I have bought a MōVI M10 and have been trying to get my head around it for the past weeks. It’s an incredible device and Freefly Cinema have come a long way since I first tested it at NAB 2013, where the operating software still had some troubles – it’s very pleasing to see that they have obviously invested a lot of time in fine-tuning everything.

It takes time to get your head around it because as with every handheld stabilizer, be it Steadicam or a gimbal stabilizer, it takes time to balance it with each and every camera and lens combination you put on. Balancing can be quite tricky, but I will talk more about that in the full review at a later point in time. The crucial point is that you need to add accessories like remote video, remote follow focus, on board monitor etc. to make it perfectly usable – and all of that adds weight which is of course the one thing you absolutely need to keep as low as possible on a device like that (which is limited to a payload of 10 lbs). So it’s definitely not something you take out of the box and just work with – it takes time and practice.

The same goes for the software. Freefly only recently released a Mac version of its MōVI config software, and it allows you to finetune everything perfectly … the way the rig reacts to movement in the Majestic mode (that’s the single operator mode, where it follows your movement) and a lot of other stuff.

My friend Alexander “Bobo” Boboschewski, a seasoned Steadicam operator who knows what handheld stabilizers are all about, spent much more time with my MōVI than me and already used it on a paid three-day shoot for a feature documentary – and the client was psyched about the great results they got. They were worried that it wouldn’t perform as they wished it did because they had already hired someone else with another gimbal stabilizer that they weren’t happy with at all – so their hopes were low (but they were proven otherwise by the MōVI M10′s performance).

Driving car tests – up to 100 km/h or 60 mph

Anyway, there are a few areas in which we didn’t know how the MōVI would behave … strong winds for one, and bad streets for another, shooting out of a driving car.

So together with gyrocopter pilot Jürgen Moors (yes, we will do a Gyrocopter test with the MōVI soon too – it’s one of these things) we tried to find one of the worst streets of Vienna we could think of, and we ended up shooting on a windy long street that consists largely of cobblestones from the 1930s (Höhenstraße). It’s a tour de force to drive on that street even when you’re not filming, but we MōVI in Bobo’s hands, opened the side door of the car and down we went.

Despite strong side winds the footage came out remarkably smooth – there is no visible vibration in the image whatsoever. In some shots he intentionally kept the car in on the left side, so you can see how massively the car was bumping up and down on that street, while the camera itself on the MōVI staid absolutely stable.

In a different shot I drive another car which is filmed with the MōVI from the other car – at 50mm and 85mm (effectively 1.5 x more on the C300 due to the crop factor). As you can see framing became harder for Bobo, but with a bit of choreographing, even that would be perfectly usable footage for something that you would otherwise have to shoot with a Russian Arm (these things) or a Libra Head (these things).

A little behind-the-scenes Instagram video:

(click here to follow me on Instagram)

Easyrig

One of the biggest problems of the MōVI is the fact that you have to hold it in front of you with your arms sticking out just enough to get really tired quite quickly. It can’t be used for extensive periods of time like a Steadicam with a properly adjusted vest, for example. Then again, it gives you the freedom to hand it over to someone else to get that special “impossible” shot. However, help is on the way: if your shot doesn’t require to change height or hand over the rig, it’s very advisable to use it with an Easyrig, which lifts all the weight off your hands and distributes it your upper body.

During that running scene I had the feeling that the footage would turn out absolutely unusable, because I felt how my running was amplifying all movements from my chest and distributing it over the line to the MōVI. I really couldn’t believe that the footage turned out as stable as it did.

Test outlook

There are many more tests to do with the MōVI and I will keep you posted … next we will be working on a solution that would hopefully allow us to use two of the original MōVI LiPo batteries to power a monitor, remote monitoring (Nyrius Pro) and a remote follow focus in addition to the MōVI itself. Also many more tests are planned, we will keep you posted here at cinema5D!

Watch it on Vimeo

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Reply
Derek McCabe October 23, 2013

The footage in the parking lot with the EasyRig looked very smooth. I would think any gimbal stabilization system will need some type of EasyRig on long takes.

Would love to see more review footage.

Reply
Cathal October 23, 2013

Driving shots looked excellent, actually not convinced on the running with easy rig setup.. I reckon I could get a smoother result with the steadicam, still it’s all usable footage. The Movi is an amazing system, best of luck with it Nino.

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Alex October 23, 2013

It’s not really correct to compare MoVI to a Steadicam. It’s like comparing a shoulder shot to a tripod shot – both have its own unique use.
I’d say, MoVI – is like Canon Lens IS, but for the whole camera rig.

Reply
Shane October 23, 2013

I disagree with you Alex. I think it is very fair to compare a brushless gimbal stabilizer system to a Steadicam or Glidecam set up. The end goal it to have moving stabilization. A tripod doesnt move, and a shoulder rig does. I am not convinced that this a MoVI will every replace a steadicams totally.

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Alex October 26, 2013

I mean the “breathing camera” by stating shoulder-shot. Not moving in any ways. You still can get a breathing shot from a tripod, it just looks different in style.
Same here, the style of the image you’re getting from a gimbal is just different. No better or worse, just different.

Reply
James Parker November 5, 2013

A tripod does move on tracks / wheels.

Reply
HowardG November 29, 2013

Err that’s called a dolly James …

Reply
joshua October 24, 2013

I am a steadicam operator…. If I came back with this type of footage on a real job I would be fired. Not a single frame of this was pro quality. I like the idea of these types of devices but I haven’t seen a lick of footage that didn’t give someone a haircut or was able to follow them in a quick move and hold any sort of quality framing. Watch any movie…. Unless it’s a loose framing style movie your never going to see anything like this.

Nino Leitner Reply
Nino Leitner October 24, 2013

Joshua, I appreciate your feedback, but don’t forget that this is the first time we have properly used the rig. No training whatsoever. I don’t know what your first Steadicam footage looked like?

Also, you’d be the first Steadicam operator to be able to produce a steady image when holding a Steadicam out of a car at wind speeds of 60mph with vibrations from a cobblestone street. I have never, ever seen anyone with a purely mechanical device like the Steadicam to be able to get rid of vibrations like that.

Reply
G October 25, 2013

I have to agree with Josh. My glidecam on country roads in New Zealand looks better than this. This does nothing to remedy vertical translation. I’ve even heard Movi fanboys talk about how once they mount the Movi to a steadicam, it’ll be perfect!! Wtf? What is the point? I love this video because it actually made me feel comforting certitude that there is no longer any need to sweat about dropping $16k on this thing. It truly is just for gimmick shots.

Reply
Chris October 29, 2013

“This does nothing to remedy vertical translation.”

How can you possibly say something so absurd? The camera was pointed out the car, and you could see just how much vertical translation the camera was accounting for, in those shots where the operator kept the car he was riding in in the shot.

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Shane October 24, 2013

I agree Joshua. Most of these shots were sub par at best.

Reply
Joshua October 24, 2013

I will agree with you that when you have a new tool there is a learning curve. So new people using the thing can be an excuse. But I won’t agree with you that you can’t get great Steadicam footage out the side door of a car. Your being sheltered by most of the wind in your setup. The issue of cobble stones isn’t an issue… That is the type of force a Steadicam was designed for… The Arm of a Steadicam is neutralizing the up and down interference. These new gimbals aren’t compensating for this force. To be honest I have gotten great hand held footage out of the side door of a car many times, and I can easily hold good framing.
Don’t get me wrong like I said I like the idea of these devices. It just seems like eveyone is so mesmerized in how they work magically that they don’t recognize that there are problems that come along with the form factor.

Nino Leitner Reply
Nino Leitner October 25, 2013

Well I guess having an experienced Steadicam operator working with the MoVi on this test isn’t enough for you … we should have actually shot the same thing with the Steadicam to prove our point. There is no way you can manage to work against these strong side winds and fine vibrations with a Steadi.

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Joshua October 24, 2013

Another thing with these devices…. There is a natural position of use for them ( mid chest ) I haven’t ever been asked to frame up someone’s nose….. In fact if there is a lady in the scene it’s the exact opposite. Camera positions are at head hight.
Oh wait I did remember on time in a movie. “Bad boys”. ( I was obviously not the operator on that movie ) but there was one shot that flew around looking up. Great shot. Just not the normal shooting position that’s all.

Nino Leitner Reply
Nino Leitner October 24, 2013

That’s a good point, it really is an issue. The Easyrig gets rid of this problem though, if properly adjusted (and when using the right Easyrig)

Reply
joshua October 25, 2013

I will say that I haven’t used any of these devices in an great length.
I am curious if you added an additional smaller inverted 3 axis gimbal to keep the monitor level as well if that would help getting better footage. when you have the monitor sideways it’s harder to see what the framing is. Imagine that two Gimbals working with each other!

Reply
Wakjob October 29, 2013

Europeans make too much $. Redistribute some of the wealth to India.

Reply
Chris October 29, 2013

Wow.

Reply
Feelworld October 31, 2013

COOL

Reply
Feelworld October 31, 2013

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Reply
Sabyasachi Patra October 31, 2013

This is an exciting tool. I think it is important to compose shots well. The way there are thousands of steadicam operators from lousy to the very best, similarly there would be many MoVI or other gimbal operators who will stand out due to their aesthetics.

This was an unscripted environment with cobbled roads etc and the operator was fighting to keep the car driver in the frame at times. However one can see easily see the potential of doing great takes with this.

Reply
Zach November 2, 2013

We shot with a Movi all weekend at a concert and came out with some incredible footage. Not sure holding it in a car filming another car does it justice. The device is insane.

Reply
Myles November 5, 2013

Looks awesome but as you point out, quite bulky/fiddly. Not easy to whip out of a bag and grab some great shots. Of course the same is true of the Steadicam but at least there’s no need for SW configuration. Does this mean you need to bring the laptop on every shoot in case you change a lens?

What was the setup up time approx. per location?

Nino Leitner Reply
Nino Leitner November 5, 2013

No, you don’t need the software on a laptop on location necessarily, only if you want to change the reaction time and speed of the Majestic mode. Usually you set that for a shooting day and you’re done. Changing the lens only requires rebalancing. With some practice you become quite fast doing this, I’d say 3-5 minutes.

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Paul Watt December 13, 2013

We tried one out the other day, after using another Alexmos based gimbal, and the Movi was so much better. We also had the unit out of a sunroof on a dirt road going 100kmh and getting smooth shots. The guy holding the unit could hardly keep his body in position but the footage was very smooth. We ordered one, and a huge case for it, so we could pre-balance the rig, place it in the box, then transport it to set. That way it’s at least very close before shooting.

Reply
Francis Carver January 22, 2014

Is this another joker product?

Reply
Tim Naylor January 24, 2014

I think 3 axis gimbals are brilliant and some steadicam ops are getting a bit defensive. I know of no steadi op that was at a pro level “out of the box”. As a camera operator, why wouldn’t you want something that small and compact to work? If you could master it, it could afford possibilities that you can’t get with a steadicam. They both have common and different purposes. I won’t be running down spiral staircases with a steadicam or doing five minute walk n talks with a Movi.

While conceptually I love the Movi, some of the balancing acts one must go through seems like a feature the competition may solve and make Movi yesterday’s new thing. I personally find it inexcusable to pay 15k for a rig that can’t be fine tuned quickly and without a computer.

Reply
Tim Naylor January 24, 2014

Also, could someone chime in about tilting. Could I go from a head level shot tracking back and then to a low angle tracking shot while smoothly making the tilt up adjustment and holding it without a 2nd remote operator?

Reply
Lens February 14, 2014

Sorry, but I can’t agree with U. Have Movie M5 and M10 in hands. But Fiber Glide is stronger, well made, and CHEAPER ! Works perfect and in my opinion got better design.

Half of price and got it in 7 days…

P.S: I’m not working for them ;p

Nino Leitner Reply
Nino Leitner February 14, 2014

Nice try advertising here, but no success. Nobody can believe you hold a MoVi M5 in your hands because it’s not out yet!

And yes, of course you are working for them if you have their URL as your URL? Please don’t think we are all stupid, it’s an embarrassement.

If you think you have a better product, send it over and we will gladly test it like we test anything else with an open mind and fairly, and stop spamming my post with your marketing bullshit.

Reply
сekс March 17, 2014

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