How to install Octane Render for Houdini?

Besides Mantra and Karma, Houdini also offers the ability to use third party renderers. That means that you can use other popular render engines like Redshift and Octane Render. Today, VFXRendering will cover how to install Octane Render for Houdini and some recommendations for Houdini Octane rendering services.

How to install Octane Render for Houdini

What is Octane Render for Houdini?

Developed by SideFX, Houdini is a 3D procedural application for modeling, rigging, animation, VFX, look development, lighting and rendering. Artists heavily use this software for the creation of visual effects in film, TV, advertising and video game. Houdini is a must-have in production pipeline of various major VFX companies. They are Weta Digital, RiseFX, Double Negative, Rodeo FX, MPC, Reel FX, SpinVFX, Digital Domain, Method Studios, Animal Logic, Axis Studios, and many more. Moreover, Houdini has been used in a huge number of animation productions, including Disney’s feature films Fantasia 2000, Frozen, and Zootopia; Blue Sky Studios’ Rio, and DNA Productions’ Ant Bully.

Houdini ships with the inside renderer Mantra, and later Karma. Both of them take use of CPU for renders. For GPU rendering, we can choose among third party renderers like V-Ray, Redshift, Octane and Arnold GPU. Out of them, Octane is a fast and great GPU-accelerated render engine. It is unbiased and physically correct. At first, this render engine was developed by a New Zealand-based company Refractive Software, Ltd in 2008. Then it was taken over by OTOY in 2012, and has been developed by OTOY since then.

How to install Octane for Houdini

Octanes integration is really tough with Houdini. There are very few instructions on how to install Octane for Houdini. The video from Octane Universe below is quite clear and useful. Let’s watch and follow it step by step.

Video Source: Octane Universe

Basically, you will need to edit the houdini.env file to integrate Octane plugin. Find the file inside your Documents/houdini1x.x directory. After that, add a couple of variables (pointing to the plugin directory where you have unzipped it) in that houdini.env file.

For example, your Octane version is 2021.1.1.2, your Houdini version is 19.0.383. If you unzip Octane plugin folder to C:\Otoy, you will add:

PATH = "C:/Otoy/Octane_2021.1.1.2_Houdini_19.0.383_Win64/bin;$PATH"
HOUDINI_PATH = "C:/Otoy/Octane_2021.1.1.2_Houdini_19.0.383_Win64;&"


  • The Octane Render for Houdini build must match your Houdini install to avoid problems.
  • Some artists have trouble in installing Octane, like unable to find the houdini.env file. If you do, reach out to the Otoy or SideFX forum for expert’s help.

Recommendations for Houdini Octane rendering services

Houdini and Octane is not very popular combination. So there is very few SaaS render farms supporting them. IaaS render farms like iRender and Xesktop, on the other hand, do support Houdini and Octane. Below are some recommendations you should consider choosing for Houdini Octane projects.

iRender Farm

iRender is a render farm from Vietnam, providing cloud rendering service on IaaS model. You will access, control and use their remote servers as if it was your own computer. So, you can install any versions of Houdini, Octane (which run on Windows 10 or Linux), and any plugins.

  • Hardware: RTX 3090/RTX 4090.
  • Pricing: from $5.76/hour/node to $42/hour/node.
  • Houdini Octane support:
Any versionAny version


Xesktop is a cloud render service from the UK that offers GPU servers. Same as iRender, they use IaaS approach. User will connect the server through Remote Desktop application and use it just like your computer. You can install any Houdini and Octane versions you want.

  • Hardware: GTX 1080Ti, Tesla V100.
  • Pricing: $6/hour/node and $8/hour/node.
  • Houdini Octane support:
Any versionAny version


AnimaRender is a render farm from Russia, providing Octane Render for Houdini rendering support. Unlike two render farms above, Anima is a SaaS render farm. You will need to download their plugin, and integrate it into Houdini. Then you can start your render right inside the software.

  • Hardware: GTX 1080Ti, RTX 2080Ti.
  • Pricing: $0.01/OBh.
  • Houdini Octane support:
Update time: March 2024

In short, if you are looking to get started with Houdini Octane, hope our instructions will help you install Octane for Houdini easily. Also, VFXRendering gives some recommendations for Houdini Octane rendering services in case you need to speed up the renders.

See more: Top 6 best render farms for Houdini

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