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MōVI Gyro Camera Stabilizer Update: Network Debut on 'NCIS: Los Angeles' and First Contest Winner

04.19.13 @ 4:57PM Tags : , , , ,

Are you feeling inundated with MōVI updates yet? I hope not, because we have more news about how this innovative handheld stabilizing system is taking the film community by storm. Just within the last couple of weeks, the MōVI went from day player to superstar: first being announced by Freefly, gaining over a million views on its YouTube and Vimeo videos, winning a bunch of awards at NAB, holding a contest to win 2 units, and now making its debut on network TV. 

If you’ve been following our posts, you’ve probably seen the videos made using the MōVI as well as the behind-the-scenes footage of it in action. As of yesterday, MōVI videos broke 1.9 million views with just under 10 million loads. Now, just a week after its reveal at NAB, the MōVI has made its way to network TV, making an appearance on the set of NCIS: Los Angeles. It’s not surprising that it got picked up so fast, since it has received an overwhelming amount of attention from filmmakers as well as winning a bunch of awards at NAB, including the prestigious Digital Video Black Diamond Award.

Here are a couple of videos that show what the MōVI can do and how it does it (thanks to Vincent Laforet for all the updates).

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The winner of the first MōVI off of the production line was announced as well. 28-year-old  director Mike Ritchie of Leeds, England woke up yesterday to a direct message on Twitter informing him that he was the first winner in the contest. Here is what Mike had to say after the big win:

I’m 28 now and have been making films since I was 15. My first project was a horrendously cheesy gangster film, shot on a PD150, where we pretty much taught ourselves to shoot, direct and edit — We had no idea what we were doing but it was a lot of fun – I was absolutely amazed when I saw the first MōVI shots. I couldn’t wait to try it out but had no idea when or how I’d get my hands on one! This is awesome, I’ve got so many ideas for my first MōVI shoot. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Thank you SO much to the guys at Freefly.

Now, if we can all stop being jealous of Mike for a second — check out his short film Blind. At least we can take comfort in the fact that the MōVI went to a talented filmmaker!

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The second winner of the contest will be picked later this month. Remember, all you need to do to be in the running to win a MōVI M10 is follow @vincentlaforet and @freeflycinema on Twitter. I mean — your odds aren’t too bad — 1 in 12,305 as of right now. Or, you could buy one if you like — though rental is probably going to be the best bet for many people.

Link: MōVI’s Network Debut + a Lucky Winner — Vincent Laforet Blog


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!

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  • john jeffries on 04.19.13 @ 5:11PM

    It’s incredible the amount of viral marketing for what is nothing more than a steadicam successor. every gear blog is raving about it like its the second coming of celluloid or something, god, please shut up already

    • “nothing more than a steady cam successor.” ?!? perhaps your imagination is very limited?

    • Yup… snore.

    • The power of marketing and advertising dollar never ceases to amaze me. Nonetheless, the more I watch the Movi in use the more my disinterest grows. It just screams liability claim to me. Consider the Costs/Risks of hand holding at least 30K of camera (epic+lens+misc) at ground level from off the back of a fast moving truck vs. attaching a camera to gimbal mounted on a motorized/static arm. Hand holding in this manor is a serious gear liability and a potential shoot killer if your backup is on the fritz or already in use. It is also a potential workman comp claim when the camera guy falls/stumbles – Murphy’s Law my friends. IMO it makes no difference in renting or owning, the Movi makes little sense creatively or financially. I’m not even going to go into details about how bad this rig is ergonomically based on the common sense that hand holding 15-20 lbs in front of you in this manor is a back and shoulder killer. If the weight of the Movi was reduced to around 2 or 3 lbs., intended for cameras weighing less than two lbs. and the suggested price cut by 75%, then I could see it being a huge success in the prosumer/indie scene. As the Movi is now, essentially a heavy helicopter gimbal w/ handgrips and priced as such, I’m not sure what market could consider using this, even as a rental. Ask yourself what does this provide that cannot be provided creatively with existing tools. Then ask yourself, how much does this really save? You will still need a steady cam operator, unless you’re a one man band type. If so, try holding a 10 lbs. weight in front of you and run around with it for 10 mins – then imagine doing that with 20 lbs. over 30mins several dozen times a day. My 2 cents, hope it helps. Thanks

      • In short, Yes, I completely agree with John Jefferies =)

      • john jeffries on 04.19.13 @ 7:53PM

        If anything, operators and AC’s need to start hitting the gym

      • as far as it being a liability – it really isn’t much different that the level of liability that comes with any steadicam setup. Yes, it might be easier to drop, and thereby more risky regarding the safety if the camera – but the danger in dropping 15-20 pounds versus having 50-70 pounds attached to you pull you down with it is substantial. Even if you had the camera on a technocrane – injury is still prevalent in any circumstance regarding the shot you’re attempting to get.

        Furthermore, this allows for a different form of creativity and versatility. Sure, a technocrane and steadicam may be more reasonable to use in certain situations, but not all – and you’re talking about a vast price difference – despite renting or owning. The extra money can be used towards hiring more people or assets for a film.

        Your debate here is very subjective and narrow-minded when trying to rationalize its real-time value in this industry. You make valid points, but you’re seemingly lobbying to rule out a vast world of possibilities to say this has little to no benefit to the film community. It’s not a replacement for anything – it’s just another tool that can be catered to specific situations. Yes, some people may be over-valuing it and assuming it could take on the role of all things [in the business of] stabilizing that they could otherwise imagine – and we would know that not to be the case just by its natural limitations.

        To suggest this to be 75% the cost and designed to handle loads up to 2-3 pounds would rule out even most “professionally” rigged DSLRs. You would immediately isolate yourself to a handicam market, and clearly what they’re showcasing here has a substantial impact on the work flow and possibility with a professional environment and a professional camera.

        Lastly, everyone ought to stop comparing price or value. There are so many steadicam knock-offs for a quarter the cost, and professionals still stand by the steadicam name – same with the use of the Arri Alexa as an example – these tools are expensive and trusted, and they have plenty of cheaper competition that could provide equally impressive results – and yet they still get used regularly versus the “lesser-value-competition” …amongst many other things in general.

        • Daniel Mimura on 04.21.13 @ 7:44PM

          It’s way easier to drop than with a steadicam…and I think that it’s false logic to look at the weight increase as meaning it will fall harder (you know, “…the harder they fall” thing)… The steadicam post and shape of the thing deflects a huge amount of the forces of it…it’s not a pretty thing going down with steadicam (I know, I went down face first with a 56lb steadicam rig…I was skateboarding at the time which was prolly the dumbest thing I’ve ever done with a camera…after twenty-some years skateboarding, you’d think your body knows what to do, but your center of gravity is way off.). Anyway, the camera was totally unharmed and unprotected. The mattebox was fine, and since it was right at sunset, I had pulled the glass out, so I had no damage…the arm basically absorbed most of the force of the fall, excluding my thumb on my hand wrapped around the post that absorbed the rest of it—I nearly broke it…

          Another ing…with a steadicam rig, your weight is more centralized the way you normally hand hold a camera (either outwards skate video style or handheld). It’s more centralized, funneling it to almost literally, your center of gravity…your ki or chi if you follow any eastern martial arts…with the arm connected right there at your core. With a handheld rig extended outwards, it’s less so. This is fine with a light camera, but with 13-14lbs, unless you’re Jabba, the further you extend it, the more force it is related to your own weight and this makes you less sure footed. (That being said, I figure recovery is easier if you do slip up with a camera handheld extended outwards –as opposed to larger camera on the shoulder type operating—than with steadicam.)

          steadicam is way more secure, in my opinion, despite all the added weight.

          I do agree with you on the price. People need to stop bitching about it. It’s reasonable for what it is. Wait until those same people bitching realize that a Bartech and motor is gonna cost roughly another $5000… Few Movi kool-aid drinkers have complained b/c they’re so awestruck by this awesome new technology that means they won’t have to pay for one of those expensive steadicam guys and they can do it all themselves!

      • Daniel Mimura on 04.21.13 @ 7:16PM

        This is the best post about the movi I’ve seen yet.

        My first professional camera work was with skate videos and you skate along side it…inline skaters too…but a $3k camera is a very different thing than a $30k camera. I’ve skated over twenty years now…but I’m a little hesitant to skate with a good camera, insured or not.

        I have a feeling that this device is gonna affect all of our insurance rates for cameras as the claims start pouring in…particularly with the handoffs.

  • Can someone explain breifly how the MOVI works, is it controlled through a remote control via an hd monitor , sort of like a RC toy car etc.

    Just confused does the operator control the movement and direction through handles or is it done by a second remote, ive seen several BTS videos but none have gone in depth on how it actually operates as far as simplicity goes, do you turn or squeeze hard for it to track a pan, or is it on a swivel where it automatically turns depending on where the operator faces the camera?????????????

  • I am glad Movi is on the market because I really want to see other manufacturers adopt the hand held approach and get the price down to something a prosumer can afford. For instance, the zenmuse dji z15 stabilizer runs about 3500$ (though having camera specific mounts is limiting for a hand held application) and it has produced some amazing images.

    I am also hoping the DIY community jumps on too with work that has been done for aerial footage in the past, like these guys:

  • good god, isn’t it enough having Laforet promoting this on and on and on and….

  • The funny thing is just like the amazing lightweight dslr form factor spawned an entire industry of cages, rigs and supports, completely defeating one of the dslrs big selling points, so too will it be with Movi.

    Now this isnt a bad thing at all. A vest / arm / movi combo or something similar will overcome so many of the Steadicams limitations. Time to set up, time to learn (years), inability to do low to high shots, limited speed of movement resulting in overshoot etc

    I see one of the more logical elements being a quick release system so the vest guy can release and hand off the Movi rig DURING A TAKE to another operator hand held for some insane never before possible visuals. Even without a vest given how easy the Movi is to use you could have a number of people tasked with being operator for short bursts and just rotate them out to prevent fatigue.

    The Movi isnt getting traction from some slick viral marketing campaign – its getting it because the product is igniting the imagination of so many creatives. At this point its only problem is the price…but given how popular this thing is it wont be long before other companies are bringing much cheaper products to market.

    For me the ‘game changer’ badge is well deserved where the Movi is concerned.

    • Daniel Mimura on 04.21.13 @ 8:13PM

      I don’t think you fully understand how steadicam works because if you add the vest/arm/(and movi) combination makes it do what a steadicam does and limits you from doing the only things Movi does that steadicam does not.

      If you put the movi on an arm, you solve the weight issues of holding that much weight extended away from yourself, but you now have the boom range limits of the arm… (Two things of which are overcome by steadicam with their Tango, and MK-V with their AR 3-axis rig.)

      I can’t see for the life of me how you would trade off a vest (first of all, you would have to severely limit the shot, either going to a crawl, or stopping outright)…it’s not easy changing a vest, and if it was easy, it would sort if mean not having the rigidity and support that’s the point of the vest in the first place, so doing tht during a take would be even harder & more awkward.

      With a movi on an arm, you’ve for the Moritz doing the stabilization, but your gimbal hand already does that…it’s better with one person doing that that two. On a dolly, it’s a lot of work to synchronize your pans and moves between the operator and the dolly grips…with steadicam, any operator has only has to communicate those instructions to himself which helps–there is already enough dance partners involved between the operator and the actor…the fewer outside factors, the easier it is to be fully in sync…I notice a lot of little whippy moves with the movi, which you don’t see with good steadicam operators…you see it with lightweight rigs all time, but my guess is that it’s because you have another person watching on the pan and tilt monitor…it’s easier for one person to synchronize all of this, so putting a movi on an arm and a vest is basically adding an extra person into something that steadicam already does with just two (an operator and a focus puller.). And no, I don’t think the pan/tilt guy should also focus, as some people have mentioned…it’s going to be very haphazard. Focus is hard enough for an AC (especially because its de rigueur to shoot at 1.4 on medium to long lenses, even with steadicam.)

  • Anthony Marino on 04.19.13 @ 9:05PM

    Seems like its making its soace in the production world so far. I j just don’t get why some think an 11lb camera is all that light. Maybe for the shoulder it’s not too bad but holding that thing out in front of you all day trying to keep shots consistant is whole other story in IMO. Dont get me wrong I definitely see this thing working well in certain applications and its certainly revolutionary but I don’t think the OG steadicam is going anywhere soon.

  • just steadycam…. Nothing more… A lot of steadycam like that… But price not real!!!

  • I saw nothing in that video that I havent seen before. A jib arm and a dolly could pull off every one of those shots.
    For the back of the truck stuff….just lock the jib arm down in the truck bed. A jib arm can go a lot lower and higher than a human arm. This did nothing to help sell/rent this for me at all!

    • And how much longer, and how many more crew, does that take to set up?

      • Daniel Mimura on 04.21.13 @ 8:21PM

        Movi takes 3 people to operate…and worse, you have to synchronize those three people in the shot, so it’s no savings there. A jib if it doesn’t have to dolly would only need the operator and focus puller. It’s gonna be about the same, so no savings there with a movi.

        • You’ve conveniently ignored the set-up time question. Any of those things will take significantly longer than the Movi to set up. And that’s per shot. If you have to hire 3 people to operate the thing that’s overhead. You can still crank out twice as many shots per day, if not more.

          And the worst you have to say about it is that it’s “no savings” in terms of crew and coordination. You’ve admitted yourself it’s no worse. If that’s universally true then the setup time issue instantly wins it for the Movi. Of course, it’s not universally true – sometimes it’s going to be better than that (fewer crew) and sometimes it’s just not going to be the right tool for the job. But there are things it will excel at, just like there are things a jib excels at.

          Long story short – It’s a tool like any other, and opens up some really interesting opportunities. It’s not going to replace everything else across the board, but can you seriously not see situations where this is the obvious tool for the job?

          • Daniel Mimura on 04.29.13 @ 1:03AM

            Setup time looks to be the same or longer with Movi, and with less adjustability than balancing a steadicam gimbal (from what I can see, and I’ve seen other people expressing this concern as well—I suspect that this is why there is some whippy side to side motion in some of the footage—it being a combination of the inertia and size/shape/weight, as well as possibly the operator and the joystick). I suspect there will be fewer options and possibly longer set up times. But jibs are quick to set up. The grips always seem to have it up by the time camera is ready, in my experience.

  • So much jealousy in comments, amazing.

    • Daniel Mimura on 04.21.13 @ 8:23PM

      I don’t think it’s jealousy. I think it’s annoyance that many people think this is the magic beans of camera movement.

      • Daniel Mimura on 04.21.13 @ 8:26PM

        Wait. Maybe I mean magic unicorn. The magic beans from Jack and the Beanstalk turned out to actually be magic beans…

        Is the movi really worth the price of a whole cow?!

  • honestly, I think this “passion for motion” clip doesn’t really shows the real possibilities that this movi-thing offers. It’s just another automotive boring clip made with the same boring look that car commercials are used to use. It’s just a showcase of expensive beautiful shots, car drives from A to B, beautiful legged woman dances for no reason in well lighted theater… not so creative, from my point of view. You could do the same with traditional tools, if you got the budget for… I think the first clip that movi release with the dancers, with the rollerblade taxi shot (my favourite shot), that was creative… this is just expansive rubbish. Hope to see more creative works with this beautiful tool…

    • Daniel Mimura on 04.21.13 @ 8:29PM

      Yeah, people move the camera for no reason at all. It’s like ADHD kids that can’t just sit still. Motion for no real purpose…not to disparage the tools, just their use if the tools.

  • Artemis Jaen on 04.20.13 @ 5:08PM

    Interesting device. I’d been thinking of building something like it for years, but didn’t think that it would be possible to react fast enough to get the camera rock solid, but this is facts-on-the-ground proof of principle. This is just the first generation, it’ll be very interesting to see these things get smaller and lighter.

    For myself, this is huge. I have an old back injury that means I can’t fly a Steadicam big rig (I found this out expensively), I was in crippling pain after about 5 minutes, yet I can use a fig rig for extended periods (same camera), I’m not saying exactly without pain, but I can do it. For me this or something like it could make all the difference.

    (For those who say this is ‘just’ another Steadicam, um, what? Haven’t you ever noticed that having control over moving the camera is absolutely central to cinematography? Do you really think that people are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to gain this kind of capability on a whim? Really?)

    • Daniel Mimura on 04.21.13 @ 8:37PM

      Wow…you must not know how to use steadicam…it’s way easier on my back that handholding extended like that. I had to use an lightweight steadicam rig once (on a commercial that didnt want to pay for my full sized rig) that was about 5lbs underweight and just that 5lbs made my back sore a week whereas operating with a normal steadicam rig allows me to operate all day every day for weeks continuously.

      If you didn’t do it wrong, perhaps you just didn’t use it enough time develop the right muscles yet. The one problem I had with the week long full sized steadicam workshop is that it makes sense to take it before you invest tens of thousands of dollars on the gear, but if you do it, you haven’t had time to properly build up the muscles. I weight trained and did cardio for months before the class, but you just can’t develop those particular muscles any other way than being in the rig and working up to it.

  • If this were $300 no one would have a complaint. This site and its name “no film school” attracts the I don’t want to pay for anything types, just look at the slugline comments as an example how even $40 is too much for the “free” crowd. Funny that everyone here is intersted in filmmaking which is a capatlistic enterprise. I guess all the gadget geeking has had a fatiguing effect on wallet and mind.

  • Man this thing is awesome. Expensive, yes, but awesome.