March 16, 2022 Maddie Quach

Houdini Engine for Unreal Engine Overview

Unreal Engine and Unity are two of the main players in the game-engine market. Side FX has ensured that there are direct links between these two engines and Houdini itself. The means by which the link is made possible is through ‘Houdini Digital Assets’, created directly within Houdini and then imported into Unreal and Unity. Houdini ensures a ‘live’ link between these assets and Houdini to ensure that any amends made to the assets are reflected not only in Houdini but also in Unreal Engine and Unity. This plugin allows for seamless integration between Houdini and two of the biggest game engines out there.

In today’s article, let’s together get an overview of how Houdini and Unreal Engine integrate into each other’s workflow.

Overview

SideFX is pleased to announce that Houdini Engine for UE4 are now available for commercial customers for free. Previously free for artists using Houdini Indie, this now gives commercial artists and studios the ability to widely deploy procedural assets created in Houdini to the UE4 real-time 3D platforms for use in game and XR development, virtual production and design visualizations.

Through the power of Houdini Engine, procedural tools and assets built in Houdini with custom-tailored interfaces can be brought into UE4, and used by game artists whether they know Houdini or not. Houdini Engine does the processing work on the assets, and delivers the results back to the editor. These procedural assets work within the editor for content creation and are baked out before going to runtime.

The Houdini Engine plug-ins have been used on numerous shipped games – just a few examples include King’s Candy Crush, eXiin’s Ary and the Secret of Seasons, and Fishing Cactus’s Nanotale – Typing Chronicles.

What does a typical Houdini Engine pipeline look like?

Within a studio environment, a smaller tech team using interactive Houdini Core or Houdini FX would create digital assets to meet the needs of a project. These assets would be designed to allow for customization while ensuring that they output clean geometry with collisions and optimizations such as instancing. These interactive licenses are paid licenses.

Meanwhile the rest of the studio uses the FREE Houdini Engine for Unreal/Unity licenses to consume those assets. The assets become a part of the project files and level designers are able to manipulate these assets freely. If an asset needs new functionality then the tech team would make an update and the changes would propagate throughout the project since the assets are always being referenced into the host applications.

Get started with Houdini for Unreal Engine

The Houdini Engine for Unreal plug-in is bundled together with the Houdini installer on Windows. Once the Houdini installer is started, simply select the Houdini Engine for Unreal component, to ensure that the plugin files are copied to the Houdini install folder.

The installer extracts the Unreal plug-in for all supported Unreal versions. This includes the pre-built plug-in binary, source files and resource files. The extracted files can be found under the Houdini Install folder.

Note: Only the latest two versions of Unreal are actively supported. Source code of the plugin for older versions of Unreal can be downloaded in the HoudiniEngineForUnreal github repository.

<del>2. Copies the extracted plug-in folder into the Unreal install folder.<del>

Note: Version 1 of the plugin has been deprecated, only Version 2 is now available.

You then need to manually copy the HoudiniEngine folder of your choice, from the “engine/unreal” folder in your Houdini install directory, to the “Engine/Plugins/Runtime” directory of the Unreal Engine directory. Alternatively, the HoudiniEngine folder can also be copied to the “Plugins/Runtime” folder of your Unreal project.

Unreal will automatically load HoudiniEngine next time it is started. If another version of Unreal is installed later, it will not have the plug-in automatically. The plug-in can be installed by running the installer again.

Windows

Minimum Requirements:

  • Windows 7
  • Unreal 4.26
  • Houdini or Houdini Engine 19.0

Fastest way to get the plug-in working inside Unreal:

  1. Download and launch the houdini-X.Y.Z-win64-vc14.exe installer, where X.Y.Z is the version of Houdini.
  2. Follow the steps and make sure to select the Houdini Engine for Unreal option on the Houdini Engine installer screen.
  3. Copy the HoudiniEngine folder to the “Plugins/Runtime” of either your Unreal directory, or your Unreal project directory.
  4. Launch Unreal.

As on example, to install the V2 plugin to Unreal 4.27, you need to copy:

C:\Program Files\Side Effects Software\Houdini X.Y.Z\engine\unreal\4.27\HoudiniEngine

to:

C:\Program Files\Epic Games\UE4.27\Engine\Plugins\Runtime\HoudiniEngine

Mac Os

Note: Houdini18.5 does not ship with Version2 Binaries for MacOS for now. Currently, you will have to build the plugin from the source code available on the github repository.

Minimum Requirements:

  • macOS/OSX 10.14
  • Unreal 4.25
  • Houdini or Houdini Engine 19.0

Fastest way to get the plug-in working inside Unreal:

  1. Download and launch the houdini-X.Y.Z-macosx_*.dmg installer, where X.Y.Z is the version of Houdini.
  2. Follow the steps and make sure to select the Houdini Engine for Unreal option.
  3. Launch Unreal

During the install:

/Applications/Houdini/HoudiniX.Y.Z/Houdini Engine/unreal/4.25/Houdini Engine

is copied to:

/Users/Shared/Epic Games/UE_4.25/Engine/Plugins/Runtime/HoudiniEngine

Conclusion

Open the door to powerful procedural workflows with Houdini Engine for UE4. Houdini’s node-based workflow makes it easy to publish networks of nodes as shareable Houdini Digital Assets. With the Houdini Engine, these assets can be loaded into the Unreal Editor with procedural controls available to artists. We hope that these tips will absolutely decrease the time it takes for you to create incredible Houdini simulations.

At iRender, we have developed multiple RTX 3090 workstations specifically optimized and configured for GPU rendering workflows, from single- GPU 1x RTX 3090 to Multi-GPU 2/4/6/8 x RTX 3090, you can choose one server that is suitable for your demand and your software to get started. You are guaranteed to experience maximum performance for your budget. Users will remotely connect to our server, install their software only one time and easily do any intensive tasks like using their local computers. We offer clients the powerful processor Intel Xeon W-2245 @ 3.90GHz / AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro 3955WX @ 3.90GHz and up to 1 TB SSD to load your scene quickly.

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Thank you & Happy Rendering!

 

Reference source: ftrack.com

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Maddie Quach

Hi everyone. Being an Customer Support from iRender, I always hope to share new things with 3D artists, data scientists from all over the world and learn from them as well.
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