Mantis Realtime Motion Control Software


4/1/20242 min read

Mantis software was born in 2008, after 10 years struggling with software developed in the 80s and 90s, running on antique operating systems such as DOS and Win95. Since then Mantis has developed from a basic utility, to a complex and accurate tool used in diverse motion control applications. It will run on any contemporary Windows computer.

Mantis also features the ability to record axes. This works like the overdub process used in audio software. You can play one or more axes while recording another axis. So for example you can playback a pre-programmed dolly move while recording manual pan and tilt. This is useful for working with unpredictable actors, and allows the subsequent playback of preferred takes for additional matching layers. Manual control can be via a standard Windows gamepad/joystick, or via encoder control / handwheels...

Mantis can also export/import move data in a variety of formats to suit most 3d programs... It can also stream motion data continuously for interfacing with virtual studio setups.

Mantis has a traditional, perhaps even retro look, but don't think this means it is not capable. The interface is uncluttered and user friendly, with an emphasis on functionality with a broad variety of specialised tools. Everything you need is there, to manage up to 8 stepper or servo motors, and 7 programmable trigger outputs. The accuracy of the system is excellent with repeatability in microseconds. Any moves created in Mantis can be played back instantly at a variety of rates from a fractional frame rates up to 600 fps - relative to your base rate. It also supports stop motion mode with sync to DragonFrame when using that for image capture.

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Mantis software requires a USB offboard controller to provide hardware connections to motors and switches. All realtime processing is carried by this controller. This allows the software and operating system to perform parallel reporting and monitoring without disturbing the realtime motion control operations. Mantis uses a Dynomotion Kflop as the brains for very accurate and precise motion control. The Kflop was designed for very high level CNC equipment, making Mantis the most accurate general purpose motion control system currently used in the film industry.