The Movi is an incredible tool that changes the way we as storytellers can communicate with our audience. One of the biggest questions filmmakers often have is about how approachable the rig is. Does it take a long time to learn? Do you need a large crew? This post is all about our tips and tricks on how to maximize the Movi when you’re shooting solo.
Our MoVI has taken a beating. We’ve pushed its limits, run it through harsh environments, completely disassembled it, and flown with it halfway around the world (twice!). After taking our unit from the sidelines of an NFL game to the remote edges of Namibia, we are happy to report that aside from a few scratches and a missing rubber band, our MoVI is still in one piece.
We’ve already shared our initial thoughts on the MoVI and how we feel it’s going to impact filmmakers and the stories we tell. As with any filmmaking tool though, it’s important to realize that that’s exactly what it is — a tool. How and when you use it should motivated by the stories you want to tell and the situations you find yourself in.
Which operating mode are we using the most?
It can be quite overwhelming with how many ways you can use and operate the MoVI. You can easily have a 3 person setup involving an operator, remote controller, wireless focus puller, and multiple monitors to rig. This setup can be very complex with a lot of moving parts; not an issue if you’re shooting on-set with lots of time to setup and coordinate moves.
On the other hand, you have the option to operate the MoVI in Majestic Mode; where you can basically operate the unit solo. By dialing a few settings via a tablet or computer, you can have the MoVI move and react precisely to your personal preference.
Use Majestic Mode to dial in settings perfectly for single operator shoots.
We’ve found Majestic Mode to be our go-to setup during many live event shoots; whether it be sports or our very own documentary #standwithme.
How we fit it all into a carry-on…
When Joyce and Patrick were in Namibia filming Lisa Kristine’s story for #standwithme, they faced the limitation of having limited crew and gear weight that could be brought along. This meant stripping down the MoVI to its bare minimum parts and disassembling some sections in order to pack it into a compact case. Joyce was able to pack the unit, stand, extra batteries, spare parts, and a tablet into a carry-on size shoulder bag.
Keep it as simple as possible if you’re a single operator.
After they landed in Namibia, it took them just under 30 minutes to reassemble the unit, balance it with the C100, and immediately start shooting. Not too shabby, right?
And because we run it in Majestic Mode, only one person is needed to operate the MoVI and the bare setup allows us to quickly switch the unit for a monopod when the story calls for it.
Our go-to MoVI setup…
Even when we’re not in the middle of the desert with only two crew members, we’re still usually trying to stay as light and quick as possible. So what’s our go-to setup when we need to be fast, mobile, and running in Majestic Mode? This kit will get you up and running with a C100 and lens setup in no time.
In the MoVI bag:
MoVI with the entire handle and grip disassembled
Basic Nexus 7 tablet + charger
Rode Videmic Pro + bar mount
SmallHD DP-4 monitor + bar mount
4x DP-4 batteries + charger
5 MoVI batteries + charger
MoVI assembly tools
A thin-cabled HDMI cable
This kit and more fits into a carry-on friendly bag.
Joyce + MoVI = Love 4eva
If you haven’t heard, Joyce is a big fan of the MoVI. With it, she’s been able to push her stories, tackle documentary and sports shoots on her own and be able to move the camera to add energy and excitement without the use of a full body mounted rig.
On a recent shoot with talent on a bicycle at sunrise Joyce was looking for a big epic shot with a ton of energy and and there was no way using a monopod or shoulder rig could’ve replicated that same feeling.
For the first time ever, she found herself tracking a cyclist down the road and hanging out the back of a van to get some sweet moving shots.
4 tips to get the most out of the MoVI
Here are some tips based on our time with the MoVI on the road:
1. A bare C100 with the Canon 24-70 (version 2) is a great combination for wide epic energetic shots with the ability to zoom in tighter when necessary. Zooming may throw off your camera balance a little but nothing that the MoVI’s electronics can’t compensate for. You don’t want to get caught having to switch lenses and rebalancing the unit in middle of the action!
2. Unlike a body mounted Steadicam, it isn’t as easy to adjust focus and other camera settings on the fly. We typically stop down a bit more than usual to take advantage of a deeper range of focus. F/8.0 is a good spot to try if you are just starting out and running solo.
3. Turn on your MoVI before boarding a vehicle that you plan to shoot out of (i.e. car, boat, helicopter, ect). Once your vehicle starts moving, the MoVI may have a difficult time booting up and aligning itself. The Freefly batteries will keep the MoVI running for a good amount of time and we’ve gotten an hour of continuous operation off a single charge.
4. On the tablet, start with these basic settings in Majestic Mode. Get a good feel for how fast the pan and tilts react to your movements. Slowly adjust your values up or down to fit your needs.
- Pan Smoothing: 15
- Pan Window: 5
- Tilt Smoothing: 15
- Tilt Window: 5
Don’t try to do everything. If you’re a solo operator, recognize what your constraints are and use them to push your creativity as a solo operator.
If you are thinking of adding the Movi, but aren’t quite sure, we always recommend trying it first. Our friends at LensProToGo carry the Movi M10 and you can rent it right here. Here is what is super cool about the LPTG team – when you rent the Movi M10 you also get amazing support from their team on how to set it up and get it running.
Remember, the MoVI is a tool — just like anything else you need to tell a powerful story. With something this cool, it’s tempting to use it all the time, but the story always comes first!
If you’ve enjoyed this, check out our Storytelling With Heart workshop. It’s a day full of discussions just like this one, with some hands-on exercises and and in-depth look at our approaches to meaningful storytelling. We’ll have a MoVI at each stop to demo and share with everyone there as well.