How to Destroy a Pirate Ship (Or Any 3D Model) with Houdini

How to Destroy a Pirate Ship (Or Any 3D Model) with Houdini

Batten down the hatches! Thanks to CG Spectrum; the online school for animationdigital paintingVFX3D modeling, and game development courses taught by industry experts; we have a great tutorial for you! Showcasing the wide-ranging possibilities of working with KitBash3D assets in SideFX’s Houdini, the livestreamed course is taught by CG Spectrum VFX Department Head Daniel Hourigan, who brings his 15+ years of VFX experience working on huge titles like Game of Thrones and Terminator: Dark Fate. 

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In Part 1, Daniel shows his process for preparing assets, like the Pirate Ship 3D model in our Treasure Island kit, for demolition. As he points out, KitBash3D kits are highly detailed and very modular, which makes this stage of the process easier. He also walks us through the creation of a kraken’s tentacle, inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean, to demonstrate the destruction simulation possibilities. 

In Part 2, Daniel adds additional elements to the scene like water, and further refines the destruction simulation, changing the way the ship’s hull splinters, breaks, and even explodes apart. Throughout the demonstration, he answers many questions from the live viewers, like what computer is best for 3d rendering, along with other interesting insights.

In Part 3, Daniel focuses on adding splashes and improving the ocean simulation, as well as adding interactions for the ship’s sails, troubleshooting collisions, and discussing materials and VFX industry best practices. He even includes an example of a previous Houdini scene featuring a spaceship!

Overall, even if you aren’t looking to simulate a sea monster attack, the same processes Daniel outlines above can be adapted to suit a variety of VFX shots. Overall, the techniques may be advanced for those just getting started in Houdini, but with practice (and maybe a couple rewinds), you’ll be able to follow along! Plus, there are many great courses to continue learning over at CG Spectrum’s website.

Want to apply these techniques to citiesspaceships, or laboratories? Click below to browse our kits and find the one that speaks to you!


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