The Freefly MoVi M10

Button loves the MoVi

Button Sutton loves the MoVi

Its was a great day today.  I saw the FedEx truck come to a slow roll in front of my house and I knew something amazing was about to be delivered.  It was my new Freefly Cinema MoVi M10!  I first laid eyes on the MoVi just before NAB, and I knew right away it was going to be a winner.

Good friend Vicent Laforet did a great job assisting in the Movi’s unveiling, getting everyone to think about what possibilities suddenly lay ahead. His 2nd video filmed using the MoVi had everyone asking, “How they hell did they do that?!” We soon find out it wass filmed by guiding the MoVi down the edge of a building with rope. (holy s that was a great shot!) At Philip Bloom’s NAB party Tabb from Freefly had everyone gathered around the MoVi, as if it were a hot girl in a bikini. (Myself included!) Guys like Rodney Charters, Alex Buono, Philip Bloom, Dan Chung, etc were drooling over the system and understandably so.  They saw what I saw.  An amazing unconventional tool with a huge amount of practicality that would broaden the way we think about filmmaking.

I know there are competitors out there, but this article will focus specifically on the MoVi M10. Freefly may not have been the first to come up with the idea, but they did give us the best brushless gimbal on the market and delivered exactly what they said they would. (Which is rare in this industry.) They did it better and they did it right. Enough about that, back to my post.

MoVi-Camera stage

MoVi M10 tool-less camera stage

MoVi unboxing

This is what you get when you open the M10 box. Cool!

Since seeing it at NAB Freefly has made several key improvements to the M10 system.

  • A beautifully machined roll bar with built in 25mm clamps replaced a carbon fiber tube, but it weighs the same. This roll bar provides a solid support structure for the roll and tilt mechanism, significantly improving rigidity of the overall unit.
  • A new camera stage that allows for tool-free fore, aft, side-to-side and height adjustment. This greatly saves time setting up tilt balance and camera placement, as well as retaining the integrity of the camera stage with slick snap lock adjustments.
  • New 25mm clamps which save a lot of tuning time, making it significantly easier to adjust with less points of contact and require half the amount of M3 screws.
  • Electronics have been refined with tidy cabling and plenty of slack for adjustment.
  • Smaller batteries, yielding a greater capacity, lasting a good 3 hours +. Amazing for their size.

Compact M10 Electronics with GPS

The MoVi is a tool that breaks the bounds of a Steadicam, EZ Rigs, and other handheld devices that allow for camera mobility.  The MoVi provides smooth, adjustable stabilization on three axis points via 3 x brushless motors wound by Freefly and an IMU / 6DOF (Inertial Measurement Unit / 6 degrees of freedom) sensor to counter camera movement.  Unlike the three axis gimbals of the past the MoVi does not use servos with pulleys and belts.  Another innovation? Instead of off the shelf technology, Freefly has built their own brushless motor controller with ARM Processors allowing them to use custom algorithms to drive the motors at a stronger rate than existing systems.  This keeps the motors and the electronics housing small and Freefly has done an excellent job interfacing all points of connection, including a GPS module.

I have found one of the most impressive parts of the MoVi to be the software, and how it adjusts your interaction with the rig.  It’s extremely well designed and thought out.  With some RC knowledge and an understanding of the center of gravity (CG),  it is fairly easy to figure out the various control settings and how to tune and balance the gimbal. (Mind you I have been tuning gimbals and working with PID values for a little over 8 months now, and have been a Steadicam operator for over 15 years).


MoVi on kitchen counter – Dialing in some Pan adjustments

It is important to understand the basic physics of camera balance before using the MoVi.  The M10 comes with a great docking / balancing stand that will allow you to key in balance on all your pivot points.  If you do not have a experience in how to counter act an unbalanced camera, this process can take you an hour.  Once you know what you are doing you can get the process down in a minute or two.  I have seen people spend two hours balancing a rig, simply because they did not understand physics and counter measures.  You want your camera to be balanced on all three axis simultaneous as the better the CG, the better the result.

If you are able to balance your camera you are doing several things that aid in getting better results.  First, the better the balance, the less power is required for the motors.  The less work they do, the longer your batteries last, and the unit operates longer as it runs cooler. Also, less counter action is required which means less stress on all components.  So just like a Steadicam, dynamic balance is key.  The only difference is that you do not want any drop-time like you do with a Steadicam.  You want the tilt, roll and pan to pretty much stay where you put it, which means less work for the motors, controller and ultimately you.

Once you have your camera balanced on all three axis you are then ready to dial in your parameters.  Freefly has stepped up to not only provide software for Windows, but also for Mac and Android (I hear iOS devices support is also coming).  As I said previously, the software for the system is amazing.  Unlike SimpleBGC, Martinez BRUGi, EVVGC etc it  is very intuitive and heavily GUI based without unknowns.  The MoVi Configurator software is nothing less than astonishing if you have used off the shelf gimbal software.  You simply turn on your MoVi, enable Bluetooth to “discoverable” and within a few seconds you are ready to go with the Freefly Configurator.  Having it set up on an Android tablet gives you the most flexibility as you can make adjustments on the fly, which is needed for a fast paced set. Unlike anything else the Freefly Configurator shows a live status of:

System Status






Battery meter



and Time

Software tabs are as follows:  Tuning (pan, tilt and roll stiffness settings), Majestic Config (follow mode w/ pan, tilt windows and smoothing), General (application: Handheld or Aerial, roll trim, max and min tilt angles), Remote (pan joystick smoothing, pan joystick exponential, pan joystick window, tilt joystick smoothing), Remote Control Configuration (Radio type: if not stock Spektrum, map remote mode, map remote pan, map remote pan rate, map remote tilt, map remote tilt rate, map remote roll trim) and Expert Mode (for Gyro and output filtering: no need to touch these unless you understand LPF, etc).  All of these tabs, in combination with the live status monitoring, are great ways to tune the shot as needed.  With dual operator mode you can go from single operator to dual operator, as long as the RC controller is turned on before the MoVi.  Switching back and forth between majestic and a second operator makes a great option for complicated shots.


Freefly Configurator – Android Screenshot

Freefly has done a great job of making the MoVi as user friendly as possible, but like any tool it is best off in the hands of someone who knows how to tune it, operate it and troubleshoot it.  Having a MoVi tech on location is highly advisable.  If you have never used a rig like this, or do not have understanding of how it works, it could take more than a day to get comfortable with it.  Five yourself a few extra days.  If renting, ask your rental house if they have a tech on hand who understands the hardware/software and how to aid in shot planning.

There are limitations on what you can do because of the weight.  For some reason everyone wants to put the heaviest camera on the rig, not understanding inertial forces and the strain it would put on the body.  Although the MoVi can handle a Red Epic and a heavy lens, its best suited for cameras like the Canon 1Dc, or an Epic with a Canon prime. (Or similar weight cameras.)  Maxing out the MoVi can be done but its not going to perform the same as it would with a camera that is 2-3 pounds under the maximum.  You should also factor in wireless follow focus, and video transmission.  The New Hocus Products Axis 1 (not to be confused with the Hocus Focus) is a highly recommended wireless system for the MoVi M10 due to its excellent performance and light weight receiver.  For wireless video either the Paralinx or the Teradek Bolt are the go-to in the industry.

Some MoVi tips:

Keep your accessories light, as you will need to mount a motor rod and will probably want to tape a filter to the front of your lens.  Keep your cables tidy and out of the way of pivot points on the rig.  Slack in your cables for pan, tilt and roll clearance so they do not pull out of what they are attached too.  Power your camera and accessories off of a Lipo with 12v regulator to keep the rig as light as possible.  Learn the CG of your main cameras you plan to fly with the MoVi.  Keep track of your Freefly Configurator settings as they vary for different weights of camera packages and for different shooting styles. Properly charged and balanced batteries are key to optimal operation (buy extras).  Note your RC settings and defaults.  You can always go back to these as a baseline for tuning which is very important.  Get an EZ-Rig.  This can greatly add to your operating and amount of up time.  It will also save your back and muscles from those long Epic shoots where your arms will feel like rubber afterward. The EZ-Rig will allow you to hand off the rig and vise versa. (This will take some practice to nail.)  Think of unconventional ways to put the camera where you could not previously (with a rope, on a Steadicam arm, on a car rig, etc)  The MoVi provides hundreds of options that were not possible with this level of stabilization.

Spektrum DX7s for M10

Spektrum DX7s for M10

So overall the Freefly MoVi M10 offers a lot that other systems cannot provide or do as well.  Not only is Freefly Cinema focused on the professional user but they also offer stellar support that is based in the USA.  Freefly designed a solid manual and posted some great tutorial videos on their Vimeo channel, which give me an increased level of confidence in the product and its performance.  A lot of hard work, dedication and innovation have gone into the Freefly MoVi and you can see it when you pick one up and use it for the first time.  Sure there will be competitors, but I think the MoVi brand will be around for a while as they have not made any compromises in quality, build, support and refinement.

The MoVi M10 is priced at $14,995 and comes with the rig, 2 x batteries, a charger, a docking/balance stand, tools, and Spektrum controller.  Its little brother the MoVi M5 will be available around end-of-year with a price of $4,995 and comes with the rig, stand, 2 x batteries and a charger.  You can pre-order either one or the MoVi MR (for all you RC copter users) at MoViRig . All three are a great investment as they are sure to pay for themselves rather quickly once one demonstrates some of the dynamic shots you can provide to your client / show. Expect to see some MoVi M10 and M5 custom accessories from Sawmill Cinema in the very near future.  You can rent the MoVi M10 from Rule Boston Camera by contacting them or myself directly.

Thank you’s to Freefly Cinema, Tabb Firchau, Hugh Bell, Rule Boston Camera, Wide Open Camera, Peter Hoare, Hocus Products, Jared Abrams, Sawmill Cinema, Carson Garner, Philip Bloom and Vincent Laforet.

If you have any questions on the MoVi M10 feel free to email me or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook:

Michael Sutton

Twitter: @MNS1974

Facebook: MNS1974

email: mike at mns1974 dot com



Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.