• Elizabeth Delos Reyes

Week 1 | Spring Begins with Houdini UI Issues and Problem Solving

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

Spring quarter has officially moved online and this has already deemed a huge adventure. Moving back home to California has been quite difficult due to all the travel restrictions put in place because of COVID-19. Thankfully I have been very healthy and trying my best to get my computer and resources set up for this quarter's classes.

Right now, I'm in the process of building myself a gaming computer to properly run our software and be able to render some projects. Unfortunately I will not be able to complete that until mid-April due to shipping and COVID-19 restrictions. In the meantime, I will be working off a slightly older computer that is stronger than my little laptop computer.

Houdini Issues

I have faced a few issues moving forward with the computer that I have now. I was able to download Houdini 17.5 and Houdini 18 with the educational license given to me as a student, but whenever I open Houdini, the UI does not want to properly load and all the buttons disappear. Below is a screenshot of what that looks like every time, regardless of the build version I open.

When I was doing some research and looking up possible solutions or explanations for this problem. This link https://www.sidefx.com/forum/topic/58821/?page=1#post-302785 is on the sideFX forums and it is a discussion of the same issue that I am currently facing. It seems to be a UHD Intel driver issue and that I would have to change/switch the driver to an earlier version. I personally don't know how to go about doing that and I will be reaching out to my professors and other students to see if they could help me figure that out so that I can start work on our senior project.

If you or you know anyone who could help me out with this, I would appreciate your assistance. You can always contact me via email. Thank you!


After more research and emailing some of my professors about if they have any prior knowledge about this situation, I found an answer. My computer's driver did need to be updated like the discussion boards mentioned and I was directed by my professor to this link that is an Intel Driver and Support Assistant. After it is downloaded, it will scan your computer for you and tell you the exact driver that is needed to be updated. After installing that new driver, all the UI problems I faced were gone.

Here is the link I used for more information about updating the driver and downloading the Intel Driver and Support Assistant: https://www.howtogeek.com/135976/how-to-update-your-graphics-drivers-for-maximum-gaming-performance/

Here is what my Houdini UI looks like now. It is back to normal and I can see all the buttons.

Personal thank you to my Houdini professor, Deborah Fowler for directing me for this fix. I am now ready to start this new online quarter off better!

Since the beginning of this week, I've been dealing with getting Houdini and the Arnold renderer to work properly on my home computer. I have run into various speed bumps along the way and I am actively working to figure out solutions to my own problems.

Week 1.5 Update

Houdini Versions and Arnold Plug-In

One of the things that I worked on this week was helping my classmates (and myself) in figuring out how to get our Educational License of Houdini to work with the Arnold Render plug in. We were having trouble having the arnold lights show up in the software at all and additionally it would not render. After doing more research, I found where we went wrong.

At first we had the incorrect production build of Houdini downloaded from SideFX, and after carefully reading the files, I found that we need to download the production build of Houdini 18.0.391 because the download for Arnold only works with that build so far. This link will lead you to the production builds page of SideFX where I personally downloaded Houdini. https://www.sidefx.com/download/daily-builds/#category-gold

I found this solution stated on the Arnold Render download page. https://www.arnoldrenderer.com/arnold/download/#houdini

Here is a screenshot of Arnold conceptually working with this version/build...

File Paths

When opening the project, I found that many of the assets' file paths were not entirely correct, therefore it took me some time to repath each file and make sure everything was up-to-date. I think that I am missing many of the FX sims of assets, such as the barrels, and I need to finishing the transfers of those files. I have encountered some difficulty grabbing those files from our collaborative space due to the network, and how large the files are resulting in extended downloading times. I am currently in the process of working that out.

Arnold Render Test

I did however try to render test what I did have to see if my computer would even render anything. Good news is that things are showing up in the viewport properly and to the last time I worked with these files, mostly everything seems to be in place except for the assets that I previously mentioned.

Unfortunately, the first few attempts that I did outputted nothing but this grey square and file output traceback errors. These were errors and things that I have encountered before even on the computers in Monty but never knew exactly why I was getting those errors. The terminal box in the bottom right corner was showing errors of not being able to read files or even finding them, so I think it is refusing to render anything because of it. I think this has to do with the missing sim files that I have to finish transfering. I will keep trying to troubleshoot the situation and eventually try to get something to render.

So far the only solution I have found in the past to the error shown below was to save the file every single time before I try to rerender the scene. I still don't understand why it wants me to do that for every render I attempt. I will keep looking into it.

The Car

From the last saved file that I have I was able to import the car asset although, I do not think it is the most recent car file with the correct textures and shaders. I will get into contact with the team to find that correct car and get that working, hopefully.