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 Welcome to Mantis Motion Control 
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Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:50 pm
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Post Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Hi

This topic is for Mantis Motion Control software as well as interfacing to hardware rigs. Topics like motors, drivers, dollies etc which should also be of interest to users of other systems... Basic information on Mantis can be found at www.bfg-motion.com.

Gerald Thompson


Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:29 am
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Glad see you have increased you presence on the forum . Mantis seems the only thing that will give us real time moves at mo . I know this is a timelapse forum but it would be nice to test a move before committing to sitting to hours on top of a windy hill just to find out you got it all wrong!
Hope to play with Mantis one day new rig no ware near finished . Pottering time severely limited at mo hey oh :(


Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:30 am
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Yes some might wonder on the value of real time - and it's true that for a simple slider rig it's quite unnecessary. But as soon as you start adding more axes, and want to control the feel of the shot, it becomes important to preview before committing. Once you've tasted it - you don't want to go back :)


Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:53 pm
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Interesting software, is it a case of if you have to ask the price you cannot afford it ;) or is it custom made to a specific requirement.

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Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:42 am
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Hi Mike

Well, it's custom made in the sense that it evolves with user requirements where possible. It now has a 2 year history and is able to stand up to much more expensive software such as Kuper and Flair. In fact it is much more user friendly than either. It is not so overloaded with advanced features that you need to do a course to learn it. Even so I try to set the price so it's not out of reach of indie filmmakers. The price is not published because I prefer to deal with clients individually. You can contact me c/o my web site if you think this is something that you really need... :)

www.bfg-motion.com


Thu Feb 16, 2012 4:46 pm
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Update...

Mantis now includes more new and advanced features in the one program.

- Manual Recording of any combination of axes with encoder or joystick input. (Also records while playing back other axes.)

- Simple fast smooth function.

- Limits can be set on encoder and joystick inputs.

- Timelapse/stop motion SMS and continuous modes with camera trigger.

etc...


Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:02 pm
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
I am a keen user of Mantis II. Best motion program around, in my opinion, if you are serious and you don't mind spending a reasonable amount for a moco program and controller that will do the job with no fuss, in real time and in an intuitive way. Gerald doesn't promote it enough, which is a shame because it's the real deal. I bought it last Christmas, and since then, Mantis has consolidated all the goodies from his other programs into one, plus a lot more.

I use it for motion control (pan/tilt and linear slider so far, but Y and Z axes planned) , and it has all you need for time lapse too, single, continuos in any fraction you desire, time mapping, delay, you name it.

When I finish my rig, I will post samples.

Edward


Wed Jul 04, 2012 1:56 pm
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Its good to hear a external impression of Mantis. Been looking around on the web for other users and their hard to find .The only one who leapt out was Dan Thompson who spoke quite highly of it .
Looking forward to any post you make once you get your rig up and running . If I get my rig running at decent real time speeds might start saving my pennies . Already Pm Gerald so know rough ball park on cost . Using Dragonframe at mo which is really good but miss real time functionality


Thu Jul 05, 2012 10:25 am
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Yes, I first heard about Mantis from the Dan Thompson website, though he hadn't gone very far with it when I last checked.

I am primarily a Mac user and I use Mantis on the Mac with Parallels. Works like a dream, as does on the PC.

Connecting to the drivers (Leadshine) is easy, you just buy a length of ribbon cable from Maplin and connect it to the right pins as per clear instructions. It just worked first time, no fuss. I was surprised it was so easy. It didn't take me long to familiarise myself with Mantis, as I am OK with speed and position curves and the basic concept of how stepper motors work. But Gerald helped me with any questions, he has ben incredibly helpful, not just with his program, but with questions about rig design, etc. He is also good with taking suggestions for future development of Mantis. If you have a good and solid argument for a request of a feature, he will do it.

I am actually using it with a pan/tilt I built, together with focus control and right now I am using an Omnislider (provisionally) until I make a proper dolly to support all the weight from all the axes. I have adapted the Omnislider by removing the DC motor and putting one of the Phidget 25:1 Nema 17 motors. Although it's not a big motor, It lifts the camera completely vertically upwards and downwards with no problem and with complete smoothness. I haven't tried it with the extra weight of the pan/tilt (as I've only just adapted it this week), but I feel confident that it will lift the full weight. The speed is pretty good too, more than the camera panning can handle (at high bit rates) without getting dizzy. But this is provisional anyway.

I am now building a new pan/tilt with proper Harmonic Drive gears, as I found planetary gears have a bit of backlash, and for my kind of work (multi directional macro) I need zero backlash.

Edward


Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:19 pm
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Hey Edward

Thank you for the kind words... Feedback makes the software better all the time, though I also use it on commercial jobs which is very testing!

Gerald


Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:07 pm
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Latest Software Update

Mantis II ver 2.6 now includes more new and advanced features in the one program.

- Programmable triggers for external events such turning on lights or triggering explosions etc.

- USB cable remote for jogging axes, running / stopping moves

- More complete tools for scaling of time and position graphs

- Accurate realtime recording of any combination of axes with encoder or joystick input. (Also records while playing back other axes.)

- Simple fast smoothing function.

- Limits can be set on encoder and joystick inputs.

- Timelapse/stop motion SMS and continuous modes with camera trigger.

etc...


Thu Oct 18, 2012 5:50 pm
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Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:49 pm
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Hey Gerald,
I have an 8 axis crane rig working with DragonFrame right now. I am using Big Easy Drivers connected to an Arduino MEGA. What would it take for me to move this rig over to a Mantis system interface?

Cheers,
Doug.


Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:01 am
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Hi Doug

Changing over would be quite simple and you can still retain your DragonFrame based system. Though motor drives etc may need some reassessment to cope with higher speeds... :)

BTW If you are using a capture program like Dragon Frame it's also now possible to link Mantis in an indirect way. In the case of DragonFrame and timelapse programs such as GraniteBay, it's necessary for the capture program to control the camera. Hence we use the flash trigger output on the camera to step Mantis forward automatically after each exposure.

Please Contact me c/o my web site for further details.

Gerald

www.bfg-motion.com


Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:39 pm
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
My Mantis controller is showing up sometime today! So excited to finally realize a 35 year dream coming true! Gerald, as soon as it gets here you can expect a flood of questions.

Cheers,
Doug.


Tue Apr 30, 2013 6:33 am
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Hi Doug hows Mantis going . Are you still using your BEDs do they give enough speed or have you upgraded your drivers . Just bought myself a new camera so real time def not possible this year Boooooo.


Sat May 04, 2013 4:22 am
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Dman, MANTIS is amazing! I have it up and running my rig through my old controller with the BEDs with no problems. I emailed Gerald about my first attempt at a realtime move. I likened it to something out of the Terminator. Quite a different beast than working with DF. I am building my encoders right now which will allow me more control and I will be able to set limits on all the axis. I am very happy with my purchase. I will follows Gerald's advice one day though about upgrading my drivers to Leadshines. Very soon, hopefully this week, I will have a video test of a move up on my YouTube or Vimeo site.

Cheers guys,
Doug "Realtime" K.


Sun May 05, 2013 7:32 pm
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Doug K wrote:
Dman, MANTIS is amazing! I have it up and running my rig through my old controller with the BEDs with no problems. I emailed Gerald about my first attempt at a realtime move. I likened it to something out of the Terminator. Quite a different beast than working with DF. I am building my encoders right now which will allow me more control and I will be able to set limits on all the axis. I am very happy with my purchase. I will follows Gerald's advice one day though about upgrading my drivers to Leadshines. Very soon, hopefully this week, I will have a video test of a move up on my YouTube or Vimeo site.

Cheers guys,
Doug "Realtime" K.


Look forward to seeing your results.

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Mon May 06, 2013 12:22 am
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Doug K wrote:
Dman, MANTIS is amazing! I have it up and running my rig through my old controller with the BEDs with no problems. I emailed Gerald about my first attempt at a realtime move. I likened it to something out of the Terminator. Quite a different beast than working with DF. I am building my encoders right now which will allow me more control and I will be able to set limits on all the axis. I am very happy with my purchase. I will follows Gerald's advice one day though about upgrading my drivers to Leadshines. Very soon, hopefully this week, I will have a video test of a move up on my YouTube or Vimeo site.

Cheers guys,
Doug "Realtime" K.

Good to know the BEDs can cope with real time . Must be great feeling to get your rig moving real time . When you say you are fitting encoders does this mean you are going for what i think they call a closed loop system?
Please post as much information as you can . Mantis seems to suffer from a low profile and its good to get a end users impression . Look forward to some mad real time moves coming our way soon .


Mon May 06, 2013 7:50 am
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Hi Doug,

Glad you are enjoying Mantis. I also recommend that you try the Leadshine, they are great and vey quiet, so long as you set them at the correct current. You can find out what the correct current is by trial and error. Start with the recommended current for the motor, and if it gets warm, you can knock the current down a bit until it's practically cold to the touch. If you set your current slightly too high, it will still run and you'll get a little more torque, but the motor won't be as silky smooth throughout its speed range as when the current is set perfectly. I don't microstep my motors too much, just 2 or 3 notches at most, as you lose speed otherwise, and I haven't really noticed any practical increase in smoothness. As an example, my Nema 23's run at 2Amps (from memory), they are cold to the touch and they are super smooth and super quiet.

Since I believe you use fairly large steppers that require more than 1Amp to run, you can easily set the current with the dip switches. Any less than 1Amp and you have to do it by connecting the Leadshine driver to a PC with serial port cable and from within a small application that you download from their site.


I am not quite sure why you are bothering with encoders. I don't use them and I find I have no problems with accuracy just as it is. I am sure you know something that I don't know, so please explain the benefits to you, if you have a second.

Regarding setting limits, I simply set two keypoints to start with: One at the very first part of the move, and the other at the very last. Nothing ever moves beyond these points.

I really like the simplicity and power of Mantis, I bet you are just kicking yourself for not getting it sooner!


Mon May 06, 2013 8:14 am
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
So I have been busy. Here are my first tests. Nothing blazing. Baby steps.
http://youtu.be/56EvJLrEhgc

Hey Edward,
Yes I am kicking myself. I have known about Mantis for awhile but really thought it would be out of range of my budget. Earlier this evening I shot a multi pass multi axis shot. A multiplicity shot of myself in different locations of my workshop. I am in the process of compositing it and will get it online soon. Again I have to say that if you are looking for the real deal for motion control Mantis is it.

About the encoders. The reason I am building them is they will allow me to position an axis in realtime! Yes you can plot key frames but if I've gone this far I want the whole enchilada:)


Mon May 06, 2013 11:54 am
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
So I did a bit of a test yesterday.
http://youtu.be/IgsD2sb2ETU

It is a rough quickie test but is very encouraging.


Tue May 07, 2013 6:34 am
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Looking good and sounding great . Always like the sound of a stepper running nicely . BEDs not to bad after all . You obviously a very happy man, you look like a kid with a new toy.
Keep on playing :D


Tue May 07, 2013 8:32 am
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Got the encoders working! Really really cool! Realtime positioning of any axis. I am using two for now as I only have two hands. I am going to invest in eight as there are eight channels and if I am using this on a shoot then the DOP, the 1st AC can have their hands moving a few and I can control major axis like the dolly motion and the booming action. Setting up one for focus is a no brainer as it allows me to pull focus in realtime and record it!

Gerald, your magic box work good!


Wed May 08, 2013 8:28 am
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
So a few updates,
Programming moves in Mantis is not unlike DF, ie: plotting key frames.

Using encoders: let's say you have a 3 axis rig, dolly, pan, tilt and you are doing a simple follow shot of an actor. With the encoders you have your talent walk and if you are skilled enough you have one encoder hand wheel on the dolly and you can match the speed of the walk. This is the beauty of realtime. Once you have that axis recorded you setup again this time you are now using the encoders on the pan tilt to line up a shot exactly where you want the camera. If you tried to do this with plotting key frames it would be quite difficult to do. As I intend to offer my rig and services for commercial use the use of encoders is a priority. Not to mention be able to program a focus pull. Also, the encoders or joystick can be setup with limits which if you are pulling focus absolutely essential, otherwise you run the risk of damaging an expensive lens or camera.

My thoughts on Mantis: fabulous product that puts into the hands of indie filmmakers a powerful tool. As I have said this is something I have been waiting for for a very long time. Thanks Gerald.

Forgot to mention that I have Mantis running under DragonFrame. How you ask? I purchased The DDMX-S2 lighting controller which has a logic output. Basically you take a 9 pin female connector and hook up pins 1, 0V and 9,User input1, I believe, I will double check that. This 9pin connector goes into the port labelled bloop on the Mantis. You then hook the two wires to the DDMX , the GND and the lo. Then you setup a trigger in DragonFrame. Just go into the connections menu and use a logic trigger after video assist frame. This also allows the go-motion ability of your rig. Now when animating or doing a timelapse the rig will move while DF fires off a frame!


Sun May 12, 2013 7:57 am
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Post Re: Welcome to Mantis Motion Control
Congratulation Doug. Can an Arduino do the same thing with DF? Would be cheaper no? I know that StopMotionPro uses Arduino as a Motion Control interface.


Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:53 pm
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