Engine-eering a Procedural Pipeline with USD

Michael Rice, Joshua Jenny, Will Harrower


Typical cache-based non-procedural methods can have downsides within a production studio. Modifications to pre-cached data can introduce an expensive feedback loop between departments (e.g. Layout pushing work back to FX). Proceduralism solves this by allowing artists themselves to make their own modifications, without need for a new cache delivery from another department. Another benefit to procedural generation of data is reduced disk space usage particularly for heavy datasets like volumes. In this case, they no longer need to be cached to disk, but instead created from a procedural recipe on-demand. Historically, there was a high bar to introducing proceduralism into various parts of our pipeline, requiring custom engineering efforts on a case-by-case basis. Now, we leverage Houdini Engine (HE), a toolkit from SideFX, together with USD, to provide a general procedural framework. By removing the engineering bottlenecks of creating procedurals, we can more easily allow artists to create their own, allowing them to iterate more quickly on design within a creative context.

Paper (PDF)

SIGGRAPH Talks 2023