Highlights from IBC 2014 – Freefly Movi M15, DJI Ronin, Defy G12, Atomos Shogun & Sony FS7
We have just returned from our first visit to the prestigious IBC in Amsterdam. This blog is associated with our personal Highlights from IBC 2014 and we will be focusing mainly on Freefly Movi M15, DJI Ronin, Defy G12, Atomos Shogun & Sony FS7.
The venue, big enough to be classed as a small town, was crammed wall to wall with the latest broadcast and production technology. We got the chance to have a play around with some of the new toys that everyone is talking about as we looked to find some more additions to our ever-growing kit list. The event was also our first chance to meet up with the Freefly team to see what they have planned for the future. Just before we headed off to IBC we became one of the first customers in the UK, if not the world, to order our long awaited Freefly Movi M15 rig. So of course we couldn’t wait to get our hands on the Movi M15 and see if Freefly had added any new features for us to get excited about.
One more objective for the Movi-Hire team was to have a chat with some other gimbal manufactures that we looked at in our last blog article – Gimbal wars. Rather than speculating, we wanted some hands on time with their rigs and gauge a 1st hand opinion of them, in comparison to Freefly’s Movi range.
Arriving to the IBC a few days late, we were already aware of the announcement that Sony launched the PXW-FS7, the first 4K XDCAM camera to feature a Super35 CMOS sensor. After falling in love with the FS700 over the past few years and the super slow motion if offers a production, We are seriously considering purchasing a the new Sony FS7 as our ‘main, go to camera’ for 90% of our own productions. Of course IBC would give us the chance to have a feel of the Sony FS7, with size and weight being in the forefront of our minds to see of the camera suited well for Movi use!
We were also on a mission to find any interesting accessories that would benefit our Movi set ups that we could include in our future rental packages for our loyal customers to benefit from.
So here are some of Movi-Hire’s highlights from the show:
Of course, at the top of our agenda was to head over to Freefly’s stand and get our mitts on the Movi M15. We have been eagerly awaiting it’s release since it was announced at NAB 2013 and had an idea Freefly would finally release it at IBC. The announcement came a day early. So we booked our Movi M15 before we headed out to Amsterdam, making IBC the perfect opportunity to see what additions Freefly had included in it. We already knew the Movi M15 would be capable of flying up to 15lbs in weight, 5lb more than it’s smaller brother the Movi M10. This opens a world of opportunities for Movi users, meaning they can now mount a Sony F55, F5, FS7, FS700(with a greater lens selection), Arri Alexa-M & Red Epic/Dragon(with a greater lens selection, Mattebox and more accessories). This is hugely important for ourselves and our clients. We have supplied Movi rigs to all the big names in the production industry; BBC, ITV & Channel 4. We knew that our Movi M10 rigs had limitations in terms of weight and our knew Movi M15 will allow productions to use a much larger selection of cameras and accessories, making the M15 a whole lot more versatile than it’s predecessor. We are anticipating that this will increase Movi use in professional productions dramatically.
Our first thought on the rig was simply how well it was built. It is solid! Freefly really have thought long and hard about the M15’s design, it’s not just a bigger M10. With the additional weight the M15 can hold, Freefly have taken steps to ensure the rig is more robust and therefore can cope with the with a fully loaded camera setup. The Freefly team had a Sony F55 mounted to the Movi M15. Even we were skeptical of how heavy this would be for a single operator over long periods of time. As biased as this sounds, we were blown away with how light the set up actually felt. Of course over prolonged periods of time, fatigue is always a factor, but this rig is by far the most lightweight available of gimbals that can hold cameras of this size.
The most noticeable addition is the new Dual bars in which the pan knuckle is situated. On the Movi M10 there is only one bar present. This bar was solely responsible for the weight of the mounted camera and it’s accessories and had a tendency to pivot with really heavy set ups. The addition of the Movi M15 Dual bars makes the whole set up much more sturdy and the additional weight the heavier cameras bring is absorbed evenly between both bars rather than single bar the of the M10. The dual bars are also designed to help support the Movi’s ‘Inverted Mode’ that is being used more regularly to make life easier for an operator when trying to capture shots at eye level. Another structural amendment that was instantly visible with the Movi M15 is the arm that connects the Pan knuckle to the roll axis. The new design is clearly reinforced and much thicker than that of the M10 again adding more overall strength to the rig.
The Movi M15’s pan knuckle is now tool less, meaning balancing the pan axis can be done in seconds. Early versions of the Movi M10 required an allen key to make fine adjustments, any Movi operator knows that this was a tedious task that was very time consuming and therefore was not ideal on set. Balancing the Movi M15 is now completely tool less which helps tremendously with lens changes and adding accessories.
A second battery slot has been included in Freefly’s Movi M15, it has the capability to power any accessories that are needed and more impressively the camera itself. Freefly had a Sony F55 mounted to the Movi M15 that was being powered by the second Movi Lipo battery. This really helps to achieve a cleaner Movi setup, with reduced wires and additional battery packs. This is a major selling point for us. The new battery ports also come with a ‘click in’ mechanism, rather than the former elastic bands which broke instantly and where clearly a fault with Freefly’s early models.
Just like the the Movi M5 and later additions of the Movi M10, Freefly’s Movi M15 has a full cage that surrounds a mounted camera. Not only does this help with balancing but it also absorbs power from the Movi’s motors and reduces oscillation that occurs when dialing up the motor settings. This is particularly important when dealing with larger camera set ups meaning you can put more power into the Movi without visible shake. This will result is more much stable footage! It’s not just the increased weight capacity that makes the Movi M15 much more exciting. The caged area that surrounds the camera has greatly increased, this means an operator has much more clearance behind the camera to counteract front heavy set ups. For instance, when using a Red epic set up on the Movi M10, it was a regular occurrence that there wasn’t enough space behind the camera achieve a successful balance. Cables coming out the back of the heavier cameras would be restricted and therefore you would have to push the camera forward, resulting in a front heavy rig. The Movi M15 has solved this problem and for us this is by far the most important feature on the rig.
Freefly have also included a quick release, ‘toad in the hole’ socket. This allows users to detach the gimbal from it’s handlebars in seconds. This is a really great features that allows the Movi M15 to be quickly attached to Jib arms, Octocopters, The Movi ring, Freeflys Tero & even a Steadicam arm.
All in all, we were left incredibly impressed by Freefly’s Movi M15. They have clearly thought long and hard about the upgrade and taken on board advice from customers and amended any problems the Movi M10 may have had. Freefly haven’t rushed to release the rig even when their competitors had beat them to the 15lbs threshold. The overwhelming feeling when speaking to their team, was that they were incredibly proud of their product and that the Movi M15 will be their premium gimbal for some time.
We spoke to Sam Nuttmann one of Freefly’s most experienced Movi operators. He was responsible for a lot of the footage that makes up their latest reel (www.freeflysystems.com). We asked him what Freefly has in store next and what their main focus now was post M15. Despite everything being very secretive, with competitors lurking around every corner at IBC, Sam told us that their main focus would now be on accessories for their series of Movi rigs. He didn’t comment much on the future Movi M20 version, so our impression is that Freefly may have changed their focus.
One exciting feature that he did mention, was a software update that will allow users to create time lapses through the Movi’s interactive software. This sounded really cool and Sam was particularly excited about this. Before we left the Freefly stand Sam gave us a really useful insight to how he sets up his Movi rigs and the power settings that he finds most successful for certain camera set ups. It was encouraging to know that we hadn’t been far off his ball park figures!
We were also presented with our own Freefly baseball caps…… Nice touch! We’d be lying if we said we haven’t tried them out them yet, Not a bad fit at all! 😉
Don’t forget our Movi M15 has now arrived and boy do we love it!!! Earlier this week we became the first company in the UK to stock Freefly’s Movi M15 and it’s currently available to hire from £299+VAT a day. For more information please click this link!
Our next trip was to take a good look at DJI’s Ronin, which up to now has been Freefly’s biggest competitor in the world of gimbals. In our previous blog article ‘gimbals wars’, we looked at the pro’s and con’s at some of the most popular gimbals currently available on the market. This article was created based only on research we had done online and we were keen to get some hands on time with the Ronin and see how it felt compared to the Movi M15. The Ronin is significantly cheaper than the Movi M15 and has some great features that are unique to the device.
DJI’s stand was HUGE! It’s clear that the company are really pushing the Ronin along with their series of octocopters. However, the Ronin wasn’t the centre piece on their stand, they chose to show off their consumer octocopter the ‘Phantom’ instead. The Ronin was merely a side product to the phantom and they only had one or two on show, this was really surprising to us especially with the popularity of gimbals at present. We had a play around with the Ronin, and to be honest, our initial reaction was just how heavy the rig was. Being made solely from aluminum, the rig was bound to feel heavier than the carbon fibre Movi. The next statement may not be completely accurate, but we’d go as far as saying that the Ronin gimbal, with a DSLR mounted, felt heavier than the Movi M10 with a Red Epic. This is a huge factor for any gimbal operator, as no matter how stable a rig is, if the operator is constantly straining, this is will reflect negatively in their footage. An observer did mention that DJI are looking to introduce a new carbon fibre version but this hasn’t yet been verified by the manufacturer.
We had a chance to look at the Ronin in all three of it’s operational modes; Standard, inverted & brief case mode. It was impressive how well the Ronin seamlessly transitioned from mode to mode and we can see how this would be very useful on set. Briefcase mode which is unique to the Ronin, was particularly impressive, however we’re yet to think of a scenario in which the Movi’s top handle couldn’t achieve the same angle of footage.
Our verdict of the Ronin is that it is definitely a product aimed at consumers. We believe it’s a great tool for indie filmmakers to achieve smooth footage at a really affordable price. DJI have clearly tried to capitalize on the Movi’s hefty price tags. Just like they did with the Phantom; making aerial cinematography available to the masses, it seems they have taken the same approach in the world of Gimbals. However, we really can’t see Movi being replaced in the realms of professional cinematography by this much heavier unit. If a production has a big enough budget to consider a gimbal, it’s hard to believe that they’d go for something as heavy as the Ronin in it’s current form. Load a Movi and Ronin side by side with a fully loaded Red Epic, we’re certain the Ronin operator will need some serious muscles to fly the rig for long periods of time. Speaking from experience, the operator’s capability to carry a rig for prolonged periods of time, is just as important as a gimbal that works efficiently.
We left the DJI stand with a new sense of confidence, We were certain the Movi was the greatest gimbal currently available and the M15 added more ammunition to our argument. On our way to checking out the Sony FS7 we happened to bump into another man with a gimbal! Seth Compton is a member of the Defy team and we had a chat with him about the Defy’s G series of gimbals as he stood with his Defy G12 and Canon C300. Once again we done a load of research on the Defy G12 prior to IBC so it was good to see the rig face to face. Seth was a really cool character and he too shared the same doubts about the DJI Ronin’s weight. In fact, he was that concerned about the weight of gimbals that he was strapped into the ‘Slingshot gimbal support system’. He loved it, and despite looking like a some sort of futuristic, alien insect, he was adamant that the vest was crucial for heavier gimbal set ups. We had been looking into support systems over the past few months but are still to find one that we think is right for us. The slingshot definitely looks like the best design we’ve seen and the rig that would benefit gimbal operators the most. It takes a serious amount of weight from an operators arms, this allows the gimbal to be operated smoothly along the floor, as well as reaching up to heights of 10-12 feet in the air. We could see how this would be particularly useful for a large number of shoots, but for $7500 and almost the same price as the new FS7, we think money could be far better spent elsewhere. It also questions some of the selling points that made gimbals become so popular. Lightweight, easy to maneuver, able to shoot in the tightest of spaces. It seems to us the Slingshot is taking gimbals back into the realms of the Steadicam, where operators are strapped into bulky vests that limit their movement. There’s no doubt if a cheap alternative came along it could be another option for us, but in this price range, it’s definitely not something we aren’t too interested in.
Seth gave us a quick overview of the Defy G12 and it pretty much summed up our verdict in our previous blog article. The gimbal itself is basically a direct copy of Freefly’s Movi, except it’s built by filmmakers rather than people with a history of engineering. This flags up many issues for us, mainly because we now know Freefly’s Movi’s works well and will continue to work well for long periods of time, especially in the hardware department. The same can’t really be said for the Defy. There still isn’t enough evidence to prove that the Defy G12’s motors and firmware can really handle fully loaded camera set ups over long periods. Can these filmmakers truly engineer a gimbal that is as robust as Movi? We’re aren’t too sure. Once again it could be an option for lower budget productions and consumers. With the G12’s threshold maxing out at Red Epic, will any high end productions choose it over the newly release Movi M15? We really don’t think so. Just like they did when when they invented the 3-axes gimbal, It looks like Freefly have once again set the benchmark with the Movi M15. It’s now time for the competitors to bring something new to the table.
That being said, We were really impressed with some Defy’s accessories and this where we think they can excel in the future. When you look at some of their innovations it’s very clear that the team are filmmakers and constantly thinking of solutions for fellow filmmakers. The G12’s powered handle bar is brilliant for powering accessories and keeping the set up clean. The addition of a thumb joystick, giving a sole operator more control over framing, again is a really cool idea. So we think it’s unfair to label Defy as just a Movi copy cat company, as they seem to be thinking of unique ideas regularly, however we’re sure it won’t be long until Freefly do a bit of copy catting for themselves! In the mean time we think Defy should spend a little more time perfecting their next gimbal and making sure it can stand up tall next to Freefly Movi M15.
Having just purchased the Sony A7s and Panasonic Gh4, that are both capable of recording 4k footage, our attention turned to a 4k monitor that doubles up as a recorder. A new niche that is bound to become essential in the world of 4k cinema. While the GH4 is capable of recording 4k internally, the Sony A7s doesn’t have such a feature, meaning such a device is needed if you want to get some lovely 4k out of it. Internally, the Panasonic Gh4 is capable of capturing 8-bit 4k footage but it also has a 10-bit 4k out via it’s micro HDMI port, meaning a 4k recorder is equally as important for this camera as the A7s.
The Atomos Shogun is the world’s first 4K/HD monitor recorder and was on show at IBC. It links production to post production in a affordable and flexible package. With SDI & 4K HDMI connections this monster of a device doubles up as a high end monitor and external recorder to the latest HDMI and SDI 4K and HD cameras such as the A7s and GH4. Whether you need 4K ProRes, RAW or AvidDNxHD including high frame rate (120fps) HD, The shogun delivers. Atomos have worked closely with camera manufactures on essential features that will make the Shogun revolutionize every 4k workflow. The Shogun also has genlock-in for synced recording and playout. The included Lemo breakout cable for XLR Audio gives balanced audio, mic and Phantom power, taking the Shogun to the highest level of audio capability.
We were so impressed with the device, and in fact the whole Atomos team, that we left IBC having just pre ordered the device! The Shogun is due to be released at some point in October and we will be stocking it for our customers the second it arrives….. Hello 4k!
We have already fell in love with our new Sony A7s, the low light magician and we have made no attempt in hiding our love for Sony’s the versatile FS700 as well. We’ve managed to mount the FS700 to our Movi M10’s in the past and the results have been beautiful. So when we heard that the new Sony FS7 would be presented at IBC it quickly became one of our main focuses of the convention. With the Sony A7s being so beautiful in low light and the fact it supports most of Sony’s high quality codecs, it becomes the perfect 2nd camera to big budget shoots. Of course the F55 is still the perfect 1st camera option, but it comes with a huge price tag, so the thought of Sony’s much cheaper FS7 is now a serious option for us. We we’re keen to investigate the camera and from a true Movi-Hire point of view check out it’s size and weight to see if it could be an amazing option for ourselves and our Movi customers to utilise.
Sony’s stand of course was absolutely HUGE and probably the busiest throughout the whole of IBC. So getting some alone time with the FS7 was always going to be difficult, especially when most people visiting the stand had come for the same reason as us. We did however manage to have a quick play around with the camera.
The FS7 offers internal 4K recording at 60fps and 1080p at 180fps, with a single extension unit and external recorder required to shoot 4K RAW footage. Considering the Sony FS7 is almost a third of the price of a Canon C300, this is unbelievable value for money it would seem. The thought of combining this with Freefly’s Movi M15 is truly frightening in terms of camera movement. Compared with the FS700, the FS7 is about 2lb heavier and has a slightly chunkier body. To mount it to a Movi M10 would have been touch and go, but the Movi M15 will have no trouble at all making this camera at home. In fact you’d probably be able to mount the FS7 to an Movi M10 should you have enough time to play around with the set up and have the necessary cables. The FS7 has been designed for documentary, music video, online content creators and corporate filmmakers looking for beautiful picture quality and an unrivaled choice of recording formats. This basically ticks all the right boxes for us! The 11.6 million-pixel Super35 Exmor CMOS sensor in the FS7 delivers stunning sensitivity, shallow depth of field, a high signal-to-noise ratio and fantastic low light performance. It genuinely looks like Sony’s FS7 could be amongst one of the strongest all round cameras over the next few years and can take centre stage at a wide variety of shoots, big or small budget.
Sony have introduced some serious cameras in 2014 and we have been blown away by their recent products. Because of this we have also just pre ordered the FS7! We will be attending CVP’s Sony PXW-FS7 Up close and personal event next week and will be providing a more thorough review of the camera in the coming weeks. We are really excited about the possibility of combining Movi and the FS7 and think it will be an amazing combination for our clients to use on productions of all types.
So that’s our highlights of IBC 2014, it was an amazing event in an amazing city and we can’t wait to book our tickets for next year already. We have left with some exciting pre orders in the bag and our Movi M15 has now arrived and ready for some serious action. Meeting the Freefly team was a great experience and we’d like to personally thank everyone we met at IBC that is mentioned in this article. Your insight was brilliant and you’re a credit to your companies.