MoVI Handheld Camera Stabilization System

By Norman Chan

Anyone have $15,000 to spare?

Vincent Laforet has a pretty good track record being an early adopter in emerging digital video technologies; in 2008, he famously hyped up Canon's 5D Mark II as a piece of technology that would be an inflection point for digital video production. And guess what, it did. So when the photographer calls something a game changer, it's worth taking seriously. This year--not coincidentally just before the annual NAB show in Las Vegas--Laforet is putting his reputation behind Freefly Systems MoVI, a gyrostabilization platform for handheld DSLR video. And judging from both the video below of the stabilization system in action and Laforet's aerial footage shot using a Canon 1DC mounted on a MoVI, the $15,000 system will be coveted by amateur and professional videographers when it's released. Keep in mind that existing gyrostabilised systems are not cheap--the ones used in videos like this one cost north of $50,000. Of course, the MoVI meant to be handheld and not helicopter-mounted, and I'm more interested in the $7,500 model that will hold five pounds instead of ten.

Buzz about the MoVI has me thinking about a Chris Kenneally's recent documentary about the emergence and growth of digital video technologies as a replacement for film. Side by Side, which was produced and hosted by Keanu Reeves, does a great job summing up the arguments for both sides in interviews with each formats' biggest proponents (eg. Chris Nolan for film, Steven Soderbergh for digital). Cinematographers who champion digital video praise the unique handling afforded by lightweight cameras--think of the handheld shots you see in Danny Boyle movies like 28 Days Later and Slumdog Millionaire. MoVI seems like it'll move cinematography more in that direction: shots that are increasingly mobile, agile, and bold.