departments, although typically those will be tasked with very specific problems (procedural environment layout, say, or setting up models for destruction, or cinematic simulation work very much like what gets done in the VFX business).

Right now, anyway, Houdini is overwhelmingly a tech artist’s tool – outside of vfx, it’s pretty rare to find conventional 3d art production that uses Houdini for modeling or keyframing (which is not to say it can’t do those tasks – just that the community of Houdini-first production artists is pretty small). When I review Houdini users I know personally, I can’t recall anybody who was both a regular Houdini user and a 3D modeller or keyframer by trade as opposed to a tech artist or (more rarely) a tech animator.

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Hi @Theodox thanks so much for your time - very helpful to have your insight, it helps a lot. :slight_smile:

This is very anecdotal, so take that into consideration here, but in the last several years I have found it less common to see new Tech Artists with a more general tools, coding, and even Maya focused portfolios. The prevalence of both Houdini and Unreal as the primary make-up of game dev tech art applicant’s demos has exploded, again in my experience reviewing candidates sent to me. Think at least certain schools caught on that knowledge here can make their students more employable, and double downed. I can understand why, but as with anything that approaches wider adoption, it is harder to stand out by the software skillset alone. Also not necessarily what I personally look for or need out of a Tech Art candidate. (FX and Env may be different though)

I’d say Houdini use in games in pretty common in the AAA space by this point, but by no means is it a requirement or expectation. Game development has lots of other demands. Not sure if others will echo this, but even the people hired for their Houdini experience where I work are typically splitting their time between Houdini and other things.

Speaking candidly, difficult time to be seeking a switch given all the layoffs, closures, and tightening budgets. Best advice I can give is to really focus on tech that can be a cost saving force multiplier for a studio. I’d say that is more important than the DCC in use.

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hi thanks @Crispy4004 for your response, very helpful to know houdini is a more common / relevant tool in game dev nowadays. I understand tech art is not a single software sort of role so yes I do look forward to expanding my skillset, probably one of the things that has made me most interested in it.

about the switch: I am still employed in VFX which also had a downturn over the last year due to strikes and what not and wasn’t planning to switch to tech art in the immediate future… it is more of something I am considering as a future viable option as I noticed I seem to enjoy doing that sort of stuff.

thanks again for your time