Side Effects Software is finally shipping Houdini 7, the latest version of its family of 3D animation and effects software. The company claims that Houdini 7 makes significant workflow improvements for the entire CG pipeline.

New features include the Take Manager, which allows users to layer, compare, render, merge or delete ‘Takes’ – single scene files representing creative decisions used to bring a shot to life.

Character Rigging tools now allow Houdini characters to be set up as digital assets that can be updated when any part of the character is changed. Capture Layers, Capture Blending and Attribute Transfer tools then allow users to respond to rigging changes.

Flipbook functionality allows animators to make timing decisions based on a flipbook of key poses, which is only committed to the 3D scene when approved. Houdini's animation workflow also includes a new channel list for access to animatable parameters, dopesheet capabilities in the timeline and enhancements to the channel editor.

Houdini 7 also includes enhanced support for RenderMan with a new Shader building environment for creating RenderMan shaders. According to Side Effects both Renderman and Mental Ray is native in Houdini Master and available as an add-on to Houdini Escape

Houdini 7 Master is priced at $17,000 (around £9,400) in the US. The Houdini family is made up of several applications though that offer different functionality at a variety of prices, including Houdini Select, which costs $1,299 (£720) for a node-locked license in the US.

UK pricing and availability has not yet been announced.