How to export your model as a USDZ using Houdini

Pixar has created a USDZ plugin that allows Houdini to export USDZs. In this article I will explain how to use it in 3 Steps:
Step 1: Download the USD library.
Pixar has developed a plugin that allows Houdini to export 3D models as USDZs. If you follow this link https://github.com/PixarAnimationStudios/USD you will be brought to a Github page created by Pixar that contains a library of USDZ conversion plugins one of which is the Houdini USDZ conversion plugin.
Download the ZIP folder and make sure you read through all the information Pixar provided on that page.
Step 2: Install the library.
After you have downloaded the ZIP you will need to install several programs that will allow you to build the Houdini plugin.
You must install:
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2015+
  • CMake
  • Python
  • Boost
Once you have installed all the requirements it is time to build the plug in.
For this next part you will need to understand the basics of using command line. If you already know command line then skip forward to 2a.
  • Command Line allows you to find the locations of programs inside of your computer and run them. Try opening up Command Prompt and typing and seeing what happens. You should see that the location has changed to the new location you have typed in. If you had a .exe file in this location you would be able to run it by typing the .exe file at the end of this location and then pressing enter.
    • cd C:\Users
Open Command Prompt, type "ls" and press enter.
You'll see a list of files in your home directory. So how to we show them from another location?
Type "cd" into then enter another destination.
cd C:/Users
... and nothing happens! Or at least it doesn't look like it. But if we type "ls" again, we see a different list of files.
For more information on Command Prompt check out this quick Youtube video that goes over the basics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBBWVgE0ewk
Step 2a:
  • Open up “Developer Command Prompt for VS (version number)” and type in the command:
C:\Location of Plug in\USD-master\build_scripts\build_usd.py --houdini "C:\Program Files\USD"
After you press enter it should build the plugin.
Once the Houdini plugin has been built you must follow the guide on Pixar's website that explains how to install it inside of Houdini. http://graphics.pixar.com/usd/docs/Houdini-USD-Plugins.html
Step 3: Using the Houdini USD Plugin.
Once you have the USD plugin installed inside of Houdini you will be ready to start exporting.
  • First create a simple cube, and then go inside of the geometry node that is created in the network view.
  • Click TAB and if you have installed the plugin correctly you should see a section inside of your TAB menu. Inside of that section are several different nodes that will help you while exporting the USDZ.
    • pixar
  • Create a ROP USD Export node and make sure the name of your file ends with.usdz
  • Click Render to Disk and then your USDZ will be created
So that is a quick summary of how to export your USDZ using Houdini if you have any more questions please let us know and we will be happy to help you out!