Actin  Version 5.5.5
Software for Robotics Simulation and Control
Rendering Options

Up Vector

The direction of the viewer "Up Vector" can be chagned from the "View" menu. Change the values under the menu and then click "Update".

Z as up vector
X as up vector
This only changes the rendering up, and does not change the simulation origin.

Overlay Plugin

We can use the Overlay plugin to view the various structural aspects of the links that make up the manipulator such as:

  • Bounding Volumes
  • Mass Property Ellipsoid
  • Axis Aligned Bounding Box (AABB)
  • Guide Axis

To use this plugin, load the overlayPlugin.ecp.

After loading the plugin, four buttons get added to the toolbar as shown in the figure below:


Show Bounding Volume

Clicking on the "Bounding Volume" button displays the bounding volumes of all the links in the manipulator as shown in the figure below. These bounding volumes can be configured or modified using the "Shapeprimitive Plugin" as discussed in Shapes and Bounding Volumes. Bounding volumes are displayed in a transparent green color. Bounding volumes can be of any shape but the most common is the capsule. Bounding volumes are used in collision reasoning to speed up distance calculations.

Bounding Volume

Show Axis Aligned Bounding Box

This option enables the axis aligned bounding boxes for the robot to be displayed. The figure below shows the manipulator overlayed with AABB. It is used for collision detection when collision detection is Active. AABB overlay helps understand collision detection results, and should be treated as a tool for debugging

Manipulator shown AABB

Show Frames

Sometimes it is very insightful to be able to see all the frames (primary and D-H) of the robot. Clicking on the Show Frames button will show all those frames as well as the world coordinate frame. The world coordinate frame is typically designated by the frame with the longest axes. For all frames, the red, green, and blue axes represent the X, Y, and Z axes, respectively. The primary frame and the D-H frame of a link can occasionally coincide so they will appear as one frame. This is the case for all links of the Cyton Gamma2 manipulator as shown below

Manipulator shown with primary and D-H frames

View Combined Overlays

These overlay options can be turned on or off independent of one another. Thus user could view two or more kinds of overlays at the same time by turning on the toolbuttons. The figure below shows a combined overlay of Frames and AABB.

Manipulator shown with primary and D-H frames

LinkState Plugin

We can use the link state plugin to change how we view the various aspects of a manipulator at link level, such as bounding volumes, mass propery ellipsoids, and primary frames. This plugin is similar to overlayPlugin, but with more control over the level of rendering. To use this plugin, load the linkStatePlugin.ecp.

After loading the plugin, a menu option "Link State" gets added to the "View" menu as shown in the figure below. Checking the option on this menu brings up a dock window displaying the various rendering options that can be viewed for the manipulators available in the simulation file. This is shown in the figure below

Link State Menu

Link State Widget

Display Options for Links

For each of the links, we can customize the rendering options such as

  • Visibility : Unchecking the checkbox under the Visible column for a link, will hide the link as shown in the figure below,
Hidden Links
  • Mass Property Ellipsoid : Checking the checkbox under the MP column for a link, we can view the mass property ellipsoid of the link as shown in the figure below.
View Mass Property Ellpsoid for the selected links
  • Guide Frame : Checking the checkbox under the Guide column for a link, we can view the primary frame of the link as shown in the figure below.
View Primary Frame for the selected links
  • Transparency : We can vary the transparency of the links being rendered using this attribute. When we click in the column for a link, we get a slider control. Varying the slider position changes the transparency used for rendering the link as shown in the figure below.
Vary Transparency for a link

Load and Save State

We can save how the links are rendered, and open a file to apply it.

  • Save State: After having selected the various render options for the links based on the requirement, Click on the Save button to save the state in an xml format. This prompts the user to provide a path and a filename to store the linkState.
  • Load State: When we open the application next time and we want to view the simulation in this state, we can load the saved linkState using the Load option. Click on the Load button, this prompts the user to provide the path and select the file to load. The various options stored are then rendered.
  • Set Default: If we want to restore our simulation render options to the default state, we can click on this button. This restores the simulation to the default state.

Display Attributes plugin

The dsplay attributes plugin allows you change rendering options used to view the simulation. To use this plugin, load the displayAttributesPlugin.ecp.

After loading the plugin, a "Display Attributes" sub menu is added to the "View" menu as shown in the figure below.

Display Attributes Menu

By toggling these menu items, you can change how the model is rendered.

WireFrame mode

When the WireFrame mode is selected, the structure of the manipulator in wireframe is shown as seen in the figure below.

Wireframe Enabled
Wireframe Disabled
WireFrame mode is disabled by default.


When lighting is enabled, the OSG lights will apply light.

Lighting Enabled
Lighting Disabled
Lighting is enabled by default.


When texturing is enabled, the textures on the surfaces will be rendered.

Textures Enabled
Textures Disabled
Textures are enabled by default, but not all models have textures.

Shading Mode

Shading mode uses the shaders to smooth the render of the model. Shading attempts to hide the underlying wireframe triangle geometry.

Shading Enabled
Shading Disabled
Shading is enabled by default.

Culling Mode

Culling mode is used to enable backface culling of the geometry.

Culling mode is disabled by default.