FreeFly Systems is a company dedicated to designing camera-supporting tools that enable revolutionary cinematography. Their top-of-the-line product is probably their CineStar Heavy Lift, above, an eight-rotor flying camera platform; but it is their handheld MoVI M10 model, below, that is currently enjoying a press explosion.
It's easy to see why. The MoVI is a wicked piece of engineering, featuring a 3-axis gimbal that automatically, gyroscopically, digitally stabilizes the camera. Yet despite the presence of onboard motors, the thing operates completely silently and weighs less than 3.5 pounds. While a single person is meant to support it, shooting duties can also be split by having a second operator control the camera remotely via joystick. This frees the first operator up to focus on, for example, running or keeping a close eye on their footing on tricky terrain.
If it's not obvious how the MoVI can open the door to new ways of shooting moving images, have a look at this behind-the-scenes video shot by director/photographer Vincent LaForet:
On his blog, LaForet calls the $15,000 device "a game changer." Here are some excerpts on what the device enables:
Some of you may not exactly get what this device does at first, why you might need it, or how you would use it. That is until you get your hands on it—and then your way of thinking about camera movement and general camera support will change. Guaranteed—everyone who's handled the device agrees....
It can literally take longer to explain a shot, than it would to execute a perfect shot with the MÅVI. Heck you'll even think twice about every using a tripod for a quick pan or tilt shot - when you realize you can do that with a "push" or a circular forward movement left (a curved dolly track...) Except you don't need to lay track down.
That being said the beauty of this device is how quickly you can also make more simple shots.... The speed at which you can work is hard for many producers. [You can] run down stairs, walk across a busy intersection, or ride in a vehicle and your head will certainly spin. It's unbelievably liberating.
If you consider how much we spend on handheld rigs, sliders, jibs (let alone Glidecams/Steadicams etc.)—the price of this device quickly becomes a no-brainer. Another huge factor: it takes quite a bit of time to set up a jib, let alone weights, crew and skill to operate. The learning curve on this unit is very very fast.
The MoVI can travel in a thin suitcase as carry luggage and weights under 4 pounds. A Steadicam is an awesome tool but takes years to master. I was able to operate this device within minutes.