MōVI BTS – With FreeFly Hand Held Stabilized System

Vincent Laforet just posted up this video BTS of a new Hand Held Stabilized System from FreeFly that allows you to operate a video camera with smooth results. When this becomes available, this will truly be an awesome product, but retail prices for such a product are looking to be floating around $7,000-$15,000 US dollars. That actually sounds like a great deal if it comes complete with a way to stream HD Video out for a remote operator to maintain framing.

It really is an amazing tool to use that will free you from Cranes/Jibs/Sliders/Track Dollies, etc. Not to take anything away from FreeFly, but my guess is this system is strongly based on what is known as 'Brushless Gimbals' used in Ariel Photography/Video. In fact I just received an email a while back about how the technology for brushless pan / tilt stabilized systems have become more affordable and is a trend in the DIY RC Groups. Brushless motors are used in place of noisy and slow Servos.

Normally these DIY Brushless Gimbals for cameras are designed to mount under Quadcopters and stuff, but here's a couple of DIY project videos showing these brushless stabilizers in action over the past year.

There's a variety of these 'brushless gimbal' systems on the market, including many for the GoPro Hero Cameras. You can find some small systems for under $200-$300 bucks. Here's a ready made off-the-shelf product from DJI called the ZenMuse that looks pretty good. They claim to have very fast response time which is important to keeping your video shake free as you move about.

It's cheaper to go the DIY route if you can tackle the project, because a product like this DJI Zenmuse Gimbal will runs for $3,500 bucks (found here)

DJI Zenmuse
find-price-button DJI ZenMuse Stabilized Gimbal for Photo/Video

DIY Wireless HDMI & Wireless Follow Focus
So then there's the question about working with a remote operator or maybe two remote camera operators? One operator on a system like this would be in charge of framing or keeping the subject in focus. You'll need a wireless video stream from the camera. If you're moving about with a shallow depth of field, then someone needs to be in charge of what should be in focus.

This oddly segways into a video I just uploaded last night specifically for a remote camera operator, showing a DIY wireless HD video stream from a GH3 camera, and testing a Wireless Follow Focus system (below).

Thanks to Patryk for pointing out this small Nyrius ARIES Prime Digital Wireless HDMI System for me. I've in the past used the Asus WiCast (old article here) but the transmitter was a bit large and required too many amps which meant I had to use a large battery. This Nyrius ARIES Prime Digital Wireless HDMI transmitter can operate on 1A and is powered via mini USB, so i'm able to use a very small USB battery pack. The receiver still requires 5V/2A, so right now i'm just working with the Tekkeon battery pack on the receiver end.

Nyrius Wireless HDMI Video Stream DSLR Video
find-price-button Wireless Digital HDMI Transmitter and Receiver

Another reason why i'm excited to build this project is because of the GH3 camera! Canon DSLRs will lose the lcd display if you plug an HDMI cable in, so that meant that aside from my Wireless HDMI, I was required to plug in an LCD monitor with HDMI passthrough for the cam operator to see. The GH3 camera can continue to output a 1080HD signal through the HDMI without dropping the LCD display on the camera - (c'mon Canon get it together).

For controlling focus remotely, there are many different Wireless Follow Focus systems on the market, but right now i've been testing out the Senna All Recall Wireless Follow Focus system that was sent to me (below). I am still putting it through it's paces, and will have more information about the product on a later post. There are a few quirks about the design, but so far the performance of the unit has been great and I haven't had any issues.

find-price-button Senna Five Second Head and All Recall Wireless Follow Focus

41 thoughts on “MōVI BTS – With FreeFly Hand Held Stabilized System

  1. Emm

    Post author

    @Miguel - Yes the 5D MK II is HDMI and it will go directly to the wireless transmitter, but the LCD on the back of the camera will be disabled. If your monitor is out of view, it will be tricky to change settings on the camera unless you have a screen to work with. That's why you may need another monitor and a pass through.

  2. Miguel

    Thanks @Emm

    But isn't the Transmitter HDMI?
    I mean... the ARIES is HDMI and the 5D MKII is Mini HDMI, correct?

    Do I need a converter of any kind?

  3. Emm

    Post author

    @Miguel - Yes it is possible to use with a Canon 5D Mark II. Just keep in mind you will lose the camera lcd display when you plug in an HDMI source. If you need yo see from the camera, try an LCD monitor with pass through and then hook up the wireless to the pass through.

  4. You did a great job Francesco. Congrats and thanks for showing something which I suspect cost way much less than a Movi:)

  5. Alberto Respezzo

    Looks like this guy from flite.pl already has a working prototype. It'll be interesting to see if he decides to start selling him, still seems to be on the fence until he works on it more.

  6. Francesco

    This is enough for me, with my nex5n.
    Of course it is not a red but for outdoors in daylight pretty amazing too.

  7. Emm

    Post author

    @apostolos - Yes it's all true and that's one of the first places i'll take a look at. They have a very small Micro Four Thirds camera that shoots RAW and I believe will work with electronic Micro Four Thirds Lenses for $1K. I'm excited to see that one as I tend to shoot with the GH3 quite a bit. This opens up the ability to shoot RAW with the same lenses. It may not kill them off, but that's going to put a hurt on Canon and Nikon DSLRs for sure...

  8. Speaking of "revolutionary products" and "game changers" BlackMagic, just announced at NAB a 4k camera for 4k (totally showing up RED with their ambitious 3k for 3k teaser, remember), super 35 size sensor, with compressed RAW output and global shutter. And a second compact-size camera with a super 16 sensor.

    I read this on Andrew Reid's blog and looked around to confirm it. I hope this is not a belated April Fool's joke, but if it isn't, gentlemen, the second phase of the revolution is here!

  9. On the other hand, I don't think people are fully exploiting the capabilities of existing in-camera and in-lens stabilization. The consumer camcorder Sony CX760 has the Balanced Steadyshot feature which works remarkably well:


    Other Sony cams like the RX100 have Active Image Stabilization, which electronically augments their optical stabilization. I shot this yesterday after watching the MoVI demo to see if I could get acceptably steady tracking shots of a walking subject, with no external rig:


    I also used the Lock & Load plug-in in post on some of the shots to smooth them out even more.

    Obviously this isn't of interest to Alexa and RED shooters, but for the lower-end, there are alternatives that you may already own.

  10. The Nyrius Aries PRO seems quite interesting. It is way cheaper than the Paralinx Arrow. A comparison would be interesting: connection delay, latency, max distance, image quality, seize, weight.

    Is it possible to connect two or more Nyrius receivers to the same transmitter?

  11. HDog

    I've flied Quadrocopter for years, including 3axis gimbal. I've used the Freefly Radian 3axis and its quick, but not quick enough for hand shakes but enough for aerial shots. This system isn't geared for enthusiasts or independent film makers, its for Hollywood. What I don't understand is the 3 Radian Axis is about $3000K, through in another $1500 for the wireless follow focus, so by adding a few handles, the price jumped to $15K? Now they are using a new brushless servor, its quiet and quick, but a $11,500 difference? No doubt its a game changer, but being first the market you can set the price. This is similar to Zacuto, metal is metal, the only difference is its either chrome, brush, or painted, so I don't understand why a shoulder rig is $3K when you can get the same features online through various companies for $300-$500.

  12. Pierre

    Hi Apostolos,
    Although the taxi shots are pretty spectacular, they are not IMHO the most interesting part of this commercial. Steadycams have two major issues: learning curve and weight. These are the two problems addressed brilliantly by movi. Movi seems to be perfect for Dslr users : I don't believe that somebody would ever use it with a heavy camera (alexa) and even a RED Epic might be heavy. So for us, Dslr shooters, Movi is a gift from sky: we can shoot faster, we are lighter than ever. Freeing ourselves from the weight of dollies and travelings is FANTASTIC. Let's just get it cheaper.

  13. Igor

    The requirement of third person on the set can be avoided if one would try to implement the auto-guiding system to maintain framing, by specifying a guide-object to be in a specified zone of the frame. An astronomical auto-guide system provides it for a telescope, as well as a flight auto-pilot system does it for a plane.

  14. The Movi is a very interesting product, but it all depends on the price. For most if its uses, it really seems to compete with the steadicam systems, as smaller and lighter and easier to use. (The helicopter use is interesting as well, but really how many indie projects can afford a helicopter?) Laforet's clip is an infomercial specifically designed to push the virtues of this product in the very niche situations where a steadicam may be not as easy to operate (i.e. super tight spiraling staircase), and I have to say the shot of the guy on the rollerblades is very impressive, but again, it's a very specialized shot, suitable for a movie where a single take of this kind can add something to the emotional impact of the moment (urgency, the girl has to make it to the airport, etc). But in all its other uses a decent steadicam system (which these days can be had for about $800 including vests) can do about 80% of what this system can do, albeit via a heavier and more cumbersome device. So it's all about economics. If this thing starts selling at a point that it can compete with vest/steadicam rigs it will be a success, at 7-15k that Emm estimates, it will be a very niche product, suitable for high end projects, which can benefit from that extra 20% that this device can bring to action shots. I think calling it a "revolutionary" product is hyping it quite a bit. Useful, evolutionary yes, revolutionary, it's no 5dmk2.

  15. i think this can replace a lot of support gear, especially steadicams, tracks/dollys and sliders. it may not be a 100% replacement but 95% is good enough most of the time. i'm sure there will be even more miniaturization to make it ultra portable and able to be used by a single operator. love it!

  16. Emm

    Post author

    @SkyWatcher - You're right it looks like one, but the unit I have here is also wireless with a wireless joystick that can store positions. I guess that's their selling point.

  17. Sam S

    I see this being a possible replacement for steadicam/glidecam but not sliders, sticks, or jibs. I bet you could get close to a slider shot, but at the end of the day, it's still handheld. There's nothing quite like a "perfect" slider shot, in my opinion.

  18. john lesage

    part of the neat thing about this coming from aerial point of view...we typically have a 2 person rig. one guy fiies, one guy operates the gimbal - pans, zooms etc...this MOVI is the same way - you have a person holding, running or whatever with the camera and gimbal and the one guys job is done remotely to frame the shot. direct wireless live link between what the camera sees and the guy operating the camera. So as I am breaking a sweat chasing down the subject matter - you are panning and zooming the camera while you look at it on a monitor attached to a radio transmitter that controls the camera and gimbals functions.you are just sitting their solely concentrating on framing the shot. neat stuff. and as you put it EMM - game changer.

    as far as getting around using the wookong with the Zen - I know lots that have tried and none got it done. the guys at DJI are very good at protecting their code.

  19. Emm

    Post author

    @John LeSage - I'm sold on the FreeFly. If they customize it specifically to address all the needs of a camera operator, then it's a game changer for Dynamic camera movements. I could sit here and say that the Steadicam products are the best in the world, but it still doesn't stop people from trying to make their own. The DJI was just an example, but if all it takes is for someone to program a new board to work without a flight controller, I'm not going to assume this can't be done.

  20. The prospect of replacing all the bulky rails and dollies with a gyro handheld is exciting. At $7-15K the freefly won't be making it into my hands anytime soon (if ever) but it seems like a great market for copy-cats and DIYers.

    I'd certainly pay $1000+ for a viable system... get going industrious tinkerers!

  21. John LeSage

    EMM - they do. Every bit of this was designed in house at FreeFly. THose of us in the aerial community have been blown away with what FreeFLy has been doing for a couple years now. They released a controller that worked with servo driven gimbals not that long ago and it was lightyears in front of the market. It did have a few issues, as they all do - but what I find important is that Tabb and the boys from Free FLy stepped to the plate and helped alltheir customers dial in their controllers. Try that with DJI (manufacture of Zenmuse) - again - I own a Zen and several products form DJI but I own them knowing that I am pretty much on my own when it comes to service.

    I am guessing that it wont concern most of the readers at Cheesy Cam but Free Fly aslo has another big announcement coming sometime between now and NAB- my guess a new flight controller for the heli - multi rotor crowd...but that is just a guess.

  22. Emm

    Post author

    @John LeSage - I agree. I'm sure FreeFly may even have their own proprietary controllers that make their system the best Gimbal ever.

  23. John LeSage

    Being one of those heli guys....here is the thing about the Zenmuse - you are limited to 1 camera, 1 lens. ie NEX with 16mm lens or the GH2. I own one and its amazing. You also have to figure thought that the Zen will not work without being connected to the DJI Wookong flight controller - another 1200$. Free fly system is meant to work with many different cameras and lens combos. But worst of all - you have to deal with Chinese company if you have problems. AND TRUST ME - many many problems ahove surfaced - like poorly calibrated motors at the factory - the only repair - send your gimbal to China - and wait. Free FLy is in the US and has a proven record with us heli guys as too having excellent service.

    THe big advancement in these gimbals popping up is using motors to drive each axis vs using servos. THe best servo driven gimbal cant touch these direct drive gimbals. RIght now I have next to a dozen friends, including myself - working on a DIY direct drive gimbal. SOme of us with 3d Printers are taking it a step further. SOon you are going to see these all over and cheaper that handle Mirror-less, gopro type of cameras. THey will of course be cheaper but really - when you start adding stuff up - Free FLy Movi gimbal makes sense to me. Especially if I can hand hold and fly the same gimbal.

  24. This is very easy to do DIY though the results might not be quite as good. The hex and quad copter guys have been doing it for years (the genesis of the gimbals Em listed above).

    A gimbal can be purchased with servos for several hundred dollars in varying styles. The simple application of Helicopter stabilization gyros can often be enough to replicate this effect though somebody with the right skills could like do the whole thing including servo control with an Arduino set up...since the radio control usually used for the helis isn't necessary here.

    Considering the Zenmuse is one of the most advanced gimbals I know of...and I feel it's already overpriced at $3500, charging so much more for this is leaving me a bit confused.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

RSS Feed Widget