The animation rig is based on the actual specs of the real TechnoCrane 50. It can automatically limit rotations and the extension of the arm on both velocity and acceleration.
When these limits are crossed the rig will not move any faster than is possible and the blue and green indicators (image above) turn read and show how many degrees or meters your animation is overshooting the physically possible values. Of course the indicators can be turned off as a whole or individually to remove clutter from the view port. This is also possible for the visualization of the rig itself and the animation handles.
Building in the limits functionality was a fun little project and as in many occasions, CHOPS are your friend. It basically works by first using the Slope CHOP to measure velocity or acceleration (first or second derivative using basic differentiation). Once you have the velocity or acceleration is easy to limit the values. These limited values can be turned back into positions/rotations using the Area CHOP (integration). Using the Export CHOP its easy to push the limited values back to the parameters for translation or rotation. This all works really well and fast as well :).
Another functionality I built in was a subject tracking camera head. The tool has a slider that allows the animator to blend between animated camera head rotations or automatically tracking the subject.
Animation can be done in the viewport using the animation handles (see image above) or using the parameters of the tool (see image below).
The limits on the rig are all parameter based so it is possible to change the physical properties of the rig (perhaps setting lower limits to force more gentle moves).
Anyway, it was another fun little tool to build (though not as ‘glamorous’ as water tools).