Don’t know what the Mōvi is? Here’s the big announcement:
So the Mōvi has been announced! You saw it first on Vincent Laforet’s blog. Its a gyroscopically stabilized handheld rig with independent, wirelessly controlled pan and tilt capability – and I probably just completely mangled all the technical terms, sorry. It claims to provide all of the advantages of a Steadicam and more, with a lower skill requirement. You are spellbound and ready to open your wallets, or maybe you are unconvinced. After all, gyros are expensive and hard to handle. Right? Well, let me tell you about what I saw first-hand this week.
I had the amazing opportunity to link up with Vincent Laforet this week, in Omaha, Nebraska. Vincent was directing a thirty second spot, filming all over downtown Omaha. It was a three-day gig, and I was brought on as a volunteer PA / BTS shooter. We had a lot of territory to cover in only two days of live action shooting. Vincent flew in Tabb Firchau, one of the inventors of the Mōvi, to operate his baby. Here is where it gets interesting: for all the live action video we shot, we had no slider, no jib, and no Steadicam on board – it was all back at the hotel, set up for moco timelapse work. All we had was the Mōvi. Tabb picked up the gizmo, adjusted a few things, and when we started that first sunrise shot with Vincent operating the camera wirelessly and Mike Mastre (Omaha’s #1 1st AC) pulling focus with a Bartech wireless system, magic happened. There was no reason to have all the extra gear on hand: I watched short and long dolly shots, push-ins, pull-ours, craning Steadicam-style chases at walking, jogging, and running speeds, and a LOT of hanging out of the side of a moving minivan, shooting up and down the streets of downtown Omaha. All of it, glass smooth, despite a plethora of environmental forces working against them. I had to see it to believe it, but when I checked out the client monitor, the proof was there: it’s like a gyro-stabilized helicopter rig in your hands (Except without the rotor blades – as Vincent said on set: “they’re flying weed-whackers”). Bottom line, the camera floats in your hands.
As far as technique goes, the Mōvi itself appears to handle much like a Fig Rig, only with more going on in the middle. I didn’t get a chance to handle it myself, but the basic principle is the same: hold it like a Fig Rig, move it like a Fig Rig, and get results 10x smoother than a Fig Rig – with the added benefit of wireless pan + tilt via remote control! Vincent had a RED Epic loaded on the Mōvi, which means that it can handle significant weight. I would guess that if properly adjusted, it could carry any camera of similarly compact size, and a pretty wide range of weight. Vincent’s blog has the specifics.
Looking at the future, my take is that this device is going to start to crowd Steadicam style rigs quite hard. It may cost a bit more, but it is more flexible, easier to learn and use successfully; it requires less balancing, and adds motorized pan and tilt capabilities. The convenience provided to anyone who wants smooth motion but needs to get the shot NOW is unparalleled. Event videographers like myself would do well to take notice. Why bother bringing along a slider, jib, and Glidecam if you can fill all three roles more efficiently with one Mōvi?
What I would really like to see is the pan/tilt control built directly onto the unit, integrated into a handle – ideally modularly so it can be moved around – making the device (assuming auto-focus) a completely one-man show when the need for that is there. Perhaps a wired controller that could be very light and small? Just a thought. EDIT: Vincent has confirmed that this already possible with something called ‘Majestic Mode’.
Keep your eyes on this one, folks. It’s a winner – I know from first-hand experience.
PS. Sorry for the iPhone shots, all the good BTS stuff was shot on Vincent’s cameras for his use, not mine. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to see it on his blog soon.
PPS. Timur Civan, an amazing Cinematographer and DP has these excellent insights into the Movi: http://timurcivan.blogspot.com/2013/04/liberation-something-wicked-this-was.html