VEO vs Trace - Product Review
In the last 2 weeks, I've had the opportunity to use VEO camera for the first time, recording matches and training sessions, and I figured it would be a great opportunity to compare it to another system that I've used this season called Trace.
Both have their positives and negatives, and I think comparing each and what they offer might be helpful for coaches and programs who are considering utilizing an automatic video recording system. Having access to the video has been absolutely invaluable this season.
Full disclosure and disclaimer: I have NOT been paid by either company, and I do not have a partnership with either company. These are my own personal thoughts and do not represent the thoughts of my employer.
I'll break the categories for review into the following and score each out of 10.
1. Ease of Use
2. Video Quality
3. Upload/Storage Process
4. Analysis Tools
6. Price Point
1. Ease of Use
Before we go into this topic, a quick overview is probably needed of each system. The Trace system involves 2 GoPro cameras that are positioned at the halfway line. Each player is given a "Tracer" (a two inch GPS tracker) which they put in a sleeve that wraps around their shinguard.
I've never worn one, but players have told me they really don't notice it when they're playing (unless it falls out).
To set up the Trace system, you really need a video coordinator (parent volunteer), or an assistant coach, because there is a 6 step process that has to happen before the game starts.
You have to set up the tripod, turn on the Trace Case, make sure the Tracers are blinking indicating they are working (if they aren't blinking, they aren't charged or there's a problem and they won't gather GPS data or player moments), distribute the Tracers to your team and then hit start tracing (which will start automatically when the game kicks off, based on the time you entered in their app).
This process is definitely time consuming and requires the help of an additional person, which makes difficult to use Trace for a training session, because of how many steps are needed to get started.
That's not to say that you can't Trace a training session, but it would definitely require some help.
This process does give you more data and ease of use later on, which I'll talk about in the following sections.
For the VEO Camera, it also uses dual cameras which are slightly bigger than the two GoPros. The camera is set up on the halfway line on a tripod. To initiate the recording, you turn on the camera, connect to the camera's WiFi, go to cam.veo in your mobile web browser and tap the "Start Recording" button, and press the button again when the game is over.
This process is very easy and takes less than 30 seconds, which means it's ideal for recording training sessions.
The only thing I don't like about the process is I have to manually start the recording, instead of selecting the start time of the game like Trace, which means I have to have my phone out with me when the game starts (which can also be challenging if the camera is set up on the opposite side of the field, based on where the sun is, as the WiFi won't reach that far).
If VEO had an app where I didn't have to open Safari to navigate to cam.veo and if it had an auto start recording button, I'd give it a 10 in terms of ease of use.
EDIT: VEO now has a mobile app on iOS which makes this process MUCH easier. Once they add auto start, it's a 10/10
VEO: 8.5/10 9.5/10
2. Video Quality
The VEO camera shoots in 1080p in a panoramic shot. The frame rate is excellent and it looks really sharp. On a very wide field, it can be a little difficult to see what's happening on the opposite side, but you can always manually zoom in later when analyzing the video, a nice feature.
With Trace, the video is recording in 720p, which is helpful for uploading and saving as the storage size is smaller, but it doesn't look as sharp as it probably could given that this is 2020 and 1080p is really the standard for recording.
The frame rate is also a little choppy, especially when you download the raw file. You don't notice it as much when watching the game on streaming, but it's much more noticeable if you have the video on your laptop, which I typically do. I've compared the exact same video clips below from a game this weekend, so you can judge for yourself.
(The Trace tripod was set about 1 foot higher than the VEO tripod, but I didn't buy the highest available tripod on the VEO website).
3. Upload/Storage Process
Both Trace and VEO have the option to upload video over ethernet cable, but only Trace has the option to upload directly over WiFi, which is pretty great.
When the game is over, you plug the Trace GoPro cameras into the Trace box, and the game is automatically transferred onto the case and off of the cameras. The game is then uploaded from the Trace Box to the Trace server for processing.
This is a huge bonus when recording tournaments, or if your WiFi is not very fast, because as long as you plug it in and attempt the upload process, the recording is moved off of the cameras and onto the box, which means you can record the following day.
I may be wrong, but I believe you can record up to 3 games on the Trace cameras without running out of space (you can definitely do 2, but I've never attempted 3 in 1 day). The only thing you might need is an additional battery pack, in case the cameras start running low.
This is where the lower recording quality of 720p actually works in Trace's favor, as you can upload games in around 3-4 hours depending on your WiFi speed. On the Trace app, you can also see the upload speed and it estimates when it will be completed.
With VEO, the games seem to take much longer to upload (as I am writing this, I am still waiting for 2 games to finish uploading from this weekend, despite being plugged in all night), even through the ethernet cable. I've tried both at separate times for the same game and seen the VEO camera take between 5-8 hours for a game that took Trace 4 hours.
This makes sense given the higher video quality, but where this can become a problem is that you cannot delete the recordings of the game until after they've been uploaded to VEO's servers.
This means you need to get the recordings off of the camera before you can delete them to increase the storage to record more games.
Luckily, VEO cameras can record more than 4 hours of footage before needing to delete space, but if you are at a tournament with no WiFi and have multiple teams, you may struggle to get the games off the storage in time for the 2nd or 3rd day of games.
If you are recording 3 games in 1 day with VEO, you'll also definitely need to plug in the camera to recharge the battery, as there are no external battery packs available like the Trace batteries.
A workaround would be to buy an external power source that you can then connect to the camera in between games, but the battery should last long enough to record 2 games back to back with no issues.
The lack of a native mobile app with VEO also means you have to go to cam.veo via web browser and connect to the camera WiFi to see how the upload process is going
It won't tell you how many mbps the upload process is using (only the % of game uploaded), or the estimated upload completion time, which is disappointing.
4. Analysis Tools
VEO and Trace have much different offerings in terms of analysis, and both have their positives and negatives.
With Trace, when matches finish processing (usually in the morning after a game, as I believe a human has to manually initiate the analysis process), the game is broken out into the following moments:
Half 1, Half 2, Player Moments, Touch chains, Offensive third, Middle third, and Defensive third.
Each of these moments has a playlist of clips which you can then watch in order, or watch the entire game. You can also add these moments to your Trace iD as a coach (with a tag, although not custom, you have to choose from a preset list of tags, which is frustrating) to share with your team later on.
Players will receive stats automatically from the AI, which include distance covered, maximum efforts, stamina (which compares the # of sprints in first half to second half), top speed, and minutes played.
Players will also receive a heat map of the areas of the field where they were mostly involved, as well as a collection of all of their moments from the game. This makes it very easy for a player to go in and quickly watch all the times they were involved in the game, and go over those moments with me on the iPad at training.
The Trace mobile app is pretty user friendly in terms of watching the game on playback, skipping ahead to the right moment when discussing with a player.
How accurate is the data? I'd say it's pretty close, but the issue with GPS (this isn't just unique to Trace but all GPS systems) is due to the frequency of the signal, if a player quickly moves forward and backward, it could count that as the player not having moved at all.
We also use the Beyond Pulse HR belts, which track steps (not GPS) and I've found that a player who was listed as running 2.8 miles on Trace, recorded around 4 miles in steps on Beyond Pulse. If I was to guess, I'd estimate the right distance is somewhere in the middle of the two values.
When watching playback, you can see a radar view of all your players on the field, which is really cool, but without the opposing players on the radar, it's not as helpful as it could be. It is cool to be able to click on a player from the radar view and immediately pull up their Trace iD.
Like all technology, sometimes wonky things can happen, like a player sprinting 50 mph because the GPS signal didn't transmit properly, or players on the radar view not appearing where they are on the field.
Trace iD is an offering that VEO doesn't have, which is very cool and probably the future of sports recruiting, but as it is right now, it definitely has some serious drawbacks.
Trace iD is a profile page for the player where they can add any moment that they've been identified in from the Trace system, as well as all their stats (minutes, distance travelled, top speed). It even gives them a percentile compared to other players around the country in the same age group.
The objective of Trace iD is to be able to send this to a college coach and have them look through all player moments like a highlight video, and also access all full games and stats that have been recorded in the system.
While this is arguably Trace's biggest strength, it's also it's biggest weakness.
If a moment is missed by the Trace AI system, as of me writing this, you CANNOT go back in and add it yourself as a player. There is no manual clipping tool, only moments that have been identified by the AI. This also means that a moment that is longer than you want it to be cannot be manually reduced in time.
I've had multiple players on my teams who had goals missed by the system (they weren't identified as moments) and they couldn't add them to their player moments.
Even worse, sometimes the AI will pan away right as a goal is scored or in the case of my goalkeeper, a penalty saved. This is compounded by the fact that you can't go in and manually change the camera view like you can in VEO when viewing in interactive mode.
The other drawback is that if a GPS tracker for some reason wasn't working, all those moments will be lost and cannot be added to Trace iD. The game will also not appear on the player's Trace iD page, as the app will think that the player did not play in that game.
External games that were not recorded using Trace can also not be added to Trace iD. This means if a player has footage from high school which didn't use Trace, they'll likely need a separate highlight video to incorporate both sets of footage, making it less valuable to send the Trace iD to the coach.
Another issue is games cannot be removed from the player's page once they've been added. This is fine for college coaches who may want to see good games and bad, but for a player trying to make a very solid impression, sending the coach your Trace iD might include sending a game when you played awful, and it's something you'd rather they not see.
VEO does not have Trace iD type feature, but does have a more robust editing system. The system will clip the start and end of each half, any goals that were scored will be flagged on a timeline, and you can go in and create your own highlights. The trimming features works very similarly to Quicktime Pro's trim tool, and you can also add keyframes with graphics (circles, lines, arrows etc).
Keyframes can also be used to focus on a player away from the ball, or pan the camera if the AI picked up the wrong ball, which happens occasionally but isn't really an issue.
This is great for filming training, because even with multiple balls and games happening on the field, you can later go in and tell the camera to stay fixed on a certain part of the field, or use keyframes to follow a specific player or action that is happening.
When you identify a highlight, you can mention the players involved, and they will have access to see that highlight and be alerted to it. You can give players the ability to edit and view the video, or just edit.
I haven't gone into this too much, but I imagine you could give "homework assignments" where you give a certain clip time and ask players to analyze it and save it to the system. A lack of mobile app hurts this as a viable feature before training though. I've had trouble scrolling through video on my phone via web browser because my thumb couldn't touch the timeline properly.
The drawback with VEO's system is because the players are not wearing any hardware, it won't clip moments for them automatically, which means players will have to watch the game to find their involvements.
This can be both good and bad, as I think it's important for players to watch the entire game, but they may also be put off from doing it entirely because of the amount of time it can take.
It would be nice if VEO had the option to fast forward through the game (you can skip forward and back 15s, but not watch at 2x speed like you can on YouTube). This would probably make it easier for players to go in and watch the game quickly looking for their involvements.
VEO now has the option to watch the game back at different speeds (0.5x or 2x speed) straight from the browser, which is awesome!
VEO: 7.5 8.0
Here's where things get tricky for Trace. Because they offer more in terms of GPS, Player Moments, Heat Zones, Radar, Trace iD, as usually happens with technology, they are also more prone to bugs, and unreliability.
I've had issues shutting off the Trace software after the game has finished, which left me a little worried if the game had recorded or not. It does appear that even if you follow the steps incorrectly at the end, the game will still save and upload properly, but it's always a fear that the game would be missed. I did have an issue earlier this season where none of the tracers picked up at all.
The biggest issue with Trace is because you cannot access the raw, panoramic footage like VEO, if the Trace AI pans away from the goal and to the halfway line before a goal is scored, you can't go in and fix it and you're left without a goal.
This has happened at least a few times to me this season, not just with goals, but shots on target or penalty saves. I did contact support and they are very responsive, even alerting me when a game had not uploaded yet, but they said they weren't able to fix the footage to recover the goals and penalties that had been lost right now.
Hopefully this will be fixed in the future.
The other issue I've experienced with a few of the Tracers not working, or failing during the game and missing half of the data. Again, this wouldn't be an issue if players could create their own moments, but that's not available yet. About 2 months into the season, I've had 4 Tracers which stopped working, and with a team of 16 (they provide 20 tracers) we are still ok to move them around and not use the ones which have issues.
With VEO, because you always have access to the raw footage, even if the camera starts to follow a ball on another field, you can always go in and fix it manually.
The process of having a game saved is just starting and stopping the recording from the cam.veo page, and even if you forget to stop the recording, the game is always saved. It would be nice to be able to cut out half time (10 extra minutes of unused footage) like Trace does automatically.
6. Price Point
With VEO, you have to buy the camera ($799) and pay for a subscription, around $1100+ for the year for 1 team, plus $250-400 for a tripod, depending on which you pick.
With Trace, the Elite package which includes the camera, tripod, and yearly access to their server is $3300 for the year. So for 1 team, you're looking at...
VEO: $2200 - $2300
I'm guessing both have different prices depending on how many teams you purchase for.
With both Trace and VEO, I will be honest and say I don't know what happens if your subscription expires or you don't renew the next season.
I imagine you'd still have access to old recordings but not new ones, but I'm not 100% sure. I believe the Trace Camera and Tripod are leased, while the VEO camera and tripod are yours to keep, even if you don't renew the following season, although the camera is useless without the subscription.
Overall I like both products and using either would be an invaluable tool for coaches and players as it has been for us.
If editing and using keyframes is not your strength, then Trace with the moments automatically identified is probably a good option.
If you've got some small editing experience with Quicktime like tools or Final Cut Pro (like I do), then adjusting to VEO's editing software should be a very easy process.
- Easy set up
- High quality 1080p footage
- Access to raw footage
- Video editor with clipping and keyframe tool
- Easy export to mp4
- Custom tags for clips
- $1000 cheaper
- Upload speed
- No 2x Speed for Playback
- Can only offload games from storage with ethernet cable
- Mobile app not ideal for sharing at training
- Upload speed
- Storage Space for Multiple Games even without uploading
- Player moments clipped automatically
- Mobile app makes sharing at training easy
- WiFi Uploads
- Trace iD
- Percentile rank for stats for Players
- Only 720p
- Some frame rate issues
- No access to raw footage
- Missed moments / GPS errors
- No clipping tool
- All games are visible on Trace iD
- No custom Trace iD Tags