MARKET: While few studios use Houdini for the entirety of their work, many larger companies have at least a few copies of Houdini, or would use it when special problems that could be harder to solve in other applications. At many companies, Houdini is known as a tool for Technical Directors, although some animators use it as well.
KEY FEATURES: Houdini is a very sophisticated and flexible 3D animation package. Houdini's approach to 3D is ideal for visual effects Technical Directors and anyone who wants the maximum amount of control over their 3D tools, even if that also means that they sometimes have to assemble tools themselves that would have come pre-configured as buttons in other packages.
Houdini includes Side Effects' own distributed raytracer, Mantra, and also
has a well made Renderman connection. It`s VEX shaders are compatible with Renderman and Mantra, so you could easily switch between renderers when you need to raytrace a particular project.
HISTORY: Before Houdini, Side Effects originally made a package called Prisms. Prisms was already far ahead of its time in node-based architecture and associativity. Even before Max was released with an operator stack, before Alias had construction histories, before Softimage had modeling relations, before Softimage and Alias|Wavefront had next-generation products that gave node-based associativity between functions, Prisms already had full node-based procedural modeling, animation, and shading.