More than four decades after its invention, the original design for the Steadicam remains not just a technical marvel but also a fully functioning design for crafting images. While actively stabilized systems like the MoVi and Ronin platforms get a lot of the press, Steadicams are still hard at work on many professional productions providing the types of shots they do so well.
However, evolution is inevitable, and we have even seen invite-only demo's of integrations of active stabilization technology into a Steadicam platform. With the Steadicam Volt, we saw the official integration of a battery-powered active stabilization working in conjunction with the traditional bottom weight inertial Steadicam design and found it to be an interesting combination. We now are seeing that consumer technology make it up to the high end with the M-2, the first professionally targeted product from Steadicam that integrates active stabilization.
Utilizing what they learned from the Volt process, the M-2 integrates active stabilization into the top stage (sometimes called the donkey box) for helping only with the horizontal level. Since the vast majority of shots want to keep level, and that has long been an area that took practice and skill to maintain with the Steadicam, it's a natural place to integrate the technology. By sticking to a single axis, as opposed to integrating active tech into multiple axes, they are able to keep the design sleek while still offering benefits to the operator. Pan and tilt stabilization will still remain in the forefingers of a trained operator.
One interesting thing to note is the absence of Yuneec from this conversation. Yuneec is a drone maker that was involved in the process of manufacturing the Volt for Steadicam based on Steadicam designs. Since the M-2 is a higher profile product that will have a smaller production run, it makes sense in this case that Tiffen moved production entirely in house.
The unit will make its official debut at Cine-Gear in a few weeks, and will also be available in New York, Los Angeles, and London for Test Drive opportunities.