Press Release from cmiStudios
cmiVFX | cmiStudios launches a brand new video for the Side FX Houdini Software application. The most frequent request from our customers was involving rendering and shading issues with the Houdini package itself. We assembled a list of the most frequently asked questions and compiled a video knowledge base in this 4 hour Hi-Definition feature. Online documentation for this subject is nearly non-existent. We have successfully filled the void with an intense, fast paced video. There is so much information in this video, that artists will certainly have every tool necessary to complete any render task. Additional topics such as lighting and materials are covered in great depth. When it comes to high end CG and VFX training, there is only once choice... cmiVFX. This video is available today at the cmiVFX store. cmiVFX Video Player Online Store http://cmivfx.com/store/Browse.aspx?Category=11 
Introduction to Materials:
A very important step prior to the rendering process is defining the aspects of the surface of your objects. This action is achieved in a wide variety of ways in Houdini and is crucial to start somewhere neutral. Learn how you can create materials and how you can assign them to your objects as well as components.
Materials in Depth:
To have a deep understanding of what makes a material believable, it's important to understand the materials pipeline. Houdini extends its procedural workflow into all aspects of the application including shading networks. It's important to know the many ways of application to surfaces. In addition to that, Houdini lets you compile the shaders inside of it in a unique way. It lets you not only write shaders with code but with visual blocks called VOPs as well. Knowing that, the artist will need to have options, and we will go through these options on how to create better, proper materials for your objects.
Houdini has a lot of rendering tools that can benefit its users when working. We explore different tools like the render region tool, render view, MPlay, render nodes or output drivers, comparison tools and more. This will allow the artists workflow to be optimized for speed. Waste less time performing long test renders and spend more time tuning your look.
We create real projects at cmiVFX and we are happy to delve deep into a project that utilizes almost all of the rendering technology in Houdini. In this section, the project is introduced. The final result of this project is discussed as well as its modeling and UV sets used in the scene.
Direct and Indirect Lighting:
The rendering process as a whole, is about calculating the interaction of the lighting in the scene and outputting the result. Knowing about light and its physical properties is a very important step to understanding how to work out lighting inside any software. Understanding direct and indirect light is discussed in length with charts and graphs.
In order to get to the next level of lighting calculations comprehension, We will show the methods of normal propagation for surface shading using the information gathered earlier. This resulting data helps create a translucent material inside Houdini.
With the information gathered so far about the importance of the indirect illumination we'll go through different ways to create indirect illumination inside Houdini, like the VEX global illumination light shader, PBR, photon mapping, etc, and also talk about one of the methods on how you can have indirect illumination on a per object basis. Let's investigate Image Based Lighting and how you can convert an image to the .rat format preferred by Mantra. Next, how to apply indirect illumination and light linking.
Simple Materials Application:
This section is geared to guide you on how to apply your created materials to the main project, finishing the lamps surface shaders, then working on the materials that do not need texturing for other objects in the scene.
Once you have created UV's for geometry you can assign procedural or image based textures to surfaces. This task and others, like creating the corresponding materials for our objects and texturing them will be covered in a step by step method. Understanding COP networks to modify an image, then use the output as a texture for one of the materials is a focus in this portion of the video.
Displacement mapping is a very important way to add details to your objects without high resolution modeling. Having a good grip on how to create some displacement shaders for materials is essential. Navigate through shader view and use important parameters like the displacement bound and true displacements.
Sampling in Mantra:
Fine tuning and looking good. That is what this chapter is all about. What makes a shader and light good and final? Working on finishing touches, like adding some objects to reflect in our render, adding some lights, making some reflections and light linking and many other subjects compose the final touches of a our project.
Mantra is a powerful rendering engine, one of the best in the industry, but as any other beasts it need to be mastered. Knowing how to manage samples from the inside out is a phenomenal for fine tuning your scenes. We are going to look deep into how Mantra manages samples, also as an additional bonus we will have an overview on how Depth of Field works in Mantra to achieve our final result.
About the Author:
Georges Nakhle is 25 years old, Lebanese, and has a master's degree in mechanical engineering. he has a wide artistic and scientific knowledge, he began his art steps with traditional painting and sculpting then gained a diploma in dramatic monologue (acting -singing), he has worked as a writer and perfomer in radio and TV. Combining arts and science led him to CG, so he mastered many tools including Maya and Houdini among others, he's also a programmer so he's currently working for Dassault Systemes in Paris, France and he had also worked in combination between Dassault-Systemes and Mental Images the makers of mental-ray. He is very picky about the details and he believes that every small detail contributes to the finished product.