Motionview! video analysis software
This is a reprint of a product review I wrote last year for Softball Magazine. The product is definitely worth checking out, so I thought I would post the review up here. Hope you find it helpful.
One of the best and most popular tools for helping player development is video. With a simple camera and playback device (such as a TV), players have the opportunity to see themselves in action and perhaps gain a better understanding of what their coaches mean. After all, it’s one thing for a coach to say “you’re dropping your elbow when you throw.” The player may think the coach means the elbow is dropping to a point just above the shoulder. But when watching the video, he/she can see the coach means it’s dropping to a point just above the bottom of the rib cage.
The camera/TV combination is fine for basic viewing, but it makes it difficult to really get into the topic. Downloading the video to a computer and watching it on Windows Media Player, Apple QuickTime, or RealPlayer is somewhat of an improvement, but those applications are still very limited in their ability to show and explain exactly what’s happening.
Recently I downloaded such a product. It is called MotionView!, a software application from AllSportsSystems. It is a feature-packed program that allows a coach to provide a thorough, multi-point analysis of a student’s performance, either from live or previously captured video.
The version I downloaded is called MotionView! Coach. It is their mid-level product, but it provides everything I (and most coaches or parents) will need.
The drawing toolbar is robust but easy to use. The basic drawing tools include the ability to draw lines, circles, and squares. An extended toolbar adds the ability to draw angles, arrows, freehand shapes and more. You can choose from six different colors, and even change the thickness of the lines as needed.
One interesting tool, especially when working with pitchers, is the ability to add an analog clock face. When you’re telling a pitcher that the hand should be between 10 and 11 o’clock when the stride foot toe touches it helps to be able to draw that clock. Keep in mind a lot of kids these days rely solely on digital clocks, which means they aren’t really sure where 11 o’clock is. But they’ll never tell you. They’ll just nod as if they understand.
Another handy tool is called the “kite tail.” This one is a bit more complicated because it first requires you to carve out a brief section (called a canister) of your video. Once you have the small clip, though, you can mark each point of a moving object to create a continuous line. MotionView! advances the frames for you automatically. Once all the frames have been marked and you hit the “play” button, the video traces the line, showing the motion. For example, if you mark the tip of the bat during a swing, you can see the whole path the bat takes. The only problem is it doesn’t give you the smooth curving line that’s shown on the Web site. It’s more of a polygon – a series of straight lines that create a shape, Still, you can gain a lot of insight regarding the path of moving object with this tool.
There’s more to MotionView! than drawing tools, though. You can run the video backward and forward, adjusting the speed from regular to slow to frame-by-frame. You can also reverse the view, turning a left hander into a right hander or vice versa. You can open two videos at once for side-by-side comparison, say between your student and a top-level player or a before-and-after comparison, and even synch them together. With the Coach version you can overlay one video on top of another, and export still shots to pass along to the students.
Sounds like a lot for just $85 (with the online coupon). But as they say on all the Popeil commercials, wait! There’s more! There is a built-in timer that shows the elapsed time in the video. You can convert a section of the video into a film strip so you can see the entire movement at once. You can zoom in on sections of the video and adjust the display to different sizes – including full screen mode. You can even type in titles or instructions that can then be exported along with the video.
The download itself is a little kluge. No matter what version you want, you have to start by downloading the free “Lite” version. Once you have done that, if you have purchased a higher level version you have to send an e-mail or go online to request the code to unlock your version. AllSportsSystems is pretty responsive but you still may have to wait a few hours to get your key code depending on the day and time you make your purchase. After I did the download the application started looking for a file that didn’t exist, and would give me an error message. But an e-mail to AllSportsSystems solved the problem quickly. They responded within 12 hours on a weekend, so I give them an A for customer service.
This is an outstanding, feature-packed application that allows you to perform an unbelievable variety of analysis. If you’re a coach looking for a better way to show students what they’re doing, or a knowledgeable player who wants to improve his/her game, check out the MotionView! family of products. You won’t be disappointed.