Timescapes - Digital Timelapse Discussion

Arc Moco vs Mantis
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Author:  geraldft [ Sat Apr 16, 2016 6:56 am ]
Post subject:  Arc Moco vs Mantis

Not meant to be competitive but rather "comparative". Users of both systems are invited to discuss.

There is no one tool after all that suits all occasions, so a little knowledge can help understand and make better choices.

Meanwhile - Below is a screen from Arc which appears to be defying physics and looping back in time. I'm not sure what actually happens if you try to run this - maybe someone can tell me?

Arc Time Machine.JPG
Arc Time Machine.JPG [ 31.16 KiB | Viewed 8098 times ]

Author:  DISPLACEMENT 1 [ Mon Apr 18, 2016 11:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis

Arc Moco Vs Mantis does sound a tad gladiatorial but i will go with it :D
Well it took me a while to get close to your curve . Just keyframing with easy ease dosnt let you get such a curve . You really have to pull the bezier handles out to get that time line to flip . In fact i ran out of screen to pull the bezier handle enough to duplicate your curve . What move was you trying to create as a matter of interest?
I ran the move but only stopframe i an afraid control box not quite finished for real time . It flips the axis 180 when the curve loops back something odd was bound to happen . But as i say its a struggle to get into that position in the first place
I always tend to use easy ease bit lazy that way :)

[flickr]ImageScreenshot (237) by D 1, on Flickr[/flickr]
Just easy ease
[flickr]ImageScreenshot (236) by D 1, on Flickr[/flickr]
extreme bezier pulling (new sport i have just invented !)

Author:  geraldft [ Mon Apr 18, 2016 2:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis

You mean if it is a rotary axis it flips 180 degrees? What would a linear axis do? Perhaps since it is trying to go back in time this is the best it can manage?

I found it pretty easy to get that shape - just exploring the interface and seeing how it works...

Author:  Kitwn [ Mon Apr 18, 2016 4:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis

I'm not sure what you're trying to demonstrate here Gerald. The use of any tool requires some intelligence on the part of the user, software included. How does Mantis differ when you try to make it do something equally impossible?


Author:  DISPLACEMENT 1 [ Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis

Kitwn wrote:
I'm not sure what you're trying to demonstrate here Gerald. The use of any tool requires some intelligence on the part of the user, software included. How does Mantis differ when you try to make it do something equally impossible?


Yep we can all break everything if we try really hard . Actually I have broke a few things without trying at all :D
As a seconded point if you tried to run this real time in Arc it wouldn't let you do it yellow banding appears on the time line were their are issues . Those issues could be accelerating to fast for motors or extreme bezier pulling / time flipping .
Not going to do any more testing on this one as i am still not sure what ya was trying to achieve in the first place . :(

Author:  geraldft [ Tue Apr 19, 2016 12:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis

Hi Kitwin.

Mantis and other moco programs use graphing algorthms that prevent this... They simply will not allow a negative time excursion even if you tried... I do find it conceptually interesting and also kind of funny... Like attempting to circumvent a prime directive. But maybe I am a bit of a nerd - and I do see a very distinct difference... :)

As for other user mistakes like excessive speed or accel - well there is no way of knowing what limits should be applied here, so you are free to break things if you dare.

With good reporting by the software, if you are aware what your motors can do, then you can make a calculated assessment... my technique is to set a low fps, then increment until a limit is found..

Author:  geraldft [ Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis

I'd like to bring this thread back on track after that diversion... the intention being to look at the various features and techniques available so people can make up their own mind what system is most suitable for their application.

Firstly, Mantis and Arc both have a different emphasis, so maybe if I look at the specific features available that will be a good starting point.

1. DF Integration.

Arc is built in to DF so has an advantage since no external connections required to link with capture.

Mantis requires use of simple serial interface or a DMX box. Simple Serial can be implemented 2 ways. Directly to Mantis with a null modem serial adapter cable, or via an Arduino with the DFRemote script. The DF DMX box also has GPO output so it can also be used via cable to Mantis. Having a link option is important for animation, since in some cases you can't rely on realtime playback if the motors are not fast enough, so an automated stopmotion test must be made. In either system this is possible.

On bigger animation shoots, the task of moco is a separate team from the animators, so having a discreet system can be an advantage, so each can prepare independently without interference.

2. Number of motor channels.

Mantis 8 motor channels, DFmoco up to 16 with DMC16. Given a boom rig with 3 translation axes plus pan tilt and focus you need 6 axes. Then maybe you have a roll head and a turntable or other model mover so it's easy to get to 8 channels. If you do need more axes then a second instance of Mantis could be used. You could also use a combination of Mantis and Arc.

In practice the majority of shots do not use all axes, but for some this may be an important factor.

3. DMX control.

Implementation of DMX in Arc is better than Mantis. To my knowledge it's not a commonly used feature in Mantis, hence has had less attention than other motor related functions. In my own case when working on shoots which require synchronised lighting, I find it better for the gaffers to program lights with their own more familiar desks, and use an external sync trigger to lock moco to the lighting. Generally I'm pretty preoccupied with getting the moves programmed which leaves little time. Nevertheless forthcoming releases will add improvements.

4. Support for 3D file IO and rig geometries.

Mantis has numerous options for file formats which allow data exchange with 3D programs. IK conversion is implemented for boom rigs on file import. This allows conversion of XYZ moves from 3D programs into the rig. It also has a target tracking feature, and custom versions can drive 2 and 4 cable suspension rigs.

5. Recording and playback of manual moves.

Mantis has joystick and encoder handwheel inputs for realtime recording with accurate matched playback. Overdubbing is also possible, ie. recording axes while playing back others.

6. Jogging and remote control.

Arc jogging is by mouse or a number pad style remote keyboard for a range of basic functions. Mantis uses mouse and Function Keys on the main keyboard. In addition encoders or joystick can be used. For wired remote a DIY console with fully programmable buttons can be made.

7. GPO's for external trigger events.

Mantis has 3 dedicated GPO's which can each be programmed to turn on and off at specific frames during a move. These are mainly used to fire relays or solenoids to allow synchronised triggering of events with sub frame accuracy. ARC has GPO's via the DMC16 but these can only be used for regular animation events - they can't be configured to fire at any specifically selected frame.

As time permits I'll amend or add to this.... but I hope covers some basics. Usability may also be a question, though I think both programs have their occasional quirky ways of doing things, which might take getting used to..

Author:  MikeA [ Sat Apr 23, 2016 12:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis

A small but important point is that with the Mantis set up you do not need to be tied to a wall socket.

Author:  geraldft [ Sat Apr 23, 2016 1:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis

Hello Mike. A very practical consideration... especially since this is a time-lapse forum..

Though I think the comparison is complicated, since Arc can also be used on location with an Arduino for basic timelapse, which will use less power than Mantis... Many Mantis users do build the control unit into a compact portable Pelican case complete with drives for location work. I don't imagine anyone would be using a DMC16 on location, but they do use the Arduino - albeit without real-time preview...

Author:  DISPLACEMENT 1 [ Sat Apr 23, 2016 1:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis

Well thats annoying my post seems to have disappeared in the ether and it took me ages to type! . Will try later got to nip out now soz

Author:  DISPLACEMENT 1 [ Sat Apr 23, 2016 11:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis

Well i will give it another go think i got gazumped last time :( Yep think both Mantis and DMC Dragon are more studio based beasts but i do believe Doug as been out in the field with his rig and Mantis so it is possible .
Thats a very fair comparison you have given their Gerald and i agree with most of it . That been said i dont have Mantis so what do i know . In a perfect world i would really like both . I was wondering what the pin out arrangement is for Mantis ? The DMC use a D37 connector that can be configured to either Kuper or Flair pinouts for step direction http://www.dragonframe.com/downloads/DMC16v1.0.pdf . Does Mantis conform to one of theses
From my experience with Dragon its great and quickly becoming the industry standard for animation . Stop Motion Pro used to be quite popular years ago but not as much now . So with Dragon you also have motion control which is a bit of a bonus really . You could stick with the arduino option quite easily if time is not a issue . But in the commercial world i dont think its viable so theirs the DMC . Which is also good but all its been designed for is to work with Dragon without to much fuss .
Then theirs Mantis a much more creative beast which is what i like about it . You can do so much more with it. I keep having crazy ideas and Mantis is really the only solution . Shame its only 8 channels though . Gerald did say it was possible to daisy chain them . But not sure how this would work in practice if you were editing timelines a lot . You would have to jump between both instances and duplicate the changes for both . I did look at the Kflop site to see if they did bigger boards but made no sense to me thats Gerald's department.

Author:  geraldft [ Sat Apr 23, 2016 5:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis


Mantis pinouts are the same as Kuper.

Re channels - if you had to run extra axes the main rig would be on one instance, and model mover on another, so programming wouldn't be much extra hassle.

The alternative would be to run twp kflops from one instance of software, though the interface would start to get a bit crowded, since Mantis is designed to fit laptop screens with a minimum resolution of 1024 x 768.

It is also technically possible to increase the number of axes in the hardware but would cost quite a bit in initial outlay, as it would be a custom version of the Kflop - I have spoken to Dynomation about this option.

If you are a cheapskate you could also run Mantis plus an Arduino on DF for the model mover?

BTW - how do you remove an axis in Arc? I can keep adding them till the cows come home but can find no reference for removing them...

Also have an issue with DFmoco for Arduino. I have a Duemilanove which is supposed to be compatible, but the compiler says there is not enough memory for the script... Perhaps a list of compatible and available Arduino's might be useful? Seems they are changing so fast not all the models referred to in DFmoco are even available any more.

Author:  DISPLACEMENT 1 [ Sun Apr 24, 2016 1:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis

Well its good everything shares the same pinout . I could in theory just plug in which ever driver Mantis or DMC :D
I think back to my perfect world and this is just a animation world i emphasize i would def use both . DMC for main rig and lights. I know somebody who just bought two DMCs just to control of the DMX lights they are using . Really dont understand that one ! But back to my perfect world yeah DMC for animator to use and be happy with . Then Mantis for model movers or your very clever Yost motion sensing . Or anything thing else that requires more import export options .
If it wasn't just animation world it would be Mantis but still worried about the channel count . Lens motors can quickly take a couple of channels away to . Not leaving anything for model movers.
Never deleted any axis but will have a look . You can always hide them though or just highlight one
Yes the DF sketch seems to have been left at a level their haven't been any updates in ages . So its a case of getting arduinos that match . Their is a list in the sketch i think

Author:  MikeA [ Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis

geraldft wrote:

BTW - how do you remove an axis in Arc? I can keep adding them till the cows come home but can find no reference for removing them...

Hi, on the axis "tool bar" you have a icons for Home, Solos axis graph then the head of a down arrow, left click the down arrow and a list of options will be visible, including Delete option.

Did a quick search of the manual and could not find any reference either.

Author:  sciencelookers [ Sun Apr 24, 2016 6:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis

D1, thanks for the link to the various port plugs and pinouts on DMC-16, and the knowledge that some are becoming standards in the industry. I have obviously spent too much time alone. Somehow, we just made our own connectors and pinouts up as we went along. For small stuff, we use motor plugs which are compatible with eMotimo and the original DMX. Everything else has been the smallest connectors which were easy to obtain.

So now I aspire to the big time, and should pay attention to how everyone else does things. What type of connector and pinout do most people use going from driver box to motors? Is there some kind of plug at the motor end of the cable as well, and is it the same as the one coming from the driver box or different? Is there generally one plug for each motor, so for example, a P/T head would have two sockets, one for the pan motor and one for tilt?

Author:  DISPLACEMENT 1 [ Sun Apr 24, 2016 6:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis

My busy day on the forum (for a change ) Yep its good to know what pinouts everybody is using. Shame Kuper and Flair almost got it the same but not quite . In fact just enough wrong to give you a really bad day . A intentional ploy i suppose .
So i am sticking with the D37 in kuper mode . As for connectors to motors suppose that depends on what amperage the motors are pulling . I have noticed some companys not to be named use CAT RJ45 . A bit optimistic i think but they are cheap and readily availbie but just have a look at specified amperage they are after all data cables .
I use XLRs a lot but dont buy cheap ones you will regret it :(

Author:  sciencelookers [ Sun Apr 24, 2016 7:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis

Just for fun, try simulating the S shaped motion curve mentioned at the beginning of this thread. What happens is exactly what you see in the curve. The dolly starts moving as it normally would. When it reaches seven or so, a second trolley appears on the track ahead. This second trolley promptly splits into a forward travelling instance and a backward travelling instance, making three trolleys on the same track. The backwards travelling instance of the second trolley collides head-on with the original trolley and both of them disappear. This leaves the forward travelling instance of the second trolley as the only one which finishes the move, ahead of schedule as far as the speed of the original trolley is concerned.

Glad I was able to clear that up.

D1 and Gerald,
As far as XLR connectors go, can you post a link to some good ones? I have this nasty habit of searching around for a good deal, leading me to all the worst stuff. What happens to the cheap connectors? Do they just not connect, ruining drivers and making you crazy trying to figure out where the problem is because the connectors are firmly plugged into their sockets? Or something else?

Author:  geraldft [ Sun Apr 24, 2016 5:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis


Thanks for the interesting description of the reverse time phenomena. :)

I use small 4 pin AMP CPC connectors.

http://www.digikey.com.au/product-detai ... 1-ND/19370

This series has decent sized pins which are replacable if you burn them out. More expensive than XLR since you need to buy back shells and pins separately, but lighter weight. They come in a plethora of genders with panel and cable mount versions. Note that genders should be used like with mains leads. ie. power out should be female pins.

I use separate cables for each motor. Simpler to quickly replace a cable if necessary. Also 4 wire cable is a lot easier to find than 8 wire.

With XLR I always worry some camera assistant will try and plug my lead in to the camera! XLR's are also a bit heavy especially for lens motors. If using them stick to brand names, they are fairly reliable and rugged.

In the UK they seem to like Hirose plugs as used by MRMC. They are a bit like the cheap audio plugs used by the CNC guys, but better made.

RJ45? Not really worth considering - they are unreliable and really only usable for small motors with low current.

Author:  DISPLACEMENT 1 [ Mon Apr 25, 2016 12:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Arc Moco vs Mantis

Must admit XLRs are not a perfect solution but they are readily available. I do go down to Mini ZLRs for Pan Tilt head connections . The motors are small less amperage . A good make seems to be Neutrik but i am looking for a alternative http://www.lemo.co.uk/.
I am also using shielded four core cable now seems a safer way to go . If you are building a seven meter quality cable it can cost more that what people want spend on a slider . Makes ya think :)

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