Importing Kinect point cloud in Houdini

Hi guys!
Just to let you know, this year we’re facing an extremely hot summer here in Italy (50 degrees in some cities!), so as you would image sitting all day in front of a screen is getting quite challenging.. nonetheless, I’m still too excited about learning Houdini to stop my researches!

This time I picked up an old time classic from the interactive world, the Kinect , and I wanted to push it a little forward. I wanted to import point cloud animations into Houdini, and manipulate them in all the magical ways that this software lets us do.

Importing kinect point cloud in houdini

First thing, create the point cloud animation

I’m using OpenFrameworks in order to connect with the Kinect and export a binary .ply file for each frame received. On my github repo you’ll find the code, which is very easy and mostly grabbed online and from the examples of the official library.

A .ply file contains a header and a list of x,y,z position for each point.
The header structure can be seen from and the list of points in our case was supplied as stream of bytes (see
And that’s exactly what we’re doing here:

Full source code is here :

Then, import the .ply into houdini

Simply use the file sop and load as an animated sequence (use the houdini $F var in the file name) .




Obviously, the scan is quite rough, but this makes a huge part of the final aesthetic, which is quite glitchy.
If you start to play with Houdini, you can easily add a delaunay triangulation to the points:



As you can see, I’ve used a cube as bounding box in order to delete the points outside its volume, since the pc doesn’t have clean borders.


Finally, play with Houdini!

Here’s an attempt to create a voronoi look like the one in the majestic Chemical Brothers video :


Some gifs with different experimentations:




My houdini scene is quite a mess and I should really clean it up, but if want to take a look please send me and email or drop a comment below!


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