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How to configure Houdini better using Houdini Packages.

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

Forget about Houdini.env file. You can do a better management of environment variables, plug-ins, tools and add-ons through a Houdini package configuration. A Houdini Package configuration is a simple text file that must be saved with a .json extension. It’s necessary to follow a few rules to set up the JSON file correctly. For this are used brackets and curly brackets to define the scope of the configuration. For example, to set up the Houdini path variable, the Houdini artist should write like this:

{ “Path” : “the hard disk path” }

Brackets are used to define multiple options. For example, you can define multiple folders to Houdini path variable at once:

{ “Path”: [ “path to folder 1”, “Path to folder 2”, “Path to folder 3” ] }

Then, how exactly is the advantage over the houdini.env file? Well, you can split Houdini configuration using multiple .json files to easy and better management. In doing so, it’s easier to get rid of any undesired previous configuration simply by removing the .json file. In the same way, to update any configuration become easier. The easier way to manage the .json files is to put them in the packages folder located under User>Documents>Houdini18.0. Houdini automatically read the .json file in the launch process. In the following examples, will be shown the configurations of the most common environment variables (in env.json file); the configuration of Renderman Renderer (in the renderman.json file); and the configuration of Arnold Renderer (in the arnold.json file).

In the env.json file I configured the most common environment variables and the paths for the optix denoiser and Imagemagick. Note that env: is the keyword to set up environment variables. Curly brackets define the beginning and the end of the .json file. Brackets allows to set up multiple variables at once. For this the variable must be written inside curly brackets. Note that the variable name and the respective value are enveloped by double quotation marks and separated by colon. Each environment variable are enveloped by the respective curly brackets and separated by comma. It’s not used comma in the last one.

My env.json file:

The next image shows the Renderman 23.2 configuration. Note that there is a new keyword: path; at the beginning of the file. This one works as the general system path. At the end of the file, there is PATH (Capital letters). Note that this one is inside the env: (the keyword for set up environment variables). You can see another keyword: method. In this example, it’s prepend the path to the Houdini system path. The keyword value sets the path.

My renderman.json file:

The last example shows the Arnold Renderer configuration. It follows the same “recipe” used to write the renderman.json file.

My arnold.json file:

Note that if you have SideFX Labs installed, you’ll see the SideFxLabs.json file in the packages folder. You can open this file in the Notepad and see one more example on how to write a .json file.

Houdini automatically will load any .json file located in the packages folder.

What’s Next…?

Go to Houdini Help and search for Houdini packages. You’ll find an excellent help file containing all the details and all the ways you can configure Houdini through a .json file.

Search for houdini packages in the help.

You’ll gonna find an excellent help file with additional information about .json files configuration.

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