These days, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the advertising hype surrounding a new cinema product. All it takes is a slick promo video and clever marketing for companies to set the Internet ablaze. As the hype and expectations build, words like “game-changer” and “revolutionary” are thrown into the mix.
The over-hyping of products is completely understandable. Advertisers need to be more aggressive than ever in an over saturated market. The problem with over-hyping is that buzz words like “game-changer” carry less weight. Sure, the cinema world has seen huge gear advancements in the last 10 years, but very few products would be considered game-changers.
The Canon 5Dmkii was a game-changer. It’s low light video capabilities and small form factor inspired a new generation of indie filmmakers. RED Digital Cinema changed the game by releasing cameras that shoot 4K and RAW video. The hype over these products was well justified – it took the concept of a video camera and changed everything.
In the same way Canon and RED changed our perception of the video camera, Freefly Systems is changing the way we see camera stabilization.
In 1975, Garrett Brown introduced what he called the “Brown Stabilizer” (more commonly referred to today as a steadicam). The device allows a camera operator to balance a camera and capture smooth footage while distributing the weight of the gear on their body. The first film to embrace the Brown Stabilizer was Woody Guthrie’s "Bound for Glory".
Thirty-eight years later and the steadicam, one of Hollywood's best tools, hasn’t seen much improvement. Monitors have been added, ergonomics have steadily improved (pardon the pun) but the concept has remained the same. Earlier this year, Freefly Systems got our attention by introducing the MōVI: A 3-Axis Gyro-Stabilized Handheld Camera Gimbal, worthy of the title “Game-changer”. As with most gear releases, the product was incredibly hyped. Vincent LaForet, the same man that helped make the 5Dmkii a household name, became the face for the MōVI. His initial promo video reached all corners of the internet, including this great article from Fstoppers’ own Zach Sutton.
Filmmakers around the world were instantly smitten with the concept of MōVI. Filmmakers that had zero steadicam experience were suddenly able to capture smooth gliding shots without years of practice.
Five months after its launch, Freefly has started shipping MōVI in small quantities. The most exciting part, as with any product, is watching the fresh footage pour in. Here is a great example from Burton that shows MōVI doing things that a steadicam never could.
And the final video:
Although the Burton shoot is incredibly cool, I was most blown away by the opening jetski shots in a video by Jeff of GravityShots.com. Jeff notes in the comments:
“Also it must be noted I have zero steadicam skills and most of the ground work I was either wearing flip flops or barefoot”
Note how smooth the jetski footage is at the beginning:
In my personal opinion, MōVI will live up to the hype and ultimately change filmmaking for the better. The success of the company won't only come from creating a quality product, but also from establishing themselves as a cool brand. Other companies have been busy creating similar Gyro-Stabilized Handheld Camera Gimbals while Freefly Systems is busy partnering with Burton, Macklemore, Game of Thrones and Zach Braff (just to name a few).
Companies like Apple, Go Pro and Red Bull have made millions off of partnering with cool brands. How long will it be before we're adding MōVI to that list?