“The Eye in the Sky Does Not Lie….”
In my opinion, film review is one of the most effective teaching tools at your disposal. I have written about it several times, including last weeks post as well as here. It is contingent, although, on having quality video filmed at a good angle.
Filming from the press box provides good elevation, but the viewing angle (from the side rather from behind) is not optimum for teaching.
An end zone tower cam system, or filming from a lift, provides an optimum angle (elevated and from behind) for viewing, grading and evaluating your film.
But, these systems do have some limitations or drawbacks.
- They are difficult to set up, take down, or move to a different location. Therefore, they are often not utilized for the daily filming of practice segments; or if they are, the drill has to be moved to the camera, rather than the camera moved to the drill
- Lifts can be dangerous, with liability a concern especially if using students to film.
- Tower cam systems are expensive, with pricing between $2,500 and $7,000.
There is yet another option that many programs are utilizing… A flying video platform… A drone!
You might think that using a drone to film practice or games is too “Techy” or difficult, but recent advancements in quadcopter technology make it possible for a novice to fly, record video and take photos, from a extremely stable platform. This is a sample video from a summer practice that I filmed using a drone. This particular drone (Parrot Bebop) was purchased for under $500, shoots HD (1080p) video, is very stable, and is easily controlled using an iPad.
As you can see, the ball is on the opposite 35-yard line from where a typical tower or lift cam would be located… and at the point where the viewing angle would begin to deteriorate. But, by using drone video technology, you can easily fly the camera into position to get the most desirable viewing angle.
During practice, you can fly the camera from drill to drill, yard line to yard line, behind or in front of the offense or defense, or at a higher altitude to get the whole field view.
The practice film that we took this summer using the drone was, in the opinion of the coaches evaluating it, some of the best they had ever seen.
Here are some considerations:
Video quality – There are many inexpensive drones that shoot video and take pictures… look for ones that are HD, 1080p or 4k…. they will provide the quality that you need to evaluate your players.
Battery life – Most batteries will give you 10-20 minutes of flight time. Shorter flight time means more batteries will need to be purchased, and more frequent battery changes/ charges.
Ease of control/ flying – There are some commercial drones available that require extensive training to fly. Look for one that is easy to fly.
Safety – Typically the heavier the drone, the more potential for injury if someone gets hit by it… the Parrot Bebop drone I mentioned above weighs less than a pound, and in the event of collision the propellers stop automatically.
Durability – Crashes are infrequent but possible… will the drone stand up to some abuse, and how difficult is it to repair?
Rules regarding drone usage – Most state high school activity associations now have rules regarding how drones can be used during a game. The MSHSAA rule allows for a drone to be used, but it must keep behind the field media line, thereby making it like an end zone tower or lift camera. The cameras on most drones do not zoom, so although the angle (height) will be good, if the ball is at midfield, the action will be further away. One advantage over a tower or lift camera is that when the ball is toward the opposite end zone, you can land the drone, carry it down to the other end zone and start flying and filming from there.
Other uses in your program – Having aerial footage of your stadium, field, and your team can be a great marketing/ PR tool. Many professional, college and high school programs are already doing this. Lee’s Summit high school in Missouri recently produced this cool video after their opening game.
The thought of using a drone to film your practices and or games may seem like a crazy idea or a passing fad, but I think it could be a valuable, cost effective addition to your program’s technology toolbox.
You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you… Don’t Believe It!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org