So my Mōvi arrived. (You can read about what it is in my first post at this link.) Loving it! I waited until I went back to San Francisco to try it out because I have been feverishly busy sorting, sifting, tuning, and uploading thousands of photos to my new SmugMug website, and I literally mean thousands of them—over 13,000 to date. I still have thousands and thousands left to go! But this post is about my new Mōvi Freefly Personal Cinema Robot, not my new SmugMug site. Yes, I like the strange name of the device.
Holy cow. I love the smooth video this robot produces! It’s nothing short of astonishing to me. And when I say smooth, I mean as smooth and silky as you can imagine. I took it to San Francisco’s Gay Pride parade.
I placed my iPhone X with the 18mm wide angle Moment lens on it in the Mōvi and started walking along the sidewalks crammed with people jostling about. The video is mind-blowingly smooth even with the bumps and knocks and raising the robot up over everyone’s heads and back down again to just get through the crowds. Beautifully smooth!
The motors in the robot are as friction-free as you can imagine, and they work to negate motion that impairs stability (perfect balance). They are also completely silent. You start by balancing the phone in the phone placeholder while the robot is off. The robot is designed to work with virtually all makes and models of smartphones, but each one has a different center of gravity. So, step one is to balance your phone, especially if you are using a lens attachment that adds considerably more weight for the motors to negotiate.
Just balancing the iPhone X itself was very straightforward and rather easy–even though this was my first time trying to accomplish balance. You know the phone is balanced when it wants to stay in whatever position you put it in 3D space. I was using the Moment lens attachment; so, I needed to add the handy counterweights and precisely negotiate their position. Mōvi provides three excellent video tutorials on how to do this: one, two, three.
Once the phone is balanced with the properly positioned counterweights, you have the iOS or Android Mōvi app calibrate the robot. It only takes a few seconds. After that, this baby is completely smooth. It’s sort of alarming how smooth it is.
The Mōvi app has 7 shooting modes: Majestic (think butter smooth), Echo (You assign a beginning and ending point and how long you want the shot to take, and the robot shoots it. This mode also has some basic presets from which to pick if you wish: move from left to right or right to left, move from down up or from up down.), MoviLapse (This is a very cool follow shot in which the subject in front of you more or less appears to remain still while the surrounding area appears to fly by them.), TimeLapse (You select the start and end positions, during, and speed of the shots.), Orbit (You move around the point of interest.), Barrel Roll (Turn your world around clockwise or counter-clockwise. This is a crazy cool shot.), and SmartPod (This mode allows you to use your Apple Watch to start/stop recording. I don’t see much practical application here. It uses Apple’s camera app, not the Mōvi app.) Mōvi is releasing APIs so smartphone camera apps like FiLMiC Pro can integrate directly with the robot. Yay!!
The shooting modes give the user a heap of practical, easy, awesome, automated shots with little or no effort. I’ve tried them all. FreeFly Systems’ YouTube channel has short, to-the-point, comprehensive, easy-to-understand videos to teach you about each mode and basic operation.
My experience with their YouTube channel how to videos and asking Mōvi support questions has been a good one. They are responsive and customer-centric. I’ve been very pleased.
I love this, my newest gadget. The Mōvi Freefly Personal Cinema Robot is a great, affordable, solid piece of gear that amplifies the possibilities of shooting with a smartphone. It takes the advancement of smartphoneography to the next level of beautifully stabilized awesomeness.
Where’s Some Video?
I know. That’s what you really want to see. And it will come. I promise. I’m still focused on getting all of my photos up at SmugMug. Then I’ll go crazy with the Mōvi! Promise. Until then, I want to crank out a few posts before I forget what I want to say.