Houdini Animation – The Bird

A while ago, I was inspired by the video of a showcase of kinetic sculpture made by Bob Potts. I decided to make a animation based on that sculpture in houdini. Next video demonstrates the final result of this project.

Here are some references images:

Bird kinetic sculpture animated bird - Reference image


And Here are still images from my final render:



Houdini certainly is one of the most powerful tools for CGI, and most definitely is amazing for making procedural modeling. But in terms of making an organic type object I had a bit hard time. As you can see in the graph image, I had to use quite a lot of node and modification to get a pretty simple shapes.



On the other hand It was very easy to create a procedural shape such as gear. For creating gear I used a next mathematical formula, source form mathworld.


  • r = a + ( 1/b * tanh ( b * sin( n * t ) )
  • t = $PT


  • x = r * cos(t)
  • y = r * sin(t)

Next video shows how the gear easily function using this formula.

Animation was both pretty challenging and fun. All parts are effecting each other and contributing in the movement. To get a desire animation I used expression for gears, IK rigging for arms, and parenting for wings.

For shading I used mostly Mantra Surface Shader and in one case Stainlesssteel shader. Mantra shader gives all kinda of control over the all aspects of materials. As fo lighting, since my reference scene was shot in a studio made my job a bit esier and setting up a basic 3 points lighting did a great job.

Instead of modifying the texture map for each shader outside of Houdini, I’m using COP Network to modify the image inside Houdini so I won’t have to relay on other tools to change the texture map.


As you can see the in the image, I’m having 3 cameras and for each camera I have 2 Mantra node, one for low Rez for test render and one for Hi Rez for final render.


Final Thought:

I Have learned a lot doing this project, and there are a lot more to learn. There are still some parts in this animation that can be improved such as shaders and modeling. I’m planing, in next few weeks, to go back and refine it more, but as for now I hope you enjoy it.

Many Thanks to Professor Deborah Fowler, Professor Ashwin inamdar, Stu Schwartz,  Joseph Kowalewicz,  and Ryan DowlingSoka.

1 Comment

  1. Brilliant Work! Rendered beautifully and I really feel the movement of the sculpture. Its smooth and perfected movement shows a well maintained and tuned machine, much like the project itself!

    Good Job!

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