Introduction: How to Video Sports With a Phone

About: Brought to you by the Kuality Racing Team, we're the ones that put the 'K' in Kuality.
  • Phones need minimal interaction so you can watch the game while you record
  • Videoing is simple with a phone
  • Zoom is done with a screen tap so you are watching the game instead of fiddling with the zoom
  • Budget friendly (~$140 of equipment not including phone)
  • Water resistant, no dry box needed
  • No editing necessary
  • Sharing on the youtube is easy and viewers don't need to be tech-savvy
  • Only people you give the link to can view provides privacy
  • Sample video Galaxy S21 Ultra: Elevated Sports Video Camera Sample Galaxy S21 Ultra
  • Sample video Galaxy S10: Elevated Sports Video Camera Sample Samsung Galaxy S10

I have a second instructable on an elevated version of this system: https://www.instructables.com/Elevated-Sports-Video-Camera

Step 1: Equipment

Phone: A phone with 2x or 3x optical zoom, fast focus and good image stabilization is needed, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is my current favorite. I recommend getting a used one with screen burn or a dead pixel from ebay. Samsung Galaxy S10 is my second choice.

Recommended phones ranked, all were tested on soccer

  1. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: best soccer videos yet!
  2. Samsung Galaxy S10: fast focus and good image stabilization on both 1X & 2X lenses
  3. iphone XS Max: fast focus and good image stabilization on both 1X & 2X lenses. Con: no native pause function
  4. Google Pixel 6 Pro: best focus and good image stabilization. 2x is digital zoom, isn't sharp as the S10.
  5. Galaxy S9: fast focus and good stabilization. Lacks 2X lens, the digital zoom is not as sharp as the S10 or XS Max optical zoom
  6. iphone XR: fast focus and good image stabilization. Lacks 2X lens, the digital zoom is not as sharp as the S10 or XS Max optical zoom. Con: no native pause function

Not Recommended Phones

  • Galaxy S9+: The 2X lens does not focus well at least for soccer
  • Google Pixel 3: doesn't focus fast enough for soccer
  • Huawei P20 Pro: The 3x lens has poor focus and poor image stabilization.

This site helped me choose phones to test, I tried to find affordable phones with a high video score.

https://www.dxomark.com/rankings/


Stabilizer: Zhiyun Smooth 4 ~$100

It can handle large phones in high wind and has 1/4 inch thread


Tripod/Monopod: Recommended: Dolica TX570DS Ultra Compact Tripod with Professional Ball Head and Built-In Monopod (Black) ~$45.

Step 2: Swivel Mount & Pointer

For the Dolica a 1/4-20 coupling nut and a 1/4-20 screw are used so the stabilizer will spin smoothly. The head of a long 1/4-20 screw was cut off with a hacksaw. Two regular nuts are tightened against each other on the long screw to provide a stop when you screw it into the stabilizer. (Picture 2 and 3) I bought the longest coupling nut I could find at Ace Hardware, it's about 1-3/4" long. A long nut and screw minimizes the wobble.

Make a pointer out of legos. There is a 1x8 flat piece, a narrow hinge and a flat 2x6 flat piece that I attach to the gimble with a rubber band as per the picture. The pointer is pointed at the ball or leads the ball for fast kicks, that way you don't need to watch the screen as much. The hinge allows it to be adjusted to the correct angle.

Step 3: Gimbal Counter Weights for Galaxy S21


If you use the S21 Ultra you will need counterbalance weights for the gimble. Here is a counterbalance kit I designed that you can print with a 3d printer, or buy a counterbalance online.

Zhiyun Smooth 4 Counterbalance Kit

Step 4: Video Tips

Misc Tips

  1. In camera settings TURN OFF video stabilization (Test video quality turned out better overall with it off because stabilization causes a loss in resolution)
  2. Set video resolution to 1920x1080 30fps


Gimbal

There are only 2 controls on the stabilizer that are needed for sports. Set the 'Mode Switch Button', to 'PF' (Pan Follow). Use the top of the back trigger to put the stabilizer in 'PhoneGo' mode. PhoneGo locks the phone to the stabilizer which is good when the action is close to you. It's useful for nearby throw-ins or players running close to you. It is also good for adjusting the up/down tilt of the phone, hold down the PhoneGo trigger, tilt the stabilizer so the phone is at the correct angle (far sideline in the middle of the screen while using the 2x lens), and then release the trigger. Video should be set to 1920x1080 30fps, the files will be too big if you shoot 4K.

Set the pan speed for the stabilizer as high as possible, 120degrees per second for the Zhiyun Smooth 4, see video below.

BEST settings for Zhiyun Smooth 4 - The Ultimate Mod! - YouTube



Soccer Tips

If you can video from the coaches side so you can pick up the coaches instructions. The audio will help the players when they view the video. You will get better results if you are not shooting into the sun.

When to use the 1x lens

  • Ball closer than ~50ft
  • For nearby throw-ins don't worry about getting the thrower in frame, it's more important to video where the ball will likely land

When to use the 2x or 3x lens

  • Ball further than ~50ft
  • Most free kicks and goal kicks. I usually don't video the kicker, only where the ball will likely land.

Basketball Tips

  • Only extend one leg of the tripod making it a monopod.
  • Use the 'pan follow' button on the back to set the video frame right at the top of the backboard
  • Use the 1x lens if you are standing court-side
  • If you are high enough in the stands you can use the 2x lens the entire game, though it will take some work to keep the action in frame
  • Another option is to use the 1x lens when the players are spread out moving up the court and switch to 2x as they get closer to the basket

Phone Overheating!!!

On a ~90 degree day my phone was exposed to direct sunlight, overheated and locked up! My solution was to keep the phone shaded by a canopy or baseball hat brim.

Step 5: Prep and Share on the Ineternet

Prep for Internet Upload

The Galaxy S10 can record an entire game in one file. Use android app CX File explorer (free) (How to access your computer files from phone? |WIRELESSLY| 🔥🔥🔥 #AXT - YouTube) to wirelessly transfer the video to a computer and then upload it to youtube. CX File explorer is fast, I get 200 to 500Mbps transfer rates. Move the phone closer to the AP for best performance. Turn wireless back on the camera phone before file transfer.


Share on the Internet

Upload it with a free Youtube account. Change the privacy to 'Unlisted' so only people you give the link can view. If the upload stops for some reason, it can be restarted by trying to upload again, it should restart where it left off. I leave the videos on Youtube for a year and then delete them, they don't get many views after a few months. If someone wants copies I copy them to a usb drive.

Tip: If the uploads are crippling your internet connection, you can try to throttle your upload bandwidth if you use Chrome. I kept on playing with the setting while my teen was playing fortnite, I had to throttle it to 1000kbs (1Mbs) to make the lag go away. My total upload bandwidth is 5Mbs. How to: https://thegeekpage.com/limit-your-upload-speed-i...

Misc Tips

If your video gets stopped during the game and you have multiple parts, use the free Microsoft add-on 'Simple Video Trim and Merge' to stitch the parts together into one file. I've tried multiple video editing apps, this is the only free one I've found that is lossless.

If your video gets recorded vertically instead of horizontal, here's an easy fix.

ffmpeg -i C:\videos\bad.mp4 -c copy -metadata:s:v:0 rotate=0 c:\videos\good.mp4

Step 6: Optional: BIG Zoom/record/Pause Buttons S21 Ultra

These directions are for the S21 Ultra, the S10 directions are in the next step and slightly different.

Big white buttons (see first picture) make it easier to zoom and record/pause the video especially when your fingers are cold. Install a free macro app, 'Macrodroid'. Make 4 big buttons that will activate the small native 1x, 2x, 3x and toggle pause/record. The buttons are all white so they are easier to see. Refer to the screenshots and use the settings below. If you have a different camera phone or screen resolution, turn on developer tools and enable the screen overlay to determine the x & y coordinates of the native zoom buttons. Note: These buttons only work when the recording is in progress or paused because the native buttons move about 10mm to the right when recording. (note: the screen shots are from the s10, s21 screen shots will be similar.)

'Enable' Macro

Sometimes one of the zoom buttons will get inadvertently moved over the top of another button or disappear. This macro resets all macro buttons to their original positions by disabling and enabling each one, it runs at the end of the zoom macros every time just in case a button gets moved.

Triggers

floating button position x150 y50 (labeled 'Enable')

Icon: go into macrodroid, choose the biggest white dot

Actions

macros Disable macro 1x

macros Disable macro 2x

macros Disable macro 3x

macros Disable macro pause/rec

macros Enable macro 1x

macros Enable macro 2x

macros Enable macro 3x

macros Enable macro pause/rec


1x zoom

Triggers

floating button position x390 y520 (labeled '1x')

Padding 0, Opacity 100 (same for all buttons)

Icon: go into macrodroid, choose the biggest white dot

Actions

ui interaction click x1204 y390 (this is the position of the small native 1x zoom button in the camera app)

Macro Run: Enable (resets buttons to default positions)


2x (This actually does 1.7x zoom to make the zoom smoother, 1.7~=square root of 3) There is no button for 2x or 1.7x on the s21 ultra, you will need to do a 'gesture' macro to make the zoom slider pop out, then another macro step clicks on 2x on the slider, and then 1.7x is picked

Triggers

floating button position x530 y520 (labeled '2x')

Icon: go into macrodroid, choose the biggest white dot

Actions

ui interaction Gesture

Start x: 1204 start y: 390

End x: 1000 end y: 390

Duration 130ms

  • Block next actions until complete

wait 50ms

ui interaction click x1204 y390 (this is the position of 2x on the zoom slider)

wait 250ms

ui interaction click x1080 y380 (this is the position of 1.7x on the zoom slider)

wait 50ms

ui interaction click x800 y200 (this tells the phone to focus in the middle of the screen, only purpose is to turn off the zoom slider)

Macro Run: Enable


3x zoom

Triggers

floating button position x850 y520 (labeled '3x')

Icon: go into macrodroid, choose the biggest white dot

Actions

ui interaction click x1204 y330

Macro Run: Enable


pause/record toggle

Triggers

floating button position x1100 y520 (labeled pause/rec)

Icon: go into macrodroid, choose the biggest white dot

Actions

ui interaction click x1360 y420

Macro Run: Enable

Step 7: Optional: BIG Zoom/Record/Pause Buttons S10

These directions are for the S10, the S21 directions are slightly different.

Big white buttons (see first picture) make it easier to zoom and record/pause the video especially when your fingers are cold. Install a free macro app, 'Macrodroid'. Make 4 big buttons that will activate the small native 0.5x, 1x, 2x and toggle pause/record. The buttons are all white so they are easier to see. Refer to the screenshots and use the settings below. If you have a different camera phone or screen resolution set on the camera phone, turn on developer tools and enable the screen overlay to determine the x & y coordinates of the native zoom buttons. Note: These buttons only work when the recording is in progress or paused because the native buttons move about 10mm to the right when recording.

'Enable' Macro

Sometimes one of the zoom buttons will get inadvertently moved over the top of another button or disappear. This macro resets all macro buttons to their original positions by disabling and enabling each one, it runs at the end of the zoom macros every time just in case a button gets moved.

Triggers

floating button position x150 y50 (labeled 'Enable')

Icon: go into macrodroid, choose the biggest white dot

Actions

macros Disable macro 0.5x

macros Disable macro 1x

macros Disable macro 2x

macros Disable macro pause/rec

macros Enable macro 0.5x

macros Enable macro 1x

macros Enable macro 2x

macros Enable macro pause/rec


0.5x zoom

floating button position x550 y650 (labeled '0.5x')

Icon: go into macrodroid, choose the biggest white dot

ui interaction click x1174 y422 (this is the position of the small native .5x zoom button in the camera app)

Macro Run: Enable


1x zoom

floating button position x665 y650 (labeled '1x')

Icon: go into macrodroid, choose the biggest white dot

ui interaction click x1174 y360

Macro Run: Enable


2x zoom

floating button position x785 y650 (labeled '2x')

Icon: go into macrodroid, choose the biggest white dot

ui interaction click x1174 y300

Macro Run: Enable


pause/record toggle

floating button position x900 y650 (labeled pause/rec)

Icon: go into macrodroid, choose the biggest white dot

ui interaction click x1329 y422

Macro Run: Enable