Analysis is all the rage. Top leagues have mega bucks ProZone set ups hard installed into every stadium. Dozens of HD cameras mounted to cover every view desired by quants and coaches alike. Amazing and expensive.
Recently, companies like Hi-Pod and Endzone have been offering portable tall tripods that you can attach your own camera to. The general idea is that you control the height and a cable from your camera USB’s port connects to a screen at eye level so you can view the footage as you’re recording. There’s limited control over the camera from my experience.
In fact from my experience using a borrowed Hi-Pod, the system was very finicky and I got little usable footage. The higher the tripod the more stress there is on the port holding the connecting cord. If it comes out you have to reel in the tripod, reconnect and raise it again. I’m sure with continued use you’d learn some tricks to make it function better but between the frustration of the first attempt and the sheer weight and bulk of the tripod (must have been over 80 lbs and required its own built in dolly to tote around) I didn’t attempt a second set up. Factor in that you needed to stay at the base of the tripod to view footage and they seem to start at $4000 (aside from the $1500 10-12 foot monopod models that require you to hold and support them while using).
So I started looking at other options to get what I wanted. The easy part was choosing the right camera. GoPro cameras are everywhere now and having used them I can see why.
Go Pro out of its case (left) and in its shockproof, waterproof case with mount (right).
Durable, waterproof, shockproof with a wide variety of mount possibilities, these HD cameras can shoot 1080p video or high quality stills. You can even combine the two to shoot video while programming the camera to shoot stills intermittently. Time lapse and burst mode photography are also nice functions when you want to break down technique and show how play develops. I went with the Hero 3+. It was about $400. I recommend a second battery and at least an 8GB Micro SD memory card. Also, get a few different mounts. They come in handy and range from $20 to $40 for the most part.
The tricky part was then finding a suitable way to elevate the GoPro. From experience I wanted at least twelve feet so as to get a view that would illustrate shape and movement to the players. Portability was also an issue so I wanted something that didn’t take too much space and didn’t weigh a ton. The solution was a telescoping ladder.
I picked one up on Craigslist. Brand new and still in the packing material I paid $120. It weighs about 24 lbs. and stands just over 24″ tall when fully collapsed. You can pull the ladder up to the desired height to a maximum of 12.5 feet. The rungs are flat so you can either mount the GoPro directly onto the top rung or the black plastic cap at the edge of the ladder. I opted for the latter using one of the sticky pad mounts provided with the cameras.
So for about $620 I’ve got a GoPro camera that can mount to a 12.5 foot tall ‘tripod’ or one of the three other mounts (setting up close to the ground near balls being struck gives a very good perspective on how players strike the ball making it easier to give feedback that can correct poor form). Plus an extra battery.
The one knock on previous GoPros though was the lack of ability to view what you were recording and to some degree control the features of the camera remotely. With the GoPro 3+ though, you can turn on a WiFi signal that lets your smart phone receive a signal from the camera. This lets you see, on your phone, what the camera is shooting and also lets you change virtually every option on the camera. In theory you can do this from up to 100m away but your mileage may vary. This comes in handy when you want to mount the camera behind a goal but watch the game from the sideline. Or if its raining and you just want to stand under cover.
I’m hoping to get the telescopic ladder out this weekend to shoot some footage. I’ll add on a report on how it went here once that’s done.