Equipment for Sports Video Analysis

By Duncan Ritchie

26-January-2021 on Tips

31 minute read

As we said in a previous article, you need relatively little hardware to get up and running in the world of sports video analysis. A half-decent computer and analysis software will get you on the road…

 

But it’s when you get a few miles down that road things start getting a bit more complicated. You’ll want more, you’ll want bigger and you’ll want better.

 

So, as well as the aforementioned computer, what else can you add to your list of wants?

 

Well, that’s a deep deep rabbit hole, Alice. Take my hand and let’s take a trip together…

Index

 

Chapter 1: Computers

 

Chapter 2: Cameras

 

Chapter 3: Storage

 

Chapter 4: Tripods and Grips

 

Chapter 5: GPS and Wearables

 

Chapter 6: Gadgets and More

 

Chapter 7: Conclusion

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1: Yeah, Let’s Talk About Computers Again!

 

If you’re a regular Nacsport reader, you’ll probably have seen several posts from us talking about the best computers for video analysis. We’ve published several articles and even an eBook on this topic already, so we’re not going to get into it again in too much detail here.

 

Just as a quick overview, there is one major consideration for you to take into account  when thinking about a computer...whether to invest in a desktop or laptop computer. 

 

Here are the pros and cons...

 

Desktop:

 

desktop computer for sports video analysis

 

Pros:

 

Usually cheaper than laptops.

 

Easier to repair.

 

Easier to upgrade and future proof.

 

Cons: 

 

You can’t use it on the team bus!

 

Do you always do your analysis work in the office, at your desk? Get a desktop PC. If you want to add some mobility, think about adding an app for mobile devices such as Nacsport Tag&view.

 

Laptop:

 

laptop computer nacsport

 

Pros:

 

Mobility.

 

Huge choice of different machines.

 

Mobility!

 

Cons:

 

Usually more expensive.

 

Not easy to upgrade or repair.

 

Laptops are the typical choice for a video analyst as the nature of the job usually involves travelling to different grounds, etc., but at the end of the day it’s your decision!

 

Whatever you choose, just make sure that your machine conforms with the recommended minimum requirements for running your analysis software.

 

Just as a quick aside and to add a third option into the mix, it is possible to install and run your analysis software on some high-end tablets such as the Microsoft Surface. This is a solution that the likes of Gloucester Rugby employ, but usually in conjunction with laptops.

 

Multiple Screens

 

Multiple Screens Sports Video Analysis

 

Whether you choose Mac or PC, Desktop or Laptop, an extra monitor (or more!) is indispensable, especially if using multi-environment software such as Nacsport. This allows you to extend your screen, allowing you to make the most of your desktop space.

 

A typical two screen setup would be to have the video on one screen and the tagging environment or timeline on the other.

 

It’s worth noting that you can also use a tablet computer as an extra screen using the Duet Display app. The advantage here is that your analysis work gets touchscreen capabilities!

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2: Let’s Get Deep Down with Cameras

 

Ok, here’s another topic which we’ve covered extensively. Well, it is an important part of video analysis, right? But we’re going to spend a little more time on this one today.

 

Why?

 

Well, in previous outings, we’ve only really covered camcorders. However, there are a few other types of cameras that are worth talking about, namely IP cameras, automated cameras and drones.

 

Let’s kick off with the typical camera solution…

 

Camcorders

 

There is a huge selection of good and excellent camcorders on the market, too many to go into here, but, as mentioned above, we’ve already given some recommendations. Check out this article on our 5 favourite or download our hardware guide for an even bigger selection. There are camcorders for all budgets and needs and we include GoPro style cameras in this section.

 

One thing that we must mention here is that, in order to conduct a real-time analysis and review whilst filming, you’re going to need a video capture card to go along with your shiny new camera. Again, there is a section in the eBook which covers this in more detail, but this is an extra cost that you need to take into account. 

 

We can thoroughly recommend the AVerMedia cards which we’ve used successfully for years.

 

Anyway, download the eBook now, it’ll tell you everything you need to know about camcorders and capture devices. For the moment, let’s move on…

 

IP Cameras

 

IP Camera video analysis

 

So, what are IP cameras?

 

Well, the "IP" stands for Internet Protocol. This basically means that the camera is linked to your computer via a network meaning that images captured are streamed directly to your device.

 

Not only this, but cameras can be controlled by that same device, meaning that you can zoom or pan using your computer keyboard or a specially designed joystick.

 

If you’re familiar with CCTV cameras then you’ve probably encountered IP cameras before.

 

IP cameras are a great solution for filming sport, providing high quality images which can be compressed automatically to save you hard drive space.

 

They can also be used in any environment or weather, adapting quickly to the elements.

 

Another huge advantage of IP cameras is that live analysis can be a one person operation, with the analyst controlling the camera and tagging the game directly from their computer. With a traditional camcorder, someone has to man it in order to pan, zoom and follow the action.

 

If you are interested in IP cameras, we recommend that you get in touch with an expert in the field as there are a wide variety of cameras out there and not all of them are suitable for sports analysis. Check out this article from our friends at AnalysisPro, which goes into much greater detail on the technical specifications of IP cameras, and get in touch with them for advice on fully integrated IP camera solutions.

 

Automated Cameras

 

Automated camera video analysis

 

A relative newcomer into the sports analysis field, automated cameras have been making a big splash in recent years.

 

Companies such as Usportfor and Veo provide a solution which creates a video of a match or training session automatically without the need for a camera operator.

 

Automated cameras do this by tracking the action on the field and making composite videos. The plus side of this is that it frees up manpower for other analysis tasks such as live tagging. Some of these camera solutions can even detect basic highlights such as corners and goal kicks, automatically tagging these on the video, saving even more time.

 

Sounds great, right? But there’s got to be a downside, eh?

 

Well, yeah. The flipside is that producing these videos takes time. You must first upload the footage to an online platform where the processing of videos can take up to eight hours.

 

Nevertheless, this is a fantastic, affordable option for those that want to produce great quality videos with very little effort. Film on the Saturday, wake up on Sunday to a video that can be used for further analysis or streaming on YouTube.

 

We recommend that you contact our friends CaJa Sport Software for more information on the Usportfor option.

 

Drones

 

This may sound like a bit of a left-field option but, believe it or not, drones are becoming more and more common for filming in the field of sports analysis.

 

And why not? After all, a drone can give an analyst a perspective on a game that no other tool could, following the action from above. This can occasionally prove problematic, however, as filming a game from too high up can mean that details are lost to the distance.

 

Apart from this, there are a few major disadvantages to using drones. The first and certainly not least of these is battery life. Drones still have a long way to go in terms of technical development and the technology simply doesn’t exist to give drones a sufficient battery life to film a full game of football, for example.

 

Drones can also be dangerous and there are many rules governing their use in crowded places such as stadiums, so check your local regulations before deploying them.

 

Nevertheless, drones are increasingly used by analysts such as Facundo Juaréz of Argentinian side Gimnasia y Esgrima in order to get a unique view of the action, and their use will continue to increase over the years as technology develops.

 

Mobile Devices

 

mobile sports video analysis

 

We can’t speak about cameras without mentioning the obvious...something that everyone is carrying round in their pocket.

 

Many modern mobile phones and tablets are equipped with cameras which are easily equal or better of cameras we’ve already mentioned in this article. They can be a great solution for sports video analysis filming.

 

The major problems with mobile devices are that they can be difficult to handle when filming. Zooming, for example, is not as easy to control as it would be on a regular camera. There are also issues with storage and battery life, making mobile devices less than ideal for filming.

 

A solution to this could be a dedicated mobile app, such as Nacsport Tag&view which allows you to film and tag at the same time. It also allows you to simply tag, send your data to your computer and sync with video footage, whether from an external camera or television footage, at a later time.

 

Most major video analysis companies have companion apps with differing levels of functionality.

 

We advise you to check out all your options before committing to your software.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3: Storage Solutions. Every Cloud...

 

External storage is an absolute must for any sports video analyst. Video files for training sessions and matches can be massive, especially if you’re filming from multiple angles.

 

Obviously, when the analysis is finished you’ll cut away all the fat and be left with just the pertinent points of your video and bin the rest, but still, over multiple games and seasons, the internal storage of your computer will not suffice.

 

In addition, backing up your data externally is always the safest option. We’ve all lost data due to IT malfunctions and it’s not nice.

 

So, you’ve got two basic options here: External hard drives or cloud storage. Here are the pros and cons of both...

 

External Hard Drives

 

external hard drive video analysis

 

Pros:

 

Cheap and plentiful.

 

Quick transfer.

 

Easy to store and file.

 

Cons:

 

Still vulnerable to malfunction and degradation.

 

Offer nothing more than storage.

 

No options for easy sharing.

 

If you’re looking for a storage solution to simply archive your analysis files, external hard drives come in a variety of storage capacities and prices. This Seagate Backup Plus, for example, gives you 5TBs of data storage for a decent price.

 

If you want something more, let’s take a look at the second option...

 

Cloud Storage

 

cloud storage video analysis

 

Pros:

 

Many different options available, some free.

 

Data is safe and secure.

 

Easy to share analysis and presentations with team mates.

 

Cons:

 

A good, constant internet connection is essential.

 

Can be expensive.

 

Apart from your data being safe from hardware malfunctions, the biggest advantage of cloud storage is the ability to quickly disseminate information amongst the members of your team. Sharimg.com is our recommendation for cloud storage. As well as being able to edit and watch presentations directly from the platform, Sharimg gives you a full online space for storing, sharing and communicating with your full team or individual members.

 

It’s a virtual meeting place in the cloud! 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4: Don’t Get the Shakes, Get Tripods and Grips

 

Tripods

 

 

Unless you want to produce video footage that looks like it belongs in a 90s found-footage film like the Blair Witch Project, we suggest that a tripod for your camera is an absolutely essential piece of gear to invest in.

 

A tripod gives you height and stability, allowing you to produce video that is smooth and flowing and making panning around the action on the field a breeze.

 

Most camera manufacturers featured in our eBook have dedicated tripods but there are also generic tripods which are often cheaper and are just as high quality. We think this one looks good. But there is a huge choice of different styles and prices out there.

 

And what if you’re using a tablet or phone to film with?

 

Again, a quick search on Amazon or the like will reveal a huge choice of hardware in this department such as this extendable stand

 

If you already have a camera tripod you could simply invest in a good quality tablet adaptor mount.

 

Grips

 

If you're using your iPad or tablet for tagging without filming, you’re going to want to keep a good hold of it. Nothing worse than dropping it in a pool of mud or having it fly out of your hand after getting hit by a stray ball and landing on concrete to get smashed to bits.

 

No, get yourself a good tablet grip.

 

The Love Handle isn’t an erotic sexual aid, but rather Amazons best selling tablet grip. Again, this is just an example, there are many more available on the market. Find the one that suits you best.

 

Stay safe out there, folks!

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5: GPS Trackers and Wearables

 

 

Although we’re getting to the edges of Sports Video Analysis and creeping up into the territory of Sports Science, GPS trackers can add a whole new level to your analysis work.

 

You can get a wealth of data on individual players such as distance travelled and fitness levels which can lead to pinpointing tactical errors and injury prevention.

 

Want an example?

 

How about these tracking devices from Playmaker which slip directly and discreetly on to players boot? Compatible with Nacsport video analysis software, these are a great option for tracking on field player movements.

 

These wearables come in all shapes and sizes from wrist mounted trackers to ones that are sewn into an athletes shirt.

 

We recommend checking this video by Inside Sports Analysis where they talk about GPS trackers as they are used at Castleford Tigers Rugby Club.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6: Want More? Ok...Here Are Some Gadgets and Peripheries

 

From headphones to backpacks to programmable stream decks, there are a wealth of gadgets out there that can add value to an analyst’s work. We already covered these in this article. But here are a few others for your consideration.

 

External Bluetooth Keyboard

 

bluetooth keyboard video analysis

 

An external bluetooth keyboard is a handy thing for any analyst to have. Why? Well, if your sports analysis software allows you to assign hotkeys to buttons on your template (Nacsport allows you to do this), you can have a simple, cheap method of tagging without being wired into your computer.

 

It can also be used for controlling presentations wirelessly, which is nice!

 

Laptop and Camera Rain Covers

 

Obviously not all sports are played indoors. Football, hockey and many others are played in all weather conditions, including rain and snow. You don’t want to expose your shiny new laptop or camera to the elements, right? Well, it’s time to invest in a rain cover.

 

These will keep your sensitive electronic gear safe in all weathers. Again, there a few to choose from on the market, such as this model for laptops, which also provides shade and visibility in the sun, or this one for cameras.

 

Backpacks

 

Backpack video analysis

 

Another item that we would say is absolutely essential for transporting your video analysis equipment is a good protective backpack.

 

What about this huge Lowe Pro backpack? With separate compartments for your laptop, camera and all the cables, we’d suggest this is the perfect transport solution for all your analysis needs!

 

But again, this is just a suggestion, there are many more models on the market and we are not affiliated with any of these products in any way!

 

Backups of Everything

 

Ok, this is not really a gadget but more of a tip, especially for professional level analysts…

 

Bring two of everything!

 

You never know when a computer is going to fail or a camera is going to get hit by a ball and be unusable. 

 

Cables are particularly fragile and there’s nothing worse if you can’t connect your computer to your camera because of a broken HDMI cable.

 

Make sure all your equipment is fully charged before leaving the office and bring spare batteries, fully charged. Power cuts can destroy the work of an analyst.

 

Be a good cub scout and be prepared for every eventuality. This is our final piece of advice to you!

 

 

 

 

Chapter 7: Conclusion

 

There are many more pieces of equipment that are useful to an analyst. Things like:

 

•    Walkie Talkies for communicating with secondary analysts during a real-time analysis.


•    Routers for creating LAN networks.


•    Additional camera lenses for wide or close angles.

 

But we can’t go on forever.

 

Instead, we’d like to hand it over to you. What equipment do you consider essential when it comes to sports video analysis?

 

Let us know over on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn and, you never know, we might just add your ideas to the next edition of this article.

 

In the meantime, we’d just like to say, you don’t NEED all of this equipment to be a successful analyst. These are just suggestions of where you can go to get to a professional level.

 

We hope this has given you some ideas.

 

Thanks for reading!

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