Houdini Apprentice Challenge
Issue: Volume: 26 Issue: 9 (September 2003)

Houdini Apprentice Challenge

Co-sponsored by Hewlett-Packard and ATI Technologies, the Challenge consisted of three categories: models, character animation, and effects. Artists from around the world were invited to participate using the Houdini Apprentice Edition, Side Effects' free learning software that contains full-featured versions of Houdini's tools for non-commercial use. "The contest helped introduce new animators to Houdini and enabled existing Houdini animators to explore new features within the software that they may not have used before," says Paul Salvini, chief technical officer.

Matthew Clubb's "BMW 507" was named best overall entry. The other winning selections include: David Rindner's "Cthulla Centaur" (best model), Andre De Souza's "Wheely" (best character), and Kim Seung Hyuk's "Cigar Smoke" (best effect). Judging the work was a panel of industry professionals from c.o.r.e., Digital Domain, Framestore-CFC, Jim Henson's Creature Shop, PDI/DreamWorks, Rhythm & Hues, and Sony Pictures Imageworks. The winners were announced at the Houdini Annual Meeting during SIGGRAPH.

A selection of images from the Challenge appear on these two pages. The winning entries are also on Side Effects' Web site (www.sidefx.com). —Karen Moltenbrey

BMW 507 (Best Overall) Graphic designer Matthew Clubb created this image using a photographic reference from the Internet and a plastic model car kit. He constructed a basic NURBS framework for his model, then resampled skin patches for the bodywork. Most

Cigar Smoke (Best Effect) Artist Kim Seung Hyuk created this smoke trail with a NURBS surface by connecting and skinning particle points, then noise-mapping the resulting surface. The trail is continuous and easily controlled, so if the cigar moves, the s

Cthullu Centaur (Best Model) Freelance director/animator David Rindner built this model as part of his research into advanced subdivision creature modeling and muscle/spline-based rigging.

Xyne Cyber Commando The most challenging aspect of this still image by animation student Nate Nesler was generating the main character's form, which contains a complex bone structure based on the artist's studies of human anatomy.

Pugsy Jens Zalzala, a professional effects animator, created a stylized, cartoon-like look for this image, which is from a short animation.

Sky Palace Artist David Cao used polygonal modeling to generate this palace, which he then composited, along with the background sky and rocks, within Houdini's Halo.

Wheely (Best Character) Artist Andre De Souza's character, modeled in Houdini Apprentice, uses its unusual design to propel itself forward while moving about in this animation.