For some time now Raw Ego has added Houdini 3d to its arsenal of tools. This insanely flexible software is a real powerhouse with all things visual and animation. Well, way more than a 3d program if you ask me.
One aspect of it is that it can be linked to a database. I wanted to make a new year greeting so I linked an excel containing a bunch of first names, email addresses and a list of wishes. I also made a few backgrounds and let the software make random combinations of these.
What is great about the software that it is procedural. That means that it can process data by rules you create. But you can change the rules while it is going through stuff. Nice! So I made it automatically create a layout and let it recognize every single letter to create vines growing through each of them.
Rendered each greeting out in its own folder and made a rule to give it the name of the guy or girl. Then made Houdini import these results and composite a background to it. Done. Oh no wait, added a rule to make gifs out of the separate images and put every gif in an email. All in one program! Quite scary to push that process button, haha.
Personalizing is the future and too much fun. It makes databases a creative tool for designers.