Nolo - thanks for the link.
Computerized video analysis software is the most underused potential improvement to ski instruction. There are two big huge benefits:
1) An effective means to introduce change in the victim's skiing
2) An effective means to improve an instructor's eye
I've been using a software package called NEAT for 5 years. It's also now available for $99. But their web site (www.neatsys.com
)was down the last time I checked. I've used the V1 package for golf and plan on ordering a copy as soon as my new PC (with a [cough] modern operating system) is up and running. I started with a Pentium 2 and 2GB of disk space. A $500 PC has more power and space these days. I use my software mostly for staff training.
Some might argue that using a computer is a waste of time versus using a VCR. Yes, it takes more time to digitize the video (i.e. get it on the computer) than to just play it back in the camera or on a VCR. But unless you have a high end VCR (i.e. the ones with a "jog shuttle dial"), your ability to do frame by frame analysis is pretty lame. With a computer it's much more time efficient in the analysis session to get to the section you want to look at and it's much more efficient to analyze. A top pro can see what he wants to see at full speed. Us mere mortals need to have things slowed down and often need to see the same clip several times to see what we need to see. For this the computer is far better than a VCR.
And a computer can do things that a VCR can not. The ability to draw reference lines helps one see banking, check hand height, etc. An angle tool let's you trace and exactly measure feet to hip to head angulation or ski angles in the snow. Digital flipping can turn left turns into right turns. And side by side comparisons (two clips moving at the same time, in synch) can help identify what moves to do when (this is especially cool when the reference "expert" is your own digitally flipped turn). One could argue that the drawing tools are mostly fluff, but they do help more than not having them. The side by side capability is extremely powerful.
Of course side by side analysis is much easier to do when you have a database of reference clips. I've been asking PSIA for support for this for years to no avail. I'm thinking that the recent price reductions in analysis software are going to strengthen my case. I've been building my own database of clips by purchasing tapes from events and digitizing the examiners. I'd love to share, but I can't without PSIA approval.
One of the non-obvious benefits of computer analysis is "eye training". Many less experienced instructors have trouble "spotting things" in real time. Using the computer to slow things down (and freezing frames) to show exactly where in a turn things occur and then replaying the clip over and over at slightly faster speeds helps the newbies learn to spot things in real time much faster than the old method (i.e. years of experience or time spent fumbling with the VCR remote)
Here are some tips for skiing movement analysis using computer video:
When you're taping skiers, you get better results having the skiers come straight at you keeping the camera man in the middle of the turns. Taping from behind does not show as much. Taping from the side can help to show alignment problems, but is not necessary most of the time. Taping while moving is difficult and usually results in too shaky a picture to digitize well. Straight on shots are the easiest to do side by side comparisons with.
Use a wave, delay and go hand signaling system. When the camera man waves, the skier who is going to go next should wave, count to 3 and then go. Before the camera man waves, he should zoom out a little. The hand waving knocks the camera around a bit. The count to 3 delay gives the camera man time to steady the camera, acquire which person out the group is coming next, then zoom in to optimum size before the skier starts moving.
The skier should stay at least 25 feet away from the camera man. Any closer is hard to tape and increases the chance of heart failure in the camera man.
Select relatively flat terrain (versus moguls) so you don't lose the feet. Pick your starting and ending points between rolls in the trail.
Keep the victim about 1/2 the size of the viewfinder for best tradeoff of ability to keep framed and big enough on screen to see details.
Medium size turns are the best for analysis unless you are specifically working on something. For large turns, keep the skier a little smaller (zoom out more) and leave more space in front of the skier in the picture to make it easier to keep the skier in the picture.
You only need to tape 4-5 turns. 10-15 seconds is a long clip.
It does not matter if someone makes good turns or bad turns. It is hysterically funny to compare "good" turns to "bad" turns. The same fundamental movements are going on either way.
Buy a telephoto lens to increase the optical zoom. Digital zoom decreases the detail that can be seen.
And as much as I make jokes about the "victim", it's important for video analysts to point out the positive aspects of what they see. Everyone naturally jumps to the negative things. After a lot of practice, I make most of my sessions about 50/50 on what is working well versus where improvements can be made.
If you have not tried out computer video analysis software, make a New Year's resolution and just do it. You can download trial versions of analysis software for FREE. You've already got a computer. Camcorders are a dime a dozen. The only tricky part is getting the video on the computer. With digital camcorders it's stupid easy. With old style camcorders, you need to spend a minimum of $50 to get the hardware you need. If you need help, just PM me.