We use a range of software at Carse & Waterman, but one of the programs we are using more and more is Houdini from SideFX. While we still use Autodesk Maya for all of our animation, we are now using Houdini for almost everything else.
Houdini's procedural nature allows us to generate content much quicker than the traditional linear approach, while also being more flexible with better performance.
SideFX recently released Houdini 17, the latest update to this application, and with it they introduced several new features. Houdini 17 is an enormous release which adds many features but by far the most talked about feature in our offices is Vellum.
Vellum is a new Cloth/Strand/Grain/Softbody solver using xpbd, an extension and improvement of the pbd (position base dynamics) solver. Houdini first introduced pbd's in version 14, and has allowed for the simulation of sand and snow both dry and wet. The new xpbd solver enhances this capability and extends it to support Cloth and Strands/Hair. It is a very fast, very robust solver and has given us some incredible results that were not possible or very difficult to achieve using the older wire and cloth solves. Being a unified solver also allows for direct interaction between cloth and hair, something which would have been hard to do in previous versions.
17 also includes improvements to white water (foam/mist on the top of oceans and waves), material fracturing (useful for destruction of concrete/wood/glass), interactive poly modelling using the new PolyDraw tool, massive improvements to the Pyro/Fluids work flow by sourcing via particles as default along with support for openVDB allowing much faster sourcing and simulation, Terrain improvements, a new Retime SOP for re-timing animation/simulations, UV tool improvements, improvements to character animation and rigging, 64-bit and AVX accelerated Vex - this one is really nice as we use VEX a lot. There are also smaller quality of life improvements like the new attribute noise sop, secure selection, Triangulate 2D improvements, Blends shape node improvements, Trace sop, Winding Number sop and much more.
This is a huge release and we still haven't tested everything new, but are excited for the possibilities these new features allow.