Ben Mitchell

MōVI Magic

8 Feb 2016 by Ben Mitchell

It’s fair to say that Focus24 didn’t exactly rush into the gimbal market when Freefly Systems made their big splash at NAB 2012.  Marketing phrases such as ‘no training needed’, ‘anyone can do it’ and ‘Steadicam killer’ turned us off faster than the Death Star destroyed Alderaan.

But the Freefly ‘MōVI’ range remained an intriguing new kid on the street somehow.  A vest-­free stabilisation rig that can remotely pan and tilt…the ability to effortlessly raise the lens height from foot to eye level and vice versa...‘combo’ movements with hand­offs from operator to operator, for long, dynamic takes. Why wouldn’t we do it?

Truthfully, we felt the first promotional stills with a C100 on­board left us a bit underwhelmed, and so did the initial in-camera results we saw firsthand.  So what's changed for Focus24 to take gimbals very seriously…over three years later?  

After researching and understanding the MōVI in further depth, we became captivated by its undiscovered potential – yes, I make an emphasis on undiscovered.  A tool can only be as good as its operator.  But what if the tool allows you to push what you conceive to be possible, even three years after being firmly established?  

f24_falcon-1.jpg

It's our business to provide filmmaking talent with the best tools to fulfill exciting creative possibilities that give you an edge.  Having spent a considerable amount of time studying and developing the MōVI concept, we don't feel it's out-of-sorts to say, that as a creative tool gimbals have been mis­-sold and understated by the wider production industry.  

Yes, it is possible to achieve surprisingly decent results by ‘picking up and having a go’.  But if you’re looking to create big, grand, drama­-grade results you will need to revisit MōVI and start over as we have.  Give yourself the time to unlearn and learn again.

Our overall philosophy towards MōVI is twofold.  Firstly, the product is indeed simple in theory.  But the intricacies of tuning and balancing require real skill from the outset – no small feat.  It is a lot to expect of a ‘Director turned­ gimbal ­operator’ for the day to truly deliver on the capabilities of MōVI.  Not many would consider rigging a tracking vehicle untrained, and gunning it down a beach and expect in-camera magic.  Yet the suggestion is to expect this from a gimbal.  And therein lies the thrust of it.  Remote heads, tracking vehicles, Steadicam, drones and so on.  For such complex shot choreography and the equipment behind it you would expect to ‘wet hire’ a professional of the field.  Someone whose career is centred around their craft and who refined their talent through many years of experience.  focus24_movi_checkin-15.jpg

At Focus24 we strongly believe that this applies to handheld gimbals.  Our conviction is that done properly this is a wet hire ticket.  To know what is achievable with MōVI in a specialists’ hands is to know the difference between a mojito at a uni house mash up, and one lovingly crafted with skill and handed to you in Hemmingway’s bar in Havana.  Both do a job, but only one deserves judgement.

Second to the importance of specialist operation is the development of the native product and presentation of MōVI itself.  Working intricately with Steadicam talents and grips, we set out to deliver a holistic solution– a revamped MōVI 15 package that gives you more: a setup that you can run all day, with a flexible power distribution that adapts to your shooting requirements.  A setup that seamlessly integrates with all departments and hardware on set (be it rickshaw, tracking vehicle, crane and jib).  Our MōVI 15 has its own movable control centre, which also functions as a base for Dual Operator Mode.f24_falcon-2.jpg

We are inclined to believe that our kit will take you further that you can imagine and then some.  Many hours and R&D have been clocked in bringing our first rig ‘Falcon’ to lightspeed, and some vast changes have been made.  It’s tricky to go into fine detail in this blog.  For that, we’d love to be your host and demonstrate the really sexy stuff that will make you go “wow".  An personal overview illustrates a thousand words, but here’s a little teaser to whet your whistle…

  • With the packaged Easyrig Vario 5 (with Serene Extension Arm and 2­axis Puppeteer) we achieve a six axis stabilised system.  For handheld gimbals it doesn’t get smoother
  • She can run longer and faster than the rest.  Modifications to native power sources mean less downtime and waiting on battery swap out
  • The other neat benefit of the modded power distro is the reduction in weight and improvement in performance.  An ARRI Master prime on the ARRI Alexa Mini flying on the M15 is now possible.  At a meaty push Cooke anamorphics!
  • Quick-­release mechanisms have been installed at practically every joint to enable fast un/mounting, to every conceivable hardware on set
  • Up to 2350 feet of wireless monitoring to multiple video feeds, all in a neat 'village style' control centre
  • An easy pack to fly system that will allow you to carry the equipment safely from city to city and nation to nationfocus24_movi_checkin-1.jpg

Our Head of Engineering Tim, our Product Manager Tom, and Steadicam contributors watched with pride as Falcon took the skies on her maiden flight...she's ready to go.  As always please come by arrangement and see with your own two eyes.  If expanding on your creativity means something to you, then you can call this is 'gimme'.

Producers: Professional results, quicker and better than you have come to understand.

Directors: Your MōVI operator will say "yes we can" much more often.

Operators: Be assured that whatever the camera, hand off for movement you are asked to do, Falcon is a MōVI package for all occasions!