Perhaps the most powerful addition to Houdini is the program's VEX (vector expressions) programming language, with which users-even non-programmers-can write their own operators and shaders. Within Houdini, VEX can be used for geometry point displacement and particle, image, and animation-channel manipulation. Be cause VEX was created only to perform specific functions within Houdini, it is relatively easy to learn, according to the company. Once created, a VEX operator or shader integrates with the Houdini interface so that even an artist un familiar with the VEX language may use it.
Also new to 4.0 is portability to the Linux platform, making Hou dini among the first major 3D graphics packages to release a version for the OS. Other supported platforms include Win dows NT and SGI Irix. Houdini inputs IGES, DXF, Wave front, Inventor, Post Script, LightWave, Adobe font, and SDL file formats. The program outputs to DXF, Wavefront, Inventor, and VRML.
The cost of Houdini 4.0 is $17,000. (Side Ef fects Software; Toronto; 416-504-9876 ; www.sidefx.com)