Walking and Ideas. Also Basketball.

by Nate St. Pierre on August 14, 2011

Most of my ideas come while walking, or while in the shower. Now that I typed that sentence out and am sitting here staring at it, however, I think I understand it a little better. It’s probably not the walking or the showering that’s key, but the fact that my body is active, yet on autopilot, thus feeling productive while still allowing my brain the freedom to play around with ideas.

So I was walking today (2 miles running, 4 miles walking, and basketball upcoming, w00t) and thinking about basketball tonight, so I decided it would be cool to be able to see your own personal highlight reel of all your best plays. And I don’t mean if you’re being scouted for college, or you actually are a college or pro player. I mean for all the rest of us regular folk.

So how would you make that happen? Well, no one’s gonna follow you around with a camera, so it has to be in a controlled environment, like your local gym or athletic club. Probably a bit higher-end, too, since this would cost a bit. But picture this: multiple cameras on the court, capturing a few angles. They start running when the game starts. There’s some kind of identification device on the rim, the ball, and the players (possibly RFID tags?), so that a notation is made in the video every time the ball goes through the hoop, and every time a person touches the ball.

At the end of the game, the video stops, and everyone goes home. The people who have signed up for the service get on their computer, log into their account at the gym, and go to the Basketball Video section. They see each game they were a part of, and choose the most recent one. Once in, they have the option to watch the game, either in whole or just the scoring highlights. They can choose any angle they want. Advanced options include a filter to see only their own scoring highlights. The system can filter this because it references the database and pulls out any instance where the ball went through the rim and a specific person was in contact with the ball in the previous three seconds.

Our user can select the plays and the angles he wants, and choose to save them as a new video or onto an existing one (the personal highlight package he’s building). Music options available too, of course. Doesn’t seem too difficult in theory to build something like this, but I’m certainly no expert. I’m putting it in the pile, though – I think it’d be fun to figure this out, and also really cool to have access to it personally.

If anyone has any kind of expertise on this, jump on in. Or maybe you just want to play around with the idea a little bit. Either way, I’m down.

  • Hey, Nate.  I saw something similar to this at a military dog-and-pony show.  They used strategically placed cameras to shoot surveillance.  There was some kind of sensor that pinged the cameras but focus was an issue.  If I shot myself, I’d probably have to have 3 cameras for  a long shot, medium at the hoop and maybe a close up at the rim.  The rest is all edits.  Ironically, I’m shooting a softball game tonight and have been thinking about how I’d shoot those angles by myself with two cameras. (If my son were here, I’d just pay him to take the extra camera. 🙂

    • Agreed that focus, etc would be an issue, but only if you’re trying to an NBA-style coverage, and make everybody (or the piece) look really good. I’m just talking about the whole-court view, like you would get from the stands at a college-prep school when putting together recruitment video for scouts (another potential application of this system).

      • You know, it could be as easy as linking existing systems like VTC cameras, RFID/motion capture, and then a human editor with pre-set timelines.  Half of the folks I know wear chips that track running routes/rates in their Nikes.  A programmer may be able to add something to the existing platform in the shoe, ball or jersey.  

        I liked Josh’s link, though, and would LOVE to see  that applied to a biological survey of certain species. (Colony insects, to be precise.)  

        I think a whole-court view from a center-court light above the action with a wide angle lens can be effective enough to track the  action.  I think closer shots are just best left as hand-held by a buddy.  They can track you specifically and zoom intuitively.

  • Not related to your video idea, but you should check out a guy named Haralabos Voulgaris. He is a professional sports better who focuses on the NBA. His method is very data driven and developed a system which can tell what player, given being defended by another player, given a certain spot on the court is likely to score, pass, etc. etc.(http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/4974/following-up-with-haralabos-voulgaris). 

    Would be cool if you could see stats like that against people you play against and then use your video idea to visually analyze your patterns in a given situation and learn how you can improve/ widen your game.

    • Checking it out now…

      And you’re right, this idea could be have natural extensions into competitive analysis in areas like high school sports, where the coaches/players don’t have access to a cheap and easy system to put together video packages.

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