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Introduction to the Houdini Ocean Toolset

Simulating Oceans, Sea Foam, & Ocean Spray With Danny Barnhart


Creating a large ocean simulation doesn’t need to be daunting. This 3.5-hour introductory workshop by Danny Barnhart provides an overview of the Ocean Toolset in Houdini and reveals how to bring your own ocean environments to life. He talks through the basics of using ocean spectrums and how each parameter relates to the resulting animated ocean surface, beginning by creating a large ocean surface to show how to layer a variety of spectrum patterns as well as how to create custom masks and instanced waves. Once the desired ocean movement is achieved, Danny starts incorporating simple environment geometry to add interest and scale to the scene before delving into simulating surface foam.

The following project takes the large ocean scene and transitions to a close-up shot that incorporates a FLIP fluid simulation. You’ll discover how to bring in your ocean spectrums and create custom waves to drive your FLIP simulation. Once the FLIP simulation is cached out, Danny discusses how to mesh and extend the simulation, as well as how to create additional ocean spray for the final effect. As the last step, you’ll see how to set up some basic lighting and tweak the ocean shaders in Houdini to render out the two project scenes in Mantra, Houdini’s rendering engine.

By completing this workshop, you’ll have a sound knowledge of the Houdini Ocean Toolset and an understanding of how to customize ocean spectra to create a variety of ocean movements for your future projects.

Project files are available with this workshop, including the Houdini scene file with the final node setup for each lesson, along with the palm tree model used in the creation of the scene.

The project files are available to download with a subscription .

Duration: 3h 25m

Format: HD 1920x1080

Danny Barnhart

Effects Artist at Pixar

Danny Barnhart is an Effects Artist and story enthusiast who has worked in feature animation, TV, and commercials. His credits include Turning Red at Pixar, Spies in Disguise at Blue Sky Studios, and the episodic television shows Dispatches from Elsewhere on AMC, Hightown on STARZ, and Evil on CBS, as well as many commercial projects at Powerhouse VFX.

Danny graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design with a major in Visual Effects and, while FX is his focus, he also enjoys exploring other areas of the pipeline, as well as sharing his skills through teaching. He is passionate about working with other artists on projects that have an impact on their audience and especially loves contributing skills and voice to media that uplifts and highlights the experiences of marginalized groups. He currently works as an Effects Artist and Story Consultant at Pixar.