I've been giving Houdini another try and I have to say: it's a lot of fun!
I've always enjoyed building small procedural systems using ICE and felt like I might enjoy Houdini, but I've had never the need for it as it's not widelly used for rigging purposes. But you know what, who cares! I'm having a great time playing with it.
So, how to get started? well, my strategy here was jump ahead doing some quick exercises on my own (I did the same thing with ICE back in the day), it might not be the canonical approach but it motivates me much more than following long tutorials while learning to press buttons.
The first excercise that came into my mind was a pin-table, I think of it as the "Hello world!" excersice for Houdini and was actually pretty easy to solve.
I haven't done a breakdown video yet but there's not much to say, I just copied a pin on a displaced grid of points (using the luminance of a video as displacement map) and that's it, done!
This second exercise was a bit more involved, I wanted to recreate a similar effect I did some time ago using Softimge ICE.
You can watch a breakdown of my approach in the following video:
I would like to try something involving attribute transfer between objects in different contexts (ie interaction between particles and geometry), I have no idea how to tackle this at the moment but I'm pretty sure I will figure it out :)
I'm trying Houdini just for fun and so far so good, if you love the procedural nature of ICE you should totally give it a try!