Hands on with the MOVI on "the Arborlight" a full review

So in June I got to DP a short film called "The Arborlight". It was a great period type piece that we shot on my Epic. We shot mostly on Zeiss Superspeeds for interiors and Canon Glass for exteriors. The big deal on this set is that we were able to get sponsored by freefly and provided us with a MOVI for my Epic complete with REDROCK Micro follow focus system and TERADEK wireless monitors.

So here is my feedback after using the rig pretty extensively, also keep in mind that this was the prototype unit and I was told a lot changed since this design. 

The Pros:

- I was able to get incredibly dynamic shots. Really easy to maneuver around. The weight wasnt that bad honestly. Pick it up for a take, put it down until you are ready again. Dolly shots were a breeze to get. I really enjoyed being allowed to think again. I feel like anymore we are trapped by a few options, sticks, steadi, dolly, crane. This literally had me excited again thinking of new ways I can get some way cool shots that leave people really asking how that was done. 

- The ability to operate 1 part of the unit and break down the labor into seperate jobs is also very nice. When you can focus on one task you do that task so much better. 

- It was able to cut down time here and there. 

- The redrock follow focus was actually pretty rad. Gotta say it performed very well and a lot better than i thought.

- You get the same amount of smoothness on a 100mm as you do on a 25. THAT IS THE SHIT!!!!!!

- Majestic works well for the basic movement of tracking subjects and such. get a fingerwheel on the movi handles and you are set. 

- The way the gyro works is really smooth and very fluid. You can almost not tell its there. Pretty dang incredible. 

The Cons: 

- THE BATTERIES, Good lord, around 7 total batteries to power everything, all running and starting and dying at different times. 1 goes down, the whole rig goes down. That part was probably the biggest headache of the whole shoot. 

- The Teradek is not the best solution for wireless. with the movi, you need to be pretty mobile, thats the whole point, so having latency issues so often with such short distances was pretty sad. sometimes we would drop signal after only 10ft and in direct line of sight. Not movi's fault though. 

- Having to operate via redmote. FML!!!! having to go through all the menus for playback, card formatting, WB, etc was a royal pain in my neck. But there was no other choice. On the dslr version we had, it was much easier to navigate since everything is right there on the camera. 

- Switching lenses. Takes about 10-30 minutes depending on the setup. It basically is a weird area as you want to change lenses, but you dont have the time to, so you get stuck making a bit of sacrifice somewhere. I'm told though that this will be much quicker on the production unit. 

- The time it takes to orchestrate. This isnt really a con if you prepare right. Having the MOVI on set meant we were constantly retweaking our shot list since we thought we could do a shot on the movi, however this SHOULD NOT BE DONE. I would know exactly what shots you want pre shoot and have them well rehearsed if at all possible before the shoot. The process of three operators all having to be on the same page for every move, then have the actors hit their marks as well as the camera op hitting his is a time drainer. It takes quite a while to 1, know your moves, 2 get actors to know your moves and play to you 3, get all the operators doing the same thing exactly the same time after time 4, all while racing the clock of the batteries. If you do 15 rehearsals before you get the action right, it can eat up a lot of time. So def know what you want before you get there. If you find yourself saying "this would be a cool shot with the movi", know that you're about to spend a lot of time making that happen. 

- They are delicate. that can be a little stressful. if it takes a tumble it could set you back a while for time or just not work all together. If I bought one, I don't think I would ever rent it out unattended by an operator. 

- Gotta run it barebones. No mattebox or filters :( Not a totally terrible thing, but made me sad since I love my in camera looks. 


I think its a really cool tool to have in your belt. There are some cons with the pros but all will improve when the real unit ships I've been told. Can't wait to get my hands on one again with a little more time to prep. If you are thinking of getting one, I would highly recommend getting a wireless follow and at least 3 wireless monitors and transmitters. Without those, I personally wouldnt want to run solely on majestic mode, but you could if you wanted. for any sort of dolly shots or crane stuff majestic will do just fine. 

Hats of to the guys at Freefly for making a pretty cool system, and if you think the lower priced competitors are better options, wait till you get your hands on the MOVI, youll instantly understand why they are more. They handle the weight flawlessly and the stuff they are planning on implementing will pretty much blow you away. The other guys aint got nothin on Freefly. 

Special thanks to Sam Nuttman for helping out on set and showing us the ropes and thanks to Freefly for being so generous.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask.