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Steadicam talks with MoVI: Garrett Brown in conversation with Tabb Firchau

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#1 brett harrison

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Posted 13 April 2014 - 09:14 AM


Be sure to watch the first 5 minutes which features Larry McConkey using the MoVI on his Steadicam rig to great effect. 


The key distinction made here by Garrett Brown is that the Steadicam is an instrument, and the MoVI is a stabiliser - in a more pure sense.


I also happen to believe that the MoVI is an instrument, however its nature is closer to that of the synthesiser, whereas a Steadicam is like a guitar. Each has its place in the form.



Edited by brett harrison, 13 April 2014 - 09:14 AM.

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#2 thomas-english


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Posted 14 April 2014 - 02:52 AM

yeah superinteresting. Does give you a good idea as to what a Movi / Steadicam sled will evolve to look like over the next few years. 

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#3 Elliot Gabor

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 02:34 PM

Could be my own percpetion but I felt it their positivy was very on the surface. 

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#4 axel ebermann

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Posted 16 April 2014 - 04:15 PM

While this is definitely an interesting way of using a Movi here are some thoughts:


What are the real-world advantages of Larry's setup vs. understandable, but rather pointless excitement over technology and rigs that look

like Darth Vader personally made them in his garage.




- We do not need to carry the Movi rig by hand. Anybody who has ever tried to get eye-level shots with a Movi and who isn't some 

Schwarzenegger offspring knows what I am talking about.

- The spring arm of the steadicam will take out the steps

- The rig will have pretty much all the extended qualities of an AR rig.

- There will be some very cool choreographed shots with Movi handovers, most probably in the 10th installment of the 'Bourne Identity'.




- While more pedestrian operators like myself might profit from a gyro stabilized horizon I don't see this a real benefit for somebody of Larry McConkey's skill.

- This will only work with an Epic or smaller camera. Maybe Alexa-M with added cable salad. Can't wait to carry that backpack. Forget about 35mm cameras.

- Yes - we now can boom from walking feet into a portrait. Dramatically the film world has lived pretty well without an abundance of these shots so far. 

- Double calibration / setup time: We now not only have to calibrate the steadicam rig, but also the Movi and make sure everything works well together.

Although I am sure there is a learning curve -  this still smells like a significant increase in setup / re-rig time. And that is very crucial on set when the AD is crushing 

your mojo by yelling at you to speed things up.

- We as steadicam operators are loosing the immediate access  / feedback we get from the rick.

- Ideally (or not so ideally for the operator community) there will be somebody else operating the Movi remotely while steadicam operators become Movi mules. 

- The latter setup will require an additional person. Not a problem on a Luc Besson film I suppose - but definitely a problem in many other settings.

- Operating / coordination will be more difficult. Experienced steadicam operators initiate a move in which all the elements from walking, booming, panning, tilting etc. go seamlessly together.

Simply because the operator knows what kind of move he is going to do and experience / muscle memory will do the rest. How do you do this with a second camera operator ?

Unless you have plenty of rehearsal time and a camera operator you work with all the time this feels quite challenging.

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#5 brett harrison

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 09:08 PM

Axel, thank you for that very considered and thorough commentary. 


I would like to point out that the MoVI can be quickly changed into a system that allows for manual Steadicam-driven pan by turning off (effectively) the pan motor (and locking the pan arm mechanically). There is also a single-user mode which would give the Steadicam operator control of tilt (and even roll in future firmware)


Also there's a definite aesthetic difference between manual horizon leveling and a brushless motor system that makes 100 adjustments per second. You get a dolly-like aesthetic (like the AR). The AR is a single axis system, the MoVI is a 3 axis system, which allows the post to point forward while allowing for a constant tilt, for example; the operator could move within the scene without altering the camera position (even watching their steps while another person maintained framing).


The use of two operators for the one camera isn't a new one in film, and can work well together provided a well rehearsed shot. Certainly a single operator would be preferable in many circumstances (but in others is either undesirable or untenable). As the software for the MoVI develops this combined system will become more functional and rewarding. 

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#6 thomas-english


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Posted 26 April 2014 - 02:01 PM

I want a MOVI on the end of my Steadicam and two buttons on my gimble. One that disengages Pan Stbilization and one that disengages tilt stabilisation. By plyaing with these buttons during the shot I can now do absolutely anything I like. Ok there is an issue where you can paint yourself into a corner... have the camera too far in one direction or the other or too much tilt. It will be mental but I think it will work. 

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#7 Tuomas Viitakoski

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 01:46 PM

I want a MOVI on the end of my Steadicam and two buttons on my gimble. One that disengages Pan Stbilization and one that disengages tilt stabilisation.

That's a darn good thought there Mr. English.
Freefly's software allows now only remotely switch the Smooth Lock for fixed tilt angle.

I'd like to see what the MōVI app say about the working efficiency when tilt/pan window is set down to 0-degree and tilt/pan smoothing to zero.
Attached File  Screencap_MoVI_app.jpg   57.74KB   14 downloads

If e.g. the tilt would be locked to follow steadicam operator's gimbal hand's commands the brushless gimbal would need to have really powerfull motors and boards. Even if the camera would be 98% perfectly balanced the tilt motor(s) would need to work with 100% thrust to hold the angle with the current design. Same thing applies to the roll and pan axis.
This means that locking the angles is yet not efficient and may require next generation brushless gimbals.

Tom you are that experienced AR operator that I think your input would be really appreciated in Tiffen, Freefly and other companies. You would help the whole world by skipping over the frankenstein's monsters and could get a working unit at once!! :)

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#8 steve wagner

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 07:38 AM

I thinks it will be okay.. maybe. The Movi definitively wants to point the camera directly in space, that is its mission. The Steadicam Op wants to guide the direction and purpose of the shot, guide the view. So its a matter of how to connect the two smoothly in sync. So much to learn..

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#9 TerryWest


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Posted 08 May 2014 - 10:48 AM

I have had a lot of fun creating a JBox style power/video distribution setup for them. The first one that I made was built around XLR's and PTap connections as per my customers wishes. The second one I made for Marcis Cole. Using what I have learned from the Steadicam over the years, it was so much sweeter. The JBox/Harness weighs less than a pound. The Epic Camera battery weighs more than that. I also built a dual JBox setup for Steffen Weidemann Larsen in Denmark. Hey Steffen, if you read this, I am still waiting for feedback on it.
I have the upper stage pretty well figured out. I am in the process of incorporating the ability to add a tally. That's another project that has been troublesome. (But I just recently built a nice one foot the SmallHD Monitor from the Pro CineLive. Thanks to John Perry for loaning his Small HD monitor so I could figure it out. Too bad some of the vendors haven't been as responsive.)
The lower stage tends to need a bit more operator input, as so far the Epic seems to be the most popular on it. Mostly I have been supplying power and HD video through the harness to the camera and accessory devices like the focus control system. Most of my wiring has been very Steadicam compatible. I have the 8-pin Lemo monitor connector, changing out one of the two Alexa style 2-pin Lemo connectors to the Pro CineLive style Tally. It can still be used for power if you don't use a tally. So many operators may have what they need in their kit to handle that special shot.
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