The “No Programming Required” Introduction to Houdini VEX

Side FX Houdini has an expression language that is like no other. It was made to be a high performance and efficient general purpose language for writing shaders and custom nodes within Houdini. The performance comes from the fact that Houdini VEX works as a low-level language would. Loosely based on the C language, it also takes some ideas from C++ as well as the RenderMan Shading Language.

The idea was to have a way to do some high end things without needing to know how to program, or being muddled with syntax. Houdini VEX is actually peppered throughout the app. It can be used to write shaders, do point manipulations, create customs nodes, affect particles, and create custom COP Filters. In actuality of you are doing any type of VOPs, behind the scenes it’s doing VEX.

If you want to learn how to write ad get started with VEX, (without having any previous knowledge of programming) then you should have a look at Rohan Dalvi’s Introduction. Rohan walks through a wide range of topics that include:

  • Basic syntax and names of attributes
  • Setting basic values for Position and other stuff
  • Creating custom parameters in the Wrangle SOP
  • How to use the Wrangle SOP instead of the old Point SOP
  • Controlling polyextrude using Vex
  • Creating ramps in Wrangle SOP
  • How to convert a VOP network into Vex.

Rohan also provides some nice insights into the history of VEX and how it is used in its latest carnation… Great stuff as always.