Guest Article written by Dan White, Bristol
I have been fortunate to have access to both the Hi-Pod and Endzone video systems during my time as a video analyst. The purpose of this article is to compare the two systems in all areas of use from my personal opinion and to help people, who may be considering purchasing either of the systems, make a decision to which one is better suited for their needs.
The first thing to be considered is the size of the systems. The Hi-Pod comes in at 31ft which is 6ft taller than the Endzone which is 25ft. Both systems give a great view to film from even though the Endzone is shorter it still gives a good perspective on the area being filmed. The additional height on the Hi-Pod does however make it more difficult to transport. The Hi-Pod breaks down into two sections, the telescoping tube (Dimensions approx. 220cm x 30 x 30) and the base section (Dimensions approx. 120 x 50 x 40). These both go in individual cases to be transported with the telescoping tube being awkward to fit into a standard UK or European sized 5-door car. The Endzone stays as one part which slots into a custom made box which has wheels for easy transport (Dimensions approx. 210cm x 35 x 40). The Endzone box is shorter than the Hi-Pod telescoping tube case. This allows the Endzone to be transported in the back of a small European 5 door car.
Hi-Pod have also recently released a case for this purpose however I have not seen to be able to comment on this.
The set up and taken down of the systems probably shows the greatest difference between the systems.
Connection of main parts: When setting up the Hi-Pod the telescoping tube is lifted above the base and slotted into position, this can often be challenging if setting up on your own especially if you’re not the tallest of people. The Endzone however is simply taken out of the box and is ready to set up.
Securing the legs/Stability: The Endzone has 3 legs which simply slide into position automatically locking in place with push bolts. In comparison, the Hi-Pod has 4 legs which have to unbolted, extended, re-bolted, screwed tight and security locked, which takes significantly longer than the Endzone. When looking at the stability of the two products I would defiantly say that despite having only 3 legs that the Endzone feels more stable and balanced than the Hi-Pod when they are both fully extended. The Hi-Pod does have a spirit level attached to help you level it, where the Endzone is done via eye.
Attachment of camera: Again the systems differ greatly, with the Hi-Pod the camera has to be screwed into the cradle at the top of the telescoping tube which can be a challenge without something to stand on to reach the cradle (approx 6 ½ foot off the floor + cradle doesn’t detach). The Endzone however uses a system much like a traditional tripod where you screw the camera into a plate which is then simply slotted onto the camera mount which is the tightened. There is even a safety mechanism so if you didn’t tighten the camera plate properly the camera cannot slide off as there is a push bolt which clips in when the camera plate is slid on. With regards to the cables running from camera to screen; both Hi-Pod and Endzone operate with a similar cable which allows AV and remote control in one cable to be connected into the screen and controller.
Screen Attachment: On the Endzone the standard 7 inch screen screws into place on a platform with one screw and the battery just slides into the back just like a camera battery would do on a camera. The Hi-Pod has 9 inch screen which slides onto a single bracket which is then tightened into place. The major difference here is the power for the Hi-Pod screen which comes from a large battery which is in a separate bag which can be worn around the waist or placed on the floor. The Cable connecting the screen and battery also connects to the remote control and AV cables. One thing that the Hi-Pod does have is a sun visor for the screen which can attach with Velcro as the screen does suffer when the sun is shining brightly, where the Endzone screen doesn’t really suffer as a result of the sun. With regards to the adjustability of the screen the Endzone screen is fixed so unable to move. The Hi-Pod screen is more flexible with it being attached to an arm of the main console allowing you to position the screen at a comfortable angle as well as the height of the screen which can be adjusted.
Raising the systems: Probably the biggest difference here , the Endzone uses a crank system which makes life very easy! Simply crank the Endzone up to the required height and then lock the security catch. In comparison, with the Hi-Pod you have to slide each individual section up and locking each section and bolting for extra security. This is slightly challenging if you’re not 6ft plus where something to stand on is required. Raising and lowering of the Hi-Pod is made slightly more difficult in wet weather due to lack of grip.
Camera Tilt and movement: This again differs largely between the two systems with the Hi-Pod using a cradle and cord system and Endzone using one piece of cable. The Endzone is the simpler of the two as you connect the cable from the controller which runs direct to the camera tilt plate. When the camera is at desired height simply lock in place and you are ready to tilt with a lever. The Hi-Pods cradle is controlled by pieces of nylon cord which hang either side of the cradle coming down into a handle where they are clipped in place. This is sometimes a little tricky to get it set at the correct angle and if not set up perfectly can be a bit of battle to control during a long match. With regards to ease of movement the Endzone is the smother of the two systems as it turns with much less effort than the Hi-Pod.
One handed Vs two handed: One major advantage that the Endzone has over the Hi-Pod is that you can do everything with one hand. The tilt control level has a remote control built in making it easy to zoom, tilt and turn with one hand. The Hi-Pods tilt control being a handle which is rotated to tilt this means that you have to use the remote control in the other hand. The plus side to having a free hand is that you can tag the game live, saving you time in the long run and also being able to feedback to coaches at half time or immediately after a match.
Waterproof kit: When filming in the UK this is a key aspect of any kit for a video analyst. The Endzone waterproofing kit is very well thought out and comes as standard. It contains a cover for the camera, the screen and the tilt control which are all custom made and fit perfectly. Hi-Pod also offer a waterproofing kit which also consists of a camera cover, remote cover, battery cover and a screen cover however it looks cheap in comparison and does not fit as well as the Endzone kit.
In terms of price the Hi-Pod has recently slashed their prices, making it more affordable and a similar price to that of the Endzone.
Endzone price: $5,999 (remember shipping, taxes and duty will apply)
Hi-Pod Price: $5,150 (remember shipping, taxes and duty will apply)
Both come with travel cases, but the camera choice is up to the purchaser (ie you can use existing cameras if you have something suitable) – likewise battery choice is down to the customer
Overall I would say that the Endzone is the better system, it just seems to be a more thought out and is easier to set up, use and transport. That’s not to say that the Hi-Pod isn’t worth considering as it gives you extra height and would be suitable for a relatively fixed venue. Both systems give you great elevated shots that are far superior to any scaffolding tower that I have seen in my time as a video analyst.
A big thanks to Dan for writing this article. A lot of time and effort went into it. If people have any of there own experiences of using these or similar systems leave a comment below.
Dan White: Dan graduated from UWE Bristol with a degree in psychology and sports biology. Dan is currently an academy analyst with Bristol City (2 years). Dan also works as an analyst with UWE working with many of the University Sports teams.