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You're Going to Want a Gyro-Stabilized Camera Gimbal After Watching This Amazing One-Take Promo

09.7.13 @ 9:50PM Tags : , , ,

Burton Snowboard MōVI 3-Axis Gimbal Camera StabilizerGyro-stabilized handheld camera gimbals have become all the rage since NAB, with at least a half-dozen companies introducing their own version of the MōVI stabilizer from Freefly (and more everyday jumping on the bandwagon). Not all of these devices are created equal. Even though some of the parts may be relatively inexpensive, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to make them work fluidly, as the programming is a huge part of the performance. Burton Snowboards recently made a one shot promo for an upcoming web series that shows you some of the amazing things that are possible with these devices — like the ability to smoothly hand the camera off to different operators. Check out the video below, including a behind the scenes look at the process:

The handoffs are what really bring out the possibilities for shots that have never been done before. Being able to pass off the camera to another operator is something that is impossible with a traditional steadicam. Obviously steadicams can do much of what the MōVI and other stabilizers can do, but what’s special about these (and something I’ve reiterated over and over again, and even proved by handling the device), is that using them takes minimal training. Operating steadicam correctly takes years of practice, but a decent operator should be able to get the hang of using one of these stabilizers with just a few minutes of practice.

Freefly also recently posted this video showing Zach Braff utilizing the stabilizer on his new film:

If you’re interested in how the MōVI is set up, the company just uploaded a bunch of videos detailing the process:

You can check out more on Freefly’s Vimeo and watch the Burton web series beginning next Friday, September 13.



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  • 15K Tho… I’ll wait for the others.

  • …ordered at NAB, patiently waiting in line for mine.

  • Well, the continuous shots have been done before. From “Soy Cuba” by a great Soviet era cinematographer Sergey Urusevsky. [ ]

  • I think I’d rather pay the day rate for a steadicam op and then there’s NO weight restrictions on the cameras we can use. As stated before the knock offs will be a tiny fraction of the cost.

  • This sort of Mobi stuff is really cool with the hand-offs and all but (from the point of view of someone only starting to get into cinematography) does the average person who knows nothing about movie-making think of it as anything special? We do , because we know what goes into it, but to the average person it’s just some video showing you around a factory.

    Sometimes I wonder whether the work is worth it, because you’re only impressing the people “in the know” so to speak.

    • I dunno. I felt like the hand off down would still impress the average viewer, for the shot it gets. But, yeah, for the most part it’ll impress them when you say there are no cuts (and they’ll go looking for edits thinking it’s a lie).

    • Right — which really plays towards a philosophy of moderation. In other words, only perform those crazy shots and maneuvers if you think they’re meaningful or pursuant to the vision behind the work. Otherwise, you risk either wasting time on a camera move no one really cares about, or making some overwrought odd-looking video that calls too much attention to the camera movement and not enough to the action in front of the camera.
      On the other hand, part of the reason the MoVI is supposed to be such an impressive product has to do with its ease of use and set-up. Presumably, it can replace lengthy set-up of tracks and dollies or sliders while also making viable some harder-to-shoot handheld shots. Further, because of how easy this may make executing some of the more complex shots, directors and cinematographers may get to create shots that otherwise would’ve taken a whole lot more time and effort to plan out and prepare. So, in a way, this can reduce the work put into making impressive shots like these, thus making them more financially viable, whether the audience cares about them or not.

      • IMO, it’s as or more important to get a stable moving platform – a Segway, a cable, an electric skateboard, a longer rubber dolly track – than a new “easy-to-handle” stabilizer. In the “Shining”, Garrett Brown’s wheel chair was pushed from behind in order to get the “boy on a bicycle” shots (IIRC, he held the camera in his hands).
        The shot in question [ ]

      • Daniel Mimura on 09.15.13 @ 6:49PM

        Garrett Brown used a Steadicam and a wheelchair. He talked about it during the Steadicam big rig workshop. For proof, there is footage of it somewhere, I can’t rember where…maybe in Vivisn Kubrick’s BTS doc?

        • Daniel Mimura on 09.15.13 @ 6:51PM

          Oh—oops, I see there is already a link to the footage in question.

    • That is something I often wonder about. Good point.

    • It’s all about the feeling you leave your audience with… that has more to do with your skills as a filmmaker and story teller than what tools you use… it’s up to you to impress or impress upon them what you’d like for them to experience…

  • Fucking. Wow… :O


  • Well if Zach Braff is using one……….sarcasm aside, if you have a shot where this tool works, great.
    What are we arguing about? It’s neat. Looking forward to trying it out.

  • craig jackson on 09.8.13 @ 12:42AM

    nice little promo article for Movi… too bad the other 6 companies making similar devices weren’t even mentioned.

  • craig jackson on 09.8.13 @ 12:50AM

    mind you this is very similar to another pro Movi article written by the same author in June…. and again, no other gyro stabilizer was mentioned, although it’s said here that there are a half dozen competitors. does a third promotional article in november land a free gyro stabilizer?


      4 articles on Movi (2 being coverage of the original release and announcement before any other stabilizer came on the market), with the last article coming in June. Since then:

      2 articles on DEFY
      1 on Besteady
      1 on Ghost
      1 on the EasyGimbal

      Yeah… massive bias there… Maybe if some of these other companies had more products out in the field, there would be more reason to write about them?

      • craig jackson on 09.8.13 @ 3:43AM

        i didn’t say NFS had a bias… i just noted whenever the OP is writing articles on Movi- other competing products don’t seem to get mentioned. This last article, reviewing the need of gyro stabilizers in general, was certainly a good opportunity to compare and contrast products. yeah, no kidding, everyone wants one.

    • When they’re available, we’ll see them. The thing is they all came out of the woodwork after MoVI was announced.

    • Joe Marine on 09.8.13 @ 2:15AM

      Do I get street cred by ripping on MoVI? Is that how this all works? I guess we’ve been doing it all wrong here at NFS……

      In case anyone missed it, you can read my promotional article for MoVI from June here:

  • Ugh Braff makes me sick. As if he is making this video for any reason other than for free product use on his film. The guys is worth 20 mil and he has to hit up the little guys to make another self indulgent turd of a movie.

  • Anthony Marino on 09.8.13 @ 1:35AM

    It’s a shame but the price of this unit is way out in left field. After researching gimbals for a hexacopter I found there’s others out there that can do the same thing for way less money. No doubt it’s a great unit, I just can’t see it competing with units like BeSteady and some others. I think a year from now we’ll look back and say what we’re they thinking? The price is outrageous for simple off the shelf hardware that keeps getting better every month.

    • I wonder how the software works. He completely left that part out. What happened to the Tilt Vertical video?

      • Anthony Marino on 09.8.13 @ 3:50PM

        Hi Charlie, there’s a guy (a respected expert) Alesky Moskalenco at http://www.simplebgc.comand he’s working with BeSteady. He designs boards, gimbal motors, you name it. I really like the Movi but the hardware looks like anyone can buy it, and frankly for the money I think there’s others out there frothing at the mouth to deliver the same thing if not better definitely for cheaper. What makes these units so effective is the board and motors. The rest of the hardware, carbon fiber, plastic and fiberglass seem not that much different from others in development. I’m sure Movi are using top notch hardware, just not so sure about the price.

  • What a bunch of whingers the cine crowd produces…..Sitting behind your keyboards thinking your all that and I am better and this sucks and it’s too expensive and you’re promoting a product too much…Seriously you DO NOT have a clue…..Oh look ,now I’m whinging…thanks a lot!

    The guys here are bringing YOU a FREE service where you don’t have to go look for info on stuff yourself and you’re still bitching to them that they are selling out to companies…..bunch of weirdos….really you are….except for the ones who aren’t.

    @ Craig Jackson…..Burton aint small time…they are big time, they use the best shit….Why would they go for some second class stuff ,made so they can sell to those who don’t have cash for the real deal…yep that’s you mate…..Maybe even Movi sponsored them….I bet your whinging ass that you would jump on that as fast as you could….and make a BTS cut to show how it’s done……But they aint ever coming to you..

    Oh and to the Mods at NFS you probably won’t let this roll…..but hey it’s the truth…..Nice site….Thanks!

    • craig jackson on 09.8.13 @ 8:01PM

      ^^ all i’m saying is that this promo piece for Movi is a reiteration of a june article pushing the same thing. yes we know Movi is great and expensive and we’ve all seen their cool videos. more curious to the scoop on the other half dozen stabilizers in the works.

      not too sure you make enough sense for me to respond on your other points

  • Anyone know how they stay in focus doing this kind of stuff?

    • Two methods – either going for a deep focus look, in which case focusing ideally isn’t required, or a remote follow focus.

    • It is a remote follow focus you can see it in the BTS video at 00:38…. I think it wil be essential for stuff like this…. but they are VERY expensive…. Also it seems like you need a operator flying the rig, a operator on the remote control doing pan/tilt and a remote focus puller to really make this work….

  • Great work overall. Some of the moves can’t be done with a steadicam, but with a steadicam it would had been smoother I feel. THere was this wobble on the footage I can’t put my finger on that is just there. Myabe it’s operator error or inexperience.

    Overall, great tool, think with time and improvements on the programming algorhythms it will get even better.

  • If these sorts of things end up in the 5k range they will be cheap to rent. I think some of the discussion is missing the point regarding how useful these systems will be. Even little stedicams like the merlin take ages to get good at. There is a real skill involved. This will be great for just simple walking down the street shots with small crews. No tracks to lay, no shakey doco style footage, nice smooth shots. Sure it can be overused but with some wireless mics hidden well you could shoot in a crowded city without blocking a street with one of these things.

  • BeSteady One/Four are similar solutions, especially for interested Europeans. At least on par with MoVi, even some better design solutions.

  • FWIW, there are about a dozen of similar designs and various features and qualities. I think several Chinese made – though some of those may be only 2-Axis versions and in a kit form, with final assembly required – stabilizers can be had for about a grand on eBay.
    There’s a Vimeo clip where a German video/film company – using their own unit – was shooting a local TV network film with the cameraman on a wheeled dolly, with his hands braced against the rear railing. IIRC, he framed too closed to a quickly walking couple, which rendered the footage extremely jumpy. It looked like it was hand held. The focus, however, wasn’t a problem but I feel that an improved AF system off something like 70D would work as well. Then again, with the cameraman riding a dolly anyway, a small jib may have done the trick even better.

  • I thought this looked fantastic considering its for a snowboard video. The ability to increase production values through increasingly complex cinematography is something I have noticed more and more in “extreme” sports.
    I grew up watching lots of skateboard videos and the standard aesthetic for most of them was a low to the ground fish eye shot…and nothing else. As I remember it “Mouse” came along, directed by Spike Jonze and changed what a skate video should be…

    A little while back Gatorade/theBerrics produced a spot called “go all day” for which they provided a great behind the scenes look showing how they executed their continuous shot
    I wonder how the Movi would have potentially changed a shoot such as this.

  • When I need a camera to smoothly glide through five different locations with dozens of actors, I’ll rent this. Otherwise, I’ve become pretty good at operating my glidecam (taken a few years to really get it right). Sure, it’s the movement’s not as smooth, but that just gives the camera personality.

  • holding that thing out in front of your will get tiring. unless you have super strong arms you’re gonna need lots of breaks if you plan to use one of these all day long. OTH with a C series camera on steadicam ( or clone ) you can work far longer. ok, you can do those hand offs, but how often do you do something gimmicky like that to sell your camera mount, I mean story…. if the story motivates a camera move like that – like say the long 11 min shots in was it raging bull ? then it might make sense where you are linking a series of fast events together in real time. after that… well… I keep picturing this gizmo on the end of a steadicam arm being run by an operator. smooth control….

  • The soundtrack was excellent.

  • Viktor John on 09.8.13 @ 1:07PM

    I remember seeing other companies produce similar solution, but cheaper?
    Or are freefly the only one on the market right now?

  • Am I the only one that sees the cut at 1:20? :) I thought someone would’ve called it out by now, but then again it’s not too relevant to the article, so… *shrugs* Anyway, awesome stuff.

  • I’d really like to know what this movi device weighs with a 5D MKIII and 24mm f1.4 lens as compared to what a Glidecam HD4000 weighs with a 5D MKIII and 24mm f1.4. Anybody out there know?

  • Too bad I only have a 10 Mbps connection and not the 30 Mbps required to play Vimeos without tons of stutter (even in non-HD). What a shitty video site. Come on!!

  • Fresno Bob on 09.9.13 @ 3:02AM

    Slight ageism on the set of that Burton film.
    Everyone involved looks to be 26 years old – no variations.

    • I know people that work for Burton’s film/media dept and they are in their mid 40′s. In general though the action sports industry is filled with people that are young because for the most part, the jobs are very physically demanding, time demanding, all for very little pay. 26 sounds about right for Burton though. Their guys have probably spent some time getting dialed working for smaller companies put in a few years at Burton and then move on at 29.

      As far as working for a snowboard production company (I have worked for one of the bigger production companies in the industry, not for Burton’s though which is in house) a 50 year old family man probably doesn’t want to spend 3 hours on a snowmobile (which cost about $12,000 new and is usually the filmer’s responsibility to pay for) in miserable weather to get to a shooting zone, spend another 8 hours of manual labor shoveling snow to build jumps, wrestling stuck snowmobiles, dealing with shitty 19 year attitudes (to be fair some of the best working experiences I’ve had have been with fired up 19 year olds with awesome attitudes).

      Most of the people I know who are successful in the action sports environment are able to adapt the skills they’ve learned to more lucrative areas

  • The production company I often work with does a ton of aerials. I’m not expecting a cineflex for $15,000 but I’d be really stoked if it would let us work at longer focal lengths like a Cineflex (I directed/DP’d a Cineflex shoot last winter and damn, it’s like aerial crack, endless creativity, if you want to do a dolly move with an entire mountain, no problem.) If it is possible to use a long lens the 4k sony with the built in 20x zoom could be very, very, interesting.

  • When and where can I rent one?

  • I swear OP gets butt hurt at the sheer mention of someone disliking the MOVI. I guess we aren’t allowed to have opposing views anymore. lol

  • OK, am kind of laughing at this and other ‘steadycam’ things.

    Here’s what’s going to happen; People will shot a gorgeous footage and during editing they will ADD all the SHAKY CAM shit they can!
    So, what’s the point?

    I refuse to watch even three minutes of SHAKY CAM crap in any movie on TV or whatever.
    It is the stupidest thing they ever came up with and irritates the hell out of me, because they had NO STORY and substituted this idiocy to fool the audience.

    • Yes , the person who came up with the “Shaky Cam” should be whipped ,or banned from any movie on the Planet.

  • wait! Does all this mean SHAKYCAM is going away? Finally??!?

    • Geez ,I hope so

      • Man, I sure hope so too!
        Nothing bugs me more than those idiotic editor-induced-shaky-cam FX takes. Funny part is, all those shaky cam shots were taken with steadycams!

        If you ever noticed it’s not even close to be a real shot because it only goes L/R, Up/Down but it does NOT tilt as in real life.

  • “for the most part it’ll impress them when you say there are no cuts (and they’ll go looking for edits thinking it’s a lie).”
    But you see ,most people out there don’t give a darn about the above statement. How many people are analyzing edits when they see a good movie ? They just know when they like it.

  • if i want to buy this amazing stabilizer where i can get in India? and for how much?

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