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Procedural 3D

Creating a 3D model using a procedural workflow starts with a simple shape just like classic 3D. Manipulations are then carried out to achieve the intended result after a number of steps. Based on an existing model, a similar model can be obtained by adjusting the parameters associated with those manipulations. The advantage lies in the fact that a large part of the work to create a 3D model can be reused.

"Its use can result in higher cost efficiency and productivity"

The concept of procedural 3D is not new. As computers become more and more performant, the field has reached a tipping point in recent years, with new ways of creating 3D models fundamentally changing the mainstream games and VFX industry. Internationally, we see procedural 3D techniques gaining popularity. The Procedural 3D project serves as an accelerator for Flemish companies, which can get started faster through use cases and generic research. In addition, we lay the foundations to prepare our students for that shift in the industry.

Interactive 3D is used in several industries, both in entertainment and beyond. The applications have become interesting for many companies, but they still remain very expensive. Procedural 3D can, among other things, speed up or optimize certain production processes. Its use can thus result in higher cost efficiency and productivity.

This ‘Procedural 3D’ project therefore looks at the added value of the procedural creation of 3D. The project consists of a two-part focus:

  1. Developing concrete use cases in which procedural technology is applied;
  2. A broad knowledge transfer of procedural 3D techniques.


Based on surveys and 1-on-1 conversations with the companies in our mentoring group, we identified different areas of interest in which procedural 3D could provide added value. Due to the wide applicability of the technology, we divided these questions about use cases into three overarching pillars:

  1. Body, clothing & soft bodies
  2. Real-time integration & input data
  3. Rapid prototyping


Soft bodies
When creating a 3D model, the focus is on how it visually looks from the outside. Where a traditional 3D model is hollow inside, a soft body has a volume with mass and weight. The ultimate dream of various sectors – including medical imaging, medical training and police investigation – is to create a real-time soft body simulation. In such interactive simulations, for example, an organ can be cut and a physically correct reaction of the fat tissue, muscle tissue, blood vessels, etc. is displayed at the moment. The technology is not yet so far that this is possible.
2D to 3D: Building environments using photoshop input
Often only 2D data is available from buildings, machines or environments that contain information about how something is constructed. When creating a 3D environment, it is also faster to draw a floor plan than to build an environment yourself in 3D. The purpose of this case was to explore the possibilities and workflow regarding the construction of a 3D environment based on 2D input.
Scalable bodies & clothes
To provide clothing for a digital character, simulations are done with 2D patterns that are draped around a body. This is a process that can take a lot of time, because the simulation takes time and the 2D patterns may have to be adjusted with each iteration to adjust the result of the simulation. If the same clothing needs to be draped on different characters or avatars, it can be a lot of work to adjust the patterns and simulation settings so that the final clothing fits the same way on different avatars. The aim of this use case was to see from the perspective of the entertainment sector and the clothing industry how we can automate the scaling of clothing simulations between different avatars using 3D procedural techniques.


Procedural 3D: SOTA
During the project we collected all interesting sources and papers in a Trello board. You can find this here.
DAE-R @ Houdini Hive Education Edition
DAE-Research presented a talk called “DAE-Research and it’s Ecosystem” on the Houdini Hive Education Edition on November 30, 2021. You could follow this live performance on the Houdini SideFX YouTube channel.


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PROCEDURAL 3D Closing Event

The research group of the Digital Arts & Entertainment (Howest) programme is organising an online closing event on Thursday 9 december as part of their research project on the potential of procedural techniques for the development of 3D content. Together with a number of (international) guest speakers, our researchers explain the possibilities of using procedural 3D in your pipeline. Our guest speakers are known for their use of procedural techniques in the entertainment sector or industry 4.0 and for their extensive knowledge in working with procedural 3D. The program includes: • An overview of the possibilities of procedural techniques for 3D content and how you can set up such a pipeline. • Procedurele workflows for the creation of Digital Twins in Unity3D. • The use of procedural materials in industry and entertainment. • Possibilities of combining procedural techniques and AI. • An overview of how to create soft body simulations.

Houdini HIVE Education/Studio edition

Join us at the Houdini HIVE: Education/Studio Edition to hear from leaders at the top schools, who are creating programs to foster high quality, hireable talent – and hear from the studios on what they’re looking for when hiring. The Houdini Education Program is thrilled to support these discussions and the strengthening of relationships between academia and industry.