Exchange data between Houdini and Maya

Posted: February 15, 2013 in FX Pipeline, Houdini, Linux, Maya


option 01

Alembic is:

For computer graphics professionals working with large, complex scenes;

Who need to quickly, reliably transfer CG assets between heterogeneous software tools in order to make use of the widest range of available functionality;

Alembic is an Open, Portable, Computer Graphics Storage Format;

That is able to accurately store the full range of existing CG primitives, is open and easily extensible for custom data needs, and is fully supported in all the major CG animation, rendering, and simulation tools;

Unlike FBX, which is not extensible or open, or COLLADA, which is unable to store large assets, or custom solutions using GTO, which are non-standardized and require too much implementation-specific knowledge.

if you want a really smooth translation, get Maya 2013, it has alembic export, then get Houdini 12, it has alembic import, export the whole scene to alembic and you will have the camera too in one pass, works painlessly.

Shaders cannot be exported, although fbx imports with some shaders, but that one in Houdini is not good for serious shading.

Alembic doesn’t support shaders.

workflows to send stuff to Maya for rendering from Houdini. The best way to do that is with Alembic but the problem with that is you need to have all geometry that’s going to be exported be visible at the first frame.

OBJ sequences is the option, which is kind of lame since it just static geometry across frames but it works for things like newly-spawning geometry.

option 02

Filmbox FBX


Houdini understand FBX format. you can transfer dynamics from Houdini to Maya.

You should use the fbx exporter from maya, but there are some rules to be followed:

1. use maya’s geometry cache to generate a vertex cache.
2. in geo cache’s option check double precision
3. now the tricky part, if you have any history on the polygonal surface node, fbx export will drag it with export, so the best way is to duplicate your caracter geometry(only that) with shift+d, and import the geo cache onto that, so you will end up with a clean geometry and a cache file.
4. in fbx export window you have to uncheck smoothing groups under geometry
5. also here you have to check animation and check geometry cache file and choose a historySwitchSet
6. hit export (of course give an fbx filename), and if you choose a location there should be an fbx file exported and a folder beside it which contains the cache

7. in houdini choose File->Import->Filmbox FBX..
8. in the window choose your fbx file, uncheck everything except geometry and animation
9. choose unlock geometry and deformation
10. choose import directly into /obj network
11. houdini will import your model and assign the vertex cache via CHOPs

So animate in maya then export the clean model with vertex cache via fbx and import

Option 03

  1. enzyme69 says:

    Don’t forget that there is also MDD. Houdini has MDD cache import export, while there is plugin for Maya that does MDD animation wxport which can be applied back to OBJ.

    MDD is old but can be handy.

  2. Leo says:

    Hi Rajiv. Is there no way to export an attribute in the geometry from Houdini and then use that attribute to in maya to apply a material for example. I created a road traffic scene in which I used particles to travel on the road with random colors then I used the copy sop to copy my cars unto the points and have them take the color of the points. When I export with alembic to maya I loose the random color of the cars. How could I get those colors back in Maya?

    • Anthony mcgrath says:

      Hi I’m busy searching around for answers on all this. Drop in an attribute promote and convert the point info to vertices. That shud give you vertex colours on the mesh going back to maya.
      3 years later with reply but what the hell hahaha.

      Is there any was as asked above to export meshes with a name attribute and then get maya to assign a shader to the meshes with that name?

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