Learn How to Craft Game Effects using Houdini & UE4

A guide for experienced film vfx artists to start their journey into real time graphics.
Free tutorial
Rating: 4.0 out of 5 (642 ratings)
30,326 students
46min of on-demand video
English [Auto]

take visual effects knowledge you've gained through working with Houdini in the motion picture industry, and understand the basics of how to apply it to the video game industry.
understand the importance of optimization in real time visual effects.


  • The audience should be familiar with 3D Visual Effects workflows. This means understanding basic math, and concepts such as UVs, Normals, and node based workflows.
  • Basic familiarity with Houdini is required to get the most out of the presentation.


This 45 Minute Lecture was originally given to the Vancouver Houdini User Group in August 2016. It is a talk that was designed for an audience familiar with feature film visual effects workflows, specifically those which use Houdini. The goal is to increase awareness of limitations in real-time game environments, and to help film makers take steps towards transitioning into interactive media.

Feature film effects artists are typically used to working with millions or particles, polygons, and voxels. While it's acceptable for a render farm to chew through heavy data over the course of several hours for film; current game platforms are not designed with this kind of geometry in mind. It's up to the effects artist to understand this and produce visuals that are as light-weight as they are beautiful so that game engines can spend their efforts on more than just the visuals.

This is not designed to be a step-by-step tutorial for making a "pretty" effect, but rather a general purpose guide geared at introducing a broad topic. If you are interested in transitioning from film to games, this talk may be useful as a primer as we'll introduce concepts such as: sprite sheets, power of two dimensions, texture packing, particle trimming, letting the GPU handle transformations, and vertex animation. Topics are introduced in a way that should build upon concepts that are already familiar to those with training in the motion picture discipline. All examples in this lecture are given using Houdini 15.5.523 and Unreal Engine 4.12.5.

The example files may be downloaded and examined at the student's own leisure.

Who this course is for:

  • Experienced visual effects artists who have worked in a professional film environment.
  • Those who are looking for a transition from film to video game visual effects.
  • Those who are looking for a broad introduction without the slow step-by-step procedures typically offered in tutorials.


Visual Effects Artist for Film and Games
Stephen Tucker
  • 4.0 Instructor Rating
  • 642 Reviews
  • 30,326 Students
  • 1 Course

After attaining a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Animation from Sheridan College, Stephen went on to work as a Product Specialist at Side Effects Software Inc, before beginning his career in film and games. He has worked as a visual effects artist and technical director in both fully animated and live action films at Starz Animation, Dr. D, and Digital Domain. Recently, he completed work on Microsoft’s Gears of War 4, Electronic Arts' Mass Effect Andromeda, Star Wars Battlefront II and Battlefield V. He now works as a Senior VFX Artist at Scavengers Studio in Montréal.

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