Freefly’s MōVI vs Steadicam

November 21, 2014
Freefly’s MōVI vs Steadicam

It’s clear to see that most people in the video production industry have now seen or heard of the groundbreaking MōVI M10, the 3 Axis Gimbal designed and manufactured by Freefly. The question on most filmmakers lips when entering the realms of camera movement and stability is, as to whether this relatively new device can hold it’s own next to the traditional Steadicam that has been present in the production industry since the mid 70’s. When Freefly announced the MōVI M10 in 2013, many dubbed the device as the Steadicam killer, a huge statement and one that is questionable still to this day. A year on and this topic is still ripe in online forums, with filmmakers arguing their preferred devices and flaws with the other systems. However, it’s clearly evident that the MōVI M10 is changing people opinions every day as more and more filmmakers are opting to use the rig to capture dynamic footage that was simply unachievable 12 months ago. The thought that MōVI, the new kid on the block, could make Steadicam operators surplus to requirements, is a massive statement and this change is definitely not going to take place any time soon. But just as we’ve seen the rise of digital and the fall of film, the video production industry isn’t shy of change. It may be sometimes slow to adopt new technologies, but if they answer the questions presented to them they will find a place in the modern day film and TV sets. Steadicam operators bring years of expertise and can pull off moves that your average Joe with a MōVI probably could not, but over time, this could be the way that movies and television shows are shot. It’s clear to see that Freefly’s MōVI M10 has made a lasting impression on the production industry but how does it actually stand up next to the Steadicam and other traditional movement devices? Here are some examples of why it will be difficult not to have a MōVI M10 on your productions in the future.

Time
The first and biggest factor in the favour of MōVI is on-set time management. To reiterate the point we made earlier, this device is definitely not the end of conventional camera movement devices such as a tripod, slider, dolly, jib or Steadicam. But the MōVI M10 will make film makers think twice about using a lot of that kit, especially when they realize how quickly the device allows operators to perform similar shots in only a fraction of the time. Possibly the most important factor of film making is time management. When you’re working with kit such as dolly or cranes it can often take dozens of crew members hours to set up for a single shot. Crew members have to lay tracks down for dolly moves, the crane’s route has to be worked out and lighting often has to be amended to allow for the movement of the jib. With a product like the MōVI M10, that time could be reduced significantly, allowing for much longer shooting periods. Okay, so the MōVI takes a little time to balance and at first this can be a pretty tedious process, but once the operator has got a feel for the device it can literally be balanced in minutes and your shooting!

Price
While the MōVI M10 isn’t the cheapest of devices around, to purchaseit is around £10,000, our rental price of £245 a day is significantly lower than the cost of hiring a Steadicam operator for the length of your shoot. If you consider how much is spent on handheld rigs, sliders, jibs, Glidecams, Steadicams etc… the price of hiring this device quickly becomes a no-brainer. Steadicam operators have years of experience and it’s near impossible to replicate their way of using the device on your own without years of practice. The MōVI is somewhat different; you can master the device in under a day and be out shooting dynamic footage in no time! Our expert crew of operators and technicians are also available to hire for a fraction of the price of a Steadicam operator and are often very capable of capturing footage of the same quality.

Learning Curve
The Steadicam is an unbelievable device for camera movement and stability, there is no hiding this. Hence it has dominated the industry for so long. Steadicam operators often have years of experience and are true masters in their craft. Trying to replicate their movements with little experience is near impossible and the learning curve for such a device is a long process for even the most technically gifted camera operators. This is why Freefly’s MōVI M10 is such a groundbreaking development. The learning curve on this unit is very, very fast. However, it’s not a case of getting your hands on a MōVI kit for the first time and being able to operate it perfectly. Balancing the MōVI for the first time can be a difficult and tedious at times and could effect your work flow massively, but once you understand the fundamentals and have had a few hours practising the sequences of balancing the device it is very easy to set up and operate. We organize regular training workshops at our branches in London, Leeds and Manchester, where attendees get hands-on training with all aspects of the MōVI. From One Man Majestic Mode right through to Three Man Operation, our expert MōVI Crew will guide you through the full day and leave you ready and raring to go for your MōVI shoot. We guarantee you will leave the workshop with the capabilities to set up and operate the MōVI for yourself in under a day for as little as £100+VAT. Our feedback from previous clients is excellent and they have continued to hire MōVI kits since attending our workshops and now operate the devices on their own with few hiccups on their shoots. This learning curve is possibly the biggest factor separating the Steadicam and MōVI, because of this we believe the MōVI will revolutionise the industry massively in the upcoming years. If you don’t wish to learn the techniques for yourself our expert crew of MōVI operators and technicians are available for a fraction of the price of an experienced Steadicam Operator.

Multiple Modes & Multi Operators
A Steadicam operator has a tremendous amount of equipment strapped to them at all times when operating. This includes a Heavy vest that is often strapped with batteries and a separate monitor so they can see the footage as they’re moving. The MōVI is much more flexible, it can be operated in a similar way – Majestic mode. This is where the operator is in full control of the device using a monitor attached to the handle bar of the MōVI so that they can frame their footage. Possibly the most exciting feature of the MōVI is that you can also utilize an extra person to lighten the workload in difficult situations. The MōVI allows you to control the camera remotely. The second operator uses a remote to move the camera within the rig and frame the shot as it happens using an external monitor, while the operator can run alongside actors, up stairs, or pass the rig through tight spaces such as a window, while concentrating on not tripping over anything. This is a clear advance from the Steadicam, where one person is strapped into an awkward rig and constantly having to watch not only where they’re moving, but also make sure everything remains in frame.

A great MōVI-Hire case study demonstrating just how effective the Dual operator mode can be, is when we worked with our long time client ‘The national Lottery’ to film Team GB’s speed skaters in the run-up to winter Olympics in Sochi. The shoot involved filming close up shots of the skaters performing their extremely high paced routine. Of course it would have been simply impossible for a single operator to follow the speed skaters on the ice, whilst keeping them in frame and without falling over. However, we managed to use the MōVI’s Dual operator mode to full effect by handing the rig to one of the professional skaters. While this skater travelled next to pack with the MōVI, we where able to frame the sequence externally using the MōVI remote. The footage we captured was perfectly framed and tremendously dynamic, adding an element of authenticity to the sequence. This couldn’t have been possible with any other device manually operated such as a Steadicam and is a real example of the MōVI’s versatility. Even a simple pan or tilt from a tripod can be executed via the MōVI remote control, further demonstrating how quickly you can also set up for more simple shots. And it doesn’t end there, The Freefly app that connects to the MōVI M10 via a tablet allows the user to fine tune the rigs motors, meaning they can set up the device exactly how they need it for different sceneries which again demonstrates the MōVI’s flexibility – which is currently unmatched in the industry.

Weight
The MōVI is easily transportable in a thin case as hand luggage; the rig itself weighs less than 4 pounds due to its carbon fibre build. Unlike the bulky camera stabilization systems that have become the industry standard such as the Steadicam and cheaper alternatives the Glidecam, the MōVI doesn’t require heavy vests and weights. Instead, it’s extremely lightweight and is built around gyro stabilization and accelerometers resulting in Camera operators being open to wider range of motion, while being more nimble. The MōVI M10 can fly such cameras as the Red Dragon, Red Epic, Red Scarlett, Canon c300, Black Magic & DSLR’s & can take up to 10kg’s in weight meaning you can also add a range of accessories. With the entirety of this weight placed on the operator at all times the MōVI can be a difficult rig to handle over longer periods of time and will result in fatigue. We advise clients to keep this in mind and provide the operator with an assistant throughout the shoot to relieve them of the MōVI’s weight in-between takes. Freefly have also announced that they will release other versions of the MōVI later this year. The MōVI M5 has just been released in the US and will soon hit Europe, this model is a smaller version designed to take up to 5kgs and will be the ideal rig for DSLR cameras. The next release will be the M15 upgrade. This rig will take up to 15kg’s and has a widen cage meaning it kit fly the likes of a Sony f55, Arri M or Red dragon, all with longer lenses or a mattbox. A future version the M20 is designed to support an Alexa or Epic package with zoom. MōVI-hire will be stocking all new models and we are very excited about the possibilities these designs will bring to productions. As Freefly develop and technology advances the potential of the MōVI is simply quite freighting.

So, as we have witnessed already the MōVI is bound to have its critics, just as every new piece of camera equipment does. The generation of 3 axis stabilization gimbles has just begun and they will only get stronger as manufacturers continue to develop their products over time. Lets not forget the MōVI M10 has only been around for just over a year and already Freefly are answering all the questions put to them by consumers by releasing upgraded versions. The company was created by camera enthusiast’s who have worked in the industry for decades meaning they have our best interest at heart when developing new designs. This is exactly the same as the history of the Steadicam, created by Garret Brown, who in the 1970’s designed an unbelievably innovative piece of camera kit that revolutionized the industry and has been unrivaled until now. He too is a huge fan of the MōVI and made this clear in a recent interview with MōVI inventor Tabb Firchau. He went on to say; “The best stabilizer to come along is the MōVI, That’s what excites me. The combo [of MōVI & Steadicam] is pretty devastating, it’s pretty great.”

This is definitely the year of the ‘Gimble’ within the production industry. The MōVI has rapidly becoming a frequently used device and is now being used in some of the biggest productions in the world such as Game of Thrones where it is used regularly. It’s popularity in the last year has increased immensely we can tell you that first hand as we have been overwhelmed by just how much interest our rigs are receiving daily. It had its doubters in the beginning but more and more industry professionals are being converted by simply getting their hands on the device. It clearly evident that in a few years time there won’t be a TV or Movie set without Freefly’s MōVI present. As for being the Steadicam killer, we think this is a premature statement that is far from the truth and Freefly will be the first people to play this down. What we will say is that the Steadicam for the first time has a rival, a younger more advanced contender with years of development in the pipeline; so maybe, just maybe the Steadicam veteran days could be numbered.

source: LINK