Hands-on with Freefly's shockingly awesome $15,000 Movi camera gimbal

One of the hottest gadgets at NAB isn't quite what you'd expect. Freefly, the company behind a series of professional-grade cinema hexacopters, is demoing its new Movi three-axis stabilized camera gimbal. We heard some rumblings about such a device last week, but the $15,000 price tag is quite a turnoff -- until you see it in action. We dropped by the company's booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center to check it out with an attached Canon EOS-1D C. Movi weighs in at just 3.5 pounds, jumping to 10 pounds once you mount the Canon camera and lens.

It's a very robust system, despite the weight and footprint, letting you pull off shots that otherwise may require hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment, and a substantial crew. In other words, you can capture incredibly compelling motion scenes with just a single camera operator. Don't take our word for it, though -- join us past the break to see Movi in action, along with a glowing testimonial from director Vincent Laforet, who Freefly tapped to shoot the gimbal's very first sample reel.%Gallery-185161%

External stabilizers are a necessary evil -- you'd be hard-pressed to find an operator who wouldn't mind cutting back on gear without compromising the shot, though, and it seems like Movi is just the tool for that. We had a chance to play around with the rig at Freefly's booth, and we were quite surprised by how easy it was to operate. There appears to be only a very light learning curve -- we were able to use the rig successfully just a few moments after first picking it up. Everything performed as described, and even without viewing realtime footage, it was clear that the camera maintained its position, panning and tilting as instructed through a Bluetooth-connected PC interface.

Pre-orders should be opening up this week, and Movi is expected to ship to customers beginning in Q3. At 15 grand, this version is obviously priced far out of reach of consumers, but a significantly more affordable model is in the cards, designed for more compact cameras, such as mirrorless models and DSLRs. Still, the first iteration is a relative bargain for filmmakers who would otherwise be unable to capture steady shots while skiing down a hill, sprinting down the street, running down stairs or even walking a trade show floor. The future is definitely promising, as Laforet will tell you in the embed just below.

So, how does the footage look? For that, you're going to want to scroll down a bit further, dim the lights, sit back and tap play. Then hit the source link for an unbelievable behind-the-scenes video.

Sarah Silbert contributed to this report.