Video Connects Exercise Scientists to Olympics

Video Connects Exercise Scientists to Olympics

11/20/2014 

From a baby’s crawl to a golfer’s backswing, the biomechanical work that inspires a group of SUNY Cortland students proves seemingly endless.

Luckily they’re well trained with a popular movement analysis software — one that has connected SUNY Cortland with the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, Colo. The technology support team that works with the nation’s top athletes entrusts the College’s aspiring exercise scientists to manipulate and analyze video for USA Fencing, an informal partnership that eventually may lead to a unique internship program in the future.

“What we’re doing now is a lot of database work and categorizing for them,” said Andrew Branca, a junior exercise science major from East Setauket, N.Y.

Branca and senior Melissa McKeveny serve as officers of the College’s Dartfish Club, a group with approximately 40 members who share an interest in movement of the human body and innovative technology used to capture it.

SUNY Cortland’s relationship with Dartfish Ltd., an international software manufacturer, has existed for more than 12 years. And during that time, the College has been gifted more than $1 million in software and services.

“We actually have the largest undergraduate program developing Dartfish-certified people in the world,” said Jeffrey Bauer, a professor of kinesiology and an expert when it comes to implementing digital technology in the classroom. “We’re the best at what we do.”

On a most basic level, Dartfish allows users to capture, analyze and share videos in innovative ways. The SimulCam feature, for instance, offers a way to overlay videos to provide easy visual comparison of complex movement sequences. It’s used at the NFL Draft Combine to compare the 40-yard dash trials of football’s top prospects.

Dartfish weights

SUNY Cortland exercise science students use Dartfish
to capture a range of human movement activities,
from a baby’s crawl to a weight lifter’s technique.

Prominent users — there are roughly 35,000 across the globe — include professional sports teams, NCAA Division I athletic programs and nearly every Olympic body in the world. And then there is a clinical application to the physical therapy and occupational therapy fields.

“I’m already a personal trainer and I want to be a strength and conditioning coach as well,” Branca said. “I think that (Dartfish) is something that will set me apart rom the other people in my field.

“You can tell a client anything. But when they actually see video analysis of it, it’s likely to click that much more.”

McKeveny, an exercise science major from Holbrook, N.Y., hopes to pursue research in the biomechanics field after she graduates. Like Branca, the Dartfish technology was new to her when she started at SUNY Cortland. Now she uses it almost daily.

“We went from just being technical support for the Sport Management Club to working with the Olympics,” she said. “It’s a big deal.”

The student members of the Dartfish group work closely with Mounir Zok, the senior sports technologist for the U.S. Olympic Committee. They receive raw videos of fencing matches and they’re expected to trim the clips and tag them with keywords that allow for easy analysis.

“We send Mounir the video, we wait and then he tells us if he’s happy with it,” McKeveny said.

But their work with the software is more than just an easily learned task; it’s a marketable skill. Users can pay to obtain Dartfish certification. If they pass the exam, they receive access to a Dartfish video channel reserved exclusively for the certified community.

“It's sort of like LinkedIn,” Bauer said. “It puts them out there with a video résumé and it introduces them to others in the field.”

SUNY Cortland already has sent Dartfish-trained graduates to Colorado Springs for internships, and Bauer hopes to send even more students.

“The club allows for continuity,” the professor said. “(Students) have an ‘in’ with Mounir, he knows their names, and they don’t have to be trained.

“For them to be able to put the Olympics on their résumés, that’s pretty special.”

StroMo
The StroMo feature unique to the Dartfish software allows for image and video
capturing similar to the jumping sequence shown above.


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