cmiVFX Releases New Houdini Crowd VEX Custom Slugfest
High Definition Training Videos for the Visual Effects Industry
Princeton, NJ (December 3rd, 2015)‚ cmiVFX has released brand new Houdini Crowd VEX Custom Slugfest a VEX based code system for managing agent states within the Houdini Crowd system. Over the course of the training we will develop a robust event system that will allow you to customize your crowd needs above and beyond what the standard shelf tools offer. In this series Randy Sanders covers rig conversion, rig import, import fix-up, crowd population, multi-group crowd participants, simulation, constraining agents to a terrain, seeking goals, material style sheets and forming logos. We are going to build a couple mini-code systems such as: event state detection and transition viewing. Then we will take what we have learned to make a much larger system called the ‘SlugFest Engine’. The concept around this is to build the code around the asset. Craft a custom VEX code system to support the specific features of the asset. In the process, we will be using best coding practices to make the code flexible enough to be altered and extended at a later time. When it comes to intriguing Houdini content, look no further than cmiVFX.com!
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This is a VEX based code system for managing agent states within the Houdini Crowd system.
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It Starts With The Character
In this chapter, we review the various states of the animated Blender character which we will use throughout the series. We walk through the FBX export process for each action and generate animated FBX files that are compatible with the Houdini system.
Import And Bake
In this chapter, we go through the steps to import the FBX files and do a little cleanup on the imported animated geometry. We create a subnet for each animation state and configure each animation for baking.
Population And Simulation
In this chapter, we setup population grids for two different agent groups. These two groups will be opposing forces when it comes time for conflict. We create an initial Simulation and setup state nodes for all the FBX files to link the simulation to the baked animation files. We also add attributes to agents to support features of the SlugFest Combat system.
Trigger And Transition Setup
In this short chapter, we add some parameters for global control of transition speed and randomness. We also create the fist set of Trigger/Transition nodes to control migration from the walk state to any other state the system supports.
In this chapter, we start off with the remaining Trigger/Transition states in place and move on to construct a transition viewer so we can review our agent transitioning between states. Clip state detection is explained as I walk you through the VEX code.
Installing Slugfest Code
In this chapter, we install the SlugFest engine code into a CrowdTrigger node and create the support nodes for system initialization, seeking and per-frame attribute update. We wrap it up with an animated combat test of the code we installed.
Terrain And Goals
In this chapter, we import objects which become goals for our red and green teams. We link our VEX code to the goals so our agents can detect them. We also setup a randomly deformed ground to act as terrain for our agents to traverse. We tweak various parameters of the Crowd Solver node to dial-in our agent animations and conduct a couple of test to verify that different random outcomes are possible using the system.
Materials, Stylesheet And Rendering
In this chapter, we create a master material for our agents using the new Principled Shader. We also leverage the image maps that came with the original asset to refine the look. We create a Material Stylesheet which changes the color of each team member to match that teams color. We also explore how to reference attributes in Material Stylesheets.
In this chapter, we review the Slug Fest Engine code line by line and talk about how the system works.
Finalizing The Look
In this final Slug Fest chapter, we improve the render setup by adding a matched set of images, Diffuse, Displace and Normal maps, to the terrain. We install the remaining matched set of images on to our agent's material as well. We explore Depth of Field and how to enable Motion Blur for the agents. We setup lighting using the Sky Light with an Environment image map. We explore how to color match the terrain horizon line with the environment map for a more seamless look. We set the final speed for the simulation then add more agents to our scene and sort them by axis.
Agents Form A Logo
In this chapter, we set aside the Slug Fest code and explore how to use VEX code to make the default agents walk or run from one random location to another location within a logo. When they reach the final location they switch to an idle standing position. A simple Material Stylesheet colorizes the seeking agents and the standing agents who have reached their goal.
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About the Instructor: Randy Sanders
While programming dominated Randy's early life, computer graphics and animation were always at the heart of it. Having written his first program, an animated low-res graphical trumpet, at age 14, Randy went on to win first place in the Ohio State High School programming championship two years in a row. As computers evolved, so did Randy's programming skills. Randy spent ten years as a Microsoft application developer creating multi-media programs for the desktop and the web. As comfortable on Windows, Mac or Linux, Randy now pursues Open Source solutions for development and has written many Python scripts for 3D environments. All code and no fun makes Randy a dull boy? Not really, Randy is also an accomplished recording artists/audio engineer and has several published works, including works for the Sony music corporation and local record labels. He has collaborated on musical sound tracks for local movies and his keyboard sequencing can be heard on the nationally famous poet Umar Bin Hassan's CD “Life Is Good” as well as trumpet and guitar on Howlin' Maggie's “Honey Suckle Strange”. Visual composition is important to Randy. But not content to just look through the viewfinder. Randy has gone further into the camera than most and been employed as a camera repair technician. This venture into the mechanical and electrical makeup of lenses, flash units, camera bodies and video camcorders has given Randy a technical understanding of photography and videography that he leverages in his work. Randy is a competent camera operator and has managed video shoots from start to finish. Including capture, editing, keying, rotoscoping and delivery after the shoot. Animation still remains Randy's passion whether it is 2D or 3D. In between projects, Randy can often be found seeking out new animation techniques, putting a modern twist on an old one or just making something pretty. If time has taught Randy anything, it is that to remain creative you must always look to the future. What will Randy be doing in five years? More than likely leveraging the latest software to complete effects shots for television, movies or the advertising industry.
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