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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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Description image 234 COMMENTS

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

    • 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.

      • Here’s 2.5 year old footage of the $500 Skyler Minicam running with parkour folk.

        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.

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

  • Different people, different definitions of ‘affordable’ o_0

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • Joe Marine on 04.5.13 @ 8:37AM

      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.

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

    • Terence Kearns on 04.5.13 @ 11:21AM

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

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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

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

  • 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.

  • 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…

    • 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.

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

        • Andrey Valentsov on 04.5.13 @ 10:02AM

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

          • And to pull focus

          • 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.

        • 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.

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

      • Christian Anderson on 04.5.13 @ 11:22AM

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

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • Fresno Bob on 04.5.13 @ 9:04AM

    Wow. That is incredible.

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

  • 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.

    • Casey Orion on 04.5.13 @ 9:32AM

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

  • 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?

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

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

  • 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…

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

      • - 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

  • 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.

    • 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.

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

        • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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!

  • Chris larsen on 04.5.13 @ 9:58AM

    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.

  • 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.

  • Raoni Franco on 04.5.13 @ 10:13AM

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

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

  • That rollerblade shot was straight up Ballsy.

  • Andrey Valentsov on 04.5.13 @ 10:26AM

    Well, I’m really exited.

    This is thing looks like a copter gimbal, which was invented not today and not yesterday. With a small DIY you can transform any helicopter gimbal to simular project and it will cost you less that 1000 USD.

    This thing will not replace dolly or slider or crane, it’s much closer to steadycam system. Dolly and crane let your actors rehearse without changing your movement. Dolly and crane give you very mechanic movement, while this system and steadycam let you improvise. This are very different movements and they not always are able to replace each other.

    The main problem with this system is that you need someone to pan/tilt your camera (without control gimbal aways keeps a camera pointed at fixed direction) while with steadycam you can stabilize and direct your camera yourself. Hope it will be possible to remove this limitation with future software.

  • so i was watching the videos and was like hmm this kinda looks familiar so when i saw the behind the scenes i definitely what was going on because i have used a similar setup…on our hexacopter i was actually planing on mounting the gyro head on my stedicam arm but now im jus gonna mount it on a dslr rig and save myself $10k ;)

  • I don’t know what all of these comments about needing a second op to pan + tilt are about. If you drive your car with your knee, I’m sure you could manage something :p

  • Has no one here operated a Steadicam before? One of the main reasons for the arm & vest is to redistribute the weight of the payload onto your hips/legs and off your arms, so that you can actually use your arms to focus on operating. The Movi will work fine for smaller payloads, but rig an Alexa with wireless FF, rods, matte-box, batteries & and cinema lens and you’re looking at 20+ pounds. The weight of the MV15 will probably be 8+ lbs, so you’re telling me that you’re going to hold out 28 pounds in front of you with two arms for a 10 hour shoot? Not going to be a fun day. Maybe pair this up with an Easy Rig or something along those lines, but then you’ve possibly lost a bit of the mobility/slimness of the whole thing.

    It’s a cool piece of gear, but priced way too high at the moment. Most people I know shooting <10lb payloads aren't making the kind of money to justify a $15k piece of support gear. Either the price has to come down or they have to come up for a support solution to the 10+ pound payload.

    And the rollerblade shot was… risky. It's great that he pulled off the shot but he was carrying $30k worth of gear on rollerblades. If your insurance is cool with that, go for it.

    • For a good skater street skates are so low to the ground that it’s as safe as running.

      And couple the MoVi with an Easyrig or similar and it will put the weight back onto your hips.

    • I think it’s priced right. It’s straight up a pro piece of gear. I think it’d be a good piece to have for a normal steadicam op for intricate moves in tight spaces. I don’t think it is a game changer, but a great tool for those who already do steadicam work.

  • Call me cheap,

    but im going to wait for the indian or chinese knockoff to even consider buying it.
    in the meantime, Rental Rental Rental

  • I’m also trying to understand the difference between this and a copter gimbal. Maybe it’s a solution to allow the operator to easily control the direction the camera is pointing in? Here’s an example of a copter gimbal being used handheld:

    • ach you’re way ahead of me sir! It seems like this is basically a copter with its wings clipped right?! If so it should be cheaper that a copter right?! If this video had been posted on the first of April I would have thought the 15k price tag is a joke.

    • That is cool!

    • Christian Anderson on 04.5.13 @ 11:30AM

      Who said there was a difference? I’m sure it’s based on the same technology but with an additional control for pan and tilt.

  • 1. Amazing!

    2. Copters(for flying dslrs etc) that have been in the market for quite a while now utilize gyros for the smooth motion and I think it’s ok to say there’s a similarity in the way those gyros in the copters do their stabilization compared to the movi. If this is so then I’m inclined to believe that this or another device that can immitate it will definitely be waaaay cheaper in the not so distant future.

  • I’d change the post title to “Everyone (who has 15k and wants to spend them in a steadycam) is now…”

  • It’s a cool device but I can’t believe these guys don’t have a strap connected to either the camera or rig in case they drop the system. Not smart.

  • Just want to share with people here that this is NOT REVOLUTIONARY at all. As many has pointed out, it is almost like using the Zenmuse 15 but mounted on a rig. The shot/take can’t be done with big cameras anyway.

    And in case no one have seen this type or similar technology (but with higher precision and cost way, way, way more), please check out this link:

    Check And do click on the “River Island William Tempest Fashion Film” to get a better idea what a REAL REVOLUTIONARY means. Here is the vimeo link:

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