EXTOLLING LIFE WITH ROBOSCREEN® AND ROBOT ANIMATOR®

Introduction:  RoboScreen is a robotically controlled video display which uses an industrial robot arm and a programmable controller to move a video display screen in three dimensional space. Robot Animator [1] is a software plugin for Autodesk® Maya® animation software that allows the user to animate the motion of an industrial robot and convert the animated motion to robot control code for a RoboScreen display. Together, this software and system allow the user to create fluid and artistic motion of video screens in 3D space for entertainment events, installations, and other applications. 

Artistic Design Objectives:  The objective for these inventions is to extol life like motion to video displays by leveraging 3D animation software to allow computer animators to program industrial robot motion. Working with exact models of the robot arms and video displays, an artist is able to design the placement and movement of displays in a scene and create the motion paths that are synchronized to the contents of the video display and to the movement of other characters in the scene such as dancers or other performers. The results of this choreographed motion are compelling entertainment experiences that engage the audience through dynamic multimedia and motion enhanced performances. 

 

andyRobot is a robot animator who has transferred his skills and background in film and computer animation into the field of entertainment robotics. [2]  Robot Animator is designed by andyRobot, the patent award winning robotics designer. As an expert computer animator, andyRobot envisioned the ability to leverage the creative tools of 3D animation to create life like motion for industrial robots. This vision includes the use of inverse kinematics to make it very simple to create and program fluid robot motion. Robot Animator makes it possible to animate a 6 axis industrial robot and generate code that instructs the real robot to move in exactly the same way with no coding required. It supports a variety of frame rates for compatibility with camera systems, computer graphics pipelines, and 3D projection mapping. Video timecode synchronization is supported in the environment allowing the artist to coordinate the robotic motion with the content on the video screens.

 

andyRobot has been described as a robot whisperer who knows how to apply creative robotic animation to large scale entertainment events.Working for over a decade, his RoboScreens have traveled the world, helping international musicians enhance the entertainment factor in their shows. He has provided his RoboScreens to the likes of Bon Jovi, DeadMau5 and the Japanese pop band Kis-My-Ft2.[3] Robot Animator was used by Royal Caribbean International to create the first robotic entertainment on a deep ocean vessel for its smart ships Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, and Ovation of the Seas.[4] In 2019 andyRobot collaborated with Bloomingdale's in New York City to create holiday themed window displays featuring robots placing ornaments on holiday trees, a robot band, and an interactive karaoke attraction.[5]

Robot Animator Maya Plugin

Development and Implementation: RoboScreen animation takes place in the 3D animation environment of Autodesk Maya software. This allows the artist to apply computer animation techniques to robotics. Inverse kinematics is applied to the robot models via character rigs. These are essentially skeleton models that connect the movable parts of the robot in a connected skeleton. The skeleton defines the parameters of motion for the character such as motion constraints and how the motion of one piece of the skeleton affects the other connected pieces. Using key frame animation techniques the animator can set positions for the robot at specific points in the timeline and the software will calculate the motion path between the points set by the animator using the constraints defined by the character rig for the robot. This is how fluid and life-like motion is achieved. [6]

 

The Robot Animator plugin provides a number of critical features behind the scenes and the automatic code generation requires no knowledge of programming to create ready to run code for the robot controller. The software includes selected major KUKA® and ABB® robot models in both Inverse Kinematic and Forward Kinematic versions. Each model is highly accurate to factory spec allowing for accurate and full throttle motion performance. The software applies speed and acceleration correction to the specifications and constraints of each robot model as you animate. Motions inside Robot Animator® are truly WYSIWYG so that what you see in Maya® is what you get on the real robot. Robot Animator® is implemented with a simple GUI for new users and will have you programming a real robot in minutes. If you are an experienced Maya user you will be very comfortable with the elegant integration into the overall animation workflow.

andyRobot Robotic Design and Performance Reel

References: 

 

[1] Robot, A. AndyRobot | Robot Animator® For Programming KUKA Robots. andyRobot.com. Retrieved January 2, 2020, from http://andyrobot.com/consulting

 

[2] Jozuka, E. Meet The Robot Whisperer Who ‘manufactures Fun.’ Retrieved December 14, 2019, from https://www.wired.co.uk/article/robot-whisperer-manufactures-fun

 

[3] Anandan, T. (2017, July 26). Elevating The Art Of Entertainment – Robotically. Robotics Online. Retrieved December 14, 2019, from https://www.robotics.org/content-detail.cfm/Industrial-Robotics-Industry-Insights/Elevating-the-Art-of-Entertainment-Robotically/content_id/6654


 

[4] Staff writer. (2016, September 30). Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. | Dance, Robots Dance. Retrieved December 14, 2019, from https://www.rclcorporate.com/dance-robots-dance/


 

[5] TAO, M. (2019, December 4). ABB Robots Ring In The Holiday Season At Bloomingdale’s Iconic New York Flagship Store. Robotics & Automation News. Retrieved December 19, 2019, from https://roboticsandautomationnews.com/2019/12/04/abb-robots-ring-in-the-holiday-season-at-bloomingdales-iconic-new-york-flagship-store/27167/

 

[6] Staff writer. usedrobotstrade.com. (2019, November 25). AUDIOVISUAL ANIMATION WITH INDUSTRIAL ROBOTS - Usedrobotstrade.com. Retrieved December 14, 2019, from https://usedrobotstrade.com/blog/audiovisual-animation-with-industrial-robots/

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