When my co-worker Robert approached me with the idea of using our lab’s collaborative robot to hold a camera in order to achieve dramatic cinematographic shots, I was instantly committed to the project.
One of the more interesting pieces of equipment which we have at the Waltham campus 3DEXPERIENCE Lab is our Universal Robotics UR-10 Collaborative Robot. The UR-10 as well as other competing collaborative robots, or co-bot for short, are intended to be used in place of industrial robots in factories and on assembly lines. These co-bots are designed to work closely with humans, and for this reason they must be exceedingly precise as well as safe, and easy to use. For this reasoning we saw that our UR-10 would be an ideal candidate for such a task.
Gabe Enright operating the Labs UR-10
Generally, robots designed for specifically for cinematography are quite costly and can vary in price–anywhere from $150,000-$300,000+. Just renting one of these robots costs thousands of dollars a day. Obviously these purpose-built robots are exceedingly more capable for our specific task; however they are only accessible to the upper echelon of videographers. However, we were up for the challenge of making our UR-10 robot achieve the same effect.
The first piece of the puzzle was how to mount a camera to the robot itself. Our UR-10 in the lab is equipped with a Robotiq 2f-85 gripper. While this gripper is excellent at its intended task, we were not prepared to risk swinging an expensive camera around without ensuring its safety. So I (with the help of my fellow 3DEXPERIENCE Lab intern Brian Craven) took to SOLIDWORKS with the goal of designing a simple but effective UR-10 camera mounting system.
Creating the mount in SOLIDWORKS
The camera mount we designed fit perfectly onto the UR-10 and used positive retention of a 3/8”-16 Hex head bolt in order to secure our camera to a quick disconnect as securely as possible. We were able to 3D print this part in a matter of hours within the lab in order to be ready to shoot.
First draft of the mount pictured with Robotiq gripper
The PLA printed mount replaced by Markforged Onyx Printed mount after initial filming
The goal was to film a professional quality unboxing video and be able to get seemingly impossible shots. We were able to do that within a day using only the resources found within the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab.
Filming the Video with Camera mounted to UR-10