Visualists and audiovisualists, rejoice. A major rabbit hole of 3D eye candy is now free for both Unreal and Unity.

Houdini is the insanely powerful node-based procedural visual engine that laid the groundwork for a lot of what’s happening in digital art today. An early version was even the basis of TouchDesigner. (A quirk of all these workflows is, the tools tend not to compete directly – a lot of TouchDesigner users will benefit from Houdini and this deal specifically, even. And in turn the availability of Houdini might well lead more people to Touch, too.)

The pricing deal is about people using Unity and Unreal Engine and wanting to add Houdini’s procedural powers inside. It’s refreshing to see both Unity and Unreal here, because artists tend to be evenly split between the two tools – including musicians who are now diving into the world of visuals. Epic Games made an undisclosed minority investment into SideFX, which you might expect would mean Unreal would get preferential treatment. Instead, everybody wins. (This is in stark contrast to whatever feud is going on between Epic and Apple, which seems to be more about those two companies than the rest of us.)

Anyway, artists had Houdini Indie for artists, but now you’re not restricted by application.

This also means, crucially, easier collaboration with artists who know Houdini. They can create assets, you work in Unreal or Unity, and you don’t really even need to know how Houdini works.

It doesn’t eliminate the need for a Houdini license for a lot of other cases. But 3D creation is looking a lot like music creation – a diverse landscape of interconnected tools. And whereas by contrast music customers are often wary of subscription models, in the 3D world, rental fees allow you to take on work and start earning money without a huge up-front investment – all inside a pro tool.

All of this seems very good news at a time when a lot of people are looking to drum up work in the middle of the pandemic.

Everything is explained at SideFX’s site:

Houdini Engine for Unreal and Unity now Free

And yes, there are tutorials.

Best of all, let’s let our friend and Master of Workflow Ted explain how this works in Unreal Engine:

Image at top, from this video: