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This page describes how to set up your local system so that it loads the files for the correct version.

Download V-Ray for Houdini


Installing V-Ray for Houdini from a .zip file provides several advantages over the regular installer:

  • The ZIP installation allows for setting a custom environment when starting each Houdini instance. In contrast, running the regular installation multiple times overwrites the V-Ray environment variables.
  • The ZIP installation can be used to run V-Ray for Houdini and V-Ray Standalone from an arbitrary location or even a network drive. That way, multiple users can start Houdini along with V-Ray for Houdini using just a script that sets up the environment variables without the need to run local installations.
  • Upgrading a ZIP installation is a lot easier too, as you don't need to run the installer on every user's computer.
  • The ZIP installation allows for quickly switching between different V-Ray versions without reinstalling it.

Installing V-Ray from Zip

It's recommended that you make sure your computer meets the System Requirements for running Houdini with V-Ray before installing V-Ray.

Under the hood, the V-Ray installation relies on the Houdini 3-rd party plugins package system. Houdini's packages are .json files that specify the location of custom modules. For more information, please refer to the documentation on the SideFX website.

The "vray_for_houdini.json" package that is used to load V-Ray when Houdini is started is placed under "$HFS/packages" (e.g. "C:\Program Files\Side Effects Software\Houdini ##.#.###\packages" for Windows) when running the installer. You may set things up differently depending on your studio pipeline.

By default, when using the installer, the location of V-Ray itself is "C:\Program Files\Chaos Group\V-Ray". Just as with the "vray_for_houdini.json", V-Ray itself can be placed anywhere on disk. As long as the "INSTALL_ROOT" variable in the json file points to a valid location, Houdini should be able to find the required modules to load V-Ray.

Note that the EULA is accepted only for new major versions during installation from zip.

Example JSON file for loading V-Ray
"env": [
		{ "INSTALL_ROOT" : "C:/Program Files/Chaos Group/V-Ray/Houdini 19.5.403" },

		{ "VRAY_APPSDK"      : "${INSTALL_ROOT}/appsdk" },
		{ "VRAY_SDK"         : "${INSTALL_ROOT}/appsdk" },
		{ "VRAY_OSL_PATH"    : "${INSTALL_ROOT}/appsdk/bin" },
		{ "VRAY_UI_DS_PATH"  : "${INSTALL_ROOT}/ui" },
		{ "VFH_HOME"         : "${INSTALL_ROOT}/vfh_home" },

		{ "PATH" : [


		{ "QT_PLUGIN_PATH" : "${HFS}/bin/Qt_plugins" },
		{ "QT_QPA_PLATFORM_PLUGIN_PATH" : "${HFS}/bin/Qt_plugins/platforms" },

		{ "VFH_DSO_PATH" : [
			{ "houdini_version < '19.0'": "${VFH_HOME}/dso_py3" },

			{ "houdini_version == '19.0' and houdini_python == 'python2'": "${VFH_HOME}/dso_py2" },
			{ "houdini_version == '19.0' and houdini_python == 'python3'": "${VFH_HOME}/dso_py3" },

			{ "houdini_version == '19.5' and houdini_python == 'python3.7'": "${VFH_HOME}/dso_py37" },
			{ "houdini_version == '19.5' and houdini_python == 'python3.9'": "${VFH_HOME}/dso_py39" }

		{ "PYTHONPATH" : [
			{ "method": "append", "value": "${VRAY_APPSDK}/python" }


			{ "method": "append", "value": "${VFH_HOME}/gallery" }
	"path" : [


To deploy V-Ray using the ZIP archive instead of the installer, follow these steps:

  1. Unzip the V-Ray for Houdini archive.
  2. Move it to a location of your choice (e.g. "D:\V-Ray").
  3. Place the "vray_for_houdini.json" file under "$HFS/packages".
  4. Edit the "vray_for_houdini.json" and set the "INSTALL_ROOT" variable to point to the location of the V-Ray files (e.g. "INSTALL_ROOT" : "D:/V-Ray").
  5. Start Houdini.

You can use the "{INSTALL_ROOT}\appsdk\bin\setvrlservice.exe" utility to set the address for licensing.

Linux and macOS

In Linux and macOS environments, the process is exactly the same.

For macOS: Note that the "packages" folder resides in Applications > Houdini > Houdini ##.#.### > Frameworks > Houdini.framework > Versions > ##.# > Resources > packages > ...

For Linux: The "packages" folder resides in /opt/hfs/packages

For detailed information on how to run V-Ray for Houdini, see the QuickStart Guides Introduction tutorial. 

 You can use the "${INSTALL_ROOT}/appsdk/bin/setvrlservice" utility to set the address for licensing for Linux and OSX.

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