Freefly MōVI: Shifting the Paradigm – Part 2
- October 18, 2017
- Shane Hurlbut, ASC
In the second part of this series, I will continue sharing some incredible insights of how to utilize Freefly’s MōVI to the fullest.
In Part 1, I talked about basic principles behind this amazing device and how I used it on some of my features. You can check that out here. This 3 axis stabilizer has changed the game and shifted the paradigm for present day movie-making. It allows anyone to get professional shots. There are probably 900 ways to use this device, but I’m only going to break down a few. Here in part 2, I will get down and dirty with different ways I use the MōVI on set.
Let’s hop right into it.
You can mount a MōVI to a dolly. The power of mounting it to a dolly is that you have the ability to boom up and down. You can scrape the floor and be nice and low. It also adds greater stability to the whole system. What it does is dampen vibrations and movement even more. It’s not as shaky as handheld or using a MōVI suspension system.
Using it on a dolly also makes the MōVI a remote head. It’s a very inexpensive remote head. It doesn’t require a technician to come from Los Angeles to set it all up, mount it on something, and then calibrate everything. This is something you can afford on your independent films.
To do that we have this mitchell mount to Toad in the Hole using the Freefly’s Ninja Star adapter. The MōVI mounts right to that toad in the hole, right to the dolly. It’s that simple! There’s a quick release on it that makes it absolutely effortless. It pops off and on in seconds and we’re ready to go.
Fathers and Daughters was not a big budget project. I had to have a device that could be 900 things. We mounted this on the dolly for this awesome push-in in on Amanda Seyfried in Fathers and Daughters. These MōVIs were moving all around but it also became very personal during this move.
The three MōVI dance from Fathers and Daughters
You see that subtle push-in? When Amanda gets up, the dolly pushes back into the closet and we fly out of the room? That whole 2.5 – 3 page scene was all done with 3 cameras, all in that room. We did that 3 or 4 times and we were done. We moved on to the next thing.
I cannot stress enough how those one shots are one thing, but the biggest shift in this business is exactly what you started to see there. We did our whole coverage at the same time. The actors feel so much more fresh. They tell me they feel like they’re back on stage. They feel like they can interact with each other better. It enhances performances.
The camera had to be on a dolly for this push-in during the scene. It was surgical. We couldn’t be doing it handheld, it couldn’t be handheld MōVI operating, it couldn’t be dolly alone because we couldn’t fit the track in there. This dolly was pushed in on carpet. We popped the MōVI on the end with the camera using the Toad in the Hole and were able to push in smooth as butter. This worked with the camera emotion perfectly. When Amanda Seyfried is not in the office, she’s on quicksand. Outside the office, the MōVI wants to have this beautiful energy. In the office, she’s grounded. We give her brick and mortar by shooting more with the MōVI on the dolly. It’s so smooth.
In my live demo, I drove a Fisher dolly over an HDMI cable with the MōVI on the end. It shook all over the place – not good. We have something that will get rid of that motion though – The FlowCine Black Arm.
FlowCine Black Arm
This arm is incredible. When I did a test with it, I attached it to a high roller stand and walked it down the sidewalk. I would make sure to hit every bump and crack I could manage. It stabilized everything perfectly. It looked like a Steadicam shot. What’s even better is that it’s a swift change to and from the system. In under a minute, you can get the arm onto a dolly and attach the MōVI. It really is that simple.
This just helps with stabilization. You’ve got the MōVI and the Black Arm on top of my post stabilization. I’m shooting all my movies with this post workflow. I shoot 6k and frame for 5k. It’s a wonderful partnership of mechanical and digital stabilization that helps me get the perfect shot that I need.
A lot of times directors want that Stanley Kubrick push-in. They don’t want to see any wobbles or footsteps or anything like that. It’s our job as storytellers to give them all the different options.
What I love is that you can break this whole system down to just bare bones and run with it.
Our campus push-in shot in Fathers and Daughters
The MōVI has this energy. The camera is never settled. This was the world for this character. I wanted her to be on sand. She can’t be loved and she doesn’t know how to love. She’s a one-night-stander.
This sequence was a combination of a few things. It was a run like crazy, it was a controlled pull back into a 50/50, and then it was a dolly shot in the bathroom.
MōVI Op Chris Herr running in front of a car with the MōVI
This was a simple set up done very quickly with awesome impact. It was done so fast and we moved on to the next.
This is how we used to to do high shots.
This is how we do it now.
We’re not using a ladder pod with two grips anymore. It’s not living in the grip truck always in the way. We put the Toad in the Hole on the combo, pop the MōVI on it, and send it up. The MōVI Pro is able to convert from low mode to high mode or vice versa instantaneously. That’s something the M15 couldn’t do. That makes things like this a breeze.
I did a shot on my last movie where we had to do it in a sunflower field. They wouldn’t let us bring a technocrane into the field, so we had to do it with this method. The actor pulls up in his car, walks towards the camera, and goes to the bathroom in the middle of the field.
I had 2 grips on this, but we had a crank stand instead. It did a very smooth move down and we then had a technocrane in a field.
I had a Matthews menace arm for a shot on Into the Badlands. I was able to suspend the MōVI out over the stairwell here. Quinn walks up the stairwell and I was able to grab this awesome shot of him coming up. We cranked the whole thing up as he came up the stairs. As we came up, we ended up tilting down completely for an overhead shot.
This is the way that we’re able to do it. It’s a junior pin to Toad in the Hole. Very simple. I try and not use the baby pin version of it because I like it to be a bit more robust. You just pop it into the junior receiver on the combo stand here and it just works.
Become A Crane
Sometimes you can’t get all this fancy equipment into a location. On The Adventurers, I was up on a cliff and the only way to get there was to fly in via helicopter. We had people jumping off the cliff and I wanted this dramatic shot. I wanted to start right down on their feet and boom up as they jumped off the cliff. Well, we used the MōVI.
Chris started at 4 inches and boomed all the way up to 16 feet. That’s a makeshift crane move if I ever saw one. Again, it’s how to best utilize this tool in every facet. It’s about being in situations that allow you to get the shot. Being innovative with one simple piece of scaffolding to put Chris on allowed me to get from 4 inches to 16 feet in the air.
There are so many ways to achieve the same shots, but for me it’s all about efficiency. The Freefly MōVI Pro allows you to be more efficient on set and get the shot that you need. It’s the secret weapon in my back pocket. Need a jib shot? Great, throw it on a Menace Arm and we have a remote head. Need some way smooth driving shots? Great, throw it on the FlowCine Black Arm rigged to a car and call it a day. Need to move the MōVI with some speed? Fantastic, just hop on a Boosted Board and cruise down the street; you don’t need the Tero. Haha.
The old era of doing things is gone. You no longer need to set up a crane for an overhead shot – just pop the MōVI on a stick. Don’t get stuck in the past, embrace the present, and think about the future.