Kitting Out Your MoVI for Cinematic Capture
Today we’re taking a look at how Shane got his MoVI decked out with Red Rock remote follow focus for use on the film “Fathers and Daughters.”
In early 2014, I left a whirlwind Location Scout that encompassed Paris, Torino, Trento, Milan and Venice and looked to my future. That future includes the film Fathers and Daughters that I started shooting in Pittsburgh. It stars Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Aaron Paul, Diane Krueger and Jane Fonda. The Director is Gabriele Muccino, a very talented filmmaker who challenged me in so many new ways. He is a master at emotion, heart, soul and great drama.
When I signed onto the project, I was given very little prep. Then the location scout to Europe for another project cut another nine days off of much needed time. When I was starting out on features, prep was everything to me because I was new and not comfortable with the whole process. Now I am a prepping machine with a ton of help from a team that helps me stay on point and excellent. The team is so important in bringing your vision to life.
This time the pioneering spirit will be shooting 80% of Fathers and Daughters on the Freefly Systems MōVI gyro stabilized handheld device. Gabriele is a huge steadicam guy and loves the way it moves and how quickly he can block and shoot with it. I sent Vincent Laforet’s MōVI film to him and his first two words were F%$#ing Awesome.
“Embarking on the MōVI Journey”
Well, the train has left the station on this concept, which has cost a good amount of money and a ton of R & D. You see people using the MōVI with the Canon 5D, Canon 1DC or the Epic but I wanted to go about it a little differently. I wanted to shoot our movie on the Canon C500. I feel that it is the perfect camera to tell this emotional story, which includes several flashbacks to the 80s. The MōVI was not really ready for this style of cinematic capture.
“Kitting Out Your MōVI”
Along with a ton of love and support from Tabb, Sam and the Freefly team, we started to go down the road of setting up the MōVI M10 with the C500, onboard Gemini recorder, Redrock Micro Remote Follow Focus and a Teradek wireless SDI transmitter.
“Chris Herr’s MōVI Accessories Package”
Nexus 7 Tablet
2.5mm & 3.0mm Allen Wrenches
Dual Lock Velcro
LiPo Battery Meter
LiPo Battery Alarms
LiPo Batteries and Chargers (lots of them)
LiPo to P-Tap Adapter (for powering accessories)
LiPo to 2-Pin Lemo Adapter (for powering Redrock)
Modified Bike Rack Mount
MōVI Floor Stand
Extended MōVI Handles
Extended MōVI roll arms
Freefly Rod Adapter
Freefly “Ninja Star”
Gemini 4:4:4 Recorder
Teradek Bolt Wireless System
Redrock Micro Remote Focus System (x 2 for Iris Pull)
Easy Rig with Extended Post
Modified Bike Rack Mount
Appolo Bicep Arm Blaster
Hyper Thin HDMI cables
Thin 3G BNC Cables
and backup parts of everything! ! !
Nexus 7 Tablet – The MōVI can be interfaced with via Mac, PC and Android powered devices. For normal on set work, the Mac and PC options are not practical, unless you have one of these:
The compact form of the tablet allows me to adjust tuning and operating values in the field on the fly. It can adjust how the MōVI reacts to inputs in Majestic mode (very important when switching to tighter lenses), how it reacts in inputs in remote mode and many other parameters with the new 3.07 Firmware update.
Bubble Level – The MōVI is great at keeping your shots straight, but mounting a bubble level to the camera body itself is a great way to visually verify that your shot is level before your image goes live to the DP and Director.
Modified Bike Rack Mount – The MōVI M10 ships with a wonderful table top cradle, but we needed a way to dock it in any location, table or not. A wall mounted bike rack from Home Depot and a grip head did the trick. Now we have a way to mount the MōVI to any C-stand or baby pin to give our operators a break every once and a while, as well as to serve as a locked off shot.
Extended MōVI roll arms – The stock MōVI M10 ships with a set cradle size that limits the cameras that are compatible. Freefly has now released the new M15 with longer roll arms, which enables larger cameras and lenses with more crucial accessories. We were lucky enough to get this upgrade early for some testing, and it has made a world of a difference. Balancing a Cooke 135mm is no longer a 15 minute ordeal involving counterweights and sweaty brows.
Freefly “Ninja Star” (with custom Mitchell mount adapter) – The Freefly Ninja Star is an all purpose mounting solution for the MōVI. It replaces the standard handles with a small round cheese plate. It offers multiple threaded mounting points to attach to the jib or slider of your choice. On Fathers and Daughters, we needed to go between Handheld mode and “Underslung” mode very often. The Ninja Star enabled us to do that. With Freefly’s new “Toad In The Hole” Quick Release, this process will be even smoother.
Easy Rig with extended post – This custom built easy rig with an extended arm allowed us to hand hold the MōVI for long durations without our operator’s arms falling off. The only limitation is that you have to be relatively stationary or the motion from your foot steps would transfer into the MōVI.
Apollo Bicep Arm Blaster – The Bicep Blaster allows our operators to maintain the freedom of movement that the Easy Rig does not offer while still having a place to rest their arms if needed.
Thin 3G BNC Cables (custom made by Terry West) – The MōVI requires a precise balance to stabilize its heavy load. Standard 3G cables are too thick to run between the camera and the gimbal. We needed something that would be “invisible” to the gimbal, and Terry West had the answer for us in the form of 3G cables as thin as spaghetti and as flexible as dental floss.
“It’s About the Cart”
Now that you have all the necessary accessories, you need the ultimate cart to roll this baby out. We have been testing many set ups with the MōVI and finally came across pure GOLD. Inovativ Carts has adapted their Steadicam cart to take the MōVI units. They have a cradle system all set up and a nice flat work area on top, all padded and ready to rock. It has storage underneath and a drawer to store necessary tools.
These carts are pretty impressive. The way they transport is intelligent as well.
“It’s All About the Glass”
Why the C500? Why not the Epic? Image quality, weight and the lens quality. The Epic is about four pounds heavier than the C500 and a pound on the MōVI can go a long way. I wanted to fly Cooke S4s, which weigh about 3.5 to 4 pounds each. Choosing the right glass is part of the storytelling process. If we were going to use the MōVI for a shot here or a shot there, then I could compromise, but we are looking at 80%, which is a substantial amount. Finding the right recipe of lenses, camera, follow focus and a recorder that could also be used as an onboard monitor was the brilliance. This is where the Gemini knocked it out. I did not want to have to tether a Codex S recorder in a backpack. That would defeat the purpose of this wonderful tool. Once we were able to balance it, we moved on to figuring out the best way to operate.
“Keeping This Baby in Focus”
Because of the C500 being so much lighter than the Epic, we are able to add many cool things. Cooke cinema glass is one of them; the other is a dual motor system with the strength of the Redrock Micro remote follow focus.
This dual motor system has been absolutely essential in bringing our vision to life. Having the ability to not only focus but control Iris is huge. We tried the C motion system at 45K. This system is known throughout the business as commotion, not C motion, because there is always a ton of commotion when you are trying to use this system. We sent that system packing within a week when we realized its range was about 100 feet. Redrock’s range was 2000 feet. OK, Redrock. We have been trailblazing this follow focus as well and Brian Valente at Redrock and his incredible team have delivered huge. They have been writing new code to address all of the 1st AC’s issues and doing it within 24 hours. They changed the direction button from an immediate switch to a 3 Second Hold, which eliminated accidental bumps that reversed the focus direction without warning and lowered the torque during the lens calibration for super accurate and repeatable manual calibrations.
This is the kind of support that I am talking about and respect. Thank you!!!
“The Game Changer”
Many of you have heard this term overused to its fullest. The 5D was a game changer. The Red Epic was a game changer, the GoPro Hero 3, the list goes on and on. But at this point, there have been two ways to operate a MōVI.
Majestic mode is the most intuitive way to operate the MōVI. It follows your movements while maintaining perfect stability and fluidity. When you pan, it pans and when you tilt, it tilts. With the new firmware version 3.07, you can now introduce “Shaky Cam,” which adds a programmed amount of shake into your shot. You can now have a consistent visual feel throughout a film production or television series.
RC Control Mode
The second way to operate this baby is an RC control with little joysticks for Pan and Tilt. I grew up in the 60s and 70s when video games consisted of B & W pong games, not Xbox 360 and PlayStation, so my learning curve has been steep on this. It does, however, offer a high level of precision when you utilize the proper sensitivity and exponential settings.
What Revolution Cinema Rentals and this wonderful coding genius Mehran did for me was to hack into the MōVI system and give me Hot Gears wheels for Pan and Tilt as well as roll. I feel this is truly a game changer for me. Now I can have my dolly grip be the physical vehicle of moving the MōVI while I sit back on a nice director’s chair and operate a tool that I have operated for over 16 years.
“Mounting This to the Dolly”
What I love about this tool is that it has so many unique ways to exploit all of its pros. One of them is the fact that this is a gyro stabilized head. We have been mounting this on the dolly and using it as a remote gyro head and loving it. With the game changing Hot Gears, we are using this to slide down bars into screaming close ups along with operating with the precision of wheels. My Key Grip Bart Flaherty and MōVI tech Chris Herr pioneered this Mitchell mount to be able to energize one of the oldest motion makers in the business, THE DOLLY to assist with the MōVI as a gyro head.
How do you rock out your MōVI?
Awesome stuff. I always tell people that we live in the future with all of these gadgets at our disposal. Thanks for sharing and pushing the limits of the technology to innovative heights. :)
Thank you for posting this article. I have a few questions:
1. With the new firmware you spoke of, and the follow focus’ calibration, how much downtime are you looking at when swapping lenses while a camera is flying on the Movi?
2. Are you using circular filters only while a camera is flying on the Movi?
3. I’ve heard of Redrock wireless follow focus users complaining about play when trying to do a slow pull. Does the torque adjustment eliminate this issue?
1. The auto calibration only takes a few seconds, a manual calibration takes a little longer but increases accuracy.
2. We are primarily using the C500’s internal ND filters, if we need to use any 4×5’s we will use tape or “snot tape”
3. The delay can be fixed by increasing torque and doing a backlash adjustment, sometimes limiting the lens will also help with this.
That’s just mind blowing how much engineering takes place in a film. Thanks for sharing this!
Aaron Munoz, you are so welcome, thank you for you support
Thanks for the post! Always appreciated. One more thing to note… if you don’t have an easy rig… your movi Op needs to be a weight lifter/ marathon runner.
sloan, ha ha, yes I think I have cracked their spleens and blown out some vertebrae.
another great article, shane. have you seen/ tested/or maybe worked with the g-rig valos? those guys had a similiar set-up on their NAB booth, but with a main power source and their own vest?
jan woletz, I did not see that, I think there will be a ton of duplicators and some will do it better but I love what I am seeing on the screen. I do feel that the dampening and accuracy of the Movi needs to be vetted, it is very loosey, goosey for me. I am dealing with it but it is the price for being gyro stabbed with a price point at 15K.
Wow what a killer post! This was very in-depth and insiteful! I personally am still all for the steadicam. I know the Movi isn’t a replacement or meant to be a replacement for the steadicam though.
Brendan, Thank you for your kind words. I love the steadicam as well, this is a totally different tool and it has expanded my creativity huge because I am using it in many new ways that a lot of people are not thinking about.
Awesome, how was it shooting on longer lenses?
Last week we flew an epic with ultra prime 24mm, bolt and RedRock wireless package and that was a pig, then we got smaller later in the week with the C300 and split between the 11-16 and the 18-35 sigma. We didn’t have crew or budget for FF so I operated in majestic using the DoF of the cam to try to keep things in focus.
Part of the shooting was for this event, only run and fly, but speaks to the fluidity of control once you get things dialed.
Check out some of the footage here:
Peter Nicoll, we have been flying the 135mm Cooke S4 and loving it. No problems. Thanks for the support and sharing your footage my friend.
This might seem like a dumb question but does anyone know what the neon green/orange tape is for? I see it on different parts of the rig.
Hey Josh, different colors of tape are usually used to visually organize gear, camera packages, and a range of situation specific kits on set. Each camera package and it’s associated gear will be labeled so things don’t get lost in-between A, B, C, etc units with similar equipment.
The green/orange tape in these photos looks organizational (as it’s applied on the Spektrum radio’s antenna as well) but the tape on the movi’s arms may double as a visual marker of the farthest the rig can be pulled back while retaining full operational movement, or as the farthest rear balance point.
Hope that helps!
You are correct, the colored tape is so I can tell the difference between the two rigs. They needed to be multi colored as not to be confused with the colors used on the A,B and C cameras. The white piece of tape you see near one of the motors is a focus plane mark. All of the cables and accessories on the camera can make it hard to see the focal plane, our A Cam 1st AC added this.
Wonderlad knows all!
Thank you guys for the great information. Also, thank you for not making us newbies feel inferior like other forums do. Chris Herr and Tracy Nystrom are stand up individuals.
Shane, completely envious of the amazing crew you work with and thankful to you for sharing as always. I always take away a lot from your posts. I put together some selects from a recent shoot I used the Movi on. I would have lived the pan tilt controls for this.
Noel Evans, my crew is absolutely amazing, they make me shine bright. So much respect for all that they bring. Thank you for your kind words. I will check them out. Thanks for sharing
I truly appreciate you sharing such great technical information. This definitely gives one insight on such a wide variety of gear make use of on the set. I put together my first DSLR rig last year, and have never been more excited about getting behind the camera to
capture epic scenes. With an extensive photography background, combined with my video experience the DSLR has been the perfect fit! I cannot wait to get my hands on a MOVI!
Reggie Nicholas, you are very welcome and thank you for your kind words. I am glad you liked the post. I think Chris put together a great package.
Hi Shane, I really enjoy reading your articles, there both educational and well written,
Im currently a Movi user as well ,but I opted for the Axis 1 follow focus instead, which is extremely reliable, I’m interested in how you got on with the shaky cam, good luck with your new film.
John O’Regan, thank you for those wonderful words. I take much care in writing them and love when people respond this way. I haven’t seen that system, how is its range? Shaky cam, not sure what you are referencing. We quickly figured out this amazing devices limitations, CONS lets say and tried to always set ourselves up for success by only showing its PROS.
Just shot an Emerson Thesis with the M10 and a Red Epic. Camera was definitely pushing the Movi to its limits. C500 looks like it’ll work much better with it. Also, that control system looks much better than the remote control. Thanks for sharing!
Tyler, Yes, The Epic mass those little motors out a bit. The C500 is lighter but I use that to my advantage by flying Cook S4’s instead of Still glass or old Zeiss Super Speeds
As merely a fledgling “prosumer” videographer at this point, I find the details of this “Big Boy Toys” post INCREDIBLY insightful and VERY helpful, for someone that’s never even set foot on a “real” movie set. So thank you! Thank you!! THANK YOU!!!!
I’ve been lusting after a Movi since they launched and because my Steadicam Merlin is pretty “ok” but incredibly difficult to learn to fly, even when (after hours of tinkering) it’s finally weighted properly.
Commenting now, because I’m curious if you’ve upgraded or intend to upgrade to all the new goodies Freefly has just come out with like the Wedge (in place of the Redrock), Mimic, Tero, Alta, etc. <- I can only watch the clips and drool, as I'd have to sell my house to afford all the stuff I want from them :) OBSESSED GEARHEAD DP TO HIS GIRLFRIEND : "Look hunny, I know we're 'technically homeless' because of this stuff, but just LOOK at this AMAZING AERIAL shot cut with this incredibly sexy slider view of how ANGRY and DISHEVELED you are right now, IN 4K! We'll be able to get a new house with this in my reel in NO TIME!" :)
Any chance you'll be doing a similar in-depth "here's my gear" post this year? I'm really reeling (heh :) ) with looking through all the gear, links, and related research. Because even if I'm unable to invest in such gear at the moment, it's always fun to click and dream.
Thank you again.
We have had some similar requests from the Inner Circle as well. Once I am back from New Orleans I will sit down with my team to discuss different ideas like this. Thanks for the feedback!