Simulate a Rope With the FEM Solver in Houdini

If you need to animate a rope simulation within Side Effects Houdini, there are a couple of ways that you can approach it. You can choose to use a wire solver, the grains solver, or deformers. Each can get the job done. New to Houdini 16 is the FEM (Finite Element Method) Solver, which can also do the job. Perhaps a little better than the others methods.

The Finite Element Method is a common way for solving math and engineering problems. In Houdini, and other 3D applications, it lets you simulate solid objects without having solid objects. Normally a 3D model is just the outer representation of an object. FEM basically lets you simulate the objects and the stuff that is inside the object, representing the object as a solid mass.

This makes it possible to simulate the elastic properties of an object, or bending, internal mass, chipping, crumbling or shattering. Unlike other solvers in Houdini, the FEM solver is resolution independent.

VaroMix Monday from Mix Studio’s Alvaro Castaneda takes a look into simulating a rope using FEM. The finale Element Method offers a really simple but really accurate way to get a realistic motion of the rope, including deformations.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind as you create geometry for the FEM solver. Objects need to be water-tight without any intersections. They also need to be modeled at real size to get an accurate simulation.