Houdini 8.1 Released

Side Effects Software, developer of the award-winning Houdini family of 3D software, released Houdini 8.1. This new version features an animator-friendly Auto Rig, Muscle System, Character Picker and Pose Library. Enhancements to the Rigid Body and Wire dynamic solvers and support for the importing of Collada files are also included in this latest release.

To celebrate Houdini 8.1, Side Effects Software is offering two opportunities to save when choosing to either buy or rent Houdini Master. Through Sept. 30, up to two copies of Houdini Master can be purchased at the special price of $9,999, a savings of more than 40%, while customers who choose the rental option for at least three months will receive one month free. As a bonus, everyone who takes advantage of either of these offers will receive a free copy of the book THE MAGIC OF HOUDINI.

There has never been a better time to discover Houdini, says Kim Davidson, president/ceo, Side Effects Software. Whether you create feature films, videogame cinematics or film-quality broadcast, Houdini offers the widest range of animation and visual effects features to suit every part of the production pipeline.

The highlights of Houdini 8.1 include character tools such as the Auto Rig and Muscle System. With the Auto Rig, animators can quickly create production-quality biped rigs with high-level, easy-to-use controls, such as FK/IK switching. Set up as Houdini Digital Assets, these rigs provide a robust referencing scheme that makes it easy to propagate changes throughout a production. Proxy geometry can be easily added to the animation rig and put into production right away while the riggers work on a separate capture rig to define surface deformations.

Creating a realistic muscle and skin system is made easier with Houdinis new metaball capture and metaball-based muscle tool. Now animators can set up skin sliding and muscle deformations without relying on lengthy simulations. The results work in realtime and allow muscles to become an integral part of the animation process.

These character tools, along with the Character Picker and Pose Library, are also featured in Houdini Escape, which is ideal for riggers and animators. Houdini Escape also provides an excellent platform for lighting, rendering and compositing.

For artists who want to bring their work from other 3D animation packages into Houdini, Houdini 8.1 includes support for the import of Collada files. Collada (www.collada.org) is an open digital asset exchange schema for interactive 3D applications. Houdini 8.1 supports the import of geometry, lights, cameras, transformations and keyframe animation through Collada. Animated character rigs can also be imported as a hierarchy of keyframed null objects that can be used with Houdini 8.1s new muscle tools.

Houdini 8.1 also features advancements in Dynamics tools, with a significantly faster Wire solver and a new Rigid Body auto-freeze feature. Houdinis Dynamics environment lets users integrate Rigid Body, Cloth and Wire solvers into a single unified simulation, and includes unique capabilities such as RBD glue. Houdini's advanced physical simulation technology is consistently used by leading visual effects houses in the creation of SUPERMAN RETURNS, X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, POSEIDON, THE ANT BULLY and more.

If you are visiting SIGGRAPH 2006 in Boston, you can see Houdini 8.1 in action at booth #1731. In addition to Houdini demonstrations, several customers, including artists from Framestore-CFC, Rhythm & Hues, DNA and Sony Pictures Imageworks, will be showcasing their work at the booth. Side Effects Software is also hosting a Houdini Pub Night to bring the worldwide Houdini community together.

The Houdini family of animation software includes modeling, rigging, animation, particle effects, dynamics, compositing, integrated rendering and more. All Houdini applications work together sand are available for the Windows and Linux operating systems.

Established in 1987, Side Effects Software (www.sidefx.com) is a world leader in the development of advanced 3D animation and special effects software for use in film. Side Effects Software leads the field of procedural animation with its unique, award-winning, Houdini technology. Houdini is used by numerous digital content creation leaders, including C.O.R.E., Digital Domain, Disney Feature Animation, DNA Prods., Framestore-CFC, The Orphanage, Rhythm & Hues and Sony Pictures Imageworks, among others.