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Case Study

SideFX Houdini Education

About SideFX

SideFX is one of the world’s leading developers of 3D animation and visual effects software for the film and video game industry. For over thirty years their software has helped special effects teams create award winning work. SideFX has been recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences for its breakthrough procedural based technology.


Number of Years in Business


Scientific and Technical Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences


Staff on the Education Team

SideFX is most well known for its Houdini software. Houdini is a fully procedural graphic development system that utilizes node-based workflows to make it easier for artists to explore different creative paths while maintaining tight timelines. Any time you are watching TV, a movie, or playing a video game, you are likely looking at something made with Houdini.

The company is dedicated to creating positive learning experiences and has an academic program that focuses on building an education-based community with special learning programs for faculty and students. The program’s mission is to help students find meaningful jobs in film, tv, and game development.


SideFX had an existing academic program that worked closely with individual schools and faculty to create learning programs and provide Houdini access to students. The company knew the benefits of providing students with access to their products but wanted to do so at a larger scale to grow their academic program.

“Faculty and students hear about Houdini – how it’s used by leading studios to make films and games – and want to use it.” – John Moncrief, Education Training Manager

The company wanted to create a direct-to-consumer offer for students who attended schools that did not have an existing relationship with SideFX. It was important to expand student access to Houdini as there is strong demand for school graduates that already know how to use the software.

“Studios love our software, and they want new entrants to the workforce to know how to use it. When I first started in this position, my priority was to get Houdini into the hands of every student that wants to learn it.”

Knowing that verifying academic users in-house would be an added burden to their technical and education teams, SideFX set out to find a partner that would help them provide a direct-to-student offer and grow their academic program.


SideFX approached multiple academic verification service providers but discovered that many did not provide the freedom to start small and scale. These vendors were too expensive, did not take end-user privacy seriously, and could not meet their deadline to launch at the beginning of the school year. That changed when SideFX found

It was important to offer Houdini at the lowest price possible to ensure that students could afford access to the software. was able to provide their service at a cost that helped keep the price of Houdini low for students and allowed the company to easily scale their program.

“We met with three or four different verification service providers, but none of them offered a solution that was able to scale with the growth of our program. Other companies we spoke would have made it difficult for us to enter new markets and expand the program.”

With the expansion of global privacy regulation, SideFX wanted to work with a verification partner that was at the forefront of protecting end-user privacy. was the only vendor that did not retain any end-user data and leveraged technologies to eliminate the need for users to provide personal information to complete a verification.

“Privacy played an important role in our decision. We wanted to work with a service that our users can be comfortable using, knowing that their information is not being passed around, shared, or sold.”

It was important for SideFX to launch their student offer before the start of the school year to ensure that students would have access to Houdini on the first day of class.’s easy integration and low-code API allowed SideFX to launch their direct-to-consumer offer months ahead of schedule.

“When our implementation team saw how easy it was to integrate the verification service into our ecommerce tech stack, they told me it could be done in a week. It wasn’t the large technical process we expected; you made it super easy to implement.”


Students around the world now get low-cost access to Houdini and can learn skills that help them start their careers in the film and gaming industry. SideFX launched their direct-to-consumer offer months ahead of schedule and has plans to expand their academic program to new markets and regions using

“Everyone that learned about the project at SideFX was impressed at how quickly we were able to launch. The program has been able to pay for itself because of the verification service and we’re excited to share the direct-to-consumer offer with our university partners and peers in the industry.”

In addition to providing students with direct access to Houdini, the student offer has allowed SideFX to reach new schools to implement official learning programs.

“We came under budget and ahead of schedule, and since launching the direct-to-consumer offer have generated leads and revenue to help us grow the program. What else could you ask for?”


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