January 11, 2017

Meet Volt, a Steadicam for Smartphones

Steadicam adds power to the longstanding Merlin design for hybrid smartphone stabilizers.

The original Steadicam design is one of the most innovative in the history of cinema, driven by the passionate vision of Garrett Brown. Of course, the arm and vest rig was designed for much larger cinema cameras, while more and more filmmakers are working with smaller and smaller cameras. DJI has gained a foothold with the Osmo line of stabilizers for small cameras, and GoPro has even gotten into the mix with the Karma Grip.

Now, the original innovator Steadicam is making its play for the market with the new Volt. Built around the design for the Steadicam Merlin, a clever bit of engineering that Steadicam has made in various forms for decades, and combined with technology from drone maker Yuneec, the Volt is quite possibly the best solution for smoother smartphone shots yet.

By using a combination of motorized gimbal stabilization along with the weight-based stabilization of the Merlin design, the Volt offers a lot of compelling benefits. First is that it can continue to function even after the batteries run out, though the batteries claim eight hours of life, so that is more likely to be a benefit if you simply forget to charge the batteries in the first place. Secondly, the combination uses patent pending technology to simulate inertia in operation, creating smoother moves that feel less robotic and more organic. The Volt folds up to a self contained package that is easy to keep with you for a variety of shooting situations.

 photo Steadicam Volt Vs Osmo Comparison.gif

This also seems like a great move for Yuneec. Rather than build its own stabilizer and take on the challenge of fighting DJI in yet another marketplace, the company takes advantage of the technology it has developed and partners with the premiere name in the stabilization universe. Considering the trouble in the drone world, with everyone aside from DJI appearing to struggle and Parrot's recent decision to lay off a third of its staff, strategic partnerships like these seem like a great way to grow into new markets while sharing the risk.

Volt In Your PocketCredit: Steadicam
You can support the Volt now via Kickstarter, with shipments estimated for June 2017.

Tech Specs:

  • Built for phones weighing 100 – 200g 
  • Can handle phone 58 to 80mm wide 
  • Comes with rechargeable LiOn batteries
  • Works (more limited fashion) with batteries dead
  • Bluetooth-enabled
  • Simulated inertia

Your Comment

8 Comments

Looks more like a motorized update of Cinevates Morpheus than of an Osmo style stabelizer to me. Looks smart :-)

January 11, 2017 at 6:06PM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9100

Had the opportunity to try this out at CES, and it honestly blows the competition out of the water in my opinion. A lot of comments I've read on other sites suggest speeding up the pan times on the osmo mobile, but it isn't the same as natural inertia. Can't wait to get one.

January 11, 2017 at 6:15PM

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Tom Frenette
Cinematographer / Producer / Editor
22

Looks cool. Except the gif above. The one using the gimbal version intentional snaps his wrist. Nota true comparison.

January 11, 2017 at 6:22PM

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Johnny Wu
Director, Producer, Editor
292

I am very surprised that Steadicam would need to use kickstarter for this product. With what they charged over the years for their steadicams...they should be loaded...
My opinion...

January 11, 2017 at 7:08PM

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Dano
Director
14

Agreed, and their goal was only 100k (of course they have commitments for much more) I doubt you can design, tool up, manufacture and bring to market a product like this for 100k. I guess this is really more of a marketing play. As to why Steadicam would build this?...that is easy ... they have a limited market for their professional products, billions of people have smart phones!

January 12, 2017 at 10:40AM, Edited January 12, 10:40AM

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It's all pre-sales. Personally I think big corporations should be limited from crowdfunding, really detracts from smaller, more worthy and needy campaigns.

January 12, 2017 at 5:31PM, Edited January 12, 5:31PM

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Jordan Mederich
Documentarian / Filmmaker
1257

I used an early version of this, understood immediately how it worked, amazing design. This is absolutely going to be in my bag when I travel.

January 12, 2017 at 12:32AM

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Zack Wallnau
Cinematographer & Tinkerer
692

Would be a cool peice of gear to Travel with.. Gonna buy me a good smartphone and get this as well... i like it! serious premise.

January 12, 2017 at 1:51AM

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Wentworth Kelly
Director/DP/Colorist/Drone Op
1997