PILOT and MoVI PRO - issues and solutions

Discussion in 'MōVI Pro' started by Larry McConkey, Aug 11, 2018.

  1. Larry McConkey

    Larry McConkey New Member

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    I am using the Pilot system now for FIZ, whenever I cannot use my Alexa Mini which has a WCU-4 and SFX-1 and controls. I really don't want any extra boxes on the MoVI PRO so I love that this system allows me to plug motors directly into the MoVI. But it has taken considerable effort to figure out how to use the system reliably. I am very comfortable with it now, but I have attached a document that explains it all!
     

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    Juan Lima and Graham Futerfas like this.
  2. Paul Christopher Greene

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    That's very kind of you sir...we've had a lot of issues as well and I look forward to reviewing your work...thanks again.
     
  3. Larry McConkey

    Larry McConkey New Member

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    Some people have had trouble opening the document which is a PDF... on my windows desktop I am prompted to save it to my hard drive and then I can open it. I will attach a .zip version. Let me know if this works or if anyone has trouble with it...
     

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  4. Larry McConkey

    Larry McConkey New Member

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    I will also copying the entire document directly. Hoping this works:

    Using MIMICS, MoVI Controllers, and third party controllers with the MoVI PRO. Firmware V1.5.1 on Mimics, V1.5.2 on MoVI PRO) as of August 4, 2018.

    I have now adopted the PILOT system as the FIZ controller for cameras carried by my MoVI PRO. It has proven to be as precise, robust and flexible as any other FIZ system I have used, but without being compromised by the size and weight of an external receiver/motor driver box, which is a HUGE asset. However, in its current state of development there are many potential issues that require a disciplined approach to setting it up, and many of these procedures are definitely NOT intuitive. After some frustrating experiences, I decided a deep dive into understanding the system was the only way I could use it professionally. I am confident that consistent with their history of refinement and development, Freefly will be addressing these issues with future firmware releases, but for now, I have created this guide to help me avoid problems and also to offer my recommended procedures for setting up one or two Mimics for FIZ control.

    To avoid confusion, “PILOT” refers to an assembly of a Mimic with one or more external modules, physically connected by what is called the “backbone” and electronically interconnected with short UART ribbon cables. There are 2 modules supplied with a PILOT at present: a Focus Module and a Zoom/Iris Module which also incorporates an actual handle. Freefly sometimes refers to this second module assembly as the “Handle”. But these modules can be programmed to control many functions, including Pan, Tilt and Roll (a handy acronym for these is “PTR” which I will be using throughout this text). There are even buttons on each module that can be programmed for additional functions. This flexibility is the strength, but also presents the potential pitfalls of the system.

    For clarity, you should understand that the “Freefly Controller Ecosystem” is designed to deliver maximum flexibility and an open architecture that will allow almost anything that you might want to do, right now, or with future firmware updates. Unfortunately that extreme capability means that the system is not simple, and it requires a great deal of effort to understand and program these tools to reliably do what you want them to do. I am hopeful that firmware revisions will provide methods to program how you want these systems to work for you in the field, essentially limiting what a system is capable of, so that the on-set workflow is streamlined, simplified and intuitive. There are also some bugs still to be worked out, so these are procedures I have developed that if followed carefully can avoid the complete confusion and frustration that might otherwise occur (at least that is what happened to me). I suggest you read the PILOT manual carefully first, and then read this explanation and follow the workflow I have designed to bypass problems. As the firmware is refined, this workflow should become much easier, but for now, you have to put in the work: You need to figure out how you want this equipment to function before going on set, and do not assume a camera assistant who has never used this system, will have any chance to get it to work on the day.

    I usually supply a Mimic to the 1st AC with the PILOT Modules for Focus, Iris and Zoom, but typically with only the Focus and Camera start/stop functions enabled. I offer a second Mimic to the 2nd AC, DIT or DP with a Bush Pilot or MoVI Controller for Iris Control. (The “Bush Pilot” is another module that can be interconnected with a Mimic, usually with a much simpler bracket, and much more limited functions available).

    First, I would like to explain how this Ecosystem is designed as I understand it, as there are many “priorities” that must be understood that define how a specific device will control specific functions, when used in combination with other devices. The current architecture allows for 2 MoVI Controllers, 2 Mimics, and other remote devices such as wireless wheels to communicate with the MoVI PRO. A Mimic can be connected to several input modules for controlling any FIZ function as well as PTR (Pan/Tilt/Roll) functions, in addition to being able to use gestural commands, that is, moving the Mimic itself to control FIZ or PTR functions following inputs from its internal IMU sensor package. The MoVI Controller can also be used for FIZ as well as PTR functions using built-in controls and its own IMU for gestural commands. Either can additionally be connected to third party external modules like the Klassen and Alpha Wheels. With so many components all capable of doing the same things, it is essential to understand how to program all these devices to function the way you want them to. Each of these devices and modules incorporates its own microprocessor, and all of these must network together (including the MoVI PRO of course) without interfering with each other. That is a big ask and Freefly has made a lot of effort to allow many combinations of these devices to work without conflicting with each other, but at the moment there are still many ways for problems to occur.


    Basic Architecture

    Mimics communicate directly with the MoVI PRO. Everything else uses a dedicated receiver that plugs into one of two COM ports on the MoVI PRO: COM1 and COM2. These COM ports are different in terms of what they can communicate: a receiver plugged into COM1 can control all functions = both FIZ and PTR, whereas when plugged into COM2 can only control PTR functions, so make sure you know what you want the external device to do when choosing which port to plug its receiver into.

    The Mimic also has two COM Ports for connecting to external modules. (BTW: these should not be confused with the function of the two COM ports on the MoVI PRO as they have different uses). The Focus Module and the Iris/Zoom Module also each have two COM ports and the interconnecting UART ribbon cables can be plugged into either of these ports and the other end into either of the Mimic COM ports; they can then be assigned to control operate any FIZ or PTR function. So it doesn’t matter which COM ports are used, which is very convenient. On the other hand, the Bush Pilot Module can only be plugged into COM 2 of the Mimic and can only be used for FIZ functions. The Focus and Iris/Zoom modules can be programmed for many different functions as detailed in the manual, including the ‘A’ and ‘B’ buttons on each. However, the red ‘A’ button on the Focus module is assigned as a shortcut to the mapping screen, and it will change which axis it is controlling, whenever you push it, either deliberately or accidentally. [1] Anytime you lose control of Focus, be sure to check that this has not happened (hopefully this problem will be addressed in the near future). The Bush Pilot is much simpler and straightforward, and only functions as a FIZ controller, controlling whichever motor axis is programmed in the Mimic, as described in the manual: “If Gamepad mode is not ON, or there aren’t any Pilot Modules connected to MIMIC, FIZ Main screen will display an option to “Toggle” mapping of Bush Pilot. Options are Defer, Focus, Iris, Zoom”.

    Another essential concept to keep in mind is that current Mimics can be designated as having “Priority 1” or “Priority 2”. To make this distinction more clearly defined, I will refer to the Mimic which has been programmed as Priority 1 as the “Primary Mimic”, and if you are using a second Mimic, it must be programmed as Priority 2 and I will refer to it as the “Secondary Mimic”. You must have the Primary Mimic turned on and connected to the MoVI PRO first in order to connect the Secondary Mimic to the network established between the Primary Mimic and the MoVI = it cannot connect directly to the MoVI PRO on its own, but requires the Primary Mimic to be turned on and connected to the MoVI PRO first!


    Workflow

    I am most often using the PILOT for Focus, with a separate Bush Pilot or MoVI Controller for Iris control which is either operated by a DIT, DP or a 2nd AC. I generally use Klassen Wheels with a Spektrum transmitter and a receiver plugged into the MoVI PRO COM 2 but I can also connect the wheels through the API input of a Mimic, but there are still some bugs in that configuration for the moment… I am working with Klassen and expect this will be resolved soon. (BTW: “API” is an acronym for “Application Programming Interface” which for our purposes means a very precise digital, rather than analog external signal being input to the Mimic). So this is a guide to how I setup the two Mimics to work, and critically, to work with each other. Be sure to follow these steps in sequence.

    1. Before setting anything up on a Mimic directly, use the MoVI PRO App to connect to each Mimic being used in turn, one at a time, and set up CONFIGURATIONS as needed and save them using the WRITE command. Set MIMIC Function to NORMAL to use it for FIZ functions with a Pilot Focus Module, Iris/Zoom module or a Bush Pilot module. If set to NONE, the Mimic will only be able to use gestural commands for those functions (IF that option is selected in the MIMIC FIZ MAIN screen). After this, remember to connect the MoVI PRO App back to the MoVI…

    2. Remove the antenna from the Mimic!! Any Mimic that is closer than about 3 feet from the MoVI, or closer than about 3 feet from another Mimic that is turned on can cause all kinds of intermittent problems. This will cause trouble not only during initial setup, but in between takes if you walk over to check the lens with a Mimic in your hand (in which case it will obviously be within this distance). You have to remember to hold it away from the MoVI PRO or remove the antenna. This is the first thing to suspect when things don’t seem to be working correctly as it is not something that happens with most FIZ controllers.

    3. Go to the last RADIO screen and confirm that you have a connection shown by bars in the Signal Strength graphic, and that PRIORITY 1 is selected. This Mimic has now been designated as the Primary Mimic. Don’t try to do anything else until that is selected. If this Mimic has not been bound to the MOVI PRO, do it now. (BTW: in order to bind successfully, the Mimic MUST BE set to Priority 1. If this will be used as the Secondary Mimic, you must set it temporarily as Priority 1 during this procedure and then reset it to Priority 2 afterwards.)

    4. Select OFF for the MODE on the first Mimic screen (other options are for gestural control of PTR and killing all the PTR motors on the MoVI, but I always leave this in OFF MODE when using the Pilot for FIZ control)

    5. Turn on the MoVI PRO, but you can then activate sleep mode to save batteries if you wish.

    6. Got to the GAMEPAD screen and make sure that mode has not been turned on, otherwise there may be interference with the functions you want the Mimic to do.

    7. Go to the MIMIC INPUT SETUP screen: make sure that the mapping of external modules that are connected to the Mimic are correct = Focus Module should be mapped to Focus, and the Iris/Zoom Module to their respective axes if being used. For any module that you are not using, make sure it is set to DEFER, or you may have a conflict with another Mimic or Controller using that function. If using a Bush Pilot module, also be sure to setup KNOB CAL (calibration), otherwise you may not get full range, or worse, see sudden reversals in motor position as you pass through a given position of the knob. You can see these behaviors in the graphics on the FIZ screens as well.

    8. Go to the FIZ AXIS screen: All changes to FIZ setups MUST be done on the Primary Mimic, NOT on the Secondary Mimic even if you are using a Bush Pilot Module on the Secondary Mimic for Iris control. There is currently a bug that will really confuse you if you try to setup the Iris motor on the Secondary Mimic. Intuitively you should be able to do that, but for the moment, you will be overwhelmed with total chaos if you try. Start by selecting each FIZ axis in the FIZ AXIS Screen one at a time on the Primary Mimic using the “SETUP” command to select the proper motor and desired torque, speed, direction, etc. Make sure the “RANGE” command has not been invoked unless you have deliberately set limits: this will be evident in the graphic scale on the left of the screen. Make all these selections before selecting “CALIBRATE”. This CALIBRATE command will only calibrate the selected axis. (The MAIN FIZ screen also has a CALIBRATE command which will calibrate all axes that have been setup on either the Primary or Secondary Mimic.)

    9. Exit back to the Main screen to save these settings. Hopefully in the future there will be an additional menu item to “SAVE”, but for now, you need to exit out of both FIZ screens to initiate the save. Also be aware that the MoVI PRO must be on and connected to the Mimic for this save to work, because the settings are actually saved in the MoVI TSU (Tilt Stage Unit) rather than in the Mimic. There are no indications that let you know you have been successful.

    10. You can now turn on the Secondary Mimic and go through steps 1-7, except that you must set this Secondary Mimic as “Priority 2”in step #3.

    11. If you power down the MoVI, upon powering up again you must re-calibrate the motors. You can most conveniently use the CALIBRATE command on the FIZ MAIN screen for this as it will re-calibrate all the motors at once. This action can be carried out on either Mimic from the FIZ MAIN screen, but it might be wiser to consistently do all setups and actions related to FIZ from the Priority 1 Mimic to avoid any issues with other FIZ setups as I detailed previously.


    Additional Considerations

    When using more than one Mimic, you must always have the Primary Mimic ON and connected to the MoVI for the Secondary Mimic to function. Also, the Secondary Mimic must be in range with the Primary Mimic for that to happen. In other words, even if the Secondary Mimic is range with the MoVI PRO, it will not work unless it is also in range with the Primary Mimic.

    Because of all the possible conflicts between these various controllers and their modules, Freefly has programmed priorities for them, and those are detailed quite well in the Pilot Manual, but I will re-iterate them with slightly different language here for clarity.


    The MoVI PRO will listen to controllers in the following order, so that if two or more are trying to control the same function, it will only listen to the one with higher priority:

    1. A Mimic set to Priority 1

    2. A Mimic set to Priority 2

    3. An external signal (typically an RF receiver for a MoVI Controller or a third party controller) connected to COM 2

    4. An external signal connected to COM 1

    5. A Mobile App


    A Mimic will listen to any device connected to it (Modules, signals from third party controllers, or the internal IMU itself for gestural controls) in the following order:

    1. An external API signal connected to COM 2 (like a third party wheels system)

    2. An external API signal connected to COM 1

    3. Pilot Focus Module

    4. Pilot Iris/Zoom Module

    5. Gamepad

    6. Bush Pilot

    7. Mimic IMU

    This means, for example, that if you have a specific FIZ function programmed for the Focus Module (typically focus) then even if you also programmed the Iris/Zoom Module for the same function, the Focus Module will be controlling without conflict. I think it better practice to make sure that “DEFER” is selected in the “MIMIC INPUT screen for functions you don’t want a specific module to be used for.


    [1] For now, the only safeguard against unwittingly changing its assigned axis is that if a given function has been assigned to another module, the Focus Module cannot be changed to control it with the ‘A’ button; so if you assigned Iris and Zoom to be controlled by the handle controls, you would avoid accidentally swapping control from Focus to either of those axes, but you would then not be able to assign either function to another device (like a second Mimic or a MoVI Controller)
     
    Juan Lima likes this.
  5. Graham Futerfas

    Graham Futerfas Active Member

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    Thanks Larry, well done! When I clicked the link, it went straight to my Downloads on my Mac, but not much indication that it downloaded. I’ll have to do a deeper dive into it, but appreciate your taking the time to put this together.
     

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