January 7, 2022

iPhone stopwatch to time choreography


I've seen freestyle design derailed, sometimes for months, because a rider can't film choreography or transfer it to me. Read on for instructions to troubleshoot every step of the process.

You don't need a technology degree to film and transfer your choreography. You only need a cell phone with a camera. The advice I give you applies to iPhone 13, but other versions of iPhone and androids will have similar features.

Time Your Choreography                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Have someone on the ground time the choreography before you commit to film. Nothing wastes more of your time than filming choreography which is over or under allowed time. Make sure your ground person understands exactly when to start and stop the timer. In freestyle, time starts when a hoof moves after the first halt. Time ends when the rider drops a hand in the final salute. Check your freestyle level test sheet for allowed time.

Press the "clock" app on any iPhone and you open a timer. Select "stopwatch" at the bottom of the screen. Press "start" to begin timing and "stop" to end timing. Press "reset" to try again.

Don't time or film your first run-through. It will be slower than subsequent tries. Trust me on this one.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Film Your Choreography

Film in a standard 20x60 arena. If your arena deviates from standard size by even 1 meter, you won't be able to sufficiently adjust the horse's striding to music in competition.

Flip the phone horizontally to film full screen. If the phone is vertical, you end up with a tiny horse in the middle of the screen and black bands on either side. If you follow no other guideline, follow this one. 

Stay zoomed in on the horse. With an iPhone, pinch your fingers together on the screen and then spread as you do to enlarge text. Footfalls and movement changes have to be clearly visible. If you trust your ground person to zoom in on the horse, film from "A" or "C." If not, film from "E" or "B."

Film the entire entry from the outside of the arena exactly as you plan to ride it in competition. Music will be edited to fit the entry as well as the freestyle. Make sure your ground person understands to start the camera at your designated entry point and not as the horse enters the arena at "A." It is safest to telegraph that location to the person filming by halting and raising a hand as you would in competition.

Film both halts and salutes exactly as you plan to ride them in competition. Don't take 10 seconds to mess around with the first halt when filming if you typically halt 3-5 seconds in competition. Judges don't want to listen to the birds chirp while waiting for the freestyle music to start after the halt.

Transfer the Video

Have a plan for video transfer before it becomes a crisis and hangs up your freestyle indefinitely. If you are intimidated by the very idea, make a short video of any subject and practice selecting and sending the video. You can send to your own email address from your phone as a test. If you read that instruction and still want to put your head in your hands and hide in a dark closet, find a teenager to transfer the video for you and skip the following instructions.

You cannot attach a large video file to an email. Do not even toy with the idea of breaking up the video into a million 10 second pieces and attaching to a gazillion separate emails. Your goal is to set up a link to full-length video. Ideally, your goal is to provide a link to high quality video and not super compressed video (more on that later).

Select the video (see photos below). You might press the video to check (select) or there could be a "select" button at the top of the screen. Press the "message" icon on the bottom left of the screen. Select "email" and not "text." An iPhone will set up a link within the body of a message as soon as you select email. Type or select a recipient address, fill in the subject line and a short message, and send. Transferring video directly from your phone preserves the quality. It might take me an hour to download and that is fine!

If you have WhatsApp or Telegram on your phone, you can use those apps to quickly send compressed video. The video will be highly compressed and harder to view on my end, but these apps are easy for a lot of riders to use.

To send a video file stored in your computer, you have many transfer options. I think using Google Drive is easiest. It's a free app and available when you click on the Google Apps icon on the top right of your computer screen after opening Google. Simply click on "Drive" and then click on "new" on the top left of the screen. Select and open the file from your computer. Select "upload" and load the file. There will be a timer at the bottom right of the screen; expect a large video file to take about 45 minutes or even a little longer to load. Once the file has uploaded, all you need to do copy/paste a link into an email message. Highlight and right click on the file in Drive to open a drop down menu and then left click "get link." Click on the drop down arrow next to "restricted" and change the setting to "anyone with the link." Left click on "copy link." Paste the link into an email message and send. And that's it. Easy as pie.

You can also use DropBox or WeTransfer to send videos stored in your computer. If you have experience with any transfer service, that will be the one to use. Avoid a learning curve if at all possible.

Select video to transfer choreography
Transfer choreography video via email