Physical controller for character animation?

I’m a 3D mouse user (3DConnexion SpaceMouse) and love having specialized physical controllers (i.e. anything other than a mouse) for specific needs.

I’ve been doing a lot of work with BlenRig and I’ve found it fairly tedious to pick out the rig body part that needs animated and then either grab or rotate that body part in the proper axis. I mean, it works, but there’s a heck of a lot of scrolling and re-arranging of screen real estate space to get to the control I want but yet still see the viewport at a decent resolution, and so on.

So I started to wonder…is there a physical controller that can be used for character animation? That way, after setting up BlenRig and putting an armature into Pose mode, I could simply select the rig and start pressing buttons, twisting knobs, moving joysticks, or doing whatever on this physical controller and keep my screen mostly focused on the Dope Sheet, Outliner, and Viewport.

I’m not sure exactly what form this controller would take, but I can imagine something which would provide instant access to whatever body part which needs to be controller, and then two secondary controllers – one for grabbing, and one for rotating. I would also imagine there could be some switches for constraining a grab or rotate within a certain axis.

If no such device exists, has anybody attempted something like this with some sort of controller originally intended for another purpose, like a MIDI controller for music production?

LOL. I know what you mean. The rig is great but made for every situation. What I normally do is move the bones I know I will use to the first few layers and move the others to another layer and then just switch layers in the armature layer panel. If I find I need the bones, I just switch them back. Gamers never die!

Just off the top of my head… This could certainly be done, but it would take a lot of work. Here’s my 2 cents…

I’ve worked with rigging & some animation in blender. I’ve also done python scripting in blender, creating UI panels for rigs in the 3d view and stuff. I got away from blender the past few years and have been focusing on other interests. In the process, I’ve been working with micro-controllers and had one hooked up and talking to blender. C coding for the micro-controller and python scripts in blender talking back and forth. A micro-controller can be hooked up to almost any kind of input, a button, slider, knob, a widget, or any thing-a-madoodle you could think of. It’s the code that would make it all work that would take time…

What do you mean, you move bones to layers? I do this with all rigs I work with and script a control panel for the 3d view’s transform panel to control layer display. I’ve not worked with blenrig, so excuse me if I sound dumb on the subject…