Asset Author Tools; Upload Tips
Posted on Feb 19, 2013

    Special tools make authoring easier!

    A while back one of the developers published some Asset Author Tools to help artists create assets. There are some little-known advantages to using these tools that I'd like to share with you.
    The main advantages are
    • Upload directly from Houdini
    • Embed extra files, (automates opdef commands)
    • Handles renaming of asset to unique "store namespace" version for you.
    First, see the installation tips here .

    Direct upload from with Houdini lets you skip a few steps!!

    With the Asset Author Tools installed, you can just RMB over and asset that you are working on and you'll see some new commands available. Notice the "Upload to Orbolt Asset Store..."

    Uploading this way will:
    • Prompt you to login at the store
    • Scan your file
    • Open the upload dialogue (leave it open for now)
    • Send you back to Houdini
    • Install the store version of the asset into your hip file

    Now is the perfect time to save the hip file as an example file.

    The store version of your asset has your user account name appended to it. It now replaces the original asset. The hip file can now be saved as an example file to upload. Use the "Browse" button on the upload dialogue to include this file with you upload.

    The last thing you'll need is an icon, about 500x500 pixels square to showcase your asset. Screen-shots and YouTube or Video URLs are also great to have, but you can easily add them later.

Houdini Artists love your work!
Posted on Feb 15, 2013

    There are Houdini Artists working at night for you!

    ..well, it's night somewhere on the planet right?
    On the average day here, we have at least two Houdini Artists working with your files. Part of their job is to review incoming assets (fun!) and assist with any upload problems. The assets coming in from the community are really cool!

    Keep up the good work!

    Staff Artists are Busy

    Houdini artists here also spend a bit of their time creating assets for the store too! Right now we're focused on creating tools for learning, and reviewing incoming Assets from you. We do this as a way to seed the store with fresh content, and ensure that there is some free content for hobbyists and students.

    We have made our content fully documented, and annotated so as to set a decent example. It's mostly playful stuff, much of it geared towards demo material and learning tools. We don't really intend to be in the authoring business though. We figure that when it comes to content, you, the community will do better than us.

    Our Role is to Facilitate

    We view our customers as the artists, for whom we provide tools. The Orbolt Asset store is intended as a tool and resource for our community. The community artists provide the content
    • Secure it if they choose
    • Sell it if they choose
    • ..At a price they choose.

    We offer infrastructure for this:
    • Free, organized distribution
    • Security
    • QA
    • Customer communication
    • Version updates
    • Support
    • Integration into Houdini.

    There are lots of benefits to working with the Orbolt Smart 3DAsset store!"

    BTW, the figure at the desk pictured above is Male Motion Capture from the Orbolt Asset Store!

Valentine's day best wishes from the Orbolt Asset store.
Posted on Feb 14, 2013

    Happy Valentine's Day!

    We thought we'd send you this festive image...hope you don't mind that we chose this instead of sending chocolates or long-stemmed roses!

    Send a Video !

    While approach might work for a store website, we recommend that you not try this with your significant other (I did last year and ate dinner alone as a result, sniff).
    If you want to make a card to go with the flowers you're rushing out to buy at the last minute, feel free to start with ours! Here's a hip file with some bouncing-balloon-like hearts, and a comp network which allows you to add a special someone's name. Or you can just send a URL to this VIDEO !

    Get the Houdini hip file HERE

    Note: This scene file uses the free HDRpath Environment Asset .

High value assets can save you time and money.
Posted on Feb 13, 2013

    Honest Pricing for High-Value Software

    What's your household budget for Console games?
    And how does that compare to your budget for mobile games/apps?
    ...and which do you spend more time with?

    It's pretty common to pay $40-60 for a console, or $2 for a smartphone App.
    Collectively, we do this thousands of times each week* .

    Does the $2 app entertain me 1/20th of the console game? Not necessarily, but each type of purchase does come with different expectations. Consumers are aware that console games can cost millions to produce, whereas apps often are perceived as being made after hours, on a shoestring budget. As a result, one costs more than the other. Consider what you're getting: each has different production quality, and represents a different scope of product altogether.

    Free vs. Paid
    This topic pertains to Houdini asset authors and customers alike. Deciding how much to pay, or charge for your Houdini Digital assets can be a difficult task. The time required to make these assets, and the production value they provide, certainly factor into their price.

    At the Orbolt Asset Store, we're sharing and selling visual effects, tools and experiences ( to name a few). But we could make an analogy to the game industry and ask "Do I want a console game, or a mobile app?". Both are available here.

    Variety is the spice of life!

    As our community continues to grow, you're going to see a wide range of assets and prices. We recognize that different customers have different needs and expectations from our store. Hobbyists and students may prefer free stuff to experiment and learn with, whereas production studios are more likely interested in higher-end "developer" assets which offer major, plug-in like, functionality.

    Even a modest After Effects plug-in can run $500 bucks or more. A major plug-in for Maya, such as RealFlow can cost thousands of dollars. When you consider these costs, the value of Houdini digital assets becomes really apparent.

    The Orbolt Asset Store is a resource for the global Houdini community. Whether as a "first touch" point for new users, or a go-to place for the most seasoned veterans, the Asset store is your place for Houdini Digital Assets.


    Learn more about Houdini digital assets (webinar).

    Did the 'games" analogy make you want play a little? No prob! There's a a video game-like asset in the store:
    Arcade Bug Hunt

March Contest
Posted on Feb 09, 2013

    St. Patrick's day Contest

    We're hosting another artist challenge! St.Patrick's Day is Sunday March 17th.
    We invite you to join in!

    You don't need to be Irish, or wear green to participate in this contest. Heck, if you can spell the word Irish, you qualify! Just have a sense of fun and use any asset from the Orbolt Asset Store to help make an original composition.
    Send your entries to

    Just like December's Holiday challenge, we're offering prizes for the best entries!
    Stay tuned for updates which will help you win a Houdini Apprentice HD subscription!

    See how assets were put to use for the last contest:

Major toolsets could be coming your way.
Posted on Feb 13, 2013

    Is an asset a brick, or a factory?

    Houdini Digital Assets (HDA) can be as small, like simple material shaders, or large like a suite of tools with major Plug In functionality.

    Of course there's a description for each asset at the store, which helps a lot. But really you need a test drive to truly appreciate what you're getting, whether it be a brick, or a whole factory!

    Trial period makes it risk-free

    When you download an asset, you're not just getting a polygon model, you're getting software. Which is why we refer to them as "smart" assets . Features and functionality vary from one asset to the next, and authors price them accordingly. We appreciate the value of your hard-earned money, so we've included a free trial period with every asset. You can try before you buy, and be confident with the asset before you've been asked to pay a cent.

    We're starting to see more ambitious works uploaded at the asset store. Which is great! We're thrilled at the prospect of seeing these larger scale assets, and want to encourage you to use the free trial to evaluate them..and to offer feedback as well!

    Let you developers know what you think.

Example files are good as Gold
Posted on Feb 06, 2013
    Example files Rule!
    There has been a lot of positive feedback about the example files which come with assets from the Orbolt Smart Asset store! To a customer checking out an asset for the first time, these files are almost as valuable as the asset itself.

    There are a few ways to check out these files. Firstly, on initial download, an example file should open which demonstrates the assets key values. Secondly, once you've downloaded the asset, you can always return to this example file:
    • Go to the asset browser.
    • RMB>Load Example File over the asset.

    Authors Can Add Extra Help Files

    Example files are a great starting place for customizing assets. If you're an author and you'd like to add a second or third hip file, you can send them directly to

    and we will host the file and provide you with the url to paste into your asset description!

    If your help file is render-ready, there's a good chance that it will get featured on the Homepage!
    We want to show off your work!

How to add inputs to your asset
Posted on Jan 31, 2013

    Author Tip: Asset inputs

    Asset authors need to predict how their assets will be used, and expose all the right functionality to their customers. One of the most basic, and occasionally overlooked features, is the simple ability to allow the asset to be parented to other objects.

    By default, you can parent to an asset, but not make a child of it (parent it to another object).
    This is simple enough to change though.

    Change The Default Input Value

    Basic tab and change the maximum inputs to 1. This will add an input to your asset node. You can see this change in the network view.

    Set The Output Transform

    Now that your asset can be parented, you can optionally specify ANY node in your asset to be used as the transform. By default "input1" is used, which will be the top of your hierarchy. Usually this is what you want.
    Occasionally, it's useful to specify something different, perhaps lower down the hierarchy.

    e.g. A specific transform node with a custom pivot point.

Checkout problems with PayPal and Visa on Jan 28th 2013.
Posted on Jan 29, 2013

    PayPal had issues yesterday

    To all of you who were affected by PayPal's service interruption yesterday, we offer our apologies for any hassle. Read the news HERE .

    We have made changes to handle this kind of interruption better, should it reoccur.

    Apparently PayPal wasn't the only one to experience grief yesterday. Visa was also affected all across Canada. read more HERE .

    Are there any conspiracy theorists out there who think that the timing of this is a little weird, just a few days after the last Anonymous sentencing ?

Adding Images to Help Cards
Posted on Jan 27, 2013

    Add Images to help cards

    Here's an image which demonstrates how to include custom images in your digital asset's help card.

    In order to display these images, they must be embedded into the "extras" tab of your Asset.

    Then they need to be referenced in using text in the "help" tab.
    Most images can be referenced in by using this line in the "Help" tab

    There is also an option in include a custom icon at the top of the help card.
    This is referenced differently:
    • Custom Icon, usually small (48x48) at the top.
    • #largeicon: opdef:.?Image.jpg
    This can also be specified on the Basic tab.
    Note that png file with transparency is supported.

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