Video SDK: sports video analytics for Hockey Analysis, Slovakia

A few men watching hockey on laptop screens.

Hockey Analysis is a sports analytics application developed by Patrik Michnáč in Martin, Slovakia. We had a conversation about the key aspects of what video coaches do and how our Video SDK fits in.

What led you to building Hockey Analysis?

I studied information technology and worked as a computer programmer for almost 25 years. I started to get involved with the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation when Mr. Július Šupler gave me an opportunity to be a part of his staff as their first video coach.

At that time, I discovered that the existing applications in the market were not perfect, so I decided to create my own as a hobby. Initially, I didn't anticipate that someone would be interested in purchasing it. However, I currently work as a full-time employee at a large corporate company and continue to work for the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation. I still dedicate time to updating and maintaining the software I developed for the team.

What does a video coach do?

My role was to capture and mark video footage in order to provide specific practical information to help in the coaching process. During that time, my primary challenge was to figure out the proper way to accomplish this task since there was no existing software or similar solutions available. Most teams at that time didn't even consider the possibility of having a video coach. Also, the computing power and graphics capabilities were not advanced enough yet, so I started the process slowly and steadily, experimenting and searching for the right approach.

Video streaming a hockey game on a laptop

What was the logic behind the software?

The idea is I don’t want to just watch the games and do nothing. I want to capture every important moment. I want to gather as much information as possible by creating marks for important actions during the game. And not just timestamps, but also all the data that is relevant to this moment, such as who was on the ice, the positioning of players, and the context leading up to a specific action. Later I can filter and sort these actions or bookmarks and provide insights for the coach to use.

Who would be responsible for the input of this data during a match?

It's me. I'm watching the game that is being recorded in the background, and when specific events happen, I use the controls in my software to add marks, which are synchronized automatically with the video. So the job of the program is to simplify for the operator the process of capturing the events that are happening during the match.

We also do this as a team: the software provides a web interface that can be used by several people each focused on capturing a specific type of events.

Where does the video feed come from?

At most tournaments the feed is provided to us by the organizer. What I also do as a video coach is attend other games, because we will be playing with those teams later on. So I do scouting when other teams are playing and collect data our coach might use when preparing our team to play with those opponents. Now, because everybody knows this is some standard for us right now, the tournaments provide SDI feeds to video coaches of other teams to do the analysis.

Monitor laptop and tablet are on the table

What do you think your customers value in your software?

It is focused on hockey, customers like my software because it can provide specific information. Other products are usually generic and support multiple sports.

Also, because I’m a video coach, I often come up with improvements that come out of my own experience operating the software. As a developer, I know what I can do, while end users often don’t know how to explain to programmers what they want to do.

What does the Video SDK do in your application?

First of all, it allows me to play videos slowly, frame by frame. I can zoom in on the video and I can draw on the video. The SDK also handles video recording, export of video segments and text overlays.

What have you achieved with the SDK?

I think that the software would not exist without your SDK.

What features do you like most?

There are so many things… For example, what I like is how you handle the different capture devices. I can’t imagine doing this by myself, it's easy for me to just grab your component and enable all supported capture devices.

How would you describe our product?

It's an SDK, which gives you the opportunity to work with video in so many ways that you do not need any other SDKs. This SDK provides you with everything you need to work with video. And it covers not only video processing, but also the integration of capture devices, file recording and video overlays. It is also a frame-by-frame processing engine, which I like now and finally understand how it works.

See also