Thought for Food – Uploading from McDonalds

We’ve pulled our RV off the road for a nutritious meal at McDonalds, somewhere in Oregon, and now I’m uploading my entry to the Houdini Cook-Off contest. Although my submission could be better, I don’t have the CPU horsepower, nor the time to re-sim or re-render.  Oh yeah… and I’ll be in the middle of the desert in a few hours.

The brain pulsing will be slowed down and I would like to have roto-scoped her fingers, it looked like it was IN her hand, not around it.

All visual elements created by myself.
SynthEyes used for 3D camera tracking.
Modeling, shaders, animation and compositing done in Houdini.
Sound recorded and edited using Audacity.

International Traveling Render Farm


Ok, not really a “farm” but it’s doing the job.

Food for Thought – Audio/Video Sync

This is what I got, so far.

Hoping I have time to render some effects. Here’s the notes that I just took at lunch. Thanks to the waitress for supplying the scrap paper and pen.

Food for Thought – Audio Track

ZombieEat 013 by verbal007

Here’s a screencap of the 6 layers of audio. Was fun to do a few different zombie types… and, of course, the eating sounds.


Thought for Food – Last Day

Ok, this is about the final chapter here. I have about 4 hours till I have to hit the final render button.  Will I make the deadline for the Houdini Cook-Off?

My promises to myself include:

  • Keep the title, “Food for Thought“.
  • Use a brain.
  • Have it be cooked and/or eaten.
  • Create reusable assets.
  • Make sure I’m packed and ready with my desert gear for Burning Man…  TOMORROW???  We still have an RV and trailer to pack.

Progress so far…

  1. I started with a model I couldn’t use, because I didn’t build it, so how do you easily build a brain in Houdini?
  2. I tried to use MRI data to build my own brain geometry… via voxels.  I got something working…  BUT…  I couldn’t make anything solid.  It was very ghostly looking so I tried some nodes in Houdini which allowed me to create geometry, but the input data from an MRI scan is pretty dirty. I knew I need to somehow build a solid brain quickly.  So, I’m stopping this R&D and I’m saving the MRI results for when I get my own personal brain scan next month (no joke). My Wacom isn’t working under windows (I know… weird), so this was helping me avoid 3DCoat for my sculpting.
  3. Starting over, I used a low-res smooth brain-like shaped object and painted on it.  Using some procedural point operations, I created the wrinkle/sausage (gyrus?) things on the brain.
  4. I don’t know Houdini’s shaders well enough to make realistic looking brain bread baking, so my limited time was spent on shaders, and all I’m really looking for is more BANG for my buck. So, I’m setting aside my “baking bread brains” in coffee shops…    for now!  MWAHAHAHA!!!
  5. Serendipity occurred and I ended up filming the Vancouver Zombie Walk from last weekend. While I was there, I ran into an A&W and asked for a paper cup.  I marked it up with “X”s and triangles, thinking, “Hopefully make-up covered actors won’t feel too silly…  eating a paper cup.


the blanket is for half-ass soundproofing

*note: Blanket hanging on chair in attempting to get rid of the echos while recording.

Now, here I am with some undesirables that I’m trying to overcome.

Using Windows, not Linux.

Using a small USB hard drive as my project drive.

Going to be recording my own audio (zombie acting… whaaat?)

Doing my composting in Houdini.

I changed the direction last minute (oh those crazy directors…  hehe).

Thought for Food – Baking Bre… Brain.

Grown Brain

Modeling a brain sounds like a pain.
Pulling points in the wrinkles is driving me insane.

So I’m trying to puff it up with some baking.

Step 1. Rebuild this from scratch. The gyrus need to be smaller and the sulcus (wrinkles) need to be more frequent.

Step 2. Use this popping accident to my advantage.


Ok, this looks more like a brain.

Prep for Burning Man

I’m going and I have a ticket. Some travel details need to be worked out and I still have some equipment prep that needs to be planned and executed.

I’m still working on my SideFX Cook-Off challenge entry.

I also just purchased the new turn-based strategy, “Frozen Synapse”. Some would say this will kill my productivity… and they would be right. The point is to use my computer for something completely not work related between little successes.

Also looks like MEC has the Injinji toe-socks that I need to get before burning man. What else will fit my toed Vibram shoes?

MRI: Not Yet Given Up… Yet

I just about gave up on this MRI cloud thing, when I discovered this blog post by a fellow Houdini user, where he mentions a Volume from Attrib node that will allow me to alter a volume using point attributes. I think this may be the answer I have been looking for in order to avoid using metaballs. We shall see.

On top of that, he mentions a major performance issue in Houdini 11 when dealing with instanced shaders. Specifically, it’s an issue with the displacement being calculated, even when it’s not needed. And he posted a link to a fix in the SideFX forums.

And on top of that… through his Vimeo profile, I found this slick MRI plugin for Lightwave.

I also have the opportunity of getting my own brain scanned.  How creepy is that?

Thought for Food: Brain Cloud

MRI slices for a cloudy mind.

Thought for Food: Tracking Test

What is all this crazy techie 3D madness that I’ve suddenly been flooding into my blog? Well, I’ve officially entered SideFX’s Houdini Cook-Off contest. Win or loose, I think it’s going to be good experience and sometimes deadlines can be helpful.

I have 7 more days till my apartment lease is up, then I’ll primarily be working on my laptop, on the road, from some unknown location between here and Vancouver. I’m hoping to get as much done as humanly possible, before I move out.

So, here is my latest update to my Houdini Cook-Off entry, “Thought for Food.

Initial test to see how well I can integrate something without without and masking by hand. Who’s a fan of rotoscoping masks by hand? *shiver*

I’m using some sphere’s here to act as masks to cut out my hero brain object.

Houdini Cook-Off: Shots Filmed

I have entered the Houdini Cook-Off challenge and will be hosting the images from my blog, as it will allow me to insert them in-line at the forums, plus it’s nice to have a local sketchbook of my progress.  I’ll spare everyone any technical details, but if you’re curious, just go checkout the SideFX website for more details.

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