Is MōVI Worth The Hype?

Is MōVI Worth The Hype?

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).

Sound familiar?

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?

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22 Comments

It certainly is an awesome tool, an awesome advancement in the world of steadycam motion captures. That being said, I still don't think every scene should be dollied, steadycamed, craned, etc. There should be a reason a camera is moving in a scene; not just because it looks nice. What is more fantastic about this device, is that it is incredible for small crews with limited gear. This can make dolly/ crane/ steady cam motion with just this one piece of gear. That's what I love about it the most.

Dave Wallace's picture

Agreed

Nail head, only problem with the Movi is the price! But theres loads of others bring out very good value and cheaper products that will do the same without the MOVI name on it.

name a couple

its the cost that gets me upset, love to know what the real cost is. Sick of companies putting the word video on gear and over inflating the mark up.

Dave Wallace's picture

I hear you. Have you looked at any of the cheaper versions?

Yes I have a fs100 which has a strange weight and form factor, so have to wait for the units that are fit for Reds and F3, they are really expensive. Plus the cheaper ones may not be in business, sure some Patent litigation will happen. I need a unit that can be repaired fast and fixable and reliable on set.

"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"

Seriously? Have you ever tried to develop and market a product? The reality is, you come out with something and no one gives a crap. No one. You have to work your butt off just to get people to listen to what you have to say and often pay a fortune for some decent targeted advertising from which you're doing awesome if only 1% of the people who visit the website actually buy the thing. And that percentage drops even more if the product is expensive.

That's reality.

The moment you use one, you realize how not overhyped it is. The MoVI and the segment its introduced, is brilliant and jaw dropping. I turned a room of "seen it all"Hollywood camera professionals into a throng of screaming lunatics just by picking one up and running through my office. Over priced, maybe, but overhyped? Not enough.

It's important to know how much time it takes to set up the gimbals. Also how many crew it needs to run them. The Movi demo footage doesn't really address these issues or the extra equipment needed. Remote follow focus, Teradeck for remote feeds etc... all of which need power and portability.

Two other companies to look into are Defy Gimbal and BeSteady. In addition to these there will be other smaller companies producing the same product. Most use the same components, Alexmos controllers and iFlight motors. The Movi, I believe, uses proprietary motors.

You could build with off the shelf components for around $1800 but figuring out how to calibrate might take some time. You would match the motors to the weight of your camera and lens.

From the demo footage I've seen I would say they all give decent results, maybe the Movi is slightly better. But is spending an extra $10,000 for a 5% better stabilised shot worth it? That would depend on your time and budget.

Good analysis!

Good summary, but... As someone who has been using these gimbals for a year now (servo from FreeFly, who now also makes the MoVi), as well as 3 brushless gimbals I have made in my own workshop (Alex Mos), and having the opportunity of actually operating 2 prototypes of the genunine FreeFly MoVi gimbal myself just over a month ago, I have a bit of insight into all this "hype".

Bottom line is, IMHO, MoVi is in the league of pro gear, just like a Arri Alexa / RED EPIC / etc. The Alex Mos style systems also work great (once setup right), but are in the league of the 5Dmkiii / BMCC / etc.

So, simply put if your production is using RED cameras and you need to shoot MoVi styled shots, you will need to / want to be using the genunie MoVi gimbal.

If however you production budget is tighter, and you are shooting on 5Dmkiii or similar, then a clone system with Alex Mos is going to serve your needs just fine.

Are the results and usability really all the different for the price difference? IMOH... oh yes! Even though I already have 3 brushless gimbals, I will still be buying at least one MoVI M10 gimbal.

Ah, the old 'pro gear' argument... the 'if you are not shooting RED than you are not professional' mantra. Gear only becomes professional when used by one. Both the companies I mentioned will release versions of their gimbals capable for heavier cameras. In fact a group on REDUSER successfully pre-purchased 100 BeSteady Fours for their EPICS. 6K vs 15K for the MOVI.

Could a 100 RED owners be wrong?

Well, you buy the cheap gimbal, let the others buy the "genuine" MoVi gimbal, and lets see who gets the work and gets the shots that make the DP & Director happy at the end of the day.

As someone who is already shooting RED on brushless gimabals, I will still be buying the MoVi as well, as its simply not in the same league at all.

Please look a bit deeper than just the surface, BeSteady motors are 1/3 of the power of the MoVi motors, and the controller is not comparable.

Calm down John. The BeSteady Four hasn't been released yet, you don't know what motors they are using or controllers. They are building the rigs custom for the EPIC, so let's wait and see rather than speculate.

$15k! Looks like I'll be using my $250 Glidecam for a long, long time. Well, when Im not just using IS lenses and a steady hand.

Nursultan Tulyakbay's picture

Worth the hype? Possibly. Worth 15k? No.

Movi, although first on the scene is grossly overpriced considering the technology is that of RC helicopter camera systems. That all said I've been working with a company up here in Canada who has developed their own gimbal at a far more affordable price point, and first hand... it works and works well. If your interested you can check them out here: http://stablegimbal.ca

It won't be out of the question to rent one for the right assignments

Ben .'s picture

Throw some batteries, a monitor and a few other accessories to this rig and I hope you've been to the gym to work those arms!

That's a lot of weight to be holding at that angle for any extended period of time. You'd almost need a back brace to take the load off.

Here is our 3rd brushless gimbal built DIY, specific for the RED EPIC. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW6RfHsnSNE

Yes in the video you can clearly see it works pretty well, but its not as good as the genuine MoVi M10.

I did few test between Movi and a 2,000 USD DIY one,

and wrote a post to compare both system
http://www.visionrouge.net/web/2013/12/diy-alexmos-gimbals-vs-freefly-movi/
Not the same product for sure, but mine fit a lot of shooting situation, The Movi is unbeatable with the weight factor, but it's not a working design, all mechanical part can't hold the weight, only the motors can..