Toward the end of last year we wrote about a few useful tools to boost your social content, and on that list we spoke about a handy little gadget we’d picked up called the Flowmotion One. It’s an impressive piece of gear that deserves a little more than a brief mention in a round-up blog post - so we thought we’d dive in a little deeper.
Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that shaky footage can be one of the biggest distractions when it comes to video content. Camera gimbals have been around for a while in the film industry, but not until recently, with the rise in quick-fix video content on social media have we seen companies start to bridge the gap and bring some of that high quality cinema-level wizardry to our pocket. Flowmotion are one such company - popping up last year with a kickstarter campaign for a mobile gimbal, that reached it’s funding goal within it’s first hour of life. Pretty crazy. They offered a whole host of different features that made it a worthwhile addition to the mobile gimbal market. But is it worth a bite once it goes public later in the year? Thankfully we got one of these bad boys… and we’ve been pleasantly surprised with the results!
Let’s not beat around the bush here. if you’re buying a gimbal theres one thing you’re looking for straight out the bat - getting those sweet buttery smooth shots. When comparing with other products it’s sort of difficult; it either does or doesn’t smooth out your shots… We’re happy to say Flowmotion’s efforts are successful! We’ve not really noticed any hiccups with the system through our use, and if you’ve never used a stabiliser like this before you’ll surely be impressed
Within the realms of stabilisation, the Flowmotion One includes all the features you’d expect - it can lock your phone on either/both axis’ or follow the movement of your hand for swift pans - but it also has a host of other uses that make it a really great all-rounder for your kit. One of our favourites is the motion time-lapse capabilities. Essentially you tell the gimbal an A and a B state, and then input a shot duration and hit go. The gimbal will move from one state to the other in a perfectly smooth motion for your chosen time length, meaning you can capture some really impressive motion time lapses which frankly have no right to be coming straight out a smartphone. The detachable head means you can pair up with a tripod for the best possible time-lapse results, too.
How does this thing feel? In a word: pretty great (okay thats two). The the handle feels comfortable to in-hand, and buttons/joystick are perfectly placed so you have all the control right there, without needing to clamber around. theres a certain satisfaction that comes with watching your phone twist with the move of your thumb - and you can easily to switch between states at the press of a button. It’s clear a lot of thought has gone into making this the perfect grab and go accessory. Aiding that is the fact that this thing detaches at the head. You can unclip it and easily fit the whole thing in your pocket, which is insanely handy for shooting on the fly, but also makes way for accessories like the extension pole - which can screw in easily to give you even more versatility in your shots. Or you can rid of the handle all-together and attach the gimbal to a tripod head, if thats your style. It’s a really cleverly designed piece of kit, squeezing in all this versatility without compromising on a premium feel.
Now of course, you can use your phone’s stock camera app to capture footage if you want, but to pull off certain shots like the time-lapses, or tap into the Flowmotion’s tracking capabilities, you’ll need to install their designated Flowmotion app. As a camera app it pretty much works how you’d expect - the interface makes perfect sense and is straightforward to navigate through. The live viewfinder elements work fluidly on the whole and the settings are simple enough to navigate through without feeling too lost. When it works, using the Flowmotion app alongside the handset is a breeze... when it works. As with all software, there's a whole host of different variables that can get in the way of things running smoothly, people use different handsets which all vary in age etc. We've tested the app with a few of our different phone handsets in the office, and have found that the experience isn't quite consistently smooth across all models - and we've heard of similar issues from others too. One such glitch in the app saw video files shot through the app exporting as a collection of coloured glitchy lines, which was all the more annoying after we'd spent the good part of an hour recording a motion time-lapse only to find the footage unusable. It's frustrating, but is the sort of thing that can be fixed moving forward through patches, and hopefully will get better with experience. As it stands now, the occasional slip-ups with app performance don't ruin the experience by any means, but when they happen it's hard to ignore.
So all the specifics aside, how practical is a product like Flowmotion One? It’s a difficult question to answer, mainly because it really does depend on what sort of content you’re making - for instance it’s easy to see how incredible a gimbal like this would be for those interested in shooting sports videos or anything involving a lot of action and motion, or even vloggers. The benefits are clear and the results are seriously impressive when compared to footage shot without the gimbal. Add to that the great work Flowmotion have done to make their gimbal as portable and easily configurable as possible, and you’ve definitely got a winner. For the general mobile user, however, it might be a little unnecessary as an accessory - just having the gimbal isn’t going to miraculously change your content over night. But it will undeniably make it look deliciously smooth.
If you want to get your hands on a Flowmotion One Gimbal, you might be waiting a little longer - they've currently sold through their pre-sale stock from the Kickstarter campaign and are waiting on a full public release... but you can preorder yours over on their website now!