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Featured Artist: Debra Isaac, Los Angeles

“The Transform Node of Houdini”

Debra Isaac 2021


The transcript of our virtual coffee with Debra Isaac follows . . .

Debra Isaac is a passionate artist.  She is an educator, community builder and founder of Houdini.School. Debra finds it extremely rewarding to teach her students how to take advantage of technology and unlock endless possibilities to express themselves. Debra makes learning complicated software simple and fun.


"From a young age like, you know, you're reading and writing but I was drawing at the same time.  I was always very artistic

always very creative as a young child. I would paint on things. I'd paint on my walls and things like that as a young kid and growing up.  I would say art and math were my two favorite subjects. I actually started as an art major. I was so lucky. I got this job in the Institute of Archaeology as a digital artist. I had never touched Photoshop before editing slides of indigenous rock art and I was lucky enough to get on a bunch of archaeological projects every summer that I was at UCLA. So I went to Peru and Turkey and Easter Island, Kenya. Then I graduated

and got a job at Mattel Toys and we made like CG-animated videos for focus testing so that the designers didn't have to make a physical toy.

We could make a 3D animated toy that the kids could look at and say, you know, oh, yeah, that's cool. I’d play with that. I left Mattel to go to grad school at USC for animation. Now, I went through all of undergrad all of grad school without even knowing that Houdini existed towards the end of my grad school, they (SideFX) had classes at the time and I’d take a class here I’d take a class there. I'm like, oh this looks really interesting. I made friends with the educational coordinator. She put me in a boot camp and over those five days, my mind was just blown.

I was like, oh *** my life is changed forever.


"You know, I get a little angry. I'm like, how is this this incredible software not even mentioned not taught in my entire educational career kind of made me into a Houdini activist really and I called a bunch of schools and was like, hey, let's teach Houdini the kids want it. I also started the Los Angeles Houdini User Group with Ben Mears and Justin DykhouseAnd my learning just kept growing. I'm like learning more about Houdini every week. My love for it has only grown grown grown. It still grows. Every time they release a new version, you're like, oh this is even better. Through Houdini, I learned about GridMarkets and you know having a cloud renderer can be a game-changer and GridMarkets is great. It's a life-saving service. I think they've helped me a lot over the years."


"I think that obviously AI is going to be a big deal Deep Learning is going to be a big deal. Things will get more automated but I don't think it's a bad thing. I really don't. I think that it's only going to help the artist concentrate on the fun parts. Things are going to be more real time which is kind of an interesting problem for GridMarkets too. I'm sure GridMarkets will be able to… I mean, that's something that's interesting for them. I think that they should think about how they can help with the Deep Learning Machine Learning. Artists tools are going to get really fascinating what you'll be able to do in the future. I'm very fascinated with the future and what's going to happen. Yeah."

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