Going From Cinema 4D to Houdini | Greyscalegorilla Podcast 117

November 21, 2019 - By 

In this episode, Chad Ashley talks to Russ Gautier about his motion design career and going from creating in-store ads to working on the biggest Marvel films.

Have you been thinking about adding Houdini to your skillset? Do Cinema 4D artists have to learn Houdini? These are the types of questions we wanted to find an answers to.

Enter Russ Gautier, Houdini artist extraordinaire. In this episode, we talk about Russ’s work starting with smaller fast jobs like animating ads for Walmart display kiosks to working on some of the biggest Marvel films like Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame.

We also touch a bit on Russ’s Introduction to Houdini course in Greyscalegorilla Plus. A brand new training series designed to introduce Cinema 4D artists to the procedural world of Houdini.

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Show Notes:


Episode Transcript:

Chad Ashley: 00:00:00 Welcome back everybody to another Greyscalegorilla podcast. I am your host today, Chad Ashley. We’ve got a really special guest on the show today. My good pal Russ Gautier is going to be on. And if you don’t know Russ you should because he’s worked on some amazing films. He’s got a great history. He’s also been a guest speaker at many Maxon on events. You probably have seen him and his silky smooth voice. So today we’re going to talk all about Russ and his story coming up through Virginia, going to New York. And now what he’s doing these days and particularly about his journey into Houdini. He’s been a long time Houdini user. So I pick his brain about how he got started with Houdini, how he uses it now, what does he like about it? What does he wish people knew about it? The reason is because Russ is actually teaching a really amazing new course over on Greyscalegorilla Plus all about Houdini. So sit back, relax, get yourself a coffee and enjoy the podcast.

[Intro Music]

Chad Ashley: 00:01:07 Welcome to another Greyscalegorilla podcast. Today, I am your host, Chad Ashley. I’ve got a very special guest, I’m very excited to have our next guest on. He is, you may have seen him around actually, he’s been quite a bit found at the local and not so local Maxon events doing all sorts of really cool demos. He’s also sort of been around the motion design scene for quite some time. He’s one of the, probably the most eloquent speakers I’ve ever heard. I’m gonna go ahead and give you a lot of praise before I tell you, you know, announce you. That’s just how this goes.

Russ Gautier: 00:01:45 All good.

Chad Ashley: 00:01:45 His voice is like, is like butter and I love the guy to death. He’s super talented. Welcome to the show, Russ Gautier.

Russ Gautier: 00:01:55 Hey, thank you for having me. Really, really happy to be on the podcast, man.

Chad Ashley: 00:01:59 Yeah, super stoked to have you here. So real quick, I wanted to, I wanted to point out exactly like I guess the reason that the, the catalyst for having you on the show, it’s a, it’s sort of an announcement, I guess you may have already heard it. You may have heard us hint about it. You may have heard us like talk about it briefly, but Russ is lending his wealth of Houdini knowledge to Greyscalegorilla Plus and he is teaching a fantastic course on sort of getting up and running with Houdini. And it’s sort of built around Cinema 4D and the motion designer and trying to create a, a set of videos that sort of like take the edge off if you will.

Russ Gautier: 00:02:46 Yeah, exactly.

Chad Ashley: 00:02:47 Yeah. Cause it can be, you know, Houdini is intimidating. I’m not gonna lie, I tried to get into it three or four times myself and it was painful, let’s just say that and when.

Russ Gautier: 00:02:59 You started on five.

Chad Ashley: 00:03:00 Yeah. Well, yeah, that I’m, I’m just below that, but I’m getting close and I think your training, your videos are what’s going to get me off that, that like, you know, that, that little rock that I’m sitting on that I just can’t seem to get off of with that program. And I, and I’ve already, I’m like halfway through your stuff and it is freaking amazing. But I don’t want to turn this into a giant infomercial because really I want to learn more about you. I want to learn where you came from. I want to learn how you got into Houdini. I want to learn what you’re doing now, what you did five years ago, all that stuff. So let’s, let’s roll back. Let’s sort of rewind a minute and talk about some of your earlier work. Now, if I’m not mistaken, you’ve got quite a few movie credits on your IMDB that right?

Russ Gautier: 00:03:55 That’s true. That’s true. Yep. I do.

Chad Ashley: 00:03:58 So where, what kind of, I, I’m not gonna list them all. There’s like a lot, like a lot of Marvel movies on this list. And so you were doing most of that work at Perception, right?

Russ Gautier: 00:04:12 That’s correct. Yup.

Chad Ashley: 00:04:13 Tell me about what the heck you were doing on all these Marvel movies.

Russ Gautier: 00:04:17 Jeez. All right. So at Perception we actually do quite a wide range of things. Everything from FUI design that’s like screen graphics, HUD’s, holograms, that kind of thing to like title sequences and then even getting into like almost technological consulting work. So with with movies like Black Panther, they had actually come to us and asked us to help them, kind of conceptualize the technology that goes into the world of Wakanda. And so we had, we had a really great working relationship with Ryan Coogler and the whole Marvel Studios executive team where we were, we were really working hand in hand with them in so many ways to craft all of the the technology that you see in the world of Wakanda, like the sand holograms and everything.

Chad Ashley: 00:05:19 Aw man, that stuff was so great.

Russ Gautier: 00:05:21 Yeah. We spent

Chad Ashley: 00:05:22 So killer.

Russ Gautier: 00:05:22 Spent months, I think all in, we were about 18 months on that project.

Chad Ashley: 00:05:27 What.

Russ Gautier: 00:05:27 Which was, it was a total dream. We also did the animatic and kind of pre-viz and story development for the prologue to the movie that, you know, was rendered all in sand. And then we did the title sequence at the end so.

Chad Ashley: 00:05:47 That’s insane.

Russ Gautier: 00:05:49 Yeah it was a dream.

Chad Ashley: 00:05:49 So, I’ve always wondered about that kind of work and how much of that is being done before. I mean, I guess my question is like, how much of that is like, are you putting on the screens on set and how much of it is comped later? Like how much are you doing beforehand?

Russ Gautier: 00:06:05 So with that one in particular that was a, that was a pretty unique project for us because a lot of what we had done was done even before the script got finalized before they even shot anything. They were, you know, they were really kind of crafting some story beats around some of the things that we were creating. And there’s actually this really, really cool image of Ryan Coogler on set with Danai Guerrera who plays Okoye where it looks like he’s showing her how the hologram is going to form in her hand. It’s really a fantastic moment. It’s like a behind the scenes like on set photo. It was really cool for us because that comes directly from a lot of the explorations that we were doing around how the, the bead would roll off of the bracelet and into the hand and form like a, a little sand puddle before kind of springing up into the shape of an actual hologram and then getting color applied to it and everything. Yeah, it was, it was really wild to see that, you know.

Chad Ashley: 00:07:14 That’s crazy. So was that all done in Houdini then?

Russ Gautier: 00:07:17 Yeah, a lot of that was Houdini. So we did, you know, we are primarily, sorry I back that up. Perception is primarily a cinema 4D studio. But I’d been playing with Houdini for quite a while up to that point. And so we got ahold of a license of Houdini specifically to work on Black Panther initially. Houdini of course, played a wider role in many other things that we’ve worked on since. But for Black Panther specifically, Houdini played a really key role in helping us kind of visualize some of the technology.

Chad Ashley: 00:07:56 Yeah. I was gonna say like, I don’t think you could pull off with some of the stuff from all that sand you know, all that sand effects and whatnot. I, I can’t see, I couldn’t see that being pulled off with anything else. Right?

Russ Gautier: 00:08:07 Yeah. Yeah. Houdini has a very robust sand solver, uh, and grain solver. That’s that’s, it’s phenomenal. It’s crazy.

Chad Ashley: 00:08:17 Wow. And was Black Panther the first show that you were sort of like really utilizing Houdini on?

Russ Gautier: 00:08:23 Yeah, absolutely. So we actually, we got Houdini in the studio specifically for Black Panther. So prior to that I’d been using Houdini on my own for, for quite a while. But I was really the only person at Perception at least at the time that was Houdini fluent.

Chad Ashley: 00:08:42 So you get this job, you sort of realize that, Oh man, we’re going to have to, we’re going to have to do use Houdini on this. Nobody else is really knows it, but me, like what was that like? Was that stressful being sort of the only person on, or did you have to hire people that freelancers or whatnot that knew Houdini or how did that work?

Russ Gautier: 00:09:03 Yeah actually I did the bulk of the Houdini work, but I believe, you know, Trevor Kerr, he worked with us.

Chad Ashley: 00:09:09 He’s my boy, Trevor’s my boy.

Russ Gautier: 00:09:10 Got to love Trevor. Good guy. He he was with us for a few weeks helping out on some of the sand visualizations as well. And you know, we had done multiple rounds of explorations with them as they were kind of honing the script and really working out these story beats. They would come to us when they had like questions or help, they, they wanted us to help them visualize something so that they could direct actors or, you know, move action around however they wanted to do it. And so we did lots of these kind of like, you know, six to eight weeks sprints where we were really working on like a handful of technologies at a time. And uh, Trevor was with us for a little while working on some of that stuff in tandem with me as well. Working in Houdini on that.

Chad Ashley: 00:10:00 That’s awesome. Yeah, he’s really he’s really taken to Houdini man, like he tries, to try to get me on it

Russ Gautier: 00:10:06 I bet.

Chad Ashley: 00:10:06 For probably forever right now. And, and it’s sort of a running joke, you know, like he’s always like, Oh, have you have you, is it, cause I think I told him, I told him at the beginning of the summer, I’m like, Oh, you know, as soon as I wrap up this material library, I’m going to dive into Houdini. He’s like, okay, yeah, yeah, okay. You better though. You actually better do it. And I’m like, yeah, yeah, I’ll, I’ll do it. And then I wrapped up the material collection and he’s like, so are you gonna you’re gonna like learn it now? And I’m like, Oh yeah, no, I just got this other thing. You know, it’s just like, get this other thing done. But yeah, I’m, I’m, you know, I really, I really wanna dig in. It’s, it’s one of those things though that like, it’s, it’s pretty, it’s pretty daunting.

Russ Gautier: 00:10:48 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 00:10:48 And the idea of it, we’ll get into that later, but I’m stoked that like you were able to sort of bring it into a studio on such a, a high pressure job too, which has gotta be a little unnerving because, I mean, it sounds like you were using the program, but it’s always nervous when you bring in a new tool into like a situation like that, right?

Russ Gautier: 00:11:10 Absolutely. And you know, especially with, with a project like that, that everybody is really close to and you know obviously we hold the Marvel crew in the absolute highest regard. They’re they’re one of our favorite, favorite people to work with. Obviously we want to do the best work that we possibly can. And so bringing in new variables, always, always a little bit nerve wracking. But we, we made it work.

Chad Ashley: 00:11:40 Yeah, dude. I mean the results speak for themselves. I think it’s a, it’s a fantastic piece of work. And you know, I, I think that happened when, when was that movie out? It was like two years ago, right?

Russ Gautier: 00:11:51 Yeah. February. Say it was February, 2018.

Chad Ashley: 00:11:55 Yeah. Wow. I was actually pretty close. That’s rare for me. So let’s rewind even further back because you and I have some mutual friends going all the way back to Virginia and your beginnings a well sorta beginnings at Martin agency. So you were at the Martin agency as a motion designer and that sort of turned into a studio. Can you tell folks about how that happened and what that was like?

Russ Gautier: 00:12:22 Yeah, absolutely. So I actually got my job at the Martin agency. My, my very first role there was a with a crew called Studio Squared. That I, I don’t know that they’re still around. They might have a split off into a different group. But Studio Squared was this really kind of unique crew set up specifically to do in store ad development for Walmart. So all of the Walmart stores have these like screens on, you know, all over the store that, you know, run, run various bits of content. And so we would end up doing tons of these things. I mean it was, it was a, a really intense kind of time, you know, it was, and, and for me, this was like my first like proper motion design job. I had had, you know, some freelance gigs prior to that and I’d spent a couple of years working in another studio doing more like interactive design and, and animation doing flash stuff. But yeah, like flash was my flashes my jam back in the day.

Chad Ashley: 00:13:31 Well I would’ve never guessed that just based on the way like flash wow, okay.

Russ Gautier: 00:13:36 I loved flash.

Chad Ashley: 00:13:36 Wow. I’m even like, I remember those days when like that was, that was the thing, right there was like, there was like web cartoons and stuff all done completely in flash and all that. Yeah.

Russ Gautier: 00:13:48 I picked up flash in like the late nineties and took like a really deep dive into it cause I had always like as a kid I always like did like stop motion animation with like action figures and stuff and my parents basement. I was super stoked about that. And then when I, when I realized that I can take this program and I can make things move and I can put it on the internet, that was it man. I was, I was absolutely hooked, super stoked about it. So like I, I took a really deep dive into flash. I, I learned tons of action script. I ended up taking this like all the way through school. Like I got a very traditional graphic design degree, like very theory based. Like, no, like when I went through school there was like almost no practical kind of application classes. It was all theory, which was fantastic for me because then I can take that theory and I can kind of apply it to anything. And at the time I was super stoked about like animation on the internet, right?

Chad Ashley: 00:14:47 Yeah. So where did you go to school real quick? I just want to know.

Russ Gautier: 00:14:50 I went to VCU in Richmond in the the graphic design program there, which it was awesome.

Chad Ashley: 00:14:55 Yeah, that’s great. I mean I, when I was in school I didn’t study 3D or any of that stuff either. I see. I studied film and a traditional animation. So, I understand how that, how that works. I kind of wish I would have done what you done, what you did and like actually do some, you know, actual graphic design stuff. Cause I, I learned that all on the job, which is sort of hard, but yeah. Okay. So you, you, you’re in there, you’re doing a graphic design.

Russ Gautier: 00:15:21 Yup.

Chad Ashley: 00:15:21 You jump into the flash game.

Russ Gautier: 00:15:24 Yup.

Chad Ashley: 00:15:24 Now you’re making Walmart animations inside the Walmarts.

Russ Gautier: 00:15:29 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 00:15:29 How the hell do you go from making Walmart animations to working on Marvel movies?

Russ Gautier: 00:15:34 That’s a, that’s, that’s a really good question. So the, the, the crew I was working on, you know, the Walmart stuff wasn’t like the most compelling content in the world. And you know, for the most part it was very much a quantity over quality kind of thing. Like we would have to animate like 50 or 75 of these little things every day. And so you don’t have a lot of time to like put into like really developing them for the most part. But what it did teach me was to be very fast, very efficient and very organized. And those were things that I took everywhere in my career ever since then. The other thing that it did was that it, it taught me to look for the opportunities where I could take things just a little bit further, right? Cause like every now and then one of these things would come through that had like just a little bit more budget.

Russ Gautier: 00:16:21 And I knew that like the, the creatives working on the, on the design side, they were like itching for something that was like a little bit more interesting. And so when I caught wind of one of these things coming through that had like, Oh, we got like a week to do one of these instead of an hour. That sounds awesome. So I would, I would always approach them with some interesting ideas and, and kind of see where, where it goes. And, you know, we, we had a really tight crew there, which was awesome. And, and so I did that for a while. And then Scott Frisky who was the EP at Martin agency’s kind of internal editorial facility called Running with Scissors.

Chad Ashley: 00:17:04 Oh I’ve heard of him.

Chad Ashley: 00:17:04 Yeah. So he, he reached out to me like he, you know, he was technically my boss, but I worked in like a different building. And so I didn’t really see him all that often. I’d see him at lunch and stuff like that. But I sat down with him, you know, and he and I kind of hatched this plan for creating internal motion graphics department as well. Like it was, that was sort of a separate thing from Studio Squared. Cause Studio Squared is very dedicated to Walmart. And Scott had seen this kind of need for a lot of the editorial that was coming through Running with Scissors, you know, really needed things like end tags and lower thirds and, and, and light visual effects and that kind of thing. So it was something that, that he and I kinda sat down and hashed out and it with me with a laptop in an edit bay. You know, I didn’t even have like a proper room or a desk or anything. Like it was just me banging out these lower thirds I think for a Hanes commercial, you know, and it was a lot of fun, you know, I mean it was, it was something that was like I was able to take what I learned with the Studio Squared crew and really apply it to more of a broadcast motion graphics kind of thing.

Chad Ashley: 00:18:18 Right. Yeah. They went through the gauntlet on these like, hi, you know, turnaround fast turnaround jobs. I really truly believe that like trial by fire and, and work, I think tight deadlines in, in situations like that tightens up a team to the point where it just becomes like, you have a shorthand with everybody and you know exactly what you need to do. And that can be really fun. And sometimes those, those restraints, those time restraints or creative restraints can really be exciting for a designer.

Russ Gautier: 00:18:51 A hundred percent man. And, you know, so that it really taught me, it taught me to be highly organized and fast. And so I get to apply that to the, to the world of broadcast motion graphics. And we fired up this department, at the time I was actually teaching at VCU as well. And I had a, a student of mine who was just awesome. Like he was so good. And I told Scott, I was like, Hey, let’s let’s get this kid before he gets snatched up somewhere else. Let’s grab him as he’s coming out of school. And we ended up hiring him up and he and I worked together real closely for a while. His name is Georgiy Kuznetsov or Gosha Kuznetsov is as he’s known.

Chad Ashley: 00:19:33 Oh is that Gosha that I know?

Russ Gautier: 00:19:34 Yup. Probably.

Chad Ashley: 00:19:36 Dude that dude is insanely talented.

Russ Gautier: 00:19:37 Yeah, he’s wicked. He’s super good. So I actually, I got him up to speed on, on cinema 4D in the early days and he and I were, were jamming on end tags and all kinds of stuff for, for Running with Scissors for a while. Then we started getting more and more busy with more and more clients. We hired up a couple of other people to help us out. And so we had this, you know, we were humming along really, really well and you know, it had been about three years or so for me and I’d always kind of had the itch to move to New York City. You know, I kinda, I had this like this thing that it was just, it was it, I had to do this and so I hit the point after three years. So it was like, yeah, you know what, it’s time. It’s time I do this thing and I you know, put in my notice that at Martin and you know, had lots of like tear filled hugs and goodbyes and I packed all my stuff up and moved to New York city. And since then, so the, the little department that I started has now branched off and become its own separate company called Hue and Cry. So they, they hired up a a creative director named Magnus Hierta who is awesome. I didn’t get a ton of time to work with him cause you, you, the overlap was, was pretty short.

Chad Ashley: 00:20:57 Yeah.

Russ Gautier: 00:20:57 But we also got a hold of Andrew Prousalis who’s also now at Man vs Machine with

Chad Ashley: 00:21:04 This is so incestuous, dude.

Russ Gautier: 00:21:05 Yeah, I know. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. So like I, I had like a couple of weeks of overlap with, with Andrew, which was not nearly enough time cause I love that dude and i.

Chad Ashley: 00:21:15 He’s great.

Russ Gautier: 00:21:16 I really, really wish that I had more time to work with him because he’s, he’s a madman. He’s just crazy good

Chad Ashley: 00:21:25 Dude. Everybody you named so far, I don’t know, I don’t know Magnus. But it’s like an all star team. So for those of you, um unaware. So Trevor Kerr works at man be in LA. Andrew works at Man V in LA, Gosha used to work at Man V in LA. I think he’s now. Where’s he now?

Russ Gautier: 00:21:42 He’s, he’s freelancing. Last last I heard he was, he was bouncing around to some different projects actually needed to catch up with him. So yeah.

Chad Ashley: 00:21:51 Seems to be, there’s like a, a crazy amount of talent that was coming through Virginia at that time, which is really sort of weird and like, it’s not a town or a state rather. And this was the capitol, right?

Russ Gautier: 00:22:05 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 00:22:05 Is that, it’s just not somewhere where I would’ve normally thought, Oh yeah that’s where, you know, four amazingly talented people are gonna come from, they can come from anything.

Russ Gautier: 00:22:15 All from motion graphics.

Chad Ashley: 00:22:16 Yeah. Right. I mean, they said the same, same thing about Chicago I guess, but so yeah. OK. It’s, it’s Virginia, you leave right when this thing sort of takes off.

Russ Gautier: 00:22:26 Yup.

Chad Ashley: 00:22:27 Was there any sort of like, Oh man, I wish I would’ve stopped. I should’ve stuck around. It sounds like they’re doing some cool stuff over there and they got some good people. Were you, was there any regret there?

Russ Gautier: 00:22:37 No. No. I wanted to move to New York City so bad. Like I was, I was of course really, really sad to leave all of the absolutely fantastic people at, at the Martin agency. All of my friends that I’d kind of come up with. And I was really excited to see where Magnus was gonna take everything. Cause like I kinda got it to a point where it was like sustainable and like, you know, we’re doing, we’re doing our thing. But, but Magnus really had like a vision for it being something much more than what it was. And I was, I was super stoked to see him kind of take it and run with it. And he, he ended up really shaping it into something that’s, that’s very, very special. And for me it was, you know, I was, I was living my dream. I moved to New York City, got like a studio apartment, me and the dog and I, I hit the streets and knocked on doors and tried to drum up business.

Chad Ashley: 00:23:34 I’m just imagining that you like, actually. Imagining that you’re walking down the streets.

Russ Gautier: 00:23:39 Knock knock.

Chad Ashley: 00:23:39 Like, Hey, wait, you got any motion design for me? All right. So you’re in New York.

Russ Gautier: 00:23:45 Yup.

Chad Ashley: 00:23:45 How, how is that, how you, how did you land at Perception? Like how did that?

Russ Gautier: 00:23:51 It was totally out of the blue, honestly, like like a lot of these things, you know, it’s, it’s being in the right place at the right time in a lot of ways. And I had, I want to say it was April 2014 that I, I put out a new reel and I threw it up on the New York City motion graphics Facebook group. And John Lapore, who’s the creative director over it Perception, he saw it and reached out to me and asked me to come in for a, for a chat. And so he and I sat down and just kinda talked it out in the, in the conference room there at perception and, and just got to know each other a little bit. And I ended up coming on freelance for a while. I was, I was actually freelance for like 12 weeks with them before before I finally came on full time. But yeah, that was five years ago. It’s crazy.

Chad Ashley: 00:24:47 Wow. So five years making killer work over at Perception and and now you’ve got a pretty big change coming, right?

Russ Gautier: 00:24:57 I do. Yeah, that’s right. So here in, in about two weeks at least at the time of this recording my wife and I are, you know, uprooting and moving to Los Angeles with, with no real plans, honestly. Like, it’s, it sounds insane. And I, I totally get that, but I, I feel fortunate to be, you know, friends with lots of people out in the industry out there and, and

Chad Ashley: 00:25:23 Something tells me, Russ, you’re, you’re going to be just fine.

Russ Gautier: 00:25:27 I hope so. I hope so.

Chad Ashley: 00:25:29 I think, I think you’re good. I mean you gotta you got a few good things on your reel, you know, like a few things that people might recognize, you know, you know, like the Walmart stuff.

Russ Gautier: 00:25:39 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 00:25:40 You know, you got that stuff, you’ll be all right. Well that’s exciting man. I feel like, I feel like that’s a good place for you, honestly. I mean, given the fact that you, you did the East Coast thing for five years or so.

Russ Gautier: 00:25:53 Seven years. Yeah, seven years. I loved it.

Chad Ashley: 00:25:55 Wow.

Russ Gautier: 00:25:55 Loved it.

Chad Ashley: 00:25:55 And see, I could never do that. I could never live in New York. That’s one city I love visiting there and I, I have a lot of friends that live there, but I’m just not a huge city guy. So like, I’m like, LA is way more than my speed, drive places, park, that sort of thing. Like that’s way more my vibe. But yeah. I’m, I’m excited for you. I feel like there is so many good studios out there.

Russ Gautier: 00:26:21 Oh yeah.

Chad Ashley: 00:26:21 You’ve already, you already know everybody. I mean, Andrew’s out there. Trevor’s out there.

Russ Gautier: 00:26:24 Yup.

Chad Ashley: 00:26:25 Gosha’s out there. Like there’s all sorts of people out there that, that you’re going to get hooked up with and do some amazing stuff. I, I’m, I’m excited to see what you do next, but I wanted to chat a little bit about this Houdini business because I’ve never sort of, listen, I’ve been, I started using the first 3D program. I realize I’m going to date myself really quickly here. I used Alias Power Animator.

Russ Gautier: 00:26:52 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 00:26:53 And then, then it became Maya and I use Maya for a number of number of years and then I moved to 3DS Max and did that for a number of years, dabbled in Softimage XSI rest in peace and then ended up in cinema. Now Houdini was always there. It was, it was sort of always seen as the, Oh, that’s for VFX artists. That’s for people that are like doing feature films. It’s like math. It’s like crazy complicated. You don’t, you don’t want to touch that thing like forget it. And you know, I listened for the most part. I was like, Oh, you know, it’s interesting. I like what they’re doing. Honestly, like this is how much of a design nerd I am. I always thought that SideFX had a pretty tight identity package.

Russ Gautier: 00:27:43 Yeah. Very much.

Chad Ashley: 00:27:43 They’ve always had like a really, you know, an identifiable look, the color scheme, the fonts, or they just had a, just, I mean I’m talking like maybe not early, early days, but like, you know, like 5, 10 years ago, like they get stepped it up, you know, they got some good stuff.

Russ Gautier: 00:28:01 Absolutely.

Chad Ashley: 00:28:02 And that kind of was like, Oh, you know what? That’s pretty cool. Then I started hearing about more people using it and then I started getting more into cinema. Like when I started learning cinema, it started to become this rising tide and cinema was a rising tide for me too like cinema coming from Maya, Max was always kind of like, I looked down on it and like it was sort of like this thing that was like, you know, a lot of really cheesy graphics and stuff like that. And then it sort of came into its own and I was like, Oh man, I better take this seriously. Then I fell in love with it.

Russ Gautier: 00:28:33 Oh yeah.

Chad Ashley: 00:28:34 And so, you know, seeing Octane or sorry, seeing all these renders come up like Octane, Arnold, all of these things got me into cinema and you know, it now I’m starting to see Houdini kind of coming up the same way.

Russ Gautier: 00:28:49 Oh yeah.

Chad Ashley: 00:28:49 And creeping up into the space a little bit and.

Russ Gautier: 00:28:52 Yep.

Chad Ashley: 00:28:53 But the thing about Houdini is that it’s got the stigma, right?

Russ Gautier: 00:28:59 Yes, it does.

Chad Ashley: 00:29:00 It’s got a pretty big stigma attached to it and I think they’re doing a really good job. And I, and I think it’s large it’s, it’s really has a lot to do with people like yourself and, and Trevor and other people. And even I would say gosh, I’m going to space on his name. Simon, help me out here.

Russ Gautier: 00:29:19 Holmedal?

Chad Ashley: 00:29:19 Yes, thank you.

Russ Gautier: 00:29:20 There’s actually two Simon’s, there’s Simon Holmedal and then there’s Simon Fiedler. He also, he, he does some really amazing Houdini work.

Russ Gautier: 00:29:33 Yeah. I think Simon Holmedal is what really, what was the first thing? It was the first time I saw a designer using Houdini in a way that appealed to me. And when I saw that, I was like, Oh, okay. That’s interesting because up until now, up until then, I would say that a more technically minded designer didn’t have a lot of options.

Russ Gautier: 00:30:01 Right.

Chad Ashley: 00:30:02 There wasn’t, you know, you could kind of do quite a bit in MoGraph and Cinema. You could, you know, I mean, honestly that was probably, it really can’t really do any of those sorts of things in, in Maya or even Max really.

Russ Gautier: 00:30:14 Right.

Chad Ashley: 00:30:14 So when I saw him like totally go crazy in some of that early Man V work, I think it was the Nike sort of the, the quintessential Houdini Nike thing. I forget what it was. Might have been flying it or something. I don’t remember. I’ll figure it out. I’ll put it in the show notes. But when I saw that, I was like, Oh, okay. Yeah, this is legit. I mean, I’m going to start paying attention to this. And then of course it just kept growing and growing. More people started using it, smaller studio started using it and now, now I feel like it’s everywhere now. I feel like,

Russ Gautier: 00:30:48 Yeah

Chad Ashley: 00:30:49 Quite a few artists are telling me like, I need to learn it or I’m learning it or I’m already using it.

Russ Gautier: 00:30:55 Yup.

Chad Ashley: 00:30:56 What the heck man? Like how, what, what was it that drew you to Houdini and, and how did you start?

Russ Gautier: 00:31:05 Man, that’s a, that’s a good question. So I’ve always been, I’ve always enjoyed kind of splitting my time between things that are very kind of creatively fulfilling and also very technically fulfilling. And so Houdini had always kind of had this kind of mystique around it as being uh, this incredibly technical beast of a program that you know, I think I picked it up, man. I must have picked it up like eight years ago for the first time and beat my head against the wall for a couple of weeks and then just was like, Nope, I can’t do this. And then I’d pick it up like once a year, once every few months, and be like, man, maybe this is the time I’ll learn Houdini. And that just, it never stuck, but.

Chad Ashley: 00:31:49 Hmm. Sounds familiar.

Russ Gautier: 00:31:50 Yeah, yeah, exactly. It, like I said, it took me like five tries to, to finally get it sort of stuck in there right? But a few years back I started, I started doing something just for my own personal development where like in the very beginning of the year, I would kind of make myself a personal promise, right? Like that, that this is going to be the year that I learned X or that I do X or whatever it is right? And each year is kind of different. And, the, the year that I decided I was going to learn Houdini, I kind of dubbed the year of the node and I was like, this is it. I’m doing it. No matter what I do this year I am learning this stupid program. And, and I really committed to using it like every single and I got really sucked into the way that it works. The problem that I ran into was that like the, the stuff that’s available, the learning materials on SideFX’s website they’re awesome for learning like the nitty gritty of the program. You know, like figuring out like what buttons do what and like you can, you can get a list of all the different nodes that are available in whatever context and everything, but there wasn’t a ton, at least at the time to show you how to use it, you know, I mean there is, there is a bit out there, but it really, the resources that we have now didn’t exist then. And so it was, it was really me just kind of like beating my head against the wall and learning it like the hard way by myself with no help and and it, it took a good long time, but I got it eventually.

Chad Ashley: 00:33:30 Yeah. I feel like most of the stuff out there and I, I spent a little time looking at what’s out there when I was, you know, thinking about learning it. And for me it was, it was very much centered around things that I wasn’t interested in. It was like, Oh, here’s how to do some destruction or here’s how to do some smoke. And really I was trying to find a way to understand why I would want to use it or what I would wanna use it for. And I, and I think that I, I totally can relate man. Like diving into a program and really forcing yourself to use it every day is great way to do it. Cause I, that’s how I learn substance designer is I just decided like, I’m going to learn it. This is it. I’m doing it, I’m jumping in here, I go. And everyday it’s a commitment, every day it’s like, what am I going to learn today? What am I going to pick out and like try to understand today, now that, that program is, is, you know, it’s not, I wouldn’t say simple, but it’s not Houdini. Like, how long did it take you to the point where you were like, I feel confident in this program?

Russ Gautier: 00:34:42 Man, it, it was, it was quite a journey for sure. I have, you know, folders and folders and folders of like stupid little experiments I was doing where I was trying to figure out how to, you know, turn one piece of data into another piece of data or like use something in a way that, that I thought it should be used and turns out I was completely wrong and had to go back and, and do it in a completely different way. And it, you know, learning that way was, it was very slow. It was very frustrating, but it did teach me kind of how to really think like Houdini wants you to think. Because I was approaching it, you know, the way I would approach a problem in cinema 4D or the way that I would use cinema 4D and, and, and it just isn’t the way that Houdini wants you to work. And I think as soon as you, as soon as you understand that, as soon as you kind of get your head wrapped around the way that it wants you to think and solve problems, it really it kind of opens some doors for you a little bit in the right program.

Chad Ashley: 00:35:46 You have to surrender yourself to the way that, that Houdini sort of operates. Right?

Russ Gautier: 00:35:52 Yeah, yeah, very much so. It’s, it’s just a totally different way of solving problems. Now I will say that cinema ever since R20 some of the new field workflows and everything are kind of starting to tread in the Houdini waters a little bit in terms of the way that you use the information. But Houdini is really built on this, like this crazy procedural way of approaching problems.

Chad Ashley: 00:36:22 Yeah. You know, my brain sort of works that way naturally. It’s, it’s something that like I’ve always, you know, use cinema 4D and I’m like, Oh man, why? Why doesn’t like, why doesn’t like MoGraph and fields have nodes or why doesn’t X-Particles have nodes? Because I can’t remember what I did and I just want to be able to like trace my steps and like, Oh, this was going into here, that was going into there.

Russ Gautier: 00:36:45 Yup.

Chad Ashley: 00:36:45 So for me like nodes make perfect sense. I came from you know, P-flow, and 3DS Max, Fusion.

Russ Gautier: 00:36:52 Absolutely.

Chad Ashley: 00:36:54 X, XSI, ICE and like things like that. So for me, nodes are like not, it’s like how I think anyway.

Russ Gautier: 00:37:00 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 00:37:01 But the hurdle for me in Houdini was always that I didn’t know where to start, you know? Like there’s no, there was never any like until I started watching your training, I wasn’t really, like I had, I knew the concepts of it. Like I knew it was procedural, I knew that it was data, and like, you know, I can do anything and all that stuff and sometimes being able to do anything is extremely frightening.

Russ Gautier: 00:37:27 Oh yeah. Yeah. It’s like a menu with too many items. You don’t know what to pick. You’re like, ah, I can’t make a decision.

Chad Ashley: 00:37:33 Yeah, dude. Like, yeah, you just freeze. Like, I would open the program, I’d be like, I don’t know. I don’t even know what like, and I did the thing that you said in like the first video, I think where you’re like, don’t touch these buttons up at the top that are like, you know, the preset, you know, tools or whatever they are. And I made that mistake. Like when I first opened it, I’m like, Whoa, that looks like some that looks like some stuff I should click.

Russ Gautier: 00:37:59 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 00:37:59 And I like would click it and I’d be like, I don’t know what I just did.

Russ Gautier: 00:38:03 What the hell happened?

Chad Ashley: 00:38:03 Yeah. Like no, I have no  idea like, but it, it was like, okay I gotta say like, and I’m not trying to like, you know you know, blow smoke. But that first two videos in the training where you sort of like lay it out and you’re like, listen, like you don’t have to be afraid of this. This is how this works. You don’t, you know, this is like, it’s okay. And that was so reassuring and like so much of like, like I could almost like feel your hand on my back, like, Hey, Chad, it’s going to be all right. You know? And it was, it was such,

Russ Gautier: 00:38:39 You got this.

Chad Ashley: 00:38:39 I think I, yeah, dude, I, I even, IM’d Mike at Greyscalegorilla and I was like, dude, this guy, he’s really, he’s making me feel like he’s right here with me. Like, this is great. And it, it was great. And like I said, you know, I program that I’ve been trying to get into and I’m excited to, to finish, to finish out the videos and, and try to like understand more about it. Now when you are a team, when you’re tackling, I got gotta ask you this question because it’s something that I’m always fascinated by people that use Houdini because to me it seems like, you know, you hear these people talk like, Oh yeah, you know, like Houdini is great if you know exactly what you want to do and you can go in there and do it and like, yeah, but how do you just freestyle bash stuff out?

Russ Gautier: 00:39:33 It’s a good question. It’s, it’s not. Freestyle and Houdini is a little bit different than something in, in cinema, right? Cause cinema you’re so kinda hands on with, with your final product, right? Like you’re pushing and pulling points or you’re setting up something in the MoGraph module and you can see kind of like as you take steps, you can see things kind of unfolding. And in, sometimes in Houdini you can’t, sometimes you’re, you’re kind of trusting, Oh sorry, my, sorry, my wife just got home.

Chad Ashley: 00:40:05 There’s the dog.

Russ Gautier: 00:40:09 So sometimes with, with Houdini, you’re kind of just trusting what you know about the program and, and kind of taking, you’re almost taking like tried and true paths and kind of breaking those apart and, and experimenting with those in a way. I’m trying to think of like, so we, I had a discussion with with a couple of the Perception folks a little while ago. A couple of the guys who were really interested in learning Houdini and they saw this piece that was a, it was a Danil Oh, I’m going to murder his last name. Kri-

Chad Ashley: 00:40:52 No, I do it all the time, so don’t worry.

Russ Gautier: 00:40:56 Krivoruchko? Yeah, I don’t know. He’s, he’s a, an absolute wizard in Houdini, really, really cool stuff. And I’d say he’s, he’s doing some fascinating motion graphic style work in Houdini, which is awesome.

Chad Ashley: 00:41:15 But so do you think he has this? Now, I’m a firm believer in the power of abstract thought and, and just the idea of like, for me, I tend to, before I even like pick up my mouse and like start working, I tend to like visualize what it, that I’m trying to do in my head about 10 different times before I actually commit to doing it.

Russ Gautier: 00:41:38 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 00:41:38 And I feel like really amazing Houdini artists must have that ability as well. Right?

Russ Gautier: 00:41:45 Yeah. I think to a degree you, you do kind of gain that the more you use Houdini, it’s, it’s um it really does force you to think about problems differently and how you solve problems. You just take a totally different approach to getting from point A to point B than you do with something like cinema 4D. And I think there’s certain problems out there that I find way easier to solve in Houdini versus problems where Houdini is not the right tool for the job. You know? And I think it’s, it’s really down to kind of where you feel comfortable and, and sometimes it’s actually, you know, I mean, sometimes you want to force yourself to be uncomfortable, right? Like if you’re learning Houdini and you’re, you’re bound to learn it, like you’re, you gotta do it. Like sometimes you got to force yourself into that uncomfortable space, but on a tight deadline, sometimes that’s, that’s not really the way to go. Of course.

Chad Ashley: 00:42:41 Yeah. I mean, sometimes that’s unrealistic, but sometimes that’s the best way to learn.

Russ Gautier: 00:42:45 Yeah, absolutely. And that’s, that’s sort of what I did was I, I started really digging into solving problems in Houdini once I got sort of comfortable with the application and, and how to, how to just create with it, how to think, like it wants you to think.

Chad Ashley: 00:43:06 That’s the, that’s the ultimate challenge I think, you know, with any, with any tool that you learn is like, you’re trying to get to a point where it’s like playing an instrument. You know, like you, you want to get to that point where you can just play music but you’re not, you’re not having to constantly look down at the, at the guitar you have to constantly look at the sheet music or whatever. You just want to get to that place where you can flow. And I feel like that never comes easy. Right? Like it takes time. You got to learn all the cords, you gotta like memorize the music or you just need to really be comfortable and confident enough to be able to handle it.

Russ Gautier: 00:43:42 Right.

Chad Ashley: 00:43:43 Now the thing that’s always like hard with Houdini is like, it seems like it’s got a pretty, it takes a while to master it and it must take a while to understand how it wants you to think. And ultimately, I think a big hurdle that I know I fell into that I think a lot of people out there fall into is that you don’t know what all the nodes are doing or what, what you don’t know which one to grab when.

Russ Gautier: 00:44:11 Yep, yep, yep. And some of them are named like really weird things or, or some have like multiple functions that, that are kind of buried in sub menus within the nodes parameters or you’re like, I didn’t know I could do that with that node. That makes sense. Okay, sure. Like the, like the trail stop also will calculate velocity for you if you want it to. That’s a, you know, that has nothing to do with creating trails. Except under the hood. What it’s doing is it’s using the data that creates the trails and actually extrapolating velocity vectors from it. Right? So it’s after you think about it, you’re like, Oh yeah, no, that does kind of make sense. But at first you’re like, why on earth would I use the trail node to calculate velocity? That doesn’t make any sense.

Chad Ashley: 00:44:59 Yeah. I mean, how would you even, that’s the thing about this, this sort of program and, and not, you know, for those people that are freelance that are working on their own without somebody to like roll over to the other side of the room and ask them like, how do you even find that out? Like, how do you just stumble on that?

Russ Gautier: 00:45:16 Yeah, it’s a, a lot of it is, is getting out there into the various communities. ODD Rorce. There’s also a really good there’s a great discord called Think Procedural.

Chad Ashley: 00:45:30 Hm ok.

Russ Gautier: 00:45:30 That, that has a huge number of people involved in it, including many, many people from SideFX. So there’s, there’s a handful of communities out there that really cater specifically to Houdini and, and they get asked the questions all the time. And a lot of times people will you know, respond to you with a project file that they’ve actually solved your problem for you. And then you can, the great thing is you can take it and you can reverse engineer everything that they’ve done. Cause it’s all nodes and, and it helps you learn. That’s, that’s how you learn and it, and it does get frustrating cause there there’s lots and lots of things that are like it’s, it’s sorta like learning a language. You have your, like you have the things that make sense, your structure, but then you also have like little idioms and things that get sprinkled in where you’re like, huh, I didn’t realize that that’s how you do that. But now I know and, and you know, so I, I always encourage people to keep a Google doc or a notebook or something so that you can take note of those things yourself, you know?

Chad Ashley: 00:46:39 Yeah, yeah. I think that’s, that’s super important. And I feel like, you know in my beginnings of of learning Houdini, I started a I think I was using one note when I started working in it and I just was writing down all of the acronyms and the strange words and I was trying to like, familiarize myself with the vernacular so that I could at least understand what things were doing what, and I think that you know, one of the strengths of that program is like you said, like you can go back in and reverse engineer something that either you did a long time ago or somebody shared with you online. How much of that are you repurposing on job to job? Like do you build something that you’re like, Oh, well, I figured this out. I’m going to go through this in my library and never have to do it again.

Russ Gautier: 00:47:30 Yeah. Sometimes. So Houdini is great at reusing node structures and allowing you to build your own tools. So you can actually take a pipeline that you’ve developed and actually turn it into a tool that just becomes another node in your, your node list, right? So you can create your own nodes that, that are really handy for you in your workflow. So I have, I have a handful of things that I do all the time. And you know, it’s not like super complex, but it’s annoying to have to set these things up every single time I want to do it. So I just build myself a tool and then I have my tool that I built. And if it doesn’t do what I want it to do, I can get in there and monkey with the, with the internals of it, or I can leave it alone and just go about my business. But it’s Houdini is great at compartmentalizing problem solving like that and, and really giving you the ability to reuse workflows over and over and over and over again. It’s, it’s awesome like that.

Chad Ashley: 00:48:37 So what is your absolute favorite node to pull out in Houdini?

Russ Gautier: 00:48:45 Oh man. You know, I’m going to go with uh mhm

Chad Ashley: 00:48:56 I stumped you on that one.

Russ Gautier: 00:48:57 Tough. That’s a tough one, so.

Chad Ashley: 00:48:59 He loves them all folks.

Russ Gautier: 00:49:01 I do. It’s true. One of, one of my favorite things about Houdini is that in cinema 4D splines are separate from geometry, right? Cause the spline is just sort of a, it’s a one dimensional thing essentially, until you start curving and then it’s, it’s two dimensional, but it’s still doesn’t have like volume to it. And Houdini a spline or a curve actually is a one dimensional polygon. So it’s a one dimensional polygon spread between two points or you know, multiple points or whatever. And so I love that that I can do things like take the connected adjacent pieces node or use like a find shortest path or use the Ad Sop and actually create these like physical connections. Cause I, you know, I do a lot of like FUI stuff, which is, you know, futuristic user interface. It’s lots of like greebily elements and things that look really overly complicated.

Chad Ashley: 00:50:02 Sure. It’s perfect for Houdini.

Russ Gautier: 00:50:04 Yeah exactly.

Chad Ashley: 00:50:05 Couldn’t ask for a better program.

Russ Gautier: 00:50:07 It works wonderfully. So I love the ability to like physically connect objects using a dynamically generated spline curves essentially that are, that are themselves actual physical geometry within Houdini. They aren’t, they aren’t treated as anything separate like, like they are in cinema 4D right. Like a spline and a cube are two separate things. Two separate constructs within cinema 4D, where in Houdini a spline or a a curve is just a, it’s just a one dimensional cube essentially. Or you know, it’s not a cube cause it doesn’t have that many points. But it’s a, it’s a one dimensional polygon stretched between two points.

Chad Ashley: 00:50:54 Hmm.

Russ Gautier: 00:50:55 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 00:50:55 That’s a really weird way to think about it.

Russ Gautier: 00:50:57 Yeah. Yeah. And it, it actually creates some really interesting things that you can do. Like you can, you can apply UVS to a spline curve which is incredibly handy for finding out where along a curve something might fall or coloring it for rendering and like Redshift or whatever.

Chad Ashley: 00:51:16 Sure.

Russ Gautier: 00:51:17 Or, or like growing it or like placing objects on it. You can, it sounds really weird and unintuitive but you can actually UV a curve, which is awesome.

Chad Ashley: 00:51:26 Yeah, that’s great man. All right, so that’s your, I mean, that’s, that’s sort of answers the question. I guess the, the other question would be if you could change any part of Houdini, what would you change?

Russ Gautier: 00:51:42 Hmm. You know, there’s a handful of things about Houdini that that drive me a little crazy. But honestly, I don’t know that I would change much of anything. I think, I think the, the strength in Houdini kind of comes from those areas that make you maybe a little bit uncomfortable because they’re not quite familiar territory, but that’s sort of the nature of using the program. One of the things that, that I do always find very challenging about Houdini has, has less to do with the program and, and more to do with the company SideFX. They, they have no problems whatsoever just throwing out old workflows and old nodes and everything and saying, okay, this is how you do it now and

Chad Ashley: 00:52:33 Oh wow.

Russ Gautier: 00:52:33 Every single release of Houdini, there’s always some crazy thing that they did that you used to do that you now do totally differently. And you know, sometimes that works really well and sometimes it really gets in the way. But you know, I, I really admire their commitment to continually refining the program and they, you know, they’ve been doing an amazing job since I’ve been using the program. They really have spent a great deal of time working on kind of helping people overcome that learning curve. You know, that’s so prevalent in using this program is like everybody thinks about like, Oh geez, this program is super hard. But they’ve done a great job in their kind of UX workflows and kind of restructuring a lot of their systems to kind of streamline a little bit to kind of bring under one umbrella a lot of things. Like when I first started using Houdini, particle systems were actually a totally separate dynamic network from say like a rigid body simulation. Right?

Chad Ashley: 00:53:50 Mhmm.

Russ Gautier: 00:53:50 And you could get them to talk to each other, but it was, you know, at the time for me it was like, you know, pulling teeth to try and figure out how to get that to work. But now I think since Houdini 14 we’re on 17.5 as if, as of right now I think Houdini 14, they kind of unified all of the dynamic systems, so particles and, and all of the dynamic systems are kind of under one umbrella. So you can kind of work with them all in one system and it’s, and it’s things like that. They, they revamped the visual language of the nodes and, and everything. They really gave the user tools for customizing things and making it what they want it to be. Right? And, and it, it drives me crazy every time I open a new version of Houdini and they changed a whole bunch of stuff that I used to love, but at the same time I really admire them for kind of continuing to refine their product. Even some of their old systems and old ways of doing things, they’re, you know, they’re totally happy just throwing it out the window and telling you you’re going to do it somewhere else now.

Chad Ashley: 00:55:06 That’s kind of, I mean that, that sounds like they align with my own personal philosophies. I’m the same way. Like, I have no problem throwing out eight hours of work if I don’t think it’s, it’s, it’s what I wanted and like starting over. Yeah, I admire that actually. I feel like if a, if a developer can do that, that shows that they’re truly committed to putting out the absolute best thing that they can put out. And they’re not just keeping something alive for the sake of keeping it alive. And, you know, that’s, that’s actually pretty admirable.

Russ Gautier: 00:55:38 Yeah. Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 00:55:39 You know?

Russ Gautier: 00:55:40 Absolutely.

Chad Ashley: 00:55:41 Yeah. I mean, so I guess we’re starting to wrap up here, but I want to, I want to actually ask you what sort of advice would you give to an artist that is thinking about, well, let me rewind that. I’m going to hit you with a different question first.

Russ Gautier: 00:55:59 Sure.

Chad Ashley: 00:55:59 Do you think it is important for the motion designer today to know Houdini?

Russ Gautier: 00:56:08 No, but I will say if you can learn Houdini, if you are motivated to learn it, then it is an invaluable tool to have in your arsenal. Do you need to know it? No. Do you want to know it? If you’re the kind of person who wants to sink their teeth into it, then you should absolutely do it because it, it really does teach you a lot more than just its own workflows, right? Like you, you see the world of 3d a little bit differently because it kind of pulls the, it pulls the curtain off of so many things that other programs kind of gloss over or, or hide behind nice shiny buttons. Houdini teaches you about 3d itself.

Chad Ashley: 00:56:58 Yeah. I’m, I’m really stoked that you were, you gave such an honest response there because cause I do feel like there is a lot of like sort of pressure on motion designers, 3d motion designers to be specific, to learn every single new little thing that comes out. And, and I, I’m, I think that it’s, it’s OK to understand what you know to, to say, okay, well that doesn’t really, I don’t need to learn that. And that’s okay.

Russ Gautier: 00:57:26 Yeah.

Chad Ashley: 00:57:26 And I, and I, and I think that that’s, that’s a healthy way to sort of look at things. And I’m glad that you said that even though I think if you are thinking about learning Houdini, Greyscalegorilla Plus is a great place to do that. Russ is teaching an amazing, has an amazing piece of training up there, centered around getting started with Houdini sort of a, I’m gonna, you know, hold your hand while you navigate this crazy node world. What advice do you have to somebody like that that’s just starting out, that might start watching your training? Like what advice do you have for that person?

Russ Gautier: 00:58:08 I think in terms of learning the program, my, my number one advice is always just keep notes for yourself as you go. It’s a, it’s a program where there’s lots of like ins and outs and gotchas. You know, like not everything is super intuitive and sometimes you might beat your head against the wall for days or hours or whatever trying to solve a problem. But once you solve that problem, now you know how to do it. So you want to write it down and keep that for yourself. There’s actually a, total side note. There is a fantastic online resource called the CG Wiki written by this guy named Matt Estela, who is a, I believe, a TD at Animal Logic in in Australia. And I believe it started out as his own kind of notes to himself as he was transitioning from Softimage to Houdini. He was kind of taking these notes for himself and, and putting them out there on the internet. And it has grown into this like really amazing kind of firsthand account of his learning process. He, he puts things in really plain English terms, you know, and in really great ways. So like, it’s like if you took, you know, somebody’s Google doc of notes and just made it public and polished it up a bit and had some nice like kind of animated gifs to go along with some of the concepts. It’s, it’s awesome.

Chad Ashley: 00:59:42 Wow.

Russ Gautier: 00:59:42 It’s really, really cool for, for the Houdini learners. But I think approaching Houdini just before you even open the program, you kind of have to prepare yourself for a bit of frustration. I’ve, I’ve taught Houdini for the last couple of years at SVA to graduate and undergraduate students and they always have, you know, a bit of excitement but also a bit of kind of trepidation approaching the program. Cause everybody hears all, it’s so hard. It’s so hard. And I would say be patient with it. It’s not something that most people are going to pick up immediately and just have an innate understanding of, especially if you already know another 3d program. It’s a, it can be a frustrating journey, but the rewards are worth it.

Chad Ashley: 01:00:39 That’s awesome.

Russ Gautier: 01:00:39 So stick to it. Use it every day.

Chad Ashley: 01:00:42 There you go. There you go folks. All right, well that, that about does it for our time, Russ. Dude, thank you so much for being on the podcast.

Russ Gautier: 01:00:51 Thank you Chad. This was a absolute pleasure.

Chad Ashley: 01:00:54 Yeah, I’m just super stoked to have you a, a part of the Greyscalegorilla Plus squad and just like, I’m really excited to get my, get myself through this, through this course and really try to dive in to this program. It’s something that I’m going to try to dive into. I think over over the winter I’m gonna really commit myself to, to, to picking it up and actually trying to understand it. So thank you so much for being on the show and thank you for doing such an awesome job on the training.

Russ Gautier: 01:01:24 Thank you. Thanks for having me. And I’m stoked for people to watch it and let me know what they think.

Chad Ashley: 01:01:31 Awesome. Well that about does it for the Greyscalegorilla podcast. Thank you for listening. Be sure to give us a, a review anywhere that you’re listening to this. It always helps us to get those reviews and be sure to tell a friend if they’re interested in Houdini. Tell them about the podcast. Tell them about Russell’s course over on Greyscalegorilla Plus. Until next time, have a great day. I’ll talk to you later.

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