(2021Nov 23) Kate Xagoraris - Kate is a VFX artist and instructor with a passion and talent for creating scientific visualization. She has created shots for a number of major films including The Umbrella Academy, Bad Boys and Chaos Walking. She joined us on November 23 to cover the topics of her career, procedural storytelling and the intersection of art and science.
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Webinar Transcript . . .
I’m very excited to introduce Kate Xagoraris today she's a VFX artist at Mr. X in Toronto Canada she's got a really interesting career she has a passion for researching science and she works at the intersection of the world of science and visual effects she also runs a VFX site for artists to better understand Houdini which is also her passion and she's appeared or she's worked on excuse me a number of tv productions including umbrella academy the boys chaos walking bad boys for life she's known for her Houdini user group events on scientific design and on top of this she works as a VFX writer for companies in the UK so Kate you somehow figured out how to get more than 24 hours in a day we're gonna have to talk about that and learn your trick for that let's get started Kate we're excited to meet you and I’ll give you the quick GridMarkets overview first GridMarkets is a cloud rendering service we support all the major renders which you can see there on the left including Houdini and the major sorry the major 3d packages as well as the major renderers the key features of our service are it's very simple to set up it takes a few minutes to do that with a download which I’ll explain in a moment and you can submit from your favorite 3d software nothing new to learn you can employ between 1 to 100 machines or more depending on on your urgency we have a pay per use model which allows you to do budgeting as well so if you have a limit that you want to spend you can incorporate that in your submission and the platform is supported 24x7 by artists like you so we'll help you get your job across the line it's secured by the oracle cloud how it works first you sign up go to gridmarkets.com sign up and create an account for yourself it takes a few seconds to do that once you've done that then there will be a download option a tool called envoy which we've created envoy is responsible for moving your files to and from your local machine and our cloud once you have downloaded envoy inside that is a plugin which you can then install in this case since Kate is a Houdini artist she would install the Houdini plugin and after doing so she would be able to submit directly from Houdini to us so she would identify her project file her Houdini project file in this case that she wants to submit to us and then that up it would go to our cloud and it would start rendering using the appropriate render that she was using she at this point would specify her machine count and what machine configuration she wants to use and off it would go once we receive it we then provide a real-time dashboard which here's a a snapshot of it it shows all the projects that Kate is working on at the moment and the state of those projects she can click on any one of those projects and drill down into the the individual frames that make up that project and also go into the logs of those frames as the frames are completed they are then returned to her back to the folder that she designates there's no waiting once the frames complete they start downloading and if you're interested in a free trial you can go to gridmarkets.com sign up we'll give you a 15 discount on anything you buy use this promotion code here all right enough for me let's get over to Kate now all right Kate let's get started really as I said really excited to to have you today very impressed with your work and I think everyone's going to be really interested in your story so let's let's get started with an introduction Kate go ahead my name is Kate Xagoraris I kindly I work as an effects artist at Mr. X in Toronto and I’ve been in the effects industry for close to three years and I’ve worked in with Houdini for just over four and I’ve also graduated from Humber college in Toronto in 2019 from their 3d animation program before we go any further I’ll show you some of the work that I’ve worked on hopefully all of this work will have an update in December but no sneak peeks yet so I’ll showcase just some of these some of the work that I’ve worked on these are productions that I worked on maybe a year and a half a year ago but they're still pretty cool as you can kind of see that my previous workplace they really specialized me in particle effects which was really cool of them to do and it led to some very interesting simulations but let's kind of get into like the general the gist of who I am as an artist and kind of what I do as a whole in the VFX industry so let's dive into that as I’ve talked about I work at for Mr. X in Toronto and I graduated from Humber college you might kind of know me from my work and my blog called more VFX help or my YouTube channel where I produce free tutorials a cool fact about me is that when I graduated from Humber college I was the first of 10 artists to graduate in VFX and I was also the first female artist to do so from that program because their 3d animation program didn't really allow for many people to go through into visual effects and now I also do teaching and mentoring for them as well in fact this upcoming January I’ll be teaching at Humber college and their formal VFX program so I’m looking forward to that but more on that later so I also do run a discord group for scientific visualization in Houdini as well as write articles for f track and teach for cg spectrum Houdini school and guest lecture for several other universities and in the past I’ve also worked as a lrc artist or for a lighting rendering comp artist for other animation studios so just a little bit more about me VFX was never something I was really planning to work in it just sort of happens back in the day I wanted to go back go to school for my astrophysics degree and I wanted to work for a Canadian space agency and I was really interested in just astrophysics in the universe as a whole but then some major life events happened and I found myself in visual effects so by major life events is I was really questioning what I wanted to do as a person whether or not my dream was to go into astrophysics or was that the dream other people were creating for me and that was a huge debate in the back of my mind but by the end of it I decided animation was something I had to look into so I didn't really learn much about what visual effects was until three months before my last year of college and then I fell in love with Houdini and I looked into it more my first industry jobs were as a lighting-run compositing artist and I work for this as a few different animation companies and I will say I have a new appreciation for all our comp or lighting artists out there because that's a job I just can't do you guys keep killing it I’ll just do the simulations so it really wouldn't be till September of 2019 that I’d start to work as a full-time VFX artist or effects artist so actually simulate explosions and smoke and clouds and all that good stuff and from there I’d work on some mainstream shows such as Netflix shows such as umbrella academy as well as a few theatrical releases and when I was working on my first effects job I would start to create what a lot of people and artists know now is my main VFX blog more VFX help and this blog morphed out of some Houdini notes that I had from college where I was just struggling to put everything together as an artist and I had zero resources to look into and as well as the backlog of articles that I was creating as a visual effects database for some co-workers but more on that later now I mainly work for Mr. X in Toronto and I work on some pretty amazing productions hopefully that you will see in the future I will probably make an update about that when they pop into existence so keep your eyes out so over the years I’ve been an avid researcher in the overlap between science and visual effects I mostly run a Houdini blog on my site that contains most of my notes and information regarding of what I’ve found over the years and it's grown a fairly big following as well I’d like to think I am enjoying the feedback I’m getting from it and there's been a lot of people have stepped out of their way to help me out and given their feedback on the site and I’m continuing to upgrade it when I can my main goal is to make scientific visualization and knowledge more accessible to artists in the film tv and game side of the industry I’ve personally run into several artists that would love to learn and incorporate clients into Houdini and their visual effects but I have no idea what to look for and how to start so I also find just looking into science is also a great way to prevent burnout and VFX because it forces you to explore other industries and learn something new and so I think scientific visualization and just the scientific industry can help us as a whole even more on my site I try and collect everything from general Houdini knowledge open source freaky software and scientific papers and data for every article I do I try and make sure whoever's reading it understands the basics of whatever they are reading whether that is astrophysics or something very specific such as chaos theory and I will first break down the topic that I’m discussing mention the scientific software that is used in the field break down any scientific papers that are related to that topic and then finally relate it back to VFX and I mentioned previously that I first started to create this site as like a database for my own personal VFX notes there's also a database for my going to be of database for my co-workers and this first kind of started me writing this when I was when I first started writing about VFX and science I was working at a studio in Toronto and at the studio almost every week I was told that I was going to burn out I was told from week one I was told give yourself six months see how you feel because they because I was so new I think the main concern of the staff was that the hyperness will fade the excitement will fade and then you'll suddenly realize what your job is so it was very shocking to me that something I love could make me burn out but I certainly realized that that could have could be a possibility and so I was really looking for a way to make that not happen and it was fortunate that in my first week of that studio my supervisor said hey Kate likes making tutorials why does she make us some Houdini tutorials for us and I kind of left it he kind of left it as like an open-ended question but I i really jumped at it and I started making something in the background as well as incorporating what I was curious about and what I knew about and this happened to be scientific visualization and this research in a way really helped me not fall into that gap of burnout and it really motivated me to bring something new to the table and it was kind of unfortunate that kovit happened because I never really got to show them what I made as I was kind of saving it for an upcoming contract review that never happens but I’m also very thankful in a way that I was forced to branch out and go to other workplaces and discover new things and grow as a as an artist so in some ways it's a very bittersweet moment for me but it was also a good learning moment as well there are further benefits with blending science and visual effects together there's a good argument to be made that science and effects wouldn't exist without science and visualization is a key ingredient when it comes to promoting and imaging what we don't yet know about the universe as well as giving back to the scientific fields can help our industry in the film and gaming world grow as a whole and also vice versa in a perfect world I would love to see every studio bring build something means for mainstream audiences that accurate really represent science and film and simply because we are storytellers even though we work with a device that is designed to help tell a story we can still exploit that to the fullest degree to incorporate reality into it the best we can and make it interesting so we have an opportunity to learn from what we know from science and also teach other people to learn when they're sitting in a theater or playing a game it would also be worthwhile in my opinion to have more films to teach people about what they are experiencing in real life but by the end of the day we do need to represent our clients vision and what our clients artistic vision is and as well as the story we're representing and sometimes our own creativity will have is not exactly what the story needs and which most of the time and this process just most of the time involves making the shot work for the sequence so most of the effects we do in the movie industry are not physically accurate but we do want to make them look realistic so it's just finding that fine line but seeing where we can improve it in the future I actually on a little bit of a side note I have a great story from my hrd where he was told me the story where he had to make a realistic underwater explosion the client specifically asked for it and he's like okay we can do it let's power it down let's get it done and he goes six months later the client took another look at it and goes this is boring make something else so often when you try to do something realistic it looks boring and I think that's one of the main things holding us back from a client-side perspective of science and film so part of catalog logging and writing about the effects in science is making sure everyone at all levels of the industry can be aware and open to new ideas and where we should push ourselves as artists and I also say having a team of artists for whichever industry that is using Houdini or effects to showcase something it benefits them highly to know sometimes it's not impossible to build something in complex and you don't have to fake it to make it look good by educating artists and people in production about higher scientific concepts we can also start to lead their curiosity and make a production more interesting so one way to do this is to make the exhausting projects fun there are many projects I could point to in my life where I go this should have been done three years ago but it's not and we're still working on it but yes those projects can be so exhausting artists that they never really go away and these projects can often lead people in the production to burn out take extended time off or accept the industry to altogether which can be very damaging to an entire team so if we say let's say on a production we were to build something complex like that's we know is not going to be done in a month maybe six months maybe eight months so something maybe like a black hole or a wormhole so instead of running up to the VFX team and telling them to punch out a bunch of different versions of something and for temp by thursday we don't have to and telling them we need something now we can say there we can use other tactics to prevent this such as bringing in a scientist to talk to the team we're providing broken down scientific visualizations and documentation of the object before it is built and creating a database of resources so we can find those examples better and we're even building our own databases of files to use over and over again and anything that we can do in our spare time at work when we're not working on shots to make our lives better in the future so it's pretty much make your team excited for the next task and keep that excitement level up so there's no burnout so also making sure your team is a welcoming and learning team and make encouraging a welcoming and learning atmosphere is also a great way to build more responsibility and excitement in a team and it's also a really good way to learn from each other and keep a team together longer Houdini is used a lot of side of visual effects for film specifically it used as we've discussed in scientific visualization one of the reasons it for this is because of how it can be integrated with python code and data sets very efficiently and some example of Houdini being used outside the film outside of film can be seen at NASA the California academy of sciences with professors at Ryerson University and here in Canada other places here in Canada and much more nasa enjoys Houdini so much that they have one of their own visualization experts and the original Houdini scientist I would say catalina and she helped create this tool called yt and yt is the official Houdini toolset for astrophysical visualization and it's quite useful when it comes to tutorial files and python code and how to use the software better when it comes to science Houdini is also quite used in the medical rendering fields very frequently as there is multiple examples of it being used and so much so that there are free available medical data sets of that you can use as well an example of this is the Houdini medical toolset on GitHub there are also many independent artists out there using Houdini in the medical field one as well as educating the community as a whole one of them being an artist named Stewart who runs a channel called bio cinematics I would love to tell you Stewart’s last name but I was unable to find it I’m very sorry Stewart but keep up the good work he proves that Houdini can be used to correctly model and stimulate accurate representation of carbon nanotubes acne filaments and other particles in the human body and on a molecular bio biology level so following Stewart’s lead there are also other open source artists such as Entagma that have showcased how you can build protein structures with viruses such as SARS the software and these medical renderings are very fast and easy to achieve with a software such as Houdini and has proven that you can take data from the RCSB protein data bank and animate changes in the data successfully the RCSB protein databank is an online international resources for scientists and curious people to explore protein structures and on the site they have downloadable VDB structures that almost anyone can use so outside of this I have other career ventures that I’ve been up to so outside the studio I also participate in other Houdini related work and VFX activities as well as personal blog work out outside of my site one activity I’ve been diving into is with f track for close to two years now we've been writing Houdini related content and part of what we've been trying to do with the articles is bring hooting practices and workflows into the community as well as promote healthy working practices and VFX and general knowledge as well as supervisor level knowledge so people can enter those positions more successfully and also have a better background when it comes to using the software another activity I’ve been doing is lecturing for universities around the world a few weeks ago I was able to sit down with a few students from Auckland and Syracuse University and give them a better insight into the industry as well how to enter it successfully it was really promising to sit down with these students halfway across the world that places I have personally never visited before and get their own take of what they thought visual effects was and it was very eye opening and to see how the different teaching styles from two different universities were coordinating and how they were similar and what was different was also very interesting so I can't wait to do that again teaching is a huge part of what I do as an artist and I think it's extremely critical for artists in the effects industry to educate future students and future co-workers often schools have gaps in their knowledge and in their programs as a whole and by guest lecturing mentoring students one-on-one and teaching we can make sure they enter the workforce fully prepared and not only does it benefit the students but also helps you personally as an artist and I would argue every artist should volunteer or at least have teaching experience in their career and because it forces you to reconsider how you communicate about projects and problems and work with people you normally never interact with and it increases your problem-solving skills and I would also say by contributing to teaching as a whole you can actually your workplace also benefits because you can sit down on classroom and you can see okay I want to work with that student or this student would be good at my studio and you can forward them into the studio so it not only benefits you but it benefits the company you're working with as well because they have a never ending supply of artists so it's also a really great way to force yourself to socialize in effects and especially from a work from home environment you can lock yourself away and close yourself off only to your work and so teaching gives you a mandatory schedule where you have to lead a team you have to open yourself up to new ideas and you have to see different approaches for effects currently I teach at Houdini school and cg spectrum and as well as Humber college this January as I’ve mentioned and they are amazing schools and they have a very unique teaching style that are fun to adapt to Houdini school is pretty amazing it allows for artists around the world to take specific effect courses for extremely reasonable rates and they have both live sessions and some pre-recorded ones cg spectrum is a little bit different where they have a mandatory q a every week with the students and pre-recorded content for students to learn from part of what I also have to do as a teacher is help plan and build curriculums so recently I’ve had the opportunity to use a cg spectrum and an up and coming program that is incredibly unique I’d love to tell you about it but it's a little bit top secret now so I can't wait to share that with you in the future right now I’m also helping Humber college develop a curriculum for Houdini centered program which will hopefully be premiering in fall of 2022 this program will center around the basics of Houdini teach pipeline and production skills problem solving for VFX and much more it's been a joy to develop it and get feedback from the supervisors and the head of departments at studios to see what they are looking for junior artists we are aiming to fit something that will develop the needs of VFX studios in Toronto as well as produce artists that will have the confidence succeed so what we're really trying to do is go up to studios and say hey we're designing this program what do you need six months from now and they tell us the requirements that they're looking for artists six months from now or maybe a year from now when they have products down up the line and say okay we can train students to do that so that's what we're trying to do with this program we're also going to be hopefully inviting industry guests to come to talk to the students and for our pipeline and production class we're also going to be teaching the students how to use like render farms and how to you know communicate with production effectively because you often don't understand what production is until you work in a studio so we thought those things were important to incorporate so over my career I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to two Houdini user group events and the first is blending the effects in scientific visualization and the second ab track hydrodynamics in Houdini the first shooting hug I worked on I had two weeks to slam something together and it was a tense few weeks but it turned out fairly well a very funny story I found out that I was participating in it at I think 12 a.m. in the morning I got emails asking me if I was interested and I didn't sleep for the rest of the night because I was so excited I just jumped on my computer and started brainstorming so that's kind of how it happened so thank you deb I think it turned out very well but as it sounds from the name the first presentation was about the advancements of Houdini is doing with helping out in the scientific field as well as what well as artists what we can do to help with that the second presentation was a little bit more tricky me and my friend david attempted to build a planetary atmosphere in Houdini and we were able to create something how interesting but we learned very quickly that rendering something that huge such as a planetary atmosphere takes a huge amount of time and it's a very difficult task at best and setting up lighting passes is a huge part of it and we're able to simulate and render an atmosphere similar to Jupiter’s we also talked about how gas about how gas giants work in the process so a little bit more detail about that presentation we had a little bit more time to plan it so we had I think two months so it took a month I was doing the research for it so I researched I had like at one point a 16 page document about how the chemical composition of atmospheres is and how that plays a part in the heat of the planet and everything and then my friend Dave put everything together into a file and tried to mimic the pictures as well as based on the chemical compositions I forwarded to him try to stimulate the colors based on you know the iron composition or the hydrogen in the atmosphere and things like that we took a good stab at it I think we could have done better but you know it was a work in progress and we did what we had to do but after the Houdini hug event we posted these files online on my site for others to collaborate on as well as make atmospheres of their own so that's kind of what we did as like a general kind of Hereford any community what would you like to do with this file make a planet do a dune atmosphere or something so they're still available if you want to download on my blog so when I first started maintaining this blog kind of sliding back to it and posting content one thing I kind of noticed is that there wasn't very much information on the history of the effects I only found one blog that was about the history of matte painting and that was very fascinating to me but I couldn't really find anything that was really centered around effects and VFX so I really felt impact kind of empowered to kind of look into it in my own time so I didn't really know what to look for but I knew the questions that I kind of wanted answered such as who was the first effects artist when did the VFX start in Canada what is Canada's like highest grossing VFX maybe because I I’m currently located in Canada and I’ve grown up in Canada all my life so I was very curious of how the industry here got started long story short and now in in Toronto as far as I’m aware and maybe someone can correct me on this if I have it wrong but from what I’ve been able to dig up it kind of started with the animation industry blooming in Toronto and it kind of started when Nelvonna just came up here set up shop and then a bunch of other smaller studios spawned out from what my own basic understanding is just from a Toronto perspective so that's kind of interesting historically-wise so another reason why I wanted to do this is that most junior artists starting out in the industry doesn't really know what's going on and they don't know too much knowledge about the productions that happened before them as well as what the industry was like 20 years ago so bringing them up to speed can also help them fit into the working environment faster so when I started looking into this and documenting everything I created two different pages and these pages turned into the history of women in VFX and a spot like a spotlight article on the Canadian VFX industry so these as I’ve mentioned these topics are too close to home for me when I’m Canadian and one I’m a via female VFX artist and I really wanted to look in the history of females in VFX because there isn't a lot out there and I really wanted to see like when we started joining the industry so it was a very fascinating journey to look in that and I recommend you go to my site you read them um so some highlights of what I found is that the first ever VFX artist or founder of compositing techniques was most likely the first female director Alice guy there's a few films that they've been able to discover I’ve heard recently in France where she uses very light compositing techniques to like kind of flatter her films a bit and so you could almost consider her a compositor the first ever computer programmer was a woman and the first ever one person to own a personal home computer as well was a female as well and she was I think one of the founding members or founding workforce or of IBM I don't I think so there's a great New York times article about it and I totally recommend you read it they throw it out of the ballpark the highest grossing VFX film in Canada is actually resident evil afterlife which I found very fascinating because I worked for the studio that helped do the VFX for it so I was like oh that's super cool Canada is also very centered around 3d software so Houdini and programs like alias can't work founded in Canada as well so one thing I do still participate in after looking into all of bats is I still like making free tutorial content and I love the fact that a large part of the Houdini community is open source and that we can learn and grow from each other I first started making tutorials back in 2018 2019 and I mainly focused on clouds such as how to build accurate cloud scape or how to animate clouds and from there those cloud tutorials took off and it started to be shared around the internet so now I try and make ones that appeal to junior artists particle effects and science behind some of the systems and updates to the software so I also run a scientific design in Houdini discord where I try and bring scientifically motivated people in Houdini together and so far we are creating databases for collecting reference scientific tool sets for Houdini and much more and we also share the latest suddenly news scientific papers and share skills so if you'd like to join I can add the link to the chat later and feel free to check it out so the kind of goal of my career I’m not really sure where I want to end up in the future I love scientific visualization but I also love film so I’m in this very great middle zone right now but it's also a middle zone of I know I can't be here forever so which route do I choose so I’d love to have maybe a role making effects builds for films that are scientifically accurate and working with clients that they can help understand science I think this would be a very hard thing to do but I also think it would be a great experiment to try in the right studio but I’d also like to take on more freelance work when it comes to researching and visualizing natural phenomena so those are two different pathways I’m trying to decide to head down and see if they're possible and I personally would love this industry and it's so hard to find a career where you do something new and different every day and that you're forced to problem-solve challenge yourself and create art which not many jobs allow you to do so kind of sliding back to this now versus two years ago when I started I can say that this industry is for changing for the better but we have a long way to go like this job can be very tiring and isolating and overpowering and finding a balance to do that is to prevent that is just very hard to do and you need very good time management skills to prevent that from happening and depending on your situation as an artist it can be very easy for you to burn out so there are issues we do need to tackle globally in film but it's promising to see more companies offering mental health days and vacation and benefits and creating healthier working environments and also being called out when they've done something wrong and I’ve noticed also many other women who joined the ranks of effects artists which makes me very happy when I first started out in this industry which I know doesn't sound like a big deal but it was kind of a big deal for me because when I first joined studios I’d be told oh you're the first woman in the RFX department ever and it was like that for almost three studios and it was very interesting for me that that had to be commented on but it was a really good kind of wake-up call for me going okay maybe I should buckle down and just ignore what's going on around me and just do my work so it taught me really quickly what's a good and healthy studio environment and what's not a good healthy studio environment so it was a learning very fast moment and but I think also now in Toronto especially Mr. X like the working environment is just so nice and it's so relaxing and yeah I love I’d hopefully I like I want to see this change even outside of Mr. X at different studios in the future because it's just so wonderful to be around teams that are so happy to learn and joyous and want to participate every with each other every Friday and I also think you know what we still need to inject science into more productions because I think it would be a great idea and I think this would speed along the process of keeping people at studios and keeping people together as a team even more so the more we learn the less more likely we're going to burn out so I hope that kind of makes sense I’ve got a couple questions for you Kate the first one is how do I get started in a career in scientific visualization oh that's a good question because there's really no we're trying to do something there isn't a lot of schools that offer that as like a course you can take or a program you can take so it's kind of hard to pick a university and say can I learn scientific visualization here because it's more than likely that you're going to have to do a full-on science degree to use it which is kind of great it's not oh it's kind of almost classified to you know PhD or master level students which is changing there's two schools that I’m working for that are trying to make programs that are accessible to artists and also people who are not artists or not scientists who come in and learn kind of where to start in Houdini and how to bring data sets inside of Houdini and learning more about the world around you so Houdini school for example has two courses one is mine and one is Catalina’s who I talked about during this presentation so mine is about scientific phenomena so I break you down I break down certain aspects of the world and it's very light so it's very beginner so if you don't know anything about science I would say take that one so we break down everything about the science first and then we walk through Houdini and we create the thing we were just talking about whether that's clouds or the bottom of the ocean and things like that and then Catalina’s class is kind of hey let's actually bring in data sets and build the realistic like physically accurate version which these two classes really work well together so I would recommend kind of taking classes like that and then if you really feel excited about everything maybe find a class and there will be one in the future hopefully where that I know of and I will be happy to share it with everyone when it is available that is mostly centered around physics and science in Houdini so that that would mean like bringing in python data sets and coding and using invex to create something physically accurate so I would say if you want to go the education route look for schools like that but if you want to study on your own the first thing you kind of need to do is pick the thing that you want to build because every topic of science is very different so we could if you want to work in molecular biology kind of go and google and have a basic understanding of how that science works and what's the actual physical basic concepts of that and then maybe look into are there data sets and tool sets or tutorials that I could follow based around that topic available and do a again search for those for example you'll probably find Stewart’s channel the other thing you can do is like go to the protein data bank and download the VDBs and then load them up into Houdini as they are accessible in there and then fool around with the animations and geometry like you would do for a regular effect so just play around until you make something look good and go okay that's great and then take another stab look at your work and make sure you didn't change anything so yeah start to create a demo reel by playing with the available information out there and bringing data sets into Houdini and kind of creating a reel that would kind of suit that so you can prove that what you're built is physically accurate and you are using data sets that other companies that use scientific visualization would use and that's kind of where I would start and like any demo reel have your breakdowns make it interesting have your regular contact info in there so that's kind of what I where I kind of start if you wanted to look into that cool beans Kate yeah all right got another question for you ready okay this is from someone who apparently is not a Houdini user but is interested in becoming a Houdini user the person is saying that he's heard that it's very it's a very big steep learning curve very hard to learn Houdini would like your thoughts on that and you know how someone like that would get started with Houdini okay yeah Houdini is it's a everyone um thanks Paul have fun at dailies uh so I would say if you're going to start out with Houdini the best way to do is to download Houdini non-commercial just get it on your computer and the only difference between getting non-commercial and the commercial version is that there's a watermark on it when you go to render and that's pretty much it so everything else is the same so and also you can't use it for actual physical productions so that's the only two differences so I would say download it and then open go to the side effects webpage check out their tutorials because they have a great listing of from beginner to advance to master class and so you can select the difficulty that you choose and they sort and choose and tutorials that they deem specific and relevant enough to showcase on the website that are easy to understand so that's where I would start if you're an absolute beginner and do nothing it will also introduce you to other tutorial artists in the atmosphere and the Houdini community so you'll learn familiar names and you'll go oh yeah I remember that guy's tutorial it was really good the other thing I would say is go and read the documentation so the one thing that kind of I started with wasn't actually learning from tutorials I just opened up the software manual which is documentation on the uni website and I just read every single page because I I’m more of a person who learns through reading than actual visuals so that was kind of helpful to me so I would recommend doing that as well because you know reading the instruction manual of something is better than just opening up something in front of you and having no way or know what to know nowhere to start because like you'd never you would never build a desk if you didn't have the instruction manuals for it so I would start by reading those and then from there I would play around with the shelf tools so you can familiarize yourself with the nodes in the software and how they're used in specific simulations so break as much things as you can when you're starting out because it's going to teach you how not to break things and then I would say after you've broken enough things start to plan out what you'd like to make as an artist so I would say if you want to build something like a destruction shot where you want a building falling down or something crashing into a building kind of research what you need in those elements so whether or not the elements would be like dust small particles debris whether that be large or small pieces of debris so you might have to do two separate simulations just small things like that so you look at a project and you go okay it's less scary now that there's multiple tiny different parts of it and because a bigger project can be more scary than a smaller project so thanks Pierre have fun so that would be my general advice for that cool thanks Kate all right we've got another question for you coming fast and furiously this one's about artificial intelligence how can Houdini be used in artificial intelligence and how much do you think Houdini would contribute to the future virtual reality that's interesting okay so I know Houdini has already been started to be integrated with machine learning because there are some great examples out there I think there is a Houdini hive or Houdini user group event where miss anesthesia para explores machine learning with Houdini so I would recommend checking that out if you haven't already watched it it's a really good presentation on it but I would say it's promising I don't know i don't know how well Houdini would handle artificial intelligence because once again you'd it's good at handling data sets it's good at handling python so you could probably write something in the software and there are tutorials for it so it is possible but I think it's really limited in the sense that unless Houdini has a really improved like real-time interface I don't think machine learning would really help too much because even when you're working with the software there's always a lag when you go to sim something so I’m not sure if ai or machine learning would really help with that or that would slow ai and machine learning down when you're teaching the machine to like simulate a smoke simulation or simulate discretion shot um there are I think it's never it's not I don't think it'll ever like destroy VFX artists jobs especially because there's always there's also some interesting papers to say that not specifically in Houdini but machining learning as a whole is that it knows how to get the job done efficiently but it does it in a very boring manner so what our jobs might be in the future is that we might have an ai or machine learning software simulate something but it will be our jobs to make it look interesting so that might be a tactic of the future and that might be something VFX is heading down the road to but we're I’m mildly optimistic or mildly you know ignoring it I’m not sure but I could definitely see that as like a possibility and that's kind of where I kind of see it in the light future for now I don't know what it's going to be like 20 or 30 years from now cool all right Kate you you spoke of Houdini user groups can you tell me why I should join them what happens at them and what what's the value of joining a Houdini users group I would say join as many as you can or as many that are in your area because they're great to learn from so basically what they are is often I’ll take the one in Toronto for example because that's probably the best explanation of it so basically what it is basically a bunch of artists who come together and they listen to a presentation and they have beers and pizza and they chat about whatever they want to talk about so you meet really interesting people there so for example the one at side effects in Toronto so the Toronto user group they usually get the interns in and they talk about what they've been building in Houdini or the plug-ins that they've helped built so you get a better understanding of what it takes to develop tools in the software and you also get to meet the side effects staff as a whole so you can say hi to Jeff Wagner or you can say hi to other people that you normally wouldn't talk to so that's one of the fun aspects of about it about it there's also side effects sometimes also gives out free Houdini merch so if you want a Houdini shirt maybe visit a Houdini user group event it's also a really good way to just not only chat about the software and different developments in it it's also a really good idea to just you know meet new people in the industry and also people that from other studios as well so yeah I would say by joining them it's a really good way to up your social life in the industry and it's usually just once a month too so it's not every other week so it's very manageable to plan out ahead of time to take part in great all right Kate this is our last question we're gonna wrap up here soon but the question is what do you see as the biggest barrier for a new artist to get into the industry I think this is a question around how to get started maybe this person has recently graduated and is looking to break into a role like you have done what would be your advice I’d say the biggest barrier can sometimes be communication because every artist has a different way of communicating of like especially when it comes to job interviews or filling out job applications or even on your resume or when it comes to portfolio work so I would say your employer is not only judging your work but it's all they're also judging how well you are respectable to them and how you will treat the working environment when you step into it so a good person interviewing you will assess kind of your personality and say hey and be listening okay maybe this matches other personalities in our office or in our working space so it will be a good fit for them and that's kind of also what they're looking for when they talk to you so usually when you've made it to the inter interview level it's not really about your demo reel anymore it's about you so you're not marketing your demo reel you're marketing yourself at that stage so that's always something that I would consider when you're breaking into the industry so rolling back over to communication it's always really good to be marketing yourself in a very professional way so if you want to communicate updates of let's say you haven't gotten a job yet but you're still looking and be like I update I have a demo reel I finally have a demo reel posting it and saying this is what my demo reel was six months ago versus now check out the difference see how I’ve grown I’m improving as an artist so as long as you keep reminding people that you're improving and you're growing as a person they're more likely to hire you because they know what that they can trust that six months from now or maybe a year into your contract you're going to be an amazing artist so keep communicating that and keep marketing yourself as someone who learns who's excited to learn I would say is one way to break into the industry great hey Kate I think some folks are interested in connecting with you I think you mentioned that you were going to offer a way of doing that do you want to share that now for sure let me grab the link and I will forward it over to the group here we go that should be it all right super no I’ll share that as well okay so Kate as as I thought it would be a very interesting presentation you got a you got a very inspiring career lots of good advice for our audience you do a lot to contribute back to the community you know that's really awesome so that's off to you and thanks for being our guest today a reminder to everyone if you're interested in trying out GridMarkets here's a promo code that you can use to get some free credits and a 15 discount you get free credits when you sign up and this will give you the discount on top of that so use that promo code when you sign up or if you already have an account just drop us an email with this promo code and we'll honor the 15 discount as well okay so we have another webinar coming up it's on December 6th and it is with yellow brick really interested in this webinar because yellow brick have two very interesting brands Artella is one of those and animation mentor is the other and if you didn't know Yellowbrick is an online learning and collaboration platform it empowers the next generation of talent to discover and pursue their careers so we were talking today a bit about that so this is another way to get your career started and as I mentioned yellow brick owned animation render and recently acquired Artella so we're going to hear about that animation render has an alumni community of over 5000 students and over 100 countries and those students have gone on to work at places like Pixar DreamWorks ILM Weta and others so if you're interested in learning in this case about Houdini and other solutions as well you should attend this webinar you can do so on December 6 and you can go and sign up at gridmarkets.com webinars so there you have it everyone we're going to bring it to a close thanks again for joining today thank you again Kate for your time it's awesome all right take care everyone bye-bye.