Hou2Touch For Beginners & Intermediate

The ultimate guide to the procedural mentality

Understanding proceduralism is a key to generative modeling and animation and while it’s opening abstract thinking abilities, it opens you the way to creating generative art. In my course, I chose a family of 2 the most old and powerful software systems sharing a lot of ideas and tools being produced by the same prophet's mind.

The history of that family was started in 1987 by producing SideFX PRISMS turning in 1995 to Houdini - most powerful procedural software till now anticipated CGI development in 15 years. At the end of the 90`s Greg Hermanovic - one of the Ideologists of Houdini production realized that the future is “The Realtime on GPU” which resulted in deriving TouchDesigner from Houdini in 2001. It became the procedural realtime multi-purpose tool produced by Derivative Inc.

Since that time Houdini and TouchDesigner were developing standalone in different ways while still employing a lot of common concepts and techniques together, providing to the artist the great variety of tools for creating both realtime and non-realtime graphics and art.

Starting to work in 3D two years after Houdini’s birth I was using 3D Studio DOS, Lightwave, 3D Studio Max ( since a 1st version), changing to Softimage, turning then to Maya power user till I met Houdini in 2002. Working in film production at the same moment I've started to make workshops and courses since 2001.

Since 2005 I had exclusively worked in Houdini adding TouchDesigner in 2012. Because of my Houdini experience, my TouchDesigner crash start took me only 2 hours.

Actually learning TouchDesigner you already learning Houdini and the opposite.

This idea is a starting point of this course oriented for the completely new to mid-experienced artists. My teaching style was developed during 19 years of educational practice and is based on the academic approach explaining not the “menu options” but the ideology and paradigm of the software, teaching you how to think by nodes and corresponding grammar, but still providing enough of the practical examples and cases.

I plan to explain in parallel similarities and differences between both programs showing the ways to extend the limited modeling possibilities of TD by amazing SOPs (surface operators) and DOPs (dynamics operators) contexts of Houdini and how to increase the working process by realtime TOP (rendering and compositing) and adding interfacing to data sources not supported by Houdini using the CHOP context of TouchDesigner, sharing data using common geometry and animation formats, as well as scene description formats and OpenEXR textures.

Course structure:

We do one Session (4 hours) weekly.
The full course is designed for the 6 months and contains 3 Levels
You can join any level, if you fill that basic level is too simple for you.
In order to get 1 or 2 level - select corresponding tickets, or if you buy the full course you can save:
60 euro for early bird and 90 euro for the full course
You receive the project files and Screen recordings every day after the session.
The Program will be updated and continued during the course.

Level 101

1. Intro

1. A Practical example of procedural approach and the difference to the traditional way

2. What visual programming is and why it's still simple for non-programmers.

3. Basic Glossary:

  • Node
  • Node Based Workflow
  • Data Types
  • Comparison to other node based environments.

4. User Interface and Workflow:

  • TouchDesigner compared to Houdini
  • Data structure & Contexts
  • Node Interface
  • Parameters
  • Direct and indirect data connection
  • Managers in Houdini

5. Setup of the Basic 3D scene and Rendering in Houdini

6. Animating camera using paths

7. Export of scene using FBX to TouchDesigner

8. Rendering workflow in TouchDesigner. Rendering the Imported Scene in TouchDesigner

9. Output to the beamer/second screen. Designing the layout

2. Compositing Basics TOP vs COP2

  1. Setting up a basic compositing network in Houdini (COP2)
  2. Switching fast to TouchDesigner, because the COP2 are terribly slow
  3. Basic Color Correction Operators
  4. Compositing Operators
  5. Basic Effects
  6. Using Palette Effects


3. Animation (The power of CHOPs)

  1. What are basically channels
  2. Samples vs Frames, Sample Rates, Timeslices
  3. Controlling of node parameters by CHOPs and Expressions
  4. Methods of CHOP exporting in TouchDesigner
  5. The power of Exporting by parameter path
  6. Logic of Interactive programming
  7. Events, Triggers and ADSR
  8. Basic Audio reactive Animation
  9. CHOPs as an interface to User Input Devices (Mouse, Display, TouchScreen, Sensors etc)
  10. Recording of CHOP data (see gestureCapture COMP in Palette)
  11. Rendering the Channels Data to disc (and potentially to Houdini)
  12. How to export CHOPs to Parameters in Houdini
  13. Motion FX
  14. Keyframe Animation in Houdini
  15. Animation Takes
  16. Rendering the Channels Data to disc (and potentially to TouchDesigner)
  17. Understanding the Timeline in TouchDesigner and its difference to Houdini
  18. Animation COMP in TD

4. Content playback in TouchDesigner

  1. Content playback and sync (video, sound, animation)
  2. Sequence playback (Image and geometric sequences)
  3. Building simple CHOP network to control playback
  4. Building Advanced playback control using Timer CHOP
  5. Creating automated playlist
  6. 2 ways of TOP rendering to disc (non realtime ) with per frame synchronization

5. SOP Wars - Procedural Modelling

  1. Data Structure in SOP
  2. Understanding the geometry types
  3. Prototyping instead of the modelling by hand
  4. Groups as a main tool of proceduralism
  5. Understanding of Attributes
  6. Geometry Spreadsheet in Houdini and brilliant DAT approach of TouchDesigner
  7. Point and Primitive SOPs and expressions as a modeling tool
  8. Intro to scripting
  9. TScript vs VEX vs Python (and its Model in TouchDesigner and Houdini
  10. Sprinkle ashes on my head about the poverty of the SOP tools in TouchDesigner
  11. Sweet modelling nodes and tools in Houdini

Level 102

1. Geometry Arrays

  1. Copy SOP in TD and Houdini
  2. Orientation of Geometry pieces
  3. Variating the copied geometry using Parameter Stamping
  4. 4 ways of changing / generating attributes
  5. Control of geometry attributes using CHOPs
  6. conversion of data between contexts (families of OPs)
  7. Intro to VOPs in Geometry context
  8. Nerdy Sonate - Using VEX in Wrangles
  9. Even more visual programming - uff, no more coding:
  10. Geometry loops
  11. Stamping in Loops
  12. Enter the Digital Garden - intro to L-systems

2. Instancing

  1. Instancing in Houdini for kids
  2. How to exports arrays to TD in efficient way for optimized realtime rendering
  3. Export using Alembic and modern point cloud formats
  4. The Real Adult instancing in TouchDesigner
  5. Advanced adult instancing for nerdy aliens
  6. 2D Texture Array & 3D Textures

3. 19 Gramm Bullets

  1. SOP Particles in TouchDesigner - simulation for the expensive price
  2. Geometry as texture - a wave to optimise a performance by GPU
  3. GPU Particle examples
  4. Point cloud TOP Magic
  5. Rigid bodies simulation using Bullet Solver in TouchDesigner

4. The Right to Destroy the World

  1. The DOPe new World
  2. Concept, structure and workflow of dynamic simulations in DOP context
  3. RBD Simulations in Houdini
  4. Fractured, Glued and Packed Object
  5. Particles Simulations
  6. SOP Solver

Level 103


1. Rendering

  1. Setting up Rendering network in ROP Context
  2. Building the rendering pipeline and dependances
  3. Randomizing Parameters for Robust creative process
  4. Setting up rendering pipeline in TouchDesigner
  5. Achieving Illusion of the photorealism in Touch using PBR and Basics of GLSL Coding
  6. Intro to Substance Designer
  7. Setting up advanced compositing pipeline
  8. Deferred shading in TouchDesigner and Houdini
  9. Intro to Color Correction and Postprocessing

2. Pipeline Tools: Digital assets and Tox

  1. Difference between approaches in HDA and Tox
  2. Building Interactive controls for HDA
  3. Integrating Data - Scripts and assets
  4. 2 ways of creating User control in Tox - using Custom Parameters and UI
  5. Automating the UI creation
  6. VFS in Houdini and TouchDesigner

3. Interactivity and UI

  1. Input devices: Mouse, Joystick, Multitouch Screens
  2. Sensors: Kinect, Realsense, LeapMotion
  3. Recording PointCloud Data and transferring to Houdini for Geometrical processing
  4. Logic in Interactive Programming
  5. Building the User Interfaces:
  6. Widgets - and why we don't going to use them
  7. Custom UI using 3D Geometry, Render Pick and Multitouch
Experience level