Production Management

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Program Settings

File Locations

Default location for working files packaged with Houdini that can be used for reference or quick access:

C:\Program Files\Side Effects Software\Houdini[version]\houdini\pic

Default location for digital assets:


Default location for defining environment variables:


Default location for sprites and sample images:

C:\Program Files\Side Effects Software\Houdini<version>\houdini\pic

View Current Configuration

Start Menu > Side Effects Software > Command Line Tools

Access configuration with the following command:

hconfig -ap

Environment Variables

List of available variables:

Setup and special characters:


Coordinate location of $HIP and $JOB paths for respective project file by accessing Edit > Aliases and Variables. In the Variables tab, define paths as necessary by selecting line item, modifying using text field at bottom right, and pressing Enter key to update.


$HIP: Map to working project file in Project drive.
$JOB : Map to project's sim and output folder in Overload drive.
MyCGDoc Production Protocol Items marked with this tag are my personal custom settings I have defined in my current production methodology. They can be customized to suit one's own preferences.

Editing Environment Variables

In an instance where an environment variable needs to be updated to differ than those already set by the .env file noted above, the following processes allow for editing them.

Method 1

In this first method, the edits are made within an existing Houdini session and can be made to overwrite the ones in the .env file without having to restart Houdini. It can also be used to take effect in a new project within the open Houdini session in which the edit is made. To check the status of an environment variable within Houdini, access the Texport panel and input the name of the variable.



To change the value/s of the environment variable, access the Python Shell panel and use the putenv() function to edit the value. Other relevant functions include getenv() and unsetenv().

Python Shell

hou.putenv("HOUDINI_OTLSCAN_PATH", "D:/updated/path/to/otls")


Lastly, check the Textport panel again to see the updated value for the edited environment variable.



Method 2


Link to External Editor

Set up by defining environment variables for routing to the external editor, such as JetBrains PyCharm.

EDITOR: Path to external editor executable.

VISUAL: Path to external editor executable; overrides EDITOR variable if defined.

External editor can also be defined by accessing Edit > Preferences > Set External Text Editor, and navigating to the external editor executable.

Access the external editor from within a Python context via RMB click > Expression > Edit in External Editor.

A hotkey can be defined for this action via Edit > Hotkeys... and navigating within Context to Houdini > Panes > Parameter Fields and LabelsEdit in External Editor (under Action).



Image Previews in File Browser

To disable showing images in file browsers, the following sets the default:

Edit > Preferences > General User Interface

Disable the option Show Images for Image Files in File Browsers.

Project Settings

Setup Takes

Use the Main take as the low quality version for testing, simulating fast, and debugging. But then simulate and render finalized versions with a high quality HQ take. Open up relevant parameters in HQ so they can be edited.

File Naming Convention


Custom Configurations


The following link is to my collection of utilities for use with Houdini. These are referenced in the scripts noted below.

Startup Scripts







Name: scene_rnd

from common_py_lib import utils, uiUtils

def main():
    # content creation
    # accessory content creation


User Interface

Sticky Notes Text Color

When sticky notes are converted to light gray (2nd from right at bottom), the text is set to a gray color and stays as such when changed to other colors. However, when changed to the darkest gray (2nd from left at bottom), the text is reverted back to white and stays as white whenever other colors are selected, with the exception of the aforementioned light gray, which reverts text back to the gray color.


Panel Links

Panels can be linked and locked using the lock icon at the top right of each panel. To link panels, use the lock icon to select from one of the available numbers and coordinate the panel to link with the same number. This example shows the two left panels linked with 1 and the two right panels linked with 2 to consistently link the nodes with their corresponding properties. This strategy can be applied other panels also, such as Scene, Geometry spreadsheet, etc.


Quick Marks

MyCGDoc Production Protocol

Items marked as MyCGDoc Production Protocol are my personal custom settings I have defined in my current production methodology. They can be customized to suit one's own preferences.

Quickly cycle through network views using the user-defined numbers assigned to them. Reference Keyboard Shortcuts.

  • Objects Network: 1
  • Shader Network: 2
  • Motion FX Network: 3
  • Materials Network: 4
  • Outputs Network: 5

Scene View Settings

Display Options (Shortcut: D)

Guides Tab

Display time and geo information at bottom right corner of Scene View panel by accessing Display Options > Guides > Show Time and Geometry information.


Geometry Tab

Particles: Display Sprites: Disable to optimize workflow.

Wire Width: Used to define the width of the geometry wireframe in the Scene View. This is most noticeable for templated geometry. Together with a Color SOP, the wireframe of templated geometry can be custom colored also, as exemplified in the following link: Custom Template Geometry Wireframe Color & Width

Scene View Panel

Configure cameras to display key viewport information using a Viewport Comment attached to each camera. More info about this in the Camera node section.


Network Wiring Styles

Default style: Open Display Options

Change style: View > Change Network Wiring Style or Shift + S


Rendering Management

Before processing a render job, verify that the following are clearly set for the specific scene and render:


MyCGDoc Production Protocol

Items marked as MyCGDoc Production Protocol are my personal custom settings I have defined in my current production methodology. They can be customized to suit one's own preferences.

Object Network

Object Transforms
Enabled Backgrounds

Redshift OBJ Settings

Enable/Disable Tessellation
Enable/Disable Render Objects as Particles
@pscale values vs. Default Scale & Multiplier

Disable Progressive Rendering; inapplicable when outputting AOVs


Lights On/Off


Takes LQ/HQ

Redshift ROP Settings

Render Candidate/Force Objects
Output Gamma Mode: No Gamma


Enable Frame Range
Enable $F4 in File Path


Set Rendering Engine to PBR


Timeout Detection and Recovery (TDR)

TdrDelay & TdrDdiDelay: Configured and set to 240.

Motion Blur

If motion blur for particles is applied, verify that the motion blur settings are activated in both the Redshift ROP settings and the particles geo SOP settings, particularly the blur from the particles’ velocity attribute.



Redshift SOP


Render Noise

Disable Randomize Pattern On Each Frame for animations to mitigate flickering.



Double-sided Material

RS Ray Switch

Use Enable Front/Back to specify texture streams for both front and back face of material applied to single-sided geometry.


Render Passes

Y-ramp Pass

Custom Depth AOVs in Redshift

Source guide references Redshift in Maya, but same process applies to Redshift in Houdini, including the RS State process.


Alembic File Management

Preserve Geo Groups In Alembic Output

Export Process

Use a Name node to add a name attribute aligning with each specified group.

In the ROP Alembic Output, enable Build Hierarchy From Attribute by setting Path to the name attribute. This will preserve the groups within the geometry so that they can be accessed individually when accessed within the Alembic output.

Import Process

Use the Alembic node to import the content and access groups by setting Primitive Groups to Name Group Using Shape Node Full Path. This reads each of the corresponding path attribute values and assigns each to their own primitive group.

Troubleshooting & Resolutions


Windows Updates Conflicts

Date of Issue: 20210209

Issue: In a single instance, some Windows updates disabled the Houdini License Server or somehow made it invalid

Resolution: Reinstalling the Server Key resolved this issue.


GPU Antialiasing

Date of Issue: 20210222

Issue: The following prompt appeared when attempting to render with Redshift in Houdini:


Resolution: Setting the custom program antialiasing settings to Application-controlled allowed for the program to disregard the global settings.