Houdini FX Fundamentals

Embrace the industry's latest 3D tools and workflows to gain a deeper grasp of how it works

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2023 - To be Defined
10 / 10 participants
10 days
Beginner to intermediate
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

2 200 EUR

per participant

350 EUR

per participant

Waiting List

This course will demystify Houdini and show you how to make the most out of it.

In the Houdini Fundamentals course we will be exploring a few core areas of  Houdini, and going deeper into each select subject than in the usual basic course, so you can really come to grips with each technique. 

On completion of this course, you will

  • Gain a good understanding of the core concepts in Houdini and proceduralism
  • Be able to develop simple procedural workflows
  • Learn how to troubleshoot a workflow
  • Fix problems on your own, allowing you to further learn Houdini by yourself
  • Understand the key elements that make an FX believable
  • Know the best practices to develop production quality procedural FX setups

About the course

How it works

We will be exploring the very key area of procedural modeling, which is on the basis of many effects done in Houdini. We’ll look at how to prepare that geometry for effects, use Rigid Body Dynamics to simulate its destruction and layer it up with additional effects to achieve greater complexity in the final shot. We will use particle emission from debris to add additional instanced debris pieces, and layering smoke on top of that debris to create the finest dust. All of these steps will include the use of custom velocity fields and forces to guide our effect to the desired look. You’ll also learn about working with particles and voxel grids and how simulations deal with those elements. At the same time, you will learn how multiple kinds of simulations come together to create complex and beautiful shots.

You’ll have plenty of time during the two-week period to work on your effect with the guidance of a professional Houdini FX Technical Director. This allows you to take the skills learned and apply them to a specific shot of your design. This means also taking into account timing, composition, and managing the resolution of your components in a way that makes sense relative to your camera position.

The mornings will contain lectures followed by a break, after which the rest of your day is spent building up your shot and applying the skills treated in the classes. Your tutor will be present to help you tackle obstacles and answer questions you may have along the way.

The final aim is for you to develop a showreel-worthy shot that demonstrates a good level of skill with the tools used and an understanding of the topics covered. You will build up the confidence to tackle your own Houdini FX shots and have enough understanding of the software to build upon your skillset and continue learning the many other areas that Houdini has to offer.

Lesson plan

In each topic, you will learn how to properly use the targeted toolset, as well as how it comes together with other toolsets to make a single shot come together consisting of multiple parts.

  • Procedural modeling
    Deriving geometry from a single controllable spline and building on top of that. Copying and instancing geometry on top of other geometry to create a complex structure.
  • Boolean techniques
    Using boolean techniques to create cut-outs or combine various pieces of geometry into a single whole.
  • Fracturing techniques
    Various ways to pre-fracture geometry used in destruction simulation, from Voronoi fracturing to controlled cuts and boolean fracturing using one shape to cut into another. Optimizing the geometry for Rigid Body Destruction.
  • Rigid Body Destruction
    Using RBD and Bullet solvers, we explore a number of ways to simulate the destruction of a structure. Includes working with (initial) velocities, various forces, and collision geometry.
  • Particle simulation for additional debris
    Additional detail on destruction simulations, by instancing small debris pieces onto particles to create grout and dust-like pieces coming off larger pieces.
  • Particle simulation for liquid sourcing
    This will involve different techniques than before, where we use a more easily controllable particle simulation to source our smoke and pyro simulations.
  • Smoke simulations
    Simulating smoke, working with densities in a voxel field driven by various forces and velocities. We’ll work on breaking up the shape of our smoke to create realism and learn how to use control fields for greater control. We’ll deal with voxel fields and how their level of detail impacts your simulation.
  • Pyro simulations
    More complex than smoke, in that it involves heat and buoyancy as would a real fire, to inform how the fire moves and the simulation evolves. We’ll look at the new fields that are introduced and how to work with those in addition to those involved with smoke simulation.
  • Shading and lighting
    For volumes, these are very important. We’ll look at what shaders we can use to show our smoke density and how to make our fireball shine bright using light emission. We’ll deal with ray stepping and noise reduction. We’ll also deal with real-time viewport shading.
  • Tying it all together
    This is not to be underestimated as everything has to sit together to make a complete shot. We’ll make sure we do the various steps in creating our shot at the appropriate time and make sure each following chapter starts off with the pre-requisites needed. By doing this, you’ll learn how the greater whole fits together and why. We’ll deal with light linking, matte rendering, and shading to get the look we want.


Prior to the course, you will have an online session with Timothy to discuss your expectations and where you are with your Houdini’s skills in order to set the right focus of the lesson plan to meet your goals.

Who is it for

The course aims at starters in Houdini providing a unique opportunity to accept the challenge of learning not-so-easy-tool faster than struggling home alone. The intensive everyday nature with constant help by a top industry professional and in a small group of participants helps stimulate your muscle memory and overcome the fear of an industry unique but very powerful tool. Still, the more familiar you are with Houdini prior to arriving at ANOMALIA, the more and faster you can advance on-site.

Equally suited for avid learners as well as more experienced artists who wish to hone and/or diversify their skill sets. The course is for CG artists to embrace Houdini as either:

  • beginners for whom it’s a new VFX tool or,
  • strengthen skills and understanding for those who already have some experience with VFX in Houdini.

We require

  • Working knowledge of any other 3D package.
  • Openness to learning new approaches and topics.
  • Communication skills in English.

Where will this get you

If you’re looking to grow in the VFX industry and want to work towards ending up somewhere like one of those top-tier companies, becoming an expert in Houdini is a stepping stone to get you there. You can consider junior-level opportunities as a 3D artist on completion of the course.

All participants will get well-respected qualification within the industry, demonstrating you’ve studied an industry-based course under expert supervision and have the practical, hands-on skills to continually growing as a professional studios are looking for.

Catch the list of studios at the end of the Houdini Customer Reel.

Participate using LIVE-STREAM

Even though the advantage of the on-site course to an online format is obvious – direct interaction with the mentor to clarify immediately the concepts that would otherwise take days to grasp so that you build on your own strengths quicker – we do offer limited space to participate online through LIVE-STREAMING directly from the class using Owl video conferencing technology. You can still benefit from interaction with mentors and other students.

Exploit the opportunity to take our practical and intensive courses from the comfort of your home office. There are no pre-recorded videos, you have to dedicate your time just as you would be personally present in the class, interacting with mentors and other participants.

The LIVE-STREAMING format is limited to a maximum of 3 participants. Indicate your interest in the registration form

Fees and funding

Fees:  2 200 EUR

The fee covers the fee of the course and VAT.

It doesn’t cover accommodation, meals, and travel.

Approximate living costs during your stay in the Czech Republic:

  • Accommodation at the venue: 12 EUR / night
  • Breakfast at the hotel – 5 EUR
  • Restaurant meal between 5 – 10 EUR
  • Grocery in general – 50 EUR per person a week

Funding for Czech employees and freelancers

Czech Labour Office (Úřad práce) offers to cover up to 85% of the course fee within the so-called POVEZ II project (Support of Vocational Training for Employees II). See the details and conditions here.

Cancellation Policy

  • In the case of cancellation 6 weeks or more before the course starting date, the whole fee (course fee, or course fee + accommodation) will be refunded minus 150€ admin fee.
  • With less than 6 weeks‘ notice, 50% of the total course fee will be refunded.
  • If cancellation occurs in the final 30 working days before the starting date, no refund will be given.
  • However, we will consider transferring the fees to another course (conditional upon vacancies) but a 20% cancellation fee will be charged if this change will be made in less than 4 weeks before the course starting date.
  • We reserve the right to cancel a course if fewer than 4 people are enrolled. In this case we can transfer your fees to any future course or refund the fees you have paid in full.
  • Refunds will be paid within 2 weeks after receiving your full bank details.

COVID-19: Be creative. Be safe!

We would like to assure you that our courses are just for small groups of people and we care about all hygiene recommendations. If the courses have to be canceled for reasons related to COVID-19, your money will be refunded. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that nothing will stop us!

Direct interaction
with world class
mentors from top

Our Mentors
Double Negative

More than
800 students from
32 countries

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The Houdini course is lead by a real-life professional working on a daily basis with the world leading VFX projects, such as Hollywood movies or Netflix shows. The teaching center is located in historical and beautiful Cesky Krumlov, South of Czech Republic. The conditions are excellent and two weeks are a substantial dose of training to get you stareted with Houdini. Keep in mind it's still only the beginning of a much longer learning process.
The Houdini course is great way to get general knowledge of FX in Houdini and to set you on the path of deeper understanding how things work under the hood(ini).
A nice place to start with Houdini, which gave me the basics to continue on my own to develop my knowledge and skills in Houdini.