At the recent coaches talk with Robin Williams that I blogged about previous, one question that was asked was “What piece of tech do you think is most useful for coaching?”, to which he instantly answered the Camcorder. Camcorders allow coaches to video the technique of an individual and the technique of a crew and then play back that video back to the athlete to try and identify areas where technique can be improved. It also allows athletes to get an outside view of their rowing and can quite often show them things that they didn’t realise they were doing, and so help the improve their technique. However one problem with video cameras is that they can be quite limited in playback, as quite often you want to play the video in slow motion, pause it, move forward or backwards a couple of frames etc, all of which usually require a desktop PC or laptop to process the video first before you can review it which is less than ideal.
In recent years however smartphones and tablets are slowly taking the place of PC’s and laptops both at home, mostly because they are portable, offer a long battery life, instant access to the internet and access to social media services, but also because they are a lot more user friendly, so I had wondered if there was a way to do this video processing on a tablet rather than a PC, making the process slightly easier. This could be quite challenging as one of the big critisms aimed at tablets is that they are only useful for content consumption devices, and that they will never be true laptop replacements because you cannot create content on them, but since tablets have been on the market for over 3 years now I thought I would investigate and see if it is possible to use a tablet to review footage after an outing, and to justify the money I had spent on the thing! Thankfully I had a lot of success with this experiment, so I wanted to detail it below.
First things first, you have to get the video onto the ipad in the first place! Although it is possible video using an iPhone or iPad, i find that very unweildy so prefer to use a dedicated camcorder recording to an SD card which I then upload onto the iPad using the apple SD adapter
EDIT: I have just realised that there was one other point I had to clarify first, make sure that the video files that you camera outputs are supported by the iPad! Files that the iPad supports are:
Video formats supported: H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format
Personally I find that footage from the reasonably priced Sanyo range and also from the GoPro range work fine for editing on an iPad
This is the lightning adapter as I have an iPad mini but there are also adapters for the iPad 2 and 3 which use the older 30 pin adapter, uploading couldnt be simpler as you just plug in the adapter, plug in the SD card and the iPad automatically opens the photos album and you can select which videos to copy to your iPad. Once done you can then pick whether to delete them from the card or to keep them.
Now that the video is on the iPad, these are 3 of my favourite apps to use when preparing, reviewing and then providing the videos to the athletes:
Quite often its difficult to get good stable footage if you’re chasing a crew in a launch or on a bike, but movie stiller is a very clever app that allows you to stabilise the videos so it is easier to make out what is going on, I’ve made a comparison between an original video that was taken and the outputted stabilised video, i think you can see its a big improvement!
Coaches eye is one of a number of coaching apps on the App Store, however its one of my favourites for a number of reasons
1) Its very intuitive to use, you just load the app, press the + symbol and select your video and once the app has processed it you can review the video
2) When analysing the app, it performs a process called interpolation where it takes the original video(usually 30 frames per second) and the app calculates what movement has happened between the frames and “fills in” the gap between the two, making it easier and smoother to scroll through the video. This functionality usually costs hundreds on pounds on the PC (e.e. Twixtor) so its amazing to see it in this app, even if its a basic version of interpolation
3) When reviewing apps the layout again is very intuitive, there is a large scroll wheel at the bottom which you can use to scroll backwards and forwards through the video and the wheel has a good “weight” to it as well so its easy to control. You can also draw lines and arrows to show angles at the catch/finish or where they should be, making it easier for the athletes to visualise what they should be doing.
4) You can review two videos side by side, which is very useful if you want to compare on one screen two crews or two pieces or even use a video of an “ideal” crew and play it at the same time as the one you are coaching, which is what I’ve done in this video
5) Finally, coaches eye allows you to export the video onto their video sharing site where you can then share the video with your athletes (making it private if you prefer), and they can then view your commented video and even download it to view on their own coaches eye app
Note that you could also use coaches eye with video taken using a different app, so if you’ve been using the rowing in motion coaches app then you can then accurately review the video to see how the body’s movements affect the acceleration of the boat as shown here
Personally I think coaches eye is an essential app for coaches since it really allows you to slow down the rowing and spot exactly what the athletes are doing and then offer advice to make small changes that may make a big difference to how the boat moves.
Ok, so maybe this is not a coaches app as such, but personally I find that I end up with a lot of footage after a session and rather than filing these videos away never to be seen again, I prefer to edit them together and load them onto youtube, and for that the iMovie app is by far the best as it is easy to use (with basic editing allowed like video clipping and adding music and transitions) and it can then upload it straight to youtube for you, no PC needed at all
These were 3 apps that I find really useful for video editing, how about you? Any that you would like to share?