The blogosphere is blowing up with talk of the new “game changing” stabilizer from FreeFly Systems: the MoVI. It is a camera stabilizer based on the latest technology used for cameras on quadcopters. It’s a smaller, lighter, and easier-to-use version of the venerable Steadicam. So why doesn’t a run-and-gun videographer need it?
It is expensive.
It will either cost $7500 for a 5lb capacity (MoVI 5), or $15k for a 10lb version (MoVI 10). It is a rapidly-depreciating asset, so unless you plan on using it on a daily basis for fully-paid work, it doesn’t make financial sense to own. This is one to rent – especially with its reportedly shallow learning curve.
Ask yourself what kinds of shots you’ll actually be doing.
Unless you’re shooting an emergency room procedural, you probably aren’t filming tracking shots the majority of the time. A niche product like MoVI requires more manpower (two or three operators ideally), and will induce more arm fatigue, than the traditional tripods, sliders, and shoulder rigs used for 90% of normal scenarios.
The venerable Devin Super Tramp does amazing things with GoPro’s, quadcopters, and Glidecam stabilizers. His combined rig probably still costs less than a single MoVI 10, and it’s light/portable enough to take to extreme locations:
There will be cheaper alternatives. Probably within a year.
The MoVI uses existing gyro and radio control technology, so there’s nothing copycat-proof about its design. Here’s an eerily similar device developed in 2010:
MoVI will pave the way for cheapo alternatives that just might be as good or better than the original.
You may not need a stabilizer at all.
For simpler walking shots, you may be able to get satisfactory results using your camera’s internal stabilization with a little bit of post-stabilization with a plug-in like Lock & Load X. Here is a video I shot in about 20 minutes with just a Sony Rx100 compact camera:
Click through to the original video to see a description of my workflow.
So who needs to buy MoVI?
High-budget feature filmmakers. Rental houses. High-end broadcast, high-budget indie film, and high-end event videographers. Not one-man-bands like me who like to travel as lightly as possible.
The MoVI is smaller and more efficient than Steadicams and dollies, so it will be essential to productions where time is big money.
But don’t get me wrong – I’m just as excited as the next geek about this advancement in stabilization technology.
But I won’t be buying the MoVI. I’ll be getting the under-$2k, twice-as-small Chinese knock-off that comes out next year.