First off I want to clarify...I think Freefly is an amazing company and they have been creating some stellar products for the film industry. There, now that that's out of the way...I have had an awful experience with the Movi M5.
At the time that this blog is published, I will have been in Iceland for 3 days. When I was initially told about this project ..."Filming a Non-Profit Promotional Film in Iceland"...the Freefly Movi M5 was on my mind. I had watched countless videos of it in action and had used it a couple times on set with some of my friend's projects. Without a doubt it is one of the superior handheld stabilizers on the market, especially better than *cough* the DJI Ronin (please fix your software).
In February of this past year (2015), I took the Movi M5 to Costa Rica to film a series of videos for a Non-Profit (Schambach Foundation). Using a Panasonic GH4 + Sigma 18-35 with a SmallHD DP4 monitor I was set for an incredible week of shooting. I'll be honest the footage did not disappoint, but where I ran into trouble was with the speed of my set up and tear down. When filming documentaries, I am a run'n'gun filmmaker mostly operating the camera on my own with little to no assistance. With that being said, I'm used to pulling out the camera and shooting when the action is happening making it look good as I go and when possible. In Costa Rica, there were plenty of moments where I was able to set up nice shots or do moves while the action was happening and it turned out GREAT, but I often failed to get into the action when it initially started. I ended up putting the Movi down quite a bit and going handheld in order to get into the tighter spaces with it's larger size.
But now I am in Iceland for 8 days, and we are traveling all over the southern half of the country. Driving with mountains on my left, and more epic landscapes on my right...so the phrase "PULL OVER LET'S FILM HERE!" came up quite a bit.
On day two of the trip we drove all day stopping over 10 times at various locations racing against sunlight and freezing cold wind. Everywhere we stopped, I got out and ran to the trunk of the Land Rover, put the Movi on it's stand and turned it on. The wind was pretty hard, rocking the Movi out of balance on the stand and took anywhere from 4-7 minutes to calibrate every time. What was even more difficult was the fact that the screen attachment that came with the Movi decided to break...leaving me with little to no way of seeing the monitor with the gimbal in the way. Also, pulling over to the side of the road didn't mean we had reached our destination. Many times we were walking and carrying the gear for quite a while...and putting the Movi down meant bring the stand, which was one more thing to carry.
So with all of that being said, it's easy to complain when things aren't going well...But I made it work with the GH4 flipout monitor and am now inconveniently holding the Movi in the seat next to me with the stand...and I'm making it work when we "PULL OVER."
Of course there's the "boo hoo" your life is so hard, you're in Iceland filming with the Movi (sarcasm)...but it would've been great to have a more reliable stabilizer.
A stabilizer without a stand.
A stabilizer that doesn't require a secondary monitor.
A stabilizer small enough to fit in a backpack to get into tighter places.
A stabilizer made for the run'n'gun filmmaker that just wants a steadier hand held shot.
A stabilizer like the Letus Helix Jr...and now, after NAB, and after this trip to Iceland...I am officially SOLD on the Helix Jr. You can find out more about it in my previous blog post:
Wham. Bam. Boom.