November 25, 2014

Introducing the BeeWorks Stabilizer: An Evolution of Gimbal Technology

BeeWorks 05 Gimbal Stabilizer
Does the world really need another gimbal stabilizer? Many would argue no, but the engineers from Seattle-based startup BeeWorks beg to differ.

It's been roughly a year and half since MōVi took the filmmaking world by storm. In the period that followed, startup company after startup company emerged sporting their own variations on the motorized gimbal. A select few of these stabilizers were top notch and offered solid performance, while countless others were bulky, cheaply manufactured, and sadly ineffective. Ultimately, it made the camera stabilization marketplace feel unbearably saturated, even annoyingly so.

However, despite the wonderful advances in stabilization technology over the past year, it would be silly to argue that there's no room for improvement. Enter BeeWorks, a Seattle-based technology startup. With their backgrounds in mechanical/aerospace engineering and electronics design, BeeWorks co-founders Matt Nuffort and Adam Behringer set out to build an evolutionary gimbal stabilizer from the ground up, and used their unique backgrounds to create a one-of-a-kind product. Here's the Kickstarter video for the very first stabilizer from BeeWorks, the BW-05:

There are a few things that really set the BeeWorks stabilizer apart from the competition. First and foremost is the weight. At just over four pounds, the BeeWorks is the lightest gimbal stabilizer in its class. Anybody who has spent long hours using other stabilizers like the DJI Ronin -- which comes in at nearly 10 pounds -- knows that operating them can take its toll on your arms very quickly. With aircraft-grade aluminum construction, the BeeWorks is built to be as light as possible while still maintaining the standard five point weight capacity, which is perfect for smaller cameras like the A7s, GH4, and BMPCC.

Another really interesting feature of the BeeWorks stabilizer is the kinetic remote system, which uses remote motion sensors to control the panning, tilting, and rolling of the camera when it is mounted to the baseplate. Check out the kinetic remote in action here:

The kinetic remote system looks like it provides an incredibly tactile way to control the camera when it's not in your hands, and if it works accurately with little lag, it will be a far preferable option for remotely controlling motion than RC controllers with joysticks.

Ultimately, the BeeWorks stabilizer isn't really revolutionary, but it is most certainly evolutionary. The BeeWorks team has taken the feedback and criticisms of filmmakers about our current generation of gimbal stabilizers, and they've used their engineering know-how to craft a product that fixes many of those concerns. However, at $2740 for a basic package and a discounted full package including the kinetic remote at $4000, the BeeWorks is not an inexpensive proposition by any means.

To learn more about BeeWorks 05 stabilizer, head on over to their Kickstarter page    

Your Comment

21 Comments

How is wireless follow focus system gonna work with this?

November 25, 2014 at 10:13PM

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Mida Chu
independent filmmaker
114

I love the thoughtful comments on No Film School -- such a great community to advance the art of filmmaking!

We hear you loud and clear on the need for more footage. Check out some of our recent updates to see behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the video. We will post more updates in the coming days and will include some longer takes.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1499947228/bw05-camera-stabilizatio...

The goal of the Kickstarter video was to highlight the versatility of the BW05, hence the numerous short clips. Many stabilizer systems show a lot of slow-motion footage in their marketing material. It looks great, but it also enhances the illusion of stability and makes short clips appear longer. We used no slow motion or post stabilization.

We are a self-funded company, and we developed the Kickstarter video with the help of volunteers. Anyone who knows manufacturing understands that building a production-representative prototype costs an order of magnitude more than the production version. We spent our money on making sure that we can deliver a product that meets our promises. We are not filmmakers. We are product designers and engineers with a history of delivering complex products on time. We have a team of filmmaker advisors, including Sundance Film Festival award winners, who heavily influenced the key features of the BW05. We credit their invaluable input to the incredibly positive reception to the BeeWorks 5!

Please feel free to reach out to us directly with any questions you have about the BW05.

November 26, 2014 at 1:54PM

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Matt Nuffort
Founder - Product Designer
81

Great question, Mida. Remote follow focus is an important feature, particularly for the Kinetic Remote. There are some good options on the market currently, and we intend to include an integrated solution, similar to what we have done with the Paralinx for realtime wireless video.

November 26, 2014 at 2:26PM

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Matt Nuffort
Founder - Product Designer
81

Seems like it suffers from the same vertical bounce as the other gimbals. I guess that makes sense as its only 3 axis. I think fixing that will be a true evolution.

November 25, 2014 at 11:13PM

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Ricky
Director/DP
247

While promising, there is something slightly worrying about this product and how it's presented. First off the gimbal shots in the video are all fairly short and straight forward, and cut to music. When the Movi came out we had tons of footage compromised of long one-shots, complex maneuvers, hand-offs and such. I'm not saying the should have gotten Vincent Laforet to shoot their promo - one of the most selling Movi videos was just a long walk around their office/facility.

Secondly the look of the footage is decidedly amateur, which is problematic in two ways: 1) the exposure - which is often somewhat off - seems to be managed largely with the shutter-speed, making motion choppy - not exactly ideal to show off and evaluate a stabilizer, and 2) it puts into doubt that the makers of the gimbal have first hand understanding of filmmaking. This also seems evident in the demonstration of the kinetic remote. Yes, it's cool (though I don't know how useful), but when turning the camera almost any real steadicam/gimbal operator would avoid banking like that, instead of accenting it. Just a little silly. This filmmaking disconnect is further illustrated by the fact half the video is about the control boards and manufacturing; the part the Beeworks guys find personally interesting.

The design is very lithe and clean, and the multi-purpose stand is a great idea, but it's only slightly lighter than the Movi M5, which is also a nice design, so I fail to see this being either revolutionary or evolutionary. It's just a variation. (Yes the Ronin weighs a ton, but it can also carry much heavier cameras). There is also no mention of the software, or their version of a "majestic mode". The interplay of hardware and software is why some people still feel the steep prices for the Movi are justified, and that's what up-and-comers should be gunning for.

I hope my suspicion is unfounded and that the finished product works great, but even so Beeworks still has a presentation/marketing problem.

November 26, 2014 at 1:44AM, Edited November 26, 1:44AM

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You make some interesting points. I agree with you on the short, poorly shot video. Clearly these guys are engineers, not marketers. That doesn't strike me as bad.

Making a prototype isn't nearly as hard as designing a device for large scale production and delivering it on time and at budget. We've seen this problem with other crowd funded stabilizers. And how many well funded companies making their first or second cameras delivered anywhere near projected launch date?

Knowing how to design boards and having manufacturing experience is quite important in getting a device to market. I pledged to a project for a small flying vehicle, developed in a university aerospace lab. The fund raising video had flying prototypes. Two years later, despite the team's hard work, they're months away from delivering the first unit!

On the Kickstarter page, these guys say they aren't filmmakers. Hopefully they'll get some footage from filmmakers before the campaign ends.

It's great that this system works without tools and has all wiring internal, plus wiring for a Paralinx Arrow. Unfortunately, the aluminum frame makes it kind of heavy. Fitting the whole package in a flight case is impressive. What surprises me is no inversion or suitcase mode, which is kind of gimbal stabilizer 2.0. Because this rig is smaller than most, you have to really bend over to get the low shots.

There is no mention of remote focus. Hopefully, there's a yet-unmentioned solution in the works.

The kinetic remote makes this a hugely flexible system. The fact that you can easily mount it on a plate, tripod, or light/ C stand, or stick it to a wall/car door (see the kickstart page) turns this into a very versatile, stabilized, remote head.

Think of a driving scene with two character dialogue. This easily mounts on the hood, while the director/DP/operator hides in the back seat to operate it, panning from character to charter. Then you could easily mount it on the rear and hood (two set ups) of another car for chasing/leading shots. And there's still side mode, should you want those shots.

On a simple jib, this is a stabilized, remote head. You can't easily do this with a stabilizer mounted to a handle system of carbon fibre tubes.

November 26, 2014 at 5:57AM

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Charlie K
1389

Ask and you shall receive... We put together a video with much longer takes for you (first shot is 2 min long). Check it out: https://vimeo.com/113754196

December 6, 2014 at 12:19PM

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Adam Behringer
Product Designer
81

need to see more test footage... and i think its a bit on the pricey side. someone forgot to do their market research.

November 26, 2014 at 2:29AM

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Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op
2634

I like the "no dangling cables" part and even though shots were extremely short I can see myself getting one if they ever make a bigger one to handle a bit more weight. It looks really good.

November 26, 2014 at 7:26AM

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Isaac Alonzo
Photographer / Cinematographer
287

Need to see more footage, especially longer takes, and get it in the hands of some real filmmakers to push this thing to its limits. And the kinetic remote demonstration is terrible. Show me that thing being used while another operator is running with it. Moving your body with a kinetic remote while the unit is stationary is one thing. But when you're having to follow a separate operator while running or riding in a car, it becomes another proposition altogether.

November 26, 2014 at 8:22AM, Edited November 26, 8:22AM

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We posted more footage, along with some longer takes, here: https://vimeo.com/113754196

December 7, 2014 at 10:56AM

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Matt Nuffort
Founder - Product Designer
81

Footage is awful, it puts me into doubting that the makers of the gimbal have first to understand basics of filmmaking.

November 26, 2014 at 2:08PM

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Tommy Plesky
Director / D.P / Editor
1936

and stabilisation is very bad.

November 27, 2014 at 10:18AM

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Roberto Mettifogo
Behind Cameras.
341

this is great! hope for good price

November 26, 2014 at 6:03PM

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Revilo von Asur
Producer/Writer/Designer/Musician/Director of Photography
103

this is great! hope for good price

November 26, 2014 at 6:03PM

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Revilo von Asur
Producer/Writer/Designer/Musician/Director of Photography
103

"Ultimately, it made the camera stabilization marketplace feel unbearably saturated, even annoyingly so."

Already lost count. I think an article about which ones are great and which ones need to be avoided would be great :P

November 26, 2014 at 9:32PM, Edited November 26, 9:32PM

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I was waiting for this to be at some incredible price...sadly no.

November 27, 2014 at 1:40AM

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It does look very interesting, although I do agree the price seems pretty steep. I am currently a Besteady owner and if truth be told I would get any gimbal out there once it has been out for a while so we can see proof it works, over the besteady any day. Owned it for about a year....successfully got it to work 3 or 4 times. So many issues and bad customer support. I wish I had waited longer before jumping on the bandwagon!

November 27, 2014 at 7:39AM

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The demo video shows a very poor stabilization.

November 27, 2014 at 10:16AM

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Roberto Mettifogo
Behind Cameras.
341

I have a Ronin, nothing comparable, is way much better, you can run with a 85mm on your 5D and it's still pixel level stabilised.

November 27, 2014 at 10:17AM

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Roberto Mettifogo
Behind Cameras.
341

What struck me immediately about this product were the kinetic remote and the auntheticness of their presentation. I immediately picked up a package on their kickstarter page. This was the gimbal stabilizer I have been waiting for.

The kinetic remote is by far the most intuitive implication of remote control for a stabilizer that I have seen. It can be very frustrating and time wasting controlling the camera with joysticks. You often over shoot your mark or move to quickly. Your footage looks like Grand Theft Auto point of view. This kinetic remote is genius and I think the learning to operate curve will be very small for any camera person.

Secondly, I think the way they presented the system felt very honest. I could see they were doing almost nothing to "cheat" the footage to look smoother. It very much felt - what you see is what you get - so I commend them on their belief in the quality of their product. If you have a great product, you don't need slick marketing. In fact, whenever I see slick marketing I start to get a little suspicious.

I'm looking forward to taking the system out into the field.

November 28, 2014 at 10:53AM

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Andreas von Scheele
Director/DP
83

Here are the things that I want in a gimbal that have yet to be offered by ANYONE (AFAIK) including Freefly.
- full slip rings on every joint to allow fully continuous rotation in every direction
- pass-through from handles to cam sled with least 3 channels of power and 6 channels of data (video 1 and 2, focus, iris, zoom, aux [bellowed lens tilt?], and aux 2 [bellowed lens pan?])
- a gear-head controller (as seen one the Libra)
- fully carbon fiber construction

November 29, 2014 at 6:14PM

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Harry Pray IV
Director of Photography/Lighting Technician/Colorist
481