Frequently Asked Questions about Houdini at Ranch Computing

Document Version : March 2020

- What is RanCHecker?

RanCHecker is a Ranch Computing Houdini custom Digital Asset that collects information about your .hip scene (or .hiplc, or .hipnc) and generates a .vuh ZIP archive file that you may upload to Ranch Computing ( , Log In, New Project from your Dashboard) for computing a render or a simulation.

- Which Houdini versions can I use with RanCHecker?

Our systems run Houdini 17.5 (“Houdini 17” on Ranch) and Houdini 18.0 (“Houdini 18” on Ranch). As a rule, we run production versions from SideFX, not nightly builds.

- Which simulations do you support?

Our systems run Houdini simulations from the SideFX Dynamic OPerators (DOPs), e.g. pyro, smoke, flip, whitewater etc. The RanCHecker Sim node helps you with that.

-Which Renderers do you support?

  • Houdini 17.5 or 18.0 with Mantra (CPU)
  • Houdini 17.5 or 18.0 with Redshift (GPU)
  • Houdini 17.5 or 18.0 with Renderman (CPU)
  • Houdini 17.5 with V-Ray Next (CPU or GPU)

-What about Arnold HtoA?

An Autodesk bug currently drops the import of Arnold Shaders through our HDA scripts. Eventuals workarounds (like writing the Arnold folders on the first line of the houdini.env setup file) did not work so far. As soon as this is fixed by Autodesk, Ranch Computing will add Houdini 17.5 (or 18.0) with Arnold (CPU) to the above list, and Arnold GPU will also be tested. If you are interested in rendering with Arnold, please contact about beta tests.

-What about Octane?

If you are an Otoy fan and wish to render your Houdini scene with Octane and GPU, please contact for beta tests. No specific issue here, it works. It's about setting up the Octane 2019 All Access system so it includes Houdini.

-What about Solaris, Karma and PDG?

As SideFX develops new cool things, we shall think of implementing them as soon as they are released for production. This may apply to Karma, to the .usd file format support, or to the Procedural Dependency Graph and its Task OPerators. We'll keep you posted with news!

Howtos, Video Tutorials

How to install the Ranch HDA?

You may download it from Unzip the .hda file into the OTLS folder (default folder for custom HDAs) or into a folder that is listed in the houdini.env file.

Then, you may update it smoothly from Houdini when already installed.

Where are the Ranch nodes?

At the OBJ level, use the TAB menu, type in “Ranch”, it displays

  • RanCHecker Render : a tool to make a .vuh zip archive, ready to be rendered with Ranch Computing
  • RanCHecker Sim : a tool to make a .vuh zip archive out of a list of sims, ready to be computed with Ranch Computing

Within a Geometry, use the TAB menu, type in “Ranch”, it displays

  • Ranch Bgeo cache : a file cache format with .bgeo files;
  • Ranch Flip cache : a specific .bgeo with two outputs, one for particles, one for volume;
  • Ranch vdb cache : a set of .vdb file caches with two outputs, one for low-res and one for hi-res. This includes some unique Ranch optimizations for faster computations.

Are there available tutorials should I watch?

Yes. We made a 13-min video that contains a few short topics - 1 minute or less each. Watch it all here or jump to a specific time of the video to watch about the following topics :

How should I submit a simulation to Ranch Computing?

After the RanCHecker Sim HDA has created a .vuh file with your sim, select “New Project”, “Houdini”, the Houdini version (17 for 17.5; 18 for 18.0), then select Mantra.

We also recommend that you follow these guidelines about farm priorities :

  • Always select CPU-Low for computing Houdini Simulations;
  • Almost always select CPU-Low for rendering with Mantra, Renderman or VRay-CPU;
  • Almost always select GPU-Low for rendering with Redshift or V-Ray GPU.

Is there an example of how I should use the Ranch File Caches for Sims?

Sure. In the graph below, a rock falls into some water and the sims compute the flipSim, then the particle and volume bgeo outputs of the flipSim are the input to compute the Mesh and the Whitewater.

Any other question?

For any other Houdini topic with Ranch Computing, please send us an e-mail, . Thank you!

houdini/start.txt · Last modified: 2020/03/27 15:41 by ranchadmin