Range

Some time ago, I read the book Range, by David J. Epstein. The main idea in the book is that knowledge across a wide variety of topics allows you to see problems from different perspectives and come up with novel solutions.

It mentions how multiple Nobel laureates are highly skilled at fields completely orthogonal to their main career; (think of a chemical engineer that can also direct an orchestra, or a physics guru that can do a 360 flip on her skateboard) and how these side endeavors make them better in their primary field of study.

While I don’t agree with everything it says, I found it to be a good read, and it gave me the idea of getting myself a new hobby.

I decided to not deviate much of what I enjoy doing, graphics, but I wanted a different perspective, a more artistic one, so I decided to take on procedural modelling with SideFX’s Houdini.

Houdini is a powerful tool, it allows you to use math and code to create a procedural modelling workflow, this mix of art and engineering made me think that folks that master it will be titans in computer graphics, and, boy, was I right!

I spent some time searching for courses and 2 instructors caught my eye:

  • Steven Knipping (https://www.appliedhoudini.com/) has an incredible portfolio and his experience as a computer scientist and as an artist was exactly what I was looking for, he provides industry tested techniques with outstanding visual results.
  • Fraser Shiers (https://www.hipflask.how/), besides having an amazing portfolio and a proven track record as an artist, he created his own training site, with searchable and deep tutorials, his attention to detail is second to none and he often uses accurate visual analogies to explain complex topics.

After taking a couple of courses, you can’t help but feel amazed at their dedication for the craft and how deep their knowledge of math and graphics is: during their trainings they explain and use cool topics with ease and elegance; linear algebra, trigonometry, coding, computational geometry, physics simulation, just to name a few. They aren’t only full-fledged artists; they are also extremely technical engineers and great instructors.

While wondering what kind of crazy hobbies they have on the side, I saw that Steven is into metal casting, and Frasier is a lecturer at the University of Newcastle, and it shows, his instruction style has made me rethink how I create trainings for my customers and peers.

So, am I seeing changes/improvements in my professional life from this hobby? I think is too early to say, but I’m certainly inspired! The technical expertise of these 2 titans and all the features on Houdini made me hit the books again, and gave me a couple of fun projects to work on, stay tuned!

PS: As of now, I have taken Frasier’s Geometry Essentials 1, 2 and 3 and Houdini Made Easy 01:

I can highly recommend the courses I’ve taken so far from Fraser’s Hipflask: https://www.hipflask.how/

And Steven’s Particles 1, 2 and 3 courses:

A frame from Steven’s Particles 2 course: https://www.appliedhoudini.com/

A frame from Steven’s Particles 3 course: https://www.appliedhoudini.com/

I can wholeheartedly recommend them if you are planning to learn Houdini and I didn’t get paid or remunerated to give my opinion!

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