Review of Top 3 Sport Video Analysis Apps
They’re inexpensive, but they take time to learn and there are hidden costs. Which one is best for you? We review the top 3 apps and see what they have to offer.
Related Article: Ubersense vs. Coach’s Eye vs. Dartfish Express is a feature comparison table.
- How Video Analysis Apps Work
- What Video Analysis Apps Do Best
- Storage and Sharing: Hidden Costs You Might Not Have Thought About
- Warning! You Don’t Want a Big Surprise on Your Cell Phone Bill
- How to Choose the App That’s Best For You
- Two Different Approaches to Video Analysis
- Protecting Athlete Privacy
- File Organization
- Which App is Right for You?
- CoachMyVideo: Not Recommended
In This Review:
We paid full price for our apps. We have no association with these products or companies. We tested the apps on an iPad Air.
How Video Analysis Apps Work
Sport video analysis apps share these 4 core functions:
2. Playback – Video Analysis apps have fantastic playback functionality, including slow motion, frame-by-frame advancement, and a scrolling wheel for easy scrubbing. Even if you never use the analysis tools, you’ll love reviewing videos in these apps. The playback interface is far superior to your built-in video player.
3. Analysis – The range of analysis tools varies from app to app. Features include draw tools, the ability to add text captions, voice commentary and to make side-by-side video comparisons. (Full feature comparison here.)
4. Save, Store, Share and Organize – Are you working with a small number of skiers, perhaps just yourself and a few friends? Are you a coach who manages many athletes? Do you often record footage during training and at races? Do you need to protect athlete privacy?
Each company offers solutions to these challenges. Understanding how you’ll use the app in your unique situation will help you make the right choice.
What Video Analysis Apps Do Best
Video analysis apps aren’t the same as the high precision tools used by research scientists. The “analysis” you do with these apps is qualitative, not quantitative.
The angle tool, for example, is completely unscientific. It’s challenging for scientists in a lab to get accurate measurements of body angles in a 2-dimensional plane.
Dragging an angle draw tool across a video screen isn’t going to give you valid data. The angle and stopwatch tools just create the illusion that the measurements made by these apps are “scientific”.
The best features of these apps are their amazing playback controls, side-by-side video comparison tools, and the rich opportunity for coaches to provide feedback to their athletes with the draw and commentary tools.
Storage and Sharing: Hidden Costs You Might Not Have Thought About
If you want a video analysis app for personal use, you don’t need to worry too much about this section, but if you’re a coach or you want to share your videos, even just among a few friends, this next part is important.
Video files are huge. Even compressed, low-resolution videos will hog storage space on your mobile device. They need to leave. Plus, if you’re a coach, you need a way to easily share videos with your athletes.
One option is to export the files to your camera roll then upload them to your computer. They’ll hog space on your computer too, so from your computer they should go to an external hard drive.
(Regardless whether you’re sharing or not, you should back up your files to another drive. However, moving them from the app, to your camera roll, to your computer is time consuming.)
As for sharing them with your athletes, you could upload them to YouTube, but it’s better if your athletes can watch them within the apps on their own mobile devices. (Great playback, remember?)
When you first think about buying one of these apps, you think it’s about making your choice based on design or price tag. Those things matter, but not nearly as much as how the app handles storage and sharing.
All 3 apps solve this problem with a paid subscription service.
It works like this: From the app you have the option to upload the video to cloud storage. (In the “cloud”, data is still stored on real computers in real buildings – just not yours.)
You get a url (internet address) for your video, which makes it easy to share or download the video to any other device. (Including that external hard drive you’ll use for backup, right?)
Storing your video files is an ongoing cost, which is why the apps charge a subscription fee. No one likes recurring fees, but it’s understandable why it has to work this way.
All 3 apps offer some storage and sharing for free, to get you started. It’s limited, so long term, you’ll need a subscription service if you want to save yourself the hassle of moving files around and/or you need to protect athlete privacy.
So to recap: If you plan to use the app for personal use, you don’t need to worry about storage and sharing. But if you need storage and sharing, the initial price of the app is not what you need to worry about. Free, $5 or $7? It doesn’t matter. You should evaluate each app’s long-term costs and benefits.
Warning! You Don’t Want a Big Surprise on Your Cell Phone Bill
Sharing videos and uploading video to cloud storage requires an Internet connection and takes a lot of data. You can turn off cellular data inside the apps’ settings so it only uses wifi.
The advantage of HD video is that it’s a pleasure to work with, but it will take a long time move your files up to the cloud. You’ll have the option to save a lower quality version.
How to Choose the App That’s Best for You
The actual cost of the app is not what’s most important. These are the questions you need to ask:
- What’s your budget?
- How much do you value working with HD video?
- Do you want cloud storage?
- Will you share your videos?
- Do you need to protect athlete privacy?
- Speaking of athletes, they need the app, too. (But not the subscription service.) Will they be willing or able to pay for it?
- Can you or your employer afford a subscription service?
- What’s more important to you? Analyzing dynamic video or analyzing still shots. (More about that below.)
If you’re on a tight budget and cost is your primary concern, Ubersense is right for you.
The app is free and an annual subscription is only $30. Even the smallest clubs should be able to support their coaches with the annual cost of this app. Many coaches will pay the price out of their own pockets – because coaches are awesome that way.
We really like Ubersense. The design is solid and it’s easy to use. It has a great system for tagging videos by athlete name and technique. This is super helpful for keeping your files organized. We also like that you can create a team for easier sharing.
The company works hard to create a sense of community and their tutorials are excellent. Their pricing structure makes video analysis tools accessible to everyone.
The downside is slightly lower quality. The app’s user interface isn’t quite as sleek and some of the functions are cumbersome. For example, you have to switch through too many settings to use the draw tools.
When you upload your files to Ubersense the app reduces the video’s quality a lot. I don’t know the specs, but we tested this by uploading the same HD file to all 3 apps. The video lost the most quality when it uploaded to Ubersense.
Low-resolution, choppy video isn’t as fun or easy to work with as HD video. You’ll experience more eyestrain and you’ll struggle to see detail in shots taken at distance.
Finally, the scrolling wheel isn’t as well tuned as the wheels on the other 2 apps. When you spin it (by dragging your finger across) the video doesn’t play as smoothly as it does in Coach’s Eye or Dartfish Express.
The $30/yr “Elite” subscription service is a bargain. Check current rates on Dropbox to get an idea of standard online cloud storage costs.
As of today, 1 Terabyte costs $17 CAD per month. That’s enough for 300 hours of good quality video. Ubersense’s pricing is very fair.
The price difference between Coach’s Eye and Dartfish is significant. Dartfish delivers more quality with it’s higher price tag; the app is gorgeous and you can record the best quality video.
Price and quality are important, but there’s another difference that’s even more important…
Two Different Approaches to Video Analysis
The playback tools in Coach’s Eye and Dartfish Express are similar and the 2 apps share a similar set of video analysis tools. (Voice commentary, text commentary, draw tools, side by side comparisons etc.) The key difference between them is how the analysis tools are used.
In Coach’s Eye, just like in Ubersense, you analyze video in motion. In Dartfish Express you take a freeze frame, then do your analysis on the still shot.
What Will This Be Like in Real Life?
Let’s say you’re a coach and you’re at home, reviewing video on your Coach’s Eye app. You notice one of your skiers, call her Sue, flicks her pole tip forward before she plants it.
You hit the microphone button and start talking, explaining her error. As you talk, you use the scroll wheel to slow down the video, back it up, replay it, and draw a circle around her pole tip.
Then you process the video and share it with Sue. When she watches it, she hears your commentary and watches the video advance and back up exactly as you moved it. If she’s watching in her own app she can use her scroll wheel to control playback.
Your analysis (commentary and drawing) is dynamic. It happens over moving video. Ubersense works a similar way.
If you’re using the Dartfish Express app, both you and your athlete will have a different experience.
Just like in Coach’s Eye, anyone with the app can use the scroll wheel to move back and forth through the video as they review it. That’s likely what you’ll do for on-the-spot analysis with your athletes.
But for sharing comments online or by email, you’ll use “key positions”.
So, back at your house, you play the clip and freeze it at the moment you think best illustrates Sue’s problem.
You capture a still image, and then add your commentary. You might add a text box, voice commentary, or use the draw tools. You then save the file and send it to Sue.
Sue gets the video with the embedded, analyzed still shots, which appear as tags on the progress bar. She clicks on the tags to jump directly to your feedback without having to watch a longer analysis.
Here’s an example Dartfish Video. You can click on the still shots along the bottom of the screen to see the commentary or hide the still shots and just watch the video. Still shots can also be compiled into “Media Books” which make powerful educational tools. Here’s an example.
There’s not a “right” or “wrong” approach, but there is an approach that’s best for you. All 3 apps have demo videos on their websites that showcase their apps in action.
If you really can’t imagine which you’d prefer using, you could download them all, then experiment to find what you like best. It will cost you $11.
Protecting Athlete Privacy
As already explained, you must upload your video files from the app to the Internet, then share them as urls. You can access your videos either within the app or by logging in to your personal “storage space” on each app’s website.
These are the subscription services mentioned previously.
- Ubersense “Elite” $30/yr
- Coach’s Eye “VIP” $150/yr
- “My Dartfish TV” $250/yr
It’s at the moment of storage and sharing that you can protect athlete privacy. Watch your settings so you know whether the video is private or public.
Ubersense lets you share videos privately, even without paying a subscription fee, but the urls will expire.
With Dartfish Express you set up your own “TV channel” and upload your files before sharing. It’s easier than it sounds.
You get a channel when you buy the app, even if you don’t subscribe. It comes with 0.25 GB of storage space, which is enough for 2-20 videos, depending on resolution and duration. After you’ve used that, you must either delete some videos or subscribe.
When you buy the Coach’s Eye app you get room in your “cloud locker” to store 3 videos. You also get 5 “unlisted” shares and an infinite number of “public” shares.
When Coach’s Eye says “public”, they aren’t kidding.
Let’s say you want to email a video to your friend. You select “share by email” and you choose “public” because you don’t want to use 1 of your 5 “unlisted” shares.
It all works great and your friend gets a link to your video. But did you know your video also gets posted to the “Latest” feed? That means it gets displayed on the Coach’s Eye homepage as well as within the app under the tab “Explore”?
The feed is continuously updated, with new videos going up every minute. Your video will soon disappear, but not everyone will want his video splashed across the internet. (Plus, if your video gets selected as a Staff Pick or Featured video, it goes back to the homepage.)
Some people won’t mind, but some people will, especially parents. If you’re a coach and you want to use Coach’s Eye with your athletes, you need to get consent, buy bundles of private shares (50 for $5), or pay for a subscription.
Video files are challenging to keep organized. Use the built-in tagging system that comes with each app and add as many tags as you can think of. Suggestions for tags:
- Athlete name
- Special Notes
- Date (The apps will date and time stamp imported videos by date of import, not when they were actually taken. Only videos recorded within the app will have dates that match the actual date of filming.)
Which App is Right for You?
Ubersense is the clear choice for coaches and skiers with limited resources. Big thanks to Ubersense for making it possible for any athlete or coach to use video analysis tools. Send them some love by paying for a year’s subscription.
If you can afford Coach’s Eye or Dartfish Express, you’ll enjoy working with higher quality apps and videos. HD video is starting to become the norm. It’s great to work with, but files will take much longer to upload to cloud storage.
The big question to ask yourself is, do you want to analyze video in motion, or does Dartfish’s “still shot” analysis appeal to you more? If you want dynamic analysis, your choice is between Ubersense and Coach’s Eye. If you like the idea of using still shots, chose Dartfish Express.
If you’re a larger organization, Dartfish TV has a lot of advanced features we didn’t cover that may be important to you. For example, you might like the ability to set multiple access levels for different user groups.
Final consideration is storage and sharing. With all 3 apps you get a little of both, but if you work with a lot of video, and especially if you need to protect athlete privacy, you need a subscription service.
CoachMyVideo: Not Recommended
We researched 1 other sport video analysis app for this review: CoachMyVideo. It was the most expensive ($15) and we didn’t like it. The quality is far below the other apps and it only saves and shares images.