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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?

Links:

Related Posts

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  2. DIY Builds: Portable Jib That Doubles as Shoulder Rig, Panoramic Head, Dirt Cheap Steadicam

COMMENT POLICY

We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 234 COMMENTS

  • Terence Kearns on 04.5.13 @ 11:24AM

    Still picking my jaw up off the floor.

    We are gonna see a lot of incredible stuff soon…

    • jd holloway on 04.5.13 @ 12:01PM

      I have to call my banker…

    • I thought the same thing. This thing + easyrig could really make some interesting results.

    • Why do so many assume that all equipment is priced to be owned and not rented? The only things that I personally try to own are the BARE essentials – well-rounded camera, sticks, cards, batteries, etc. This thing is a rental dream, if it performs like we see here – for specific shots, not every time you go out and shoot for fun.

    • Just the thing for my MarZpac … !

  • This reaffirms my belief that the margin between amateur and professional technology is becoming that much more narrow, while the level and appreciation for professional skills still remain the same. Specifically you have people complaining this costs too much, can’t be operated by yourself without an AC, etc. Holy hell, people, you need a 1st AC, you need to know how to move with a camera. I find it shocking that people on this website expect professional tools to cost bargain bin prices. Even systems like RED, and the ALEXA are what I’d call bargain bin, as compared to 10 years ago when crappy 480P systems like the Varicam were well past the 100K mark in cost. There’s an expectation that your 2500 dollar Mk3 is comparable to an Alexa or RED, when it’s just not. And in this case a system like this should be a do-it-all product that’s affordable to someone who thinks a DSLR constitutes a professional film camera. It’s just not. What it is however is an amazing compliment to a true steadicam. Something you can pack into a pelican case, throw an Epic on, not have to spend half an hour balancing on a stand, and then kit up in a complete vest. I hate to use the phrase, but this is by very definition a disruptive technology. And at 15K, it’s a bargain for those of us who make a living this way.

    • I think the ‘problem’ is that Laforet advertised this device as a ‘gamechanger just like the 5DmkII was’.
      The 5D was a gamechanger because it was accessable and affordable to most people while this thing really isn’t.

      • for a rental, it’s a godsend – that is, if they can sell them to rental houses.

        • 15K for a pure handheld system is too much IMO. Holding 10lbs like this extended in front of the operator by their forearms is going to lead to massive shoulder and lower back fatigue. Sentiments regarding this as a good deal based on the cost of gear from 5 years ago are meaningless. We are in the now, and the production market is changing at near breakneck speeds. I suspect if priced at 5K, demand would outstrip production supply. 7 to 8k may be the most profitable point. Unfortunately, both for would-be-buyers and freefly, an annual ROI rate of 35-50% was most likely determined when the production/sales/etc budgets were made and thus the sale price will be inflated in an attempt to get a higher return on investment then what the market can bare. The market will of course correct for that, and w/in 2 years I suspect we will see devices like these ranging from $500 low precision models that are still great for sub 1K DSLR/small camera work, to 5k high precision professional models suitable for RED, Arri, Sony, etc productions. Thanks

        • vinceGortho on 04.5.13 @ 4:28PM

          For a rental you can get anything though

      • Most master primes and other high end lenses are unaffordable to anyone but rental houses. That’s why we rent. No one is saying you have to buy this. Steadicam a aren’t cheap as well, why are people bitching about this cost when a steadicam rig isn’t exactly budget.

    • I agree with Alex. I also agree it’s not necessarily a “game changer” as it’s still pretty pricer for the no budget type. That’s because this is highly advanced technology and having this filmmaking tool is a great advantage. I think it’s simply amazing for a shoot that fits it into its own situation. Like any filmmaking tool. If you are looking to do a long tracking shot in a tight space or a complicated tracking shot that goes through small areas, price aside, this would be preferable over a steadicam. Otherwise, you’d get your trusted steadicam operator and crank the shots out perfectly smooth. If price is a factor, now we have an alternate that will get us the opportunity to crank the shots out pretty darn smooth.

  • mike_tee_vee on 04.5.13 @ 11:58AM

    Cool device. I recall that the people behind the Blackbird Stabilizer are working on similar technology.

  • That taxi shot was awesome.

  • $15K and $7.5K is too expensive. A stabilizer shouldn’t be the cost of a camera.

    • You obviously haven’t looked at lenses or dollies. This is a bargain.

      • You’re absolutely right. I may not see the value in a stabilizer for $15K. To me this is overpriced and I’d rather buy a lens with that, which won’t devalue the way a stabilizer might.

        • Heres the thing, yes, its a handheld device… But it does the job of a Dolley, Stedicam (for most things and alot that a stedi cant do), hand held rig….. its not replacing a hand held rig, its replacing a few things. Once you see how easy it is to work with, your imagination runs wild…

    • That’s a knee slapper!

  • I was going to say that this is going to shake things up, but then realized that it’s going to do the exact opposite. This looks like an incredible leap forward, especially if they create a vest so you can self direct the camera with ease (that’s the real power of current steadicam)

  • Amazing technology. This can bring some fantastic shots to fruition.

  • Holy Crap! I want!

  • Awesome now I just have to learn how to build one of my own!

  • jd holloway on 04.5.13 @ 4:07PM

    Human becomes the meat-dolly.

  • Shut up and take my money!

  • sebastian roland on 04.5.13 @ 4:30PM

    this is the same tecnology used in quadcoper camera gimbals you can put together one of this for less than one thousand usd if you make it yourself!

  • marky mark on 04.5.13 @ 4:50PM

    As always we get into an upside down argument about price. On one hand hand we have folks saying it cost too much and on the other hand you have people saying it’s a bargain when you look at the cost of primes and dollies. LOL…thats the problem….just cause a dolly or a prime cost twice as much as the camera doesn’t make it right. We all know that anything in this field is completely way over priced. Case in point: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/836419-REG/Cinevate_Inc_CIPCPC000001_Proteus_Cage.html

    I can buy a lawn mower for that much that is self propelled and has all kinds of intricate parts. It’s a joke what companies price this stuff at!!!

    It’s like paying $50 for a T shirt….it’s lol ignorant!

    • Sorry, but it sounds like you’re the one ignorant…of supply and demand. And also R&D. Way more people buy lawn mowers than camera rigs. Costs such as R&D can be covered by a lower unit price if enough units are shipped. If not, then the unit needs to be priced higher.

      • You’re right to a certain degree… but filmmaking gear is still way over priced generally. I really don’t think much R&D went into the Cinevate example he gave as well… my dog could have designed that.

        Also for this product the tech already existed… basically they’re just adding handles so an existing production.

        Gimbals have been used in other industries for years and years, just because it’s new tech to the film industry dosen’t mean it suddenly costs way more to make.

  • marky mark on 04.5.13 @ 4:56PM

    I can’t resist…this what you can get for the cost of that steadicam
    http://goo.gl/TnjDM

    Please explain how on earth they can justify the price vs all the technology that went into building a PATHFINDER….seriously…back that up..I’m begging you!!!

    • I’m no economist, but it probably has something to do with the fact that Nissan will probably sell more Pathfinders in California and Texas than Freefly will sell Movi’s period. Also, that’s a used Pathfinder and was probably $30K when it was new.

      Q: Who buys an 18K HMI?
      A: The people you rent it from.

      • marky mark on 04.5.13 @ 5:44PM

        You can still buy a brand new car for that much…..and no the demand for a $15,000 handheld stabilizer won’t be there. If Canon priced the T2i that much….there would not have been a waiting list for it either. The T2i did a hell of alot more than just stop jiggle.

        • I’m not saying it SHOULD cost $15K. I’m just saying your arguments for why it shouldn’t are unbelievably flawed.

          • marky mark on 04.5.13 @ 6:27PM

            Okay…my examples are probably bad analogies….I’ll give you that. The main thing is we agree this is overpriced or SHOULDN’T cost this much. Don’t think for a minute FREEFLY SYSTEMS arent reading the feedback here. If they saw people loved and wanted this product but the price point was way out of line….they would consider coming down on it. The demand for this is huge..the price point isn’t. Rental houses aren’t gonna buy 50 of these at a time. How many rental houses vs filmmakers who would want to own this? Come in at a price point that makes it a must have. Kinda like Philip Bloom said about the BLACK MAGIC….there are tons of quirks or cons about it but you get a camera that shoots RAW for $3k….thats why people are so excited and ready to buy. It’s offering something that is in high demand at price people can afford.

          • Wait a minute. I never said it shouldn’t cost $15K, either. Alls I’m sayin’ is it costs what it costs and you can either afford it or you can’t. Will there be less expensive versions? Probably. However, how many inexpensive Steadicam-like rigs are out there that will support a camera that weighs as much as an Epic w/lens and accessories, let alone an Alexa? If all you have to do is make a cheap version and people will come-a-runnin’, where are all the $500 Steadicam knockoffs? Would you really trust $60K worth of gear on one of these? There are numerous reasons for why some gear costs an arm and leg and build quality, performance, service and longevity are just a few.

          • marky mark on 04.5.13 @ 8:22PM

            So one minute your saying “I’m not saying it SHOULD cost $15K.” then the next post your saying…”I’m not saying it shouldn’t.” You sound like you work for them. Either way……it’s my opinion this is way over priced and I backed it up with a nich market example with the BLACK MAGIC . They can make that for $3K then they can make this for the same price.

          • What I’m saying is don’t put words in my mouth. I was clarifying that I wasn’t defending the price nor was I condemning it. They charged as they saw fit. I don’t care one way or another. You sound like someone who wants one so badly you can taste it but it’s out of your price range so you’re lashing out. The ironic part is you said you couldn’t afford it even if it was $3K so I don’t know where the outrage is coming from.

            It’s simple. Buy, build or rent the stuff you can afford. Use your ingenuity for the rest. If you’re truly beside yourself and want to lead a crusade, start a company that builds high-end film equipment that even high school kids with summer jobs can afford and let us know how that turns out. Otherwise, prepare to be disappointed at every turn.

          • marky mark on 04.5.13 @ 9:18PM

            The outrage is the continued absurd price range companies charge for the gear. Thats all. I am sure I am not the only one that feels this way.

    • Film makers are idiots. They will pay $499 for something that outside of film making would only cost $69. The manufacturers know this.

  • marky mark on 04.5.13 @ 5:08PM

    We are in a time when a ringtone for a song cost twice as much as the actual song. You can’t help but laugh!!!

  • Looks like a smilar concept to the Cineron
    https://vimeo.com/54345426

  • needless to say this is amazing.

  • marky mark on 04.5.13 @ 5:27PM

    Backing up the price by saying it is taking the place of a dolly and a hand held rig and a steadicam is like saying DISNEY WORLD should charge triple because of what it cost to run the place.

    BTW…CHANGING THE GAME is what Canon did with the DSLR. The best thing about it is….they didn’t rape us in the process!!!!!!

    • I’m assuming someone has a gun to your head? Otherwise, don’t buy it.

      Also, your logic is faulty. You keep comparing a low demand item to a high demand item. More people will visit Disney World in one day than will buy the Movi.

      • marky mark on 04.5.13 @ 6:04PM

        THANK YOU!!!!! Thats my point……if you make this stuff at prices people can afford more people will get into it!
        Just like the Canon T2i. My dad bought one just to make home movies with. He loved what he could do with it. But 2 years before that he wouldn’t have touched a camera with the same video image that cost 3 times as much. Someone will come along within the next 8 to 9 months and make something for half as much. I’ll wait!

        • Ummm…not my point at all. You seem to be missing the basics. Yes, lowering the price and making it up on volume is a sound business practice and works well when you’re selling shampoo or 2 liter bottles of Pepsi. However, there’s no indication that everyone who owns a DSLR will want or have a need for a Movi, or will buy it in enough enough quantities to justify a bargain basement price. It’s a niche product for a niche segment of a largely consumer dominated space.

          You emphatically say you’ll wait like it’s a revelation or brave declaration, as if we all expected you to run out and by one (INSTEAD OF RENTING).

          Things cost what the market will bear. Tell us this. How much should the Movi cost and on what do you base the number?

          • marky mark on 04.5.13 @ 6:38PM

            This thing should be no more than $3K. If they can make the BLACK MAGIC at that price then they can damn sure make this for that much. Same market niche as you stated. No way did more R&D ,materials and design or development go into this steadicam than the BLACK MAGIC That is what I would base that number off of.

          • marky mark on 04.5.13 @ 6:44PM

            I’m not basing my argument on my own personal finances. I’m a broke filmmaker who couldn’t afford this even if it cost $3K. I’m basing everything off of how silly the cost of any of this stuff is just cause it has to with FILM MAKING. We all know this. I’m just vocalizing it. You mean to tell me if this was $3K they wouldn’t have a huge demand????? Look at the BLACK MAGIC…….I dont want one but there are plenty of people who drool over it and signed up to preorder it. If it was $15K…the BLACK MAGIC would be a flop!!!

        • Also, they have no competitors, once they do prices will come down, and i’m sure in the next couple of years you will be able to get similar items for 3k. Also scaling production would be hard from the get go, needing a large capital investment, so selling fewer at a high price point makes sense at least to begin with.

  • marky mark on 04.5.13 @ 5:38PM

    More than ever people are buying camera rigs…why because it is now being taught in schools than ever before. You have 15 year old kids making amazing movies on their lap tops. The demand is huge for this gear. Canon couldn’t make the T2i fast enough…I remember being on a waiting list at bhphoto. I know way more people who have DSLR gear than those that own PATHFINDERS. To justify $15,000 for this is silly at best.

  • This is just insane…I’m blown away! People complaining about the price…no idea what crack laced cool aid you are all drinking. This is an amazing price at 7.5k

    Sign me up, I’ll take 2!

    • I don’t think many people are saying it’s not worth the money, that is if you have the money. Most people won’t have the money, and that’s why they’re complaining. But I’m guessing it’ll rent for around $300… so thats good.

      Also the 7.5k Im sure will only hold the smallest cameras, with SLR primes. Still good i think, but important to make the distinction between two models where one is twice the price.

    • It’s neat, sure. But it’s still just another toy for the big boys to play with. The 5dmk2 was something anyone could OWN. This simply isn’t. At least not till the Chinese get around to making knockoffs.

  • Cool beans.

  • I’m just realising there is also no logical reason why these couldn’t be used on jib arms, or on sticks as a remote head. So even MORE flexible.

  • marky mark on 04.5.13 @ 7:04PM

    This statement “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.” is abusrd. This does not take the place of a 9 or 12 ft jib or larger. Even if it did and you bought all of the above at a generous $3K price point that is still only $12K not $15K. So it does require a brain when lookin at that price point.

  • I think this device is overpriced, here is a much cheaper device that does exactly the same thing, it does not have the same aesthetics, but can be developer further, the necessary technology is here.

  • I think something needs to be clarified to us (the ones unhappy with the price). The article mentions that the wirelessly operated pan tilt thingy is an add on; does the 15k price include it or is it a paid extra for add on? I think Tabb and his team are not idiots to price 2 axis cinestar gimbals @ 1k and then ask people to pay an extra 14000 just for the brushless parts. If the 15k price includes the wireless operator extras: a) it makes abit more sense – not 14k worth of sense mind you. b) Is there an option for single operators to buy the damn thing without the fancy extras for much much cheaper?

    Meanwhile here’s a little demo of a similar and ofcourse cheaper gimbal that works just fine

  • David Brooks on 04.5.13 @ 9:47PM

    Yup. My jaw definitely dropped. This is incredible.

  • Here’s my take on how to build a cheap gyro stabilized rig because I can’t afford to even rent a $7500 rig:

    http://jasonericson.com/blog/2013/04/06/build-a-gyro-stabilized-camera-rig-for-less-than-100/

    I understand the limitations! Really! I do! I would totally use a MoVI if I could afford it.

  • Film genius on 04.5.13 @ 11:16PM

    We can say bye to Zacuto, letus and even Kessler.

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