updated 04:00 pm EDT, Thu June 12, 2008
Houdini 9.5 public beta
Side Effects Software has released a public beta of Houdini 9.5, its node-based 3D animation software that allows artists to collaborate from different platforms. Houdini has been used in the production of a number of major Hollywood films, including The Chronicles of Narnia, and all three Spider-Man movies, but until now was only available for Windows and Linux. The Mac version requires a 64-bit Intel Mac running Leopard, and is set for final release on July 15.
Built with performance in mind, Houdini for Mac offers a standard Mac menu bar, a window menu on Houdini's Dock icon and drag and drop support. In addition, the company has added QuickTime support to all operating systems.
"Mac OS X Leopard delivers true 64-bit computing allowing 3D applications like Houdini for Mac to render detailed animations quickly and easily," said Ron Okamoto, Apple's Vice President of Worldwide Developer Relations. "We're thrilled that Side Effects is bringing Houdini to the Mac so 3D professionals can seamlessly collaborate across multiple platforms."
Version 9.5 includes a number of key productivity enhancements, for all operating systems, including FBX export with support for geometry, lights, cameras, animation, hierarchies, skeletons, weighted skins, UVs, geometry caches, particles, and dynamic simulations. Adobe Illustrator and eps import has also been included for motion graphic artists.
In addition, it adds new Rigid Body fracturing tools, debris generation tools, river and wave simulation tools, and tools for generating fluids-based fire and smoke.
SideEffects also added an animatable "all-purpose" Ramp parameter type to help artists build shaders and control effects such as particles or L-systems. According to the company, artists can also use real-time shadows in the viewport and Houdini 9.5 now supports hand-coded OpenGL2 shaders.
Houdini 9.5 is available in four editions: the free Apprentice and $100 non-watermarked Apprentice HD are for personal projects and learning; the $2,000 Houdini Escape with modeling, animation, characters, lighting, rendering and compositing; and the visual effects focused Houdini Master with all of Escape's features plus particles and integrated dynamics such as rigid bodies, wire, cloth and fluids is available for $8,000.
3D Artists can participate in the public beta using Houdini Apprentice or Houdini Apprentice HD which contains all of Houdini Master's features except for third-party rendering and FBX export. Artists who purchase Apprentice HD will be eligible for a free upgrade to Houdini 9.5, when it is released. Existing Houdini Apprentice HD licenses can be upgraded for $70.