As someone with a keen interest in sports still & video images, and as someone who is regularly "up the tower" enjoying the best view in the house behind a video camera for field hockey match analysis, I've been keeping an eye on the emerging world of club level intelligent & automated imagery. I'd looked at Veo previously, so the v2 was of interest.
The first thing to say is that this sector is immature, now please don't take that as a bad thing, in fact it is developing and growing rapidly - with companies and many different exciting features & functions emerging rapidly. We're also starting to see some hockey clubs and schools take steps with systems in these areas, vary systems and often pilot projects; but there's definitely something that can be learned & leveraged from other larger sports (eg football & cricket).
To my rough eye these companies might break down into 4 groups:
1) Pro - companies moving their professional grade solutions down to the club level
2) Analysis - companies widening their analysis solution portfolio to encompass more elements of the workflow solutions.
3) Club - companies widening their club management portfolio to encompass more elements
4) Video - new to market companies focusing specifically on club video analysis, breaks into a couple of types
4a) All in one solutions - providing full hardware and software solutions
4b) Component solutions - providing specific elements of the new solutions (gimble platform, masts, IP cameras etc)
Some of the companies include the following:
Whilst I'd love to have a 20+ 8k camera, fully AI referee assist & match analysis solution like some of the category 1 companies, that 6+ digit budget money simply doesn't exist in the amateur club level. So the area that most excites & interests me right now is the category 4a companies like Veo...
To me, in an emerging market the key elements in an emerging market are solution & commercial flexibility (so you can change as things evolve), time to value, and openness on integration & data portability.
At the moment the industry standards for data, meta-data, imagery and tagging assets haven't yet matured in this level, so it's a matter of looking for eco-system relationships & cooperation rather than technology standards & interoperability. There's clearly some overlap and jostling going on between imaging companies, analysis companies, streaming companies and club / game management companies.
Features I'm most interested in:
- Autonomous filming of field hockey matches - mainly outdoor 11v11, but occasionally outdoor. (To remove the requirement for a volunteer camera operator)
- Ability to remotely control the camera recording & streaming (from anywhere around pitch & club)
- Portable platform, with option for permanent install & mounting
- Ability to work both 'end-on' and 'side-on' to the pitch
- Live streaming to audience, with option to feed to other platforms (YouTube, Twitch, Scorrd etc)
- Ability to live feed to other screens around the local club (eg dugout, clubhouse), including rewind & replay options
- Match overlay graphics (scorecards, teams, sponsors etc)
- Automated hockey event timeline tagging (goal, side-line, free hit, long corner, PC, shuffle, stroke, player substitutions etc)
- Automated generation of post match analytics (heatmaps, player trackers, formation trackers)
- Visual analysis tools (draw on screen, directed highlights, full pitch view and broadcast view)
- Feed to open match analysis solutions
- An affordable pricing model
After last week's 5th Aug announcement from Veo, as well as being super interested I was left with a sack of questions, including:
- Can we control & mute the audio? both for live streaming, and for post match analysis & assets...
- Can we concurrently forward / export the live stream real-time to other platforms? (eg https://scorrd.com/? YouTube? Facebook?)
- Integration with Pitchero and SportLomo?
- I can see that Veo & Pitchero had had some relationship so far, https://www.veo.co/pitchero-veo-football/ but I'm looking for integration of teams & fixture info, allowing the Pitchero app to update the Veo score etc.
- The LiveStream FAQ says "You can live-stream at 1080p with 10 Mbit/s and 720p with 4 Mbit/s." but elsewhere in the FAQ it also says "Streaming in 720p video quality requires a 4Mbps connection. To stream in Full HD, you need an 8Mbps connection." - so is HD 1080p 8Mbs or 10Mbs?
- Integration with and/or export of events & video to CoachLogic & Hudl?
- Given the 'local processing of images' can I later use Veo 2 as a camera without the full subscriptions?
- Does the Veo 2 automatically upload / backup the locally processed videos to the Veo service? and can it securely send the files automatically to other locations?
- What happens with Veo 2 when the 128GB storage fills up?
- Is there a 'permanent mounting kit' that would allow us to securely mount the camera (in a secure enclosure?) to the pitch side fencing and keep it powered and network connected full time?
- Details as to how the new software & hardware work with Field Hockey? football is nice but not relevant for my requirements...
- Confirmation of all functionality working over Ethernet & Wifi without the need to use the in build 4G cellular network?
- An ability to auto zoom in on a penalty corner or flick during live stream?
- Is there a digital zoom function for analysis?
- Is there a slow motion function for analysis?
- What is the supported distance from camera for app control?
- Can I get access to all of the content without needing any physical connection to the device?
- How is the security access to the device & service managed?
- What roles & control granularity are available for the camera & service management application? (can I give coaches & managers some control but not full config admin etc?)
- Approval / affiliation with England Hockey as the NGB, to allow us to use promote the solution as part of the player pathway program
- Does the match app allow for:
- "stopping the clock" as per hockey rules? (ie no extra time, but clock stopped on incidents)
- Quarters & Halves, both with varying durations
- Can we expand the live streaming (and recorded) graphics overlays to include:
- Team introduction player lists
- Club & sponsor logos
- Graphics info pages to be shown as overlay before & after matches
- Graphics info pages to be shown at quarter & half-time breaks
- Event animation overlays (eg driven from buttons on the match app re 'goal', 'green/yellow/red card', 'penalty', 'home win/loss)
- Graphics overlay for player substitutions (eg from app type list of player #s on/off - show on screen and record in event timeline)
- Can we export the automated & manual event timeline to 3rd party match analysis packages (eg CoachLogic)
Some concerns include:
- Strong support for field hockey, whilst the website mentions field hockey, there aren't any example videos on the site or Youtube channel - I certainly want to see how the upgraded cameras work with the small & fast hockey ball
- Strategy feature that most concerns me is that, at initial glance, it appears Veo may be going down the "walled private garden" route for content & streaming - we use multiple other systems already and whilst some might be replaceable not all are, so the ability to work & integrate with other platforms is of value
- Veo Analytics - is an extra cost, and current only supporting football https://support.veo.co/en/articles/5454606-analyze-your-recordings-with-veo-analytics - need to know when this will support field hockey? (surely 2D-radar & heatmaps should work easily?)
- There aren't any manuals online - small thing but always bothers me
- The page listing the current v1 Platform and videos is littered with "video not found" - yes I know the future is v2, but v1 is still current, and web quality issues like this are always somewhat unnerving.
- Some of the initial functionality will require cabled Ethernet not Wifi initially, with a software update planned before year end https://support.veo.co/en/articles/5453070-veo-cam-2-f-a-q
I'm also looking to see what Veo do for their existing v1 camera owners re hardware upgrades/trade-ins and contract options, as this is a good indicator of a companies' approach to their customers...
At this point I've not mentioned costs, you can see the Veo 2 pricing here https://uk.shop.veo.co/pages/pricing - assuming a 'club' subscription with analytics & live streaming it's circa £1000 per year subscription, and £1000 for the initial hardware - so not trivial but equally a viable cost for many clubs if you're using it well.
Do I want to get hold of a Veo 2 and do some field trials with hockey, very much so! Lets see what happens next...