GripTools Actuator

GripTools Actuator is a plugin for CINEMA 4D, enabling you to control real life machinery. Use virtual animation to direct  machinery.

And it is serious fun: some people even say it’s the missing link between virtual 3D models and Mechatronics.

 

 

Animation Power.

GripTools Actuator uses the tremendous power of a modern 3D application like CINEMA 4D, to control complex external hardware. You can use math techniques like inverse kinematics to calculate motion in 3D space real easy. All implicitly. Without a single formula.

The GripTools Actuator.

As the Actuator is in development, we only have Lab data. However we will try to keep you informed about the progress. We hope to release some video’s on regularly moments in time.
Here’s a screenshot of the CINEMA 4D interface as it is at this moment.

 

GTActuator
The GripTools Acturator plugin, as it appears in CINEMA 4D

 

Hardware interfacing: what is a "HIP"?

Because of the huge amount of hardware to be controlled, we cannot possibly serve all.
That’s why we created the ‘HIP’ concept. A ‘HIP’ is a crucial part of the GripTools Actuator.
HIP’ is the abbreviation of ‘Hardware Interface Plugin’.

All interfacing with the outside world is routed through a ‘HIP’.
A HIP is an abstractor and a mediator. It translates the properties of specific hardware to be understood by the GripTools Actuator and vice versa.
The GripTools Actuator taps and controls positional and angular data from C4D models and the HIP tunnels it to the specific hardware.
The GripTools Actuator adapts itself to the HIP. It shows and makes available the number of channels, it interprets and visualizes optional feedback, etc.
The HIP ‘knows’ and ‘understands’ your device. It’s specifically written to serve your hardware.

What’s inside a HIP?

A HIP is technically speaking a software library (‘dll’ for windows and ‘dylib’ for the Mac), managing all traffic between the GripTools Actuator and your specific hardware.
It also stores the properties of the hardware. This is hardcode data like the number of channels, the channel extremes and speed considerations. Also stored is device information about its type of communication, the number of channels and channel specific information. There are error procedures, data exchange protocols and safety procedures.

A HIP should also include a 3D model, to visualize the controlled hardware device.

How to get a HIP for your hardware?

Specialized HIP’s can be written for the PC and Mac.
The libraries must be written by using the ‘GripTools Actuator SDK’, as a part of our Actuator software package. Because the SDK is included in the software package, you can write your own HIP.
We hope to support a number of programming languages like C++ and Delphi, over time.
If you cannot write your own, you can commission us or a third party to do so.

HIP availability philosophy.

To get you started with the GripTools Actuator, we will include one HIP, for experimenting right out of the box. We do not yet know what kind of hardware it will handle, but it should be worldwide available and reasonable affordable.
It would be nice that over time hardware makers will supply a HIP for their specific device.
This would result in a free collection of HIP’s serving a range of equipment.

Hardware used as input device?

GripTools Actuator is capable of receiving feedback from an external hardware device.
Equipment capable of sending feedback to the controlling application can be used as input devices.
This is the case with the Dynamixel servo series. It is an interesting idea to use a hardware output device to create motion to be applied to a 3D model.

Possible fields of application

Motion Control Equipment
Motorized Camera Pan/Tilt/Bank/Cranes
Stop Motion Production
Tabletop Cinematography
Test Laboratories
University &
Students Mechatronics
Educational and/or Robotics
Prototyping
The Arts!

Stay in touch.

If you are interested in this project, please send us a message. We will keep you informed about progress and highlights, by a regular newsletter.

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You might also want to have a look at our other current projects:

http://www.frieslandav.com/labs.php