A Dropship Joyride with Mimic for Maya

Exploring new opportunities to creatively use robots in media and entertainment.

Erin Arnold


The ROB|ARCH 2024 conference, held in Toronto, May 21-25, offered unique insights into the evolving role of robotics in creative practices. Since its inception in 2012, the conference has seen the transformation of robotics from a niche novelty to a fundamental tool bridging the digital and physical worlds. At this most recent event, entitled “Beyond Optimization”, ROB|ARCH workshops and papers expanded beyond conventional industrial applications into more creative fields such as art, design, and architecture.

To further explore this, Autodesk Research hosted a three-day workshop, inviting participants to see how they could use robots to help make movies. In Dropship Joyride, Evan Atherton, Sr. Principal Research Scientist, Matthew Spremulli, Research Program Manager, and Nick Cote, Principal Design Roboticist, worked with 15 workshop attendees to help them make their own sci-fi masterpiece using robots.

The participants kitbashed a sci-fi spaceship using recycled materials, animated a flight sequence using Mimic – a free and open-source robot control plugin developed by the Autodesk Robotics Lab for Autodesk Maya – and brought the voyage to life with robots.

“This was a great way to showcase Autodesk tools and explore how we can use creative robotics for media and entertainment,” said Matthew. “None of the workshop attendees had experience working with Maya and at the end of the workshop, each participant had their own cinematic masterpiece and a new appreciation for using robotics in cinematography.”

Dropship Joyride earned runner-up accolades as one of the top workshops at ROB|ARCH and professors at top universities asked to bring the workshop to their students for further exploration on using robots in more creative endeavors.

Take a look at some of the photos of projects created during Dropship Joyride.

Photographs courtesy of 6ix Films

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