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April 5, 2013

Everyone is Now a Steadicam Operator with MōVi, a Gyro-Stabilized Handheld Camera Gimbal

Speaking of gyro-stabilizers, it's very rare that I look at a demo video of new gear with my jaw all the way on the floor, but after watching one for the new handheld stabilizing system called the MōVi, I simply couldn't help myself. Designed by Freefly Systems, based in Seattle, the MōVi utilizes gyro stabilization and accelerometer technology that, when seen in action, seems less like a mechanism and more like magic. Think of it this way: it's basically like your handheld rig is now a Steadicam, and pretty much anyone can learn to use it in minutes and get footage that normally would have required years of experience. Sound scary and wonderful? Read on for more.

Vincent Laforet, who was instrumental in the DSLR revolution, had been teasing this device early in the week, and now we've got the details. The term revolutionary gets thrown out a lot, but here it applies more to the usage rather than the tool (since the tech itself isn't really new, just smaller). The MōVi is a "digital 3-axis gyro-stabilized handheld camera gimbal." This thing weighs less than 3.5 pounds and is completely silent. No apparatus is required to operate it, but an additional gimbal operator with a joystick is available if you wish to capture certain camera effects. The MōVi allows you to run, jump, slide, skip, and probably double backflip without the fear of an unsteady camera or shaky image.

Just to hit the implication home: it is lightweight, silent, and versatile enough to capture shots that usually require a dolly, tripod, or other heavy and burdensome stabilizers that requires herculean strength to operate (score one for me). Here's a video demonstrating how the MōVi works. Come on back after you put your jaws back in place:

Check out these BTS videos giving you a sense of just how freely the operator can move and still get smooth footage:

Of course, while affordable for some people means something totally different for others, it's still going to be a higher end piece of gear for the time being. Straight from Vincent on pricing and model information:

Another big factor:  It will be affordable – the initial mid-level (in terms of weight support) MōVI M10 will sell for approx $15K and is already under production.   The second, smaller version, the M5 that will be on sale at some point in the near future (once the production capacity is in full swing) will be sold for a price point under $7,500.    If you consider how much we spend on handheld rigs, sliders, jibs (let alone Glidecams/Steadicams etc.) – the price of this device quickly becomes a no-brainer…

The first unit that is being released – the M10 – supports a camera up 10 pounds with accessories.  That equates to a DSLR with a lot of accessories or a bare Epic and prime lens.  We’ve been using the Epic and the Canon primes and Zeiss CP.2 lenses all week on a commercial without a hitch.   A future version the M20 is slated to support an Alexa or Epic package w/ zoom, price and date TBD.   The guys behind this work with Epics and Alexas on a regular basis and are cinema guys.

Many of you may only be renting this kind of gear for some time, but there is no question this is going to be the next big thing. Quiet gyro-stabilizers that can handle all sorts of cameras and configurations means being able to pull off shots that would have normally taken a huge team of professionals. Of course, if you're using a large sensor camera, you still have the issue of focus, but things are moving fast in that regard, and wireless follow focus and wireless monitoring are both coming down in price all the time. These sorts of developments can help push the industry forward, and I guarantee we'll be seeing movies shot in a way that we've never seen before.

Vincent also posted this video showing their stabilizer on an RC copter:

What do you guys think? Is the future of the full-time Steadicam operator in jeopardy thanks to rigs like this?

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216 Comments

I could do all the shots in the video with my 180$ flycam, so why spend 7,500$?

April 5, 2013

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Carlos

If you can hold a horizon like that while running and dodging then your skill is worth that much per day!

Put this on a steadicam and never lay dolly track again.

April 5, 2013

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Brett

Here's 2.5 year old footage of the $500 Skyler Minicam running with parkour folk.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EomeoXVR2SY

Maybe 10% less steady than the Movi for 8% of the price. A well balanced $180 flycam will probably do just as well for 3% of the Movi price. Fair trade-off for indie filmmakers.

The Movi is way overpriced for only being able to handle <10lb payload.

April 5, 2013

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John L

I highly doubt it. But if you are that awesome...then congrats...

April 5, 2013

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Different people, different definitions of 'affordable' o_0

April 5, 2013

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Jake

Yeah....and the 17k version cant even handle a rigged cinema cam. So spend 17k just to fly a dslr? The 'Segway-revolution' (Steve Jobs) never happened partly because they were simply too expensive.

April 5, 2013

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hansd

This is almost too good in a sense that it makes handheld look perfect, and personally I like to see some movement or bouncing. Still a nice invention and definitely can be helpful in a lot of situations.

April 5, 2013

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Rob

Right, but it's replicating a Steadicam look, which it does almost perfectly for many of the shots. It looks perfectly smooth when they aren't running, plus there is the possibility of stabilizing the footage even more in post.

April 5, 2013

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

The website claims it has "user adjustable shaky cam". That could mean it keeps varying degrees of the handheld jitters.

April 5, 2013

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Brian

I hate bouncy - especially when it is contrived. Total bounce annihilation is a good thing. Bring it.

April 5, 2013

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Terence Kearns

Hey Guys,

Timur Civan here. I was the DP on this shoot. Freefly was telling me about some of their upcoming tech thats already incorporated into the MOVI. You can program it to include a bit of bob and weave, and to dampen, but not completely remove hand held motion. Its all user selectable.

April 5, 2013

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So honestly, if there's a rigged Epic, or even an Alexa hanging on that thing - how much fun is it holding it in eye-hight in front of you?
I see it being the right direction but it doesn't seem very usable for serious cinema cameras without some sort of carrying support.

April 5, 2013

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Hansd

I can't imagine this would replace the cinema steadicam operator for the sheer acknowledgment that a rigged-out camera on set could weigh 50-70 pounds depending on the camera, lens, and accessories. However, it compliments the steadicam in the nature of running through tighter / smaller environments and can supplement a stripped down camera. Nonetheless, I find it to be very exciting

April 5, 2013

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The BTS really got me. Incredible stuff! I can only imagine what comes next when this gets some further development!

April 5, 2013

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Lukas

That is some seriously amazing tech. I'm not a huge fan of steadicam in terms of look and limitations, but if I needed a flying/floating type of shot, this tool would be a no brainier in my eyes.

April 5, 2013

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Agent55

This is so fucking cool. You can save so much time shooting with this thing, and time is money. Give it a year and there will be 3-5 competitors, it will end up costing around 2.500$ a year from now (or two). This will help to establish SLR and RED even more. No way to use this with a normal film camera. And in a way, it's genius, because the shaking and wobbling of the SLR's was the real big problem often - with this it's gone.
You can get a Red + this + gear all together for like 50.000$ and shoot a movie looking like a big budget production... Unbelievable...

April 5, 2013

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Doesn't look so simple..looks like you need 3 people to coordinate it.
Just like for crane work. The thing is impressive but it's not magic.
Otherwise we could just throw out all of the tripods and heads.

April 5, 2013

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sammy

Vincent said it can be operated by one man in his blog post.

April 5, 2013

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One man can only move it, you also need someone to point it

April 5, 2013

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Andrey Valentsov

And to pull focus

April 5, 2013

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hansd

I'm sure you can do it solo, especially with better autofocus cameras and lenses. On a real indie set it doesn't matter, you will get even better results working together with real flesh&blood focus puller and joystick operator. Nice.

April 5, 2013

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Natt

There is a version thats "locked" where the operator can then point it at his will, think stabilized Fig rig.

You always need a first when using any kind of camera suport system.

April 5, 2013

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Do a lot of running with cranes and tripods, do you?

April 5, 2013

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Brian

I think you're on to something there!

April 5, 2013

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Cameron Savage

Like Vincent states: "Working in cinema is about working with other people". It takes 3 people to fully operate this thing. Make some friends.

April 5, 2013

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Christian Anderson

Yeah, like Vinent works in cinema...

April 5, 2013

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burt

Two things: I agree that we'll see cheap versions sooner rather than later. And I didn't realize that the only difference between big and small productions was a Steadicam shot.
Personally I loathe Steadicams - only use that floating feel on commercials or where I'm forced to. Prefer real, well operated, non-stabilized handheld.

April 5, 2013

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Marklondon

Agreed. This is not a game changer. Its another expensive toy

April 5, 2013

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vinceGortho

Someone is jelly

April 5, 2013

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Natt

I think this is just the beginning for the technology. This early adopter stuff will finance the bigger rigs.

I can see this being really effective tech on mobile rigs like trucks and cars. Imagine a GOPRO sized version of this you could hang off a helmet or handlebars, or a boom version on a duneybuggy shooting the Dakar races.

I do wonder how reliable the tech is. I can take my glidecams into salt water marine environments and not work about wrecking a $15K piece of gear. Mud etc would also seem ot be an issue with all the exposed wire. I am really curious to see how it handles not so pleasant weather and air conditions.

April 5, 2013

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Wow. That is incredible.

I can only hope we get some cheaper imitations up to the same quality - $15k seems incredibly steep

April 5, 2013

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Fresno Bob

I can't believe some of the negative comments here. No, it's not $500 and it's not perfect for everything... but like the positive comments here point out, this is a really great step forward, and I'm interested where this tech goes in the next few years.

April 5, 2013

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David S.

Totally agree, this is incredible, especially that size! I think the most impressive shot was going through the hoop hanging from the ceiling.

April 5, 2013

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Casey Orion

If you travel a lot with gear, this is the ideal companion that replaces the need to bring a slider, monopod and glidecam...

Would the M5 version be capable of handling a C100 or C300?

April 5, 2013

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Amazing stuff. really high-end cinematography possible with this gear. too expensive for dlsr shooters...

April 5, 2013

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Gokce

Rental, rental and rental.

April 5, 2013

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Agent55

Impressed by the lack of wobble in camera motion when running around those corners. Excited by this gear for sure.

April 5, 2013

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Lane

I`m a Steadicam fanatic since I first saw it when I was 12 y o - but the obscene weight and bulkiness always was a big issue - now this thing is totally different, it`s actually the "magical" device Garrett Brown, the Steadicam inventor was speaking about that is going to affect the role of the Steadicam. I don`t think it`s a "threat", but kind of an extension - just dreaming what happens when this thing get`s coupled with a steadicam arm+vest or hanging from an easyrig...

April 5, 2013

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Mariano

Start doing your bicep curls. Running around handholding an Epic rig won't be light with this either.

April 5, 2013

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pat

- that`s why I said steadicam arm/easyrig plus this thingy, you can`t hold it very long, even with a dslr the total weight will add to about 10 pounds easily

April 5, 2013

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Mariano

This an incredible piece of gear, no question about it. I however feel a little mislead when vincent called it a "game changer" (sort of like the MKII was). I however cannot see that, this cost more than any of the gear that i own it cost more than any of my lenses or my mk 3. The whole thing with the mark 2 was that it was affordable meaning that ANYONE could save up for a year or two and buy the camera. With Movi i fail to see that its just NOT affordable and if any of you find it affordable please buy me one because 7k is not something a lot of us can afford for one piece of gear.

April 5, 2013

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edry

It's a game changer - because other companies will copy it and it will get cheaper. 5 years ago I would have paid a Steadicam operator (with a 20k + rig) a bucketload day rate for shots that someone on this rig could do better, quicker & cheaper.

April 5, 2013

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I mean...you'll have to pay the op/rig owner, focus puller, and whoever is pointing the camera remotely instead...

April 5, 2013

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pat

Essentially you have one arm free - so I'm sure a system will be developed to pan and tilt as you go. And focusing will be the same as for solo steadi operators - shut the iris down or keep your subject within a focus range. Will be totally useable for a 1 man crew.

April 5, 2013

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It's a game-changer because its an entirely new category of product. Like the MK2 the tech will get smaller and better and eventually into the hands of anybody.

April 5, 2013

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Carlos D

This is the best / most exciting piece of equipment that I have seen in a long long time. Can't wait to shoot on it!

April 5, 2013

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One advantage is its smaller than a pro rig so there are possibilities to work in tighter areas where it could be difficult/impossible to operate a steadicam. I'm curios about set-up and balance.

April 5, 2013

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Chris larsen

I don't think this will replace steadicam, but it will be a great rig to have for tight spaces. I love the spiral staircase shot.

April 5, 2013

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pat

Let the competition start and when the price can fit into my pocket I shall add this baby to my one'man'band scheme.

April 5, 2013

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Raoni Franco

With this system, the gimbal operator needs to be trained in body control. Similar to dance jazz running and such. Such an amazing invention!

April 5, 2013

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Chris

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