Fun with the Movi M5 — First thoughts on flying a Canon C100.

Freefly Systems Movi M5 - Outside In Studio

UPDATE: As insight­ful as this post and video are, they are 3-years old and were made with­in a week of us get­ting our hands on the Movi M5. Since then, our set­up and tech­niques have evolved and we have made a follow-up post which cov­ers every­thing you need to know about fly­ing a C100 on a Movi M5.

Like a lot of film­mak­ers out there, when we first saw Vin­cent Laforet’s behind-the-scenes video show­cas­ing Freefly System’s Movi M10, we were very excit­ed. A tool that uses motors to sta­bi­lize a cam­era on a 3-axis gim­bal? Yep, that’s pret­ty cool, but what real­ly made it rev­o­lu­tion­ary was it’s design. You didn’t need a vest to oper­ate it, and it wasn’t cum­ber­some, or long, or wide. It was actu­al­ly a pret­ty small set­up, and when we saw the oper­a­tors pass the rig through hula-hoops, dip it close to the ground, and hop on roller blades in one take, we all knew the game had been changed.

Only a year after that, the Movi M5 brings those same rev­o­lu­tion­ary traits in a small­er set­up and at an afford­able cost, and as soon as we saw the slight­est hint that a Canon C100 could be mount­ed on one, we didn’t hes­i­tate to order it and start fly­ing. Now, there is a bit of a learn­ing curve when try­ing to get a C100 to work flaw­less­ly with the Movi M5 since you do have to remove the side grip off of the body, so we decid­ed to make a video (sit­ting at the bot­tom of this post) that hits on what we real­ly love about the Movi and how we mount and oper­ate a C100 on it. We called on our good friend and amaz­ing street pho­tog­ra­ph­er, Tyler Hay­ward, to be the star as we fol­lowed him around the west side of Toron­to for the day.

We don’t want to touch on any­thing that we talk about in the video, but we did want to write a short post on what we like about the Movi M5 (because we’re just that excit­ed about it).

From Ricardo:

If I were to list every­thing I like about the Movi, we’d be here all day. I’m Movi obsessed. It’s been a few weeks since it came in and I still get urges to bring it out with me on dog walks just to try out new move­ments and set­tings and that speaks vol­umes about how much fun it is to play with this thing.

I think the biggest ques­tion, espe­cial­ly for a lot of wed­ding video­g­ra­phers, is going to be how it com­pares to a more tra­di­tion­al set­up like a Glide­cam or Steadicam. The thing is, with either the Glide­cam or Steadicam, the footage will only be as sta­ble as the oper­a­tor and, as time on a shoot wears on, it becomes hard­er and hard­er to keep things fly­ing smooth­ly. Where­as with the Movi, the motors are con­stant­ly bat­tling any shake you throw its way. That, com­bined with two-handed oper­a­tion, makes the M5 a more reli­able and con­sis­tent tool and when you’re work­ing a wed­ding where you only get one shot to cap­ture a spe­cif­ic moment, that’s is price­less.

We haven’t had a chance to even throw a DSLR on the Movi because we’ve just been so hap­py with the C100. With a DSLR, you’re con­fined to the old workarounds of fly­ing a steadicam — hav­ing to stop down to f/8 or high­er, cal­cu­lat­ing hyper­fo­cal dis­tances, and not get­ting the sharpest footage in the world. But a C100 with the dual-pixel upgrade is a beast on the M5, push­ing the lim­its of what can be achieved as a sin­gle oper­a­tor. That means shoot­ing wide open isn’t an issue any­more, and fly­ing on a sta­bi­liz­er at f/1.4 real­ly is a jaw-dropping expe­ri­ence.

From Victoria:

What I like about the Movi is that I can actu­al­ly use it. We nev­er upgrad­ed to a vest for our Glide­cam set­up because we were always afraid of how intim­i­dat­ing it would be for our cou­ples and their guests when shoot­ing a wed­ding. Fly­ing a Glide­cam with­out the help of a vest or arm brace is a heavy task and made it impos­si­ble for me to use it for longer than 30 sec­onds at a time with­out wob­bling uncon­trol­lably. But, because you can hold the Movi M5 with two hands, I can eas­i­ly oper­ate it for min­utes at a time and get incred­i­bly smooth results.

I always get real­ly excit­ed about tools that push the bound­aries of where we can take our cin­e­matog­ra­phy and the Movi does just that. There are real­ly no lim­its on what you can do with the M5 as long as you have the imag­i­na­tion. You can shoot cen­time­ters off of the ground, pull it up to reveal a sub­ject or scene, pass it to a sec­ond shoot­er and hop in a car all in one shot. These are things that are unheard of with oth­er sta­bi­liz­ers and it push­es you to think of new ways to tell a sto­ry that takes advan­tage of all these new pos­si­bil­i­ties.

Victoria - Movi M5 - Outside In Studio

A Few Concerns…

You fall in love with the Movi so fast that you find your­self over­look­ing its small quirks, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there.

In many ways, this is a much more com­pli­cat­ed set­up than tra­di­tion­al sta­bi­liz­ers. We used to throw our Glide­cam in the car, or just drop it and hop on a mono­pod or tri­pod while shoot­ing — we knew it could han­dle it. A Movi feels a lot more frag­ile. It comes with a stand (more on that in a sec­ond), and it is made to be placed on that stand when not in use. Sure you can throw it on the ground or in the car instead of the stand, but it feels wrong to do it, and even the small­est change in weight or posi­tion of the stage can throw it off-balance. Not that it’s very hard to get it to bal­ance again, but it is some­thing we’ve nev­er had to wor­ry about before. Then there’s the fact that you can’t use it with­out a mon­i­tor, and that the way the cable con­nects to it can occa­sion­al­ly throw it off-balance and cause it to oscil­late a bit. It’s just more things to wor­ry about and look after at the end of the day.

And yes, there’s the stand which needs to come with you every­where. It’s near­ly impos­si­ble for the Movi to pow­er on and bal­ance with­out sit­ting on the stand for about 15 sec­onds. So, it needs to by your side on the off-chance that you might want to turn it off, or in case you run out of bat­ter­ies.

[UPDATE: After the Spring 2015 firmware update, all Movi gym­bals have a Set­down Sleep mode which allows it to be set on the ground dur­ing peri­ods of inac­tiv­i­ty with­out the need for a stand]

These are things that might turn a lot of wed­ding cin­e­matog­ra­phers off of the M5 alto­geth­er, but we real­ly feel the reward is worth all the trou­ble.

Outside In Studio - Movi M5Movi M5 Stand

This is a game changer.

If it hasn’t been clear enough, we love the Movi M5. Just as the M10 has been mak­ing waves in big­ger pro­duc­tions, we feel the M5 will make even big­ger waves since even more film­mak­ers will be able to make use of it. We’ve been hav­ing a blast with it so far and can’t wait to push the bound­aries in our wed­ding work this sea­son.

So, with­out fur­ther ado, here is a video on our first thoughts on the Movi M5 and how to get start­ed with a Canon C100. Enjoy!

  • Krista — KJ and Co.

    Looks real­ly cool guys!

  • Jan­ice

    So neat!!! Pete and I will have to get mar­ried again… ;)

    • Haha Well, if you guys decide to renew your vows, we’ll be there with this thing in our hands!

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  • Ryan Sarv­er

    What lens are you pri­mar­i­ly fly­ing with the Movi?

    • We’re using the Canon 24mm 1.4. It’s a beau­ty of a lens, but occa­sion­al­ly too tight — we’ll prob­a­bly be get­ting a 14 2.8 for safe­ty. We jumped on C100s this year from our 5DIII’s, so we’re get­ting used to the crop fac­tor.

  • J. Edwards/Seattle

    Beau­ti­ful work! are you shoot­ing c-log or wide dynam­ic range? Incred­i­ble lat­i­tude…

    • Thanks! Wide Dynam­ic Range is our go-to 90% of the time and it’s what that footage was shot on. When we grad­ed it, we crushed the blacks and brought the high­lights down, so the orig­i­nal had even more lat­i­tude to work with — it’s a pret­ty impres­sive pro­file and requires a lot less work than C-Log.

  • How about C300 ? Is it work with this sys­tem ?

  • Awe­some! Thanks for shar­ing your expe­ri­ence.

  • Fran­cis

    This is great stuff. Real­ly inspir­ing. By just get­ting into it and doing it, you are inspir­ing oth­ers to get into it, to get the work done. Bril­liant.

  • Neale

    I’m just think­ing about invest­ing in this kit, so thanks for this incred­i­bly use­ful ‘tuto­r­i­al’ guys… just one ques­tion, I’ve had the upgrade, so that works well… but what about mount­ing a micro­phone? Also when you take the cam­era out to use with the han­dle again, I assume that it just func­tions as nor­mal (the hand­grip func­tions that is.) Neale

  • menassier

    Thank you for this video, which made ​​me take the plunge !! I am very excit­ed to receive my MOVI M5 !!

    I have just one ques­tion, what made ​​you to make adjust­ments to shut­ter and iso with­out the han­dle?

    Thank you a mil­lion for your reply.

    Gabriel //

  • Moril­lon

    Hi !
    I just dis­cov­ered your web site cause I was look­ing for some advice con­cern­ing the C100 and the M5.
    I’m french and live in Paris. I want to make many dif­fer­ent videos. A lot of peo­ple told me to get the C100 but I’m afraid of the weight with the M5…specially if I use both of them togeth­er for a wed­ding. It’s gonna be too heavy. Don’t you think so? How do you deal with that? Maybe you don’t use the M5 all day long. Maybe you change for anoth­er sys­tem, like a Mono­pod…
    I don’t want you to tell me your secrets, guys… :))) but I need some help. Def­i­nite­ly :)
    Sor­ry for my eng­lish. I got­ta improve that too!
    Thanks for your reply and I wish you the best for the future. I real­ly like your work. con­grats :)

  • Kyle Corea

    Do you ever use wire­less mon­i­tor trans­mit­ter or fol­low focus device? If so, how do you pow­er them with your rig? Do you just use DP-6 bat­ter­ies to pow­er your Small HD’s? thanks! love your work!

  • Caleb Shaw

    Hi. Real­ly nice footage. :) I also have a C100.
    If pos­si­ble, I would like to know if all these shots were done in 24p or was it some­thing else?
    And What ND Fil­ter was most­ly used for the day shots, like walk­ing through the alley where you see the grafi­ty. Real­ly nice.