FREEFLY Movi: Cinematic Smartphone Stabilizer

FREEFLY Movi

Mobile filmmakers want the same tools as the big boys, but smaller. Freefly (which makes professional stabilizers for the video/film market) listened and created something for mobile filmmakers called the Movi. This is a hand-held gimbal that will give you the chance to record video that is rock solid and then some.

Before we go on we do want to say that all such gimbals take some practice and can be a bit fiddly to set up. But it’s worth it when you see great footage on the back end of that process. The Movi is no exception. It takes getting used to, works better with two hands, and setting it up with counterweights so you can use accessory lenses on your phone like those from Moment, will take some getting used to.

KEY FEATURES

  • 3-Axis Smartphone Stabilizer
  • Six Programmable Operation Modes
  • Standard Motion and Time-Lapse Modes
  • Use with Smartphones up to 3.5″ Wide
  • Bluetooth LE wireless connectivity
  • Stwo-lock sleep functionality
FreeFly Movi

BASICS

The unit is made of a polycarbonate that is both light and sturdy. It has a red rubber grip on the bottom of the unit. The U-Shape is designed so that you can use one hand on the grab handle and the other on the rubber grip. The Freefly works best with two hands. That said, with practice, one handed operation is possible, but not as easy as it would be if you were using the DJI Osmo.

The operational controls on the unit sync with the Movi app and give you full control over your phone’s video recording features. Start, stop, mode change, etc., can all be controlled by pressing the buttons on. The gimbal.

The set up for JUST the phone in the Freefly gimbal cradle was simple and straightforward. As long as you have a flat surface to set up the gimbal, it’s pretty easy to balance the phone. We found this portion of the setup to be less cumbersome than the setup on the Osmo. Your mileage may vary.

You charge the Movi with a USB-C cable. The company claims eight hours of battery life but we found no more than four using it in our office.

THE APP

Like with all such products, the phone app that you need to operate the gimbal is very important to understand. The app really brings the Freefly to life, giving you all sorts of cool tricks that you can do with it.

The APP starts off in “Majestic” mode. This is just the standard gimbal function you would expect from such a device. As you move it steadies the shot and the footage made in this mode looks great. You can essentially turn it on and go. This is the mode you will start with and no special buttons need to be pressed to get it going.

Where the cool stuff lives is in the app’s Ninja Mode. Here you can set up pre-programmed pan shots (using presets that are user configurable) and other tricks like Time-lapse, Movie-lapse, Smartpod, Barrel mode and Orbit Mode.

Time-Lapse
Time-lapse mode allows you to capture professional-looking, super-smooth time-lapse footage nearly anywhere. Set Movi down in an interesting place, frame your initial shot, set your start and end frame, and wait for some magic. The Movi will execute movements precisely, so that when played back at 10x speed, the world will look as if it’s flying by.

Movilapse
Movilapse mode is what happens when you wish to execute live motion with your time-lapses. In this mode, Movi responds to your control input 10x slower than normal. When played back at 10x speed, you get a super smooth shot of the world moving around you.

Smartpod
In Smartpod mode, manually point your phone at a stationary subject and the Movi will do its best to keep your phone trained on the subject, regardless of your movement.

Orbit
Orbit mode makes epic circling shots a breeze. Set the direction of your orbit, and the speed, and the Movi will stay locked on the center of the orbit.

CONCLUSION

We tested, own and love the DJI Osmo, but we think the Freefly Movie offers more tricks, is easier to use (if you use both hands) and offers smoother footage. The trade-off is that there is more to learn and the price is nearly $200 higher for the Movi.

One could make the argument that owning both makes sense. The DJI allows for easier one-handed operation and for those who need that (sometimes) it would make sense to keep the DJI if you already have it. But adding the Movi changes the game. It offers more features and in our opinion, smoother footage, albeit at a cost.

But if we had to pick a winner out of all the gimbals we tried, this would be it. It’s not perfect, but it’s as close to perfect as you will find as of this writing.

Image Credits: gomovi.com.

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Scott Bourne

Scott Bourne (ASINWP) is a professional wildlife photographer, filmmaker, author and lecturer who specializes in birds. He’s been involved with photography for more than four decades and his work has appeared in more than 200 publications.

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