Use Blender’s Cycles renderer inside Houdini with hdCycles
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Use Blender & # 39; s Cycles Renderer in Houdini with hdCycles

Tuesday, August 25, 2020 | Written by Jim Thacker

Tangent Animation's open source hdCycles plugin allows VFX artists to use Blender & # 39; s Cycles' rendering engine as a renderer for viewports in Houdini. Video posted by Ben Skinner, Tangent Animation Technical Director.

The animation company Tangent Animation has released hdCycles, their open source render delegate from Cycles Hydra.

With the plugin we reported on last month, Blender & # 39; s Cycles renderer can run as a viewport rendering engine in Houdini – and in the future, potentially any application that supports Hydra delegates.

Tangent's ultimate goal is to render one-to-one representations of scenes in USD format, making Blender easy to use in high-end animation and VFX pipelines.

Working on a unified Blender Houdini production pipeline
Tangent Animation is one of the most famous studios where Blender is used in production. In projects like the Annie Award nominated Netflix animation feature Next Gen. the open source 3D software was used.

The work on hdCycles should help other studios using both Blender and Houdini in their pipelines and allow Cycles to be used as the viewport renderer in Solaris, Houdini's look-dev toolset.

This should allow users to create 3D assets in Blender, assemble them into a scene in Houdini, and then export that scene back to Blender for rendering, with the assets displayed consistently throughout.

Supports the core elements of a USD scene including meshes, materials, lights, and cameras
hdCycles makes Cycles a render delegate within Hydra, the imaging framework in USD (Universal Scene Description), Pixar's open source scene exchange format on which Solaris is based.

According to Tangent, the goal is to represent a USD scene with Cycles one-on-one.

Right now, that's part of the way there: the current implementation supports basic meshes, materials, lights, points and curves, cameras and rendering settings.

Key features currently missing include volumes, advanced motion blur, full support for AOVs, tiled rendering, and the Cryptomatte ID matte generation system.

In its GitHub repository, Tangent describes adding the missing features as a top priority, with stability and performance in mind. So use it with caution in your own project.

Can expose Cycles as a viewport renderer in other DCC software
Even so, the work goes a long way in removing an obstacle to the adoption of Blender in high-end VFX and animation pipelines where the USD is becoming a critical technology.

The source code is also available to developers of other software that supports Hydra render delegates, including Katana and Maya – currently through add-ons such as Multiverse | USD, although direct support is planned.

Otoy has also announced that it will support Hydra delegates in its OctaneRender integration plugins, which could allow Cycles to be used as a viewport renderer in apps like 3ds Max or Modo.

Availability and system requirements
hdCyles is available under an Apache 2.0 license. The current version 0.7 is still officially listed as unstable and in active development.

Compiled binaries are only available for Houdini 18.0.532+ on Windows, although Tangent Animation's GitHub repo has instructions on how to compile the plug-in from source on Windows and Linux.

For more information on hdCycles, see Tangent Animation's GitHub repository

Download the hdCycles plugin for Houdini

Tags: AOVs, Apache 2.0 license, Blender, cameras, Cryptomatte, curves, cycles, feature animation, free, hdCycles, Houdini, Hydra, Katana, lights, Look Dev, Look Development, Materials, Maya, Meshes, motion blur, OctaneRender, Open source, Otoy, Pipeline, plugin, points, render delegate, Solaris, system requirements, tangent animation, description of the universal scene, USD, VDB, VFX, visual effects, volumes


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