Hey Coach: Video Analysis 101

Video analysis in the sport of curling is not new, however the use of computer based software to do this on our behalf is only about three years old. Numerous coaches, provincial associations and teams are now getting into this on a regular basis, throwing away the old VHS camcorders for laptops and mini-DV video cameras. Where to Start? To begin with you will need:
  1. A video camera, preferably mini-DV, that has a firewire output jack. (otherwise known as 1394 jack)
  2. A laptop with a firewire input, or simply purchase a firewire card
  3. A software program – the two most popular ones being used in our sport right now are:
    1. V1 Home – $50 – $1000 – you can check out www.curlontario.com for some info. A great starting system that does everything you’ll need.
    2. Dartish $1000 – $4000. All the bells and whistles! www.dartfish.com
  4. A laser pointer. There are numerous options for this – the stronger the better.
  5. A tripod of some sort.
  6. A firewire to connect the computer to the camera.
I strongly suggest that you set up your computer, camera and laser a few times off the ice to simply ensure everything works.
  1. Plug in your computer and turn it on. Wait for it to be fully functional before attaching any new cords
  2. Double click to begin your software application – V1 or Dartfish.
  3. Plug in the firewire to your camera, then to your computer and turn on your camera. Ensure that your camera is in the camera mode – no the VCR mode.
  4. In V1 or Dartfish go to the section of the software that allows live action. At this point the view of the camera should pop up on your computer. ** Note: You do not need a tape in the camera – it is actually better to leave it empty as you will not need to record anything on tape.
  5. Get ready to tape!! Remember, it is the computer that is recording; the camera is just an electronic eye!
If your organization is going to be doing this with random teams at random places I suggest that you set up the software to ‘dump’ the files into a file on your desktop that you would set up. This way – at the end of the video session the operator would simply go to the dump folder and empty it. If you do not empty the video files after each time your computer could get severely slowed down due to the size of these vide files. Once you get acquainted with the software and the operating manuals you may look into creating video files for your athletes. These files can be burnt onto a disk that the athletes can take away with them, and use for reference at a later time. Some tips:
  1. Setting up your tripod: I have found that setting up the tripod at least halfway down the ice, very close to the ground, allows you to zoom in on the athlete and not have to worry about zooming out as they slide. This allows very smooth videos, along with video that you are easily able to compare to each other. The tripod I have evolved into using is a very small tripod that puts the camera about 4-5 inches off the ice.
  2. Set up your laser directly in front of your camera. The nice thing with this set up is that you are able to move your entire camera/laser set up to different parts of the ice. Each time you move, ensure that the laser starts in the middle of the rock. If you see the picture below, the laser allows instant knowledge of whether or not the rock has moved throughout the slide.
  3. Your knowledge built from Level 1, 2 and 3 courses will be very valuable here. Take some time to ensure your athlete has input in the delivery. It’s funny, as what normally looks ‘good’ is what we’re looking for! Some of them will be able to break down their own delivery and will be amazed at what they actually look like!
  4. My first question to these athletes is ‘how’d you do?”. Whether that is hitting the broom or managing to make a big change, having this ‘feel versus real’ scenario makes this software all that more powerful.
  5. The biggest benefit of this software is that it presents instant playback of the most recent delivery – get used to using this feature and the benefits to your athletes will be enormous. No more do you have to wait, do five or six slides, and then analyze. Pick one or two main changes you’re looking for with the athlete, decide on an agreeable goal to change, and then let them take one slide. They will then join you at the computer, check out the latest slide and a lot of the time will make the analysis themselves, turn around and try it again!
This software makes jumping into big changes a lot easier. With the instant visual on the ice, the coach/instructor and the athlete can agree very quickly on what the outcome should be and no longer are we relying on ‘trust’ of the opinion of the instructor versus the feeling of the athlete. Email if you have questions. Paul Webster [email protected]