Live Streaming vs. SwimClips

I get asked this question all the time – does SwimClips offer a streaming option? While we have considered developing a streaming option and have it on our long-term roadmap, we have not prioritized streaming for several reasons. Before I get into the reasons, let’s discuss what Live Streaming is and how it’s different from SwimClips.

Live streaming is any system that broadcasts video in real-time (or near real-time) over the internet while an event is underway. Typically, live streaming systems require one or more manual camera operators to either pan the camera back and forth to cover the action, or manually switch between different camera angles as competitors move through their races. There are many live streaming technology providers out there – some that are more focused on swimming include Swiss Timing’s StreamLine system as well as LiveBarn.

SwimClips is an asynchronous video service – video is captured during the swim meet from multiple cameras all continuously recording, and personalized, multi-camera videos are assembled automatically after the meet concludes – typically within 12 hours of the close of competition each day.

Live Streaming and SwimClips offer quite different value propositions to swimmers and fans, and actually can be quite synergistic. I have operated SwimClips at many meets that were simultaneously live streaming.

Let’s go over the target audience, value propositions and Pros and Cons of each solution:

Live Streaming

  • Target Audience: Fans wishing to watch a swim meet, but are unable to attend live. Not appropriate for swimmers, coaches or parents who are at the meet live.
  • Value Propositions: Ability to watch a swim meet from anywhere – ideal for parents who cannot attend a meet, or relatives in different parts of the country
  • Pros: Real-time or near real-time broadcast of the swim meet – fans can follow the action as it happens
  • Cons:
    • Focus: With a camera operator controlling what the active camera is focused on, typically the swimmer in the lead will get coverage while the other swimmers can be out of view. Since there is only one camera view at any one time and only one view from each camera, it is up to the viewer to figure out which swimmer is the one they want to watch.
    • Timing: Parents or relatives in other cities who want to watch a race live need some way of knowing when exactly to tune in. If they miss the event, scrubbing through previous footage is time consuming and difficult
    • Internet Connection: a fast, reliable internet connection is required for streaming. If the Internet connection goes down during a meet, the live stream goes down. Not appropriate for swimming venues with poor cell phone coverage or wired internet availability.
    • VOD: While many streaming services also record the live stream to be watched later, it is usually quite difficult to find the exact event & heat to watch
    • Camera angles: Live streaming services typically have only one or two camera angles, and almost never under water, unless they have a control room with multiple camera operators and producers deciding when to switch between cameras
    • Lack of personalization: A recorded clip of a swim race will be the exact same video for every swimmer in that heat, and is not personalized at all with specifics about the target swimmer.

SwimClips

  • Target Audience: Swimmers, coaches and parents/relatives of swimmers – whether they are at the meet live or not
  • Value Propositions: Archive quality, personalized multi-camera videos specific to each swimmers’ races – with swimmers name, event, seed time and running clock in the lower thirds.
  • Pros:
    • Focus: Since every video is assembled specifically for each swimmer, the multi-camera video focuses on each swimmer with animated lane overlays, lane highlighting, and lower-thirds graphics with all relevant meet information
    • Timing: No need to tune in at any specific time – SwimClips videos can be shared with anyone after a meet
    • No camera operators needed: SwimClips cameras are aimed ahead of time and fixed in place throughout the meet – no camera operators needed.
    • No internet connection required during the meet. All video files are uploaded after competition concludes, and can be performed at a location with a fast connection.
    • Camera Angles: Since SwimClips automatically assembles videos from multiple cameras, any number of cameras can be used for a SwimClips meet. The most basic angles are:
      • Start Cameras: Cameras focused on the starting blocks and first ~15m of the race course. Animated lane overlays indicate who is swimming in which lane.
      • Field Cameras: Overhead cameras focused on the entire length of the pool. Lane highlighting focuses the audience attention on the target swimmer
      • Underwater Turn Cameras: Underwater cameras at the turn end of the pool, capturing the turn and underwater portion of the race
      • Additional camera angles offered:
        • Side Overview Cameras: Cameras on the side of the pool course covering the center portion of the pool. Lane highlighting focuses attention on the target swimmer. This is a particularly good angle for long course meets
        • Underwater Start Cameras: Underwater cameras at the start end of the pool, capturing the underwater portion of the start, as well as the turn and underwaters at the start end
        • Overwater Turn Cameras: Essentially start cameras at the turn end of the pool. These are used for single length events that start at the turn end of the pool (25yds for SCY and 50m for LCM). Can also be used as an alternative to the underwater turn cameras if desired. 
    • Personalization: Each SwimClips video is personalized for each swimmer’s race – with swimmer’s name, date, meet name and location, event being swum, seed/entry time, and running clock/final time.

The bottom line? Both solutions make sense, but for Swimmers, Coaches and Parents who attend the meets live, SwimClips provides them the memories of their race that they are looking for. Live Streaming is best suited to parents and relatives who cannot make the meet live and want to follow the action as it happens.

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