Taking decent skiing videos for analysis.

If you’ve ever been to a dance or yoga studio, you’ll notice there’s always a wall covered with mirrors. Now besides catering to the narcissist inside all of us, the mirrors serve as instruments of feedback and self-correction.

Matt's like a mirror image of Charli. If you squint ...
The guy might actually feels like he’s doing
what the instructor is doing, till he looks in the mirror. 

Yoga instructor : “Class, make sure your hips are square with your shoulders”.

 Me thinking to myself:  “They feel square. Very square in fact. Let’s have a look. Whoa…they are sooooo far from square”.


When learning a new skill or movement, our body and brain have yet to make the necessary connections to determine correctness. It takes time and practise to build familiarity. In the meantime we need mirrors to tell us whether its enough, too much or just plain wrong. Skiers need mirrors in the initial stages of learning a movement too. The closest thing we have is our shadow on a bluebird day. But we really shouldn’t be looking down either. That’s where video comes in.


Before I delve into how to analyse your own skiing, you will first need to capture good footage that can actually be analysed. And it’s not as straightforward as most would think. (“C’mon…you go out, press record and point. What else is there to it”).


The camera itself – You’ll need a small digital video camera that has a responsive zoom control and an optical zoom rate of at least x10. Keep it in an outside pocket for ease of access. An attached lens cap makes it a lot easier as well. A skier dropping a lens cap on a slope can be an interesting sight to watch.

Weather conditions – You don’t really need bluebird days to video. Clear visibility (read no fog) will do. As long as it’s not blizzard conditions, you don’t have to cancel a planned video session just because conditions aren’t perfect. We’re not filming for a Warren Miller ski film. Its just for your own ski improvement.

Good way to keep gloves
dry when filmiing.



Gloves – Take off both gloves for better control and feel of the controls. Film in short durations though. Your hands will get cold really fast and become numb. You’ll then start having difficulty with the controls. If it’s snowing, put both gloves through your pole handles to stop them from getting wet.


Click out of skis – When it’s possible and convenient, being out of skis gives you more stability and range of movement. Especially if you want to catch a side and back view as they ski past you. Don’t try clicking out it in powder or bumps though.


Film steady – It goes without saying but try to keep a steady shot on the skier. It’s not easy having to analyse a video that will give you head spins just by looking at it. Most video cameras these days don’t have a viewfinder any more. So when you’re filming, keep your eye on the skier through the screen NOT the skier themselves.

 
Start zoomed out and then locate the skier – It can be really difficult to find a particular skier on a crowded slope. It’s quite embarrassing to film a skier and then realise that it isn’t your mate until they’ve skied pretty close to you. You’ll then be desperately trying to locate your mate who is now probably very close to you while you’re in a zoomed in mode.
 
Press record then wave – Once you’re located the skier, press record (and make sure it’s recording!) and then wave to signal that they can start skiing. Mountains really aren’t a conducive place to communicate by shouting at each other. Oh and keep your eye on the screen when you wave. It’s really easy to lose a skier on screen when you make any big movements.

When recording multiple skiers, keep the video going – It’s just easier to find a particular skier later on when analysing. And because you’re not constantly pressing the record button on and off, you don’t risk the chance of accidentally not recording a skier. Remember your hands are in sub-zero conditions and will start to lose sensitivity pretty quick. Just wave again when you’re ready.

 

Always stand in the middle of a skiers line – When you analyse a skier, you need a central view of both left and right turns. If you stand to one side, you’ll only be able to analyse one turn. And don’t bother filming from behind. If snow spray doesn’t obscure the skier, terrain undulations will.


The skier should occupy at least 50% of the frame – If you have a good zoom lens, you’ll be able to capture quite a large frame of the skier even before they start. It’s really difficult to analyse body movements and what not when they are but a speck on the screen.

 

Despite good conditions, this video is not very useful for 
skier analysis as it is taken from the side and the skier is too small.
 
Zoom out slowly but zoom in fast – As the skier approaches you, smoothly zoom out to let them stay in the frame. As they speed past you, zoom in quickly to make sure they stay large in the frame.
 
Narrate at the start of the video the movement or exercise – A good habit is for the skier to tell the person filming what particular aspect of skiing they are working on and on what type of run. The person filming can then narrate that movement at the start of the video. This will serve as clear comparisons later on when analysing. For example;  “This is John, working on speed control in his short turns on a black run”.


Keep quiet when filming – After the narration, it’s my advice to the person filming that they keep very quiet. A camera’s microphone picks up everything and plays back everything a lot louder. So anything you mutter under your breath will be amplified. ‘That was s#@t’ or ‘What is she doing??’ comes out pretty loud and clear when you’re all watching together for the analysis session later. Just some advice that I think might save the marriage. Or at least prevent a night on the couch.

 

After wrongly filming 2 skiers, the 3rd skier, who is the actual subject, is captured for 2 turns only. 
But every sound from the person behind the camera was captured 🙂
 

As the skier being filmed – Ski towards the person filming and always stop below them. It’s really not cool and quite dangerous to spray snow on them with a massive hockey stop. Also, stay focused and concentrate on the particular movement or drill you’re working on. I’ve seen many a skier feeling stage fright. When the video camera comes out, they choke. A good tactic to avoid this is to have the frame of mind of, ‘I’m not being filmed to ski at my best’. It’s not an exam or an audition. The video is a tool to find the flaws in your skiing. Like one of those magnifying mirrors that are used for the face, you’re not using it to find anything pretty. The end result of course is really quite the opposite.

It can really slow down a ski day when you’re using video. There’s a lot of waiting around and getting cold. But bear in mind that the person filming you is slowing down their ski day as well and suffering cold hands just to capture you skiing. If you’re lucky enough to have access to two cameras, both of you can take turns to video each other and it’ll save on passing cameras constantly. So always be thankful to the person filming you and try to return the favour sometime.

I’ve said it before, skiers are vain people. We love looking at ourselves. So much so we wish we had a mirror everywhere we go. But since we can’t, we just have people film us everywhere we go. Now we’ve got a legitimate excuse to do it.


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