Thursday, July 30, 2020

Playing with the Pivo

So, as I mentioned on Monday, I sold my Pixio and opted to replace it with something that was a bit more suited for the way I have time to deal with media: the Pivo Silver. Funny enough, someone asked me about the Pivo last year, but that was back before they started heavily marketing it to equestrians. At the time, she got one (a Red), and while it did an okay job of tracking you on a 20m circle if you rode around it at a walk or trot, that was pretty much it. Obviously now they have made LEAPS and BOUNDS of progress. I'm not here to sell you on the product or teach you how to use one. I'm just here to talk about my experience with it :) I will say Amanda's First Impressions post was super helpful in terms of managing expectations and setting yourself up for success, as well as spending a lot of time in the Pivo Horse Riding Community group on FB. If you expect this to perform like a Pixio or Soloshot at a fraction of the price, you'll be disappointed. That's not how the technology works.
Unrelated photo from Tuesday... It was misty and weird and it almost looked like a rainbow was ending in my back pasture? 
So understanding the limits of this particular technology, and also my own penchant for NOT BEING GOOD AT TECHNOLOGY (see, the 80% of user-caused errors when I first started trying to use the Pixio), when it arrived Monday I charged it up and started playing with it. I am using my old Pixel 2 to film (which I replaced due to a cracked screen and diminishing battery life), while I keep my Pixel 3 on me to sync with the Equisense (and also call for assistance should I become... er... lawn darted/incapacitated/need emergent help for whatever reason). I goofed around with the Pivo and my old Pixel 2 in the garage first, having it track DH (and our neighbor) while they worked on some truck repairs... then I took it out to the arena and threw Ruby out there (I pulled her in from the pasture, so ignore the grazing muzzle/fly mask) just to get a feel for it.
Crappy screenshot but you know, just testing!
Tuesday morning I was super stoked to ride Cinna and see what kind of footage I could get. I rode for about 25 minutes, and I'd estimate that it tracked us about 22 of those minutes. One time it lost us as we went down to the far side of the arena (and since we were traveling "away" from it, I imagine our shape wasn't recognizable as a horse), but I noticed it wasn't tracking so I just circled closer to it until it picked me up again, no sweat. The next time, it got distracted as we rode by Sam (one of our goats), so then it followed him for a while -- which frankly I found hilarious. He is boxy shaped, although not a horse.... haha.
Not a horse. But I can see why that's confusing!
While I was trying to get the settings right for video I accidentally took this picture and it made me giggle. She stood like this the entire time I was checking the settings. 

Super cropped off a screengrab, so not great quality. 
She wore my new Weatherbeeta ombre set so she could look FANCY!
Such a diva. 
I was a little less successful yesterday when I rode Ruby with it. I changed some settings and the location -- I started with the tripod near X thinking that might make following me down at the far end a little easier. Unfortunately, due to the time of day I ride, the sun coming up ended up blinding the camera any time I rode up one side, so it kind of gave up and stopped tracking me and just stared into the sun... lol. So I got off and moved it back to the corner, and it still struggled a bit. My arena set up isn't ideal for this (I'd rather have it outside B or E, but the view would be blocked by the fence), and I can't exactly control when the sun comes up/the angle it hits my arena at, so I'll have to keep doing some tinkering with both settings and tripod location! :) I also bought a little tripod with the bendy legs to try mounting it directly to the arena and bypassing the "normal" tripod, so that's another option.
The Pivo recording me taking a picture of Ruby, because she looked so darn pretty as I walked back to get on. 
I did use a white pad thinking that might make it easier to follow us, but I'm not sure that really helped.
It tracked me for a minute until it decided the tack shed must be a horse instead...
Riding back by to try to pick it up. 
I'm not sure what in the background there was so fascinating, but I have a lot of footage of it. 
It also hung out looking at the goat shed for a while. 
Trying unsuccessfully to convince it to watch me instead of the goat shed. 
It did finally follow me a little more towards the end of the ride as I was cooling her out. 
So... a mixed bag for my first two attempts :) I think Cinna is a lot easier for it to identify, so it makes sense it didn't struggle as much there. I have a "busy" background, so I'll have to keep trying different settings to see if I can get it to track Ruby more consistently.

I tried to make some GIFs but failed miserably so enjoy these little Youtube snippets!
Just some walk in our warmup. 
Cinna being amenable to my flopping around asking for a canter transition.
The supremely annoying camera shake it did in the beginning of Ruby's ride... I made sure the red box was on her (identifying her as the horse for their tracker), hit record, and then walked back to get on... and it just shook back and forth like this for a while. 
Generic, not exciting trotting

It lost me when I was way closer to the camera and then didn't pick me up again until I was circled allllll the way around, so you missed what felt like a really fun/great canter :)

Here you can see the issue I had with the angle of the sun blinding the camera...

So... some encouraging media, some discouraging media, and a while lot of ideas to try again! :)


  1. I'm having a lot of similar issues and am also playing with tripod positioning based on the time of day I ride. It's nice to see/hear others having similar issues. I will say that with each update to the app, it really seems to get better. Still a learning curve for me, but I am really pleased with their efforts to improve upon it all. And hey, having blippits of media is better than having nothing, right?

    1. Yeah! I mean its nice if you have the perfect arena/background set up, always ride at a time of day when the sun's position isn't a problem, and a phone that plays super nice with the app (cough, looking at iPhones, even though I hate them), but for those of us who don't have that trifecta... it's a little trial and error! :) But after reviewing the footage I usually am able to figure out WHY it didn't work, and try again. You're right though, the fact that they are SO invested in the continued improvements is what sealed the deal for me -- I loved my Pixio but spending time in the group troubleshooting made it pretty clear the manufacturer was pretty apathetic to resolving any of the pretty common issues. Which for a unit that cost about 5x what the Pivo does, was pretty troubling!

  2. I've gotten the bouncing once or twice, but I just read that could be a result of using predictive follow. So maybe try without that on. Also, while initially starting it up, I think it will help to have her closer so it can really lock on to her.
    It's a super fun tool, and despite needing to play around a bit to find the right settings on a given day, I think it's a lot easier to use than the Soloshot. Just not quite as reliable at following (understandably).

    1. I've never used predictive follow, so that's not what's causing the bouncing here. I've tried locking it on her when it's closer and it still lost her frequently.

      But yes, fun tool, and I'm not mad about having to experiment to get the best performance out of it. I never tried to use the Soloshot, but I know this is INFINITELY less fiddly than the Pixio I sold, which is a win in my book. No, it doesn't track as reliably, but like you, I get why, so I just keep trying! :)

  3. I've also been amused at the things it gets distracted by. It was amazed by our arena gate the other day, and then our ancient Haffie pony who roams free during the day wandered over to graze outside the ring and it had way more fun staying on him instead of me.

    1. The goat I totally understood... but I'm still a little baffled by it's fixation on buildings?
      Especially when I repeatedly ride between it and the building and it just ignores me... lol.

      Right now I'm riding during the day and the horses are on night turnout (so they're stalled while I ride), but once they're back to day turnout and I ride during the day, I'm going to have to be careful where I place the camera so it doesn't film them in the background instead of me riding!

  4. It's amazing the technology that people come up with!

    1. It really is fascinating that they can create an app that can "look" through your camera and decide what is and isn't a horse and follow it around haha. Like yes, sometimes it's not right, but damn... I still remember life before cell phones were everywhere and now this? What a time to be alive! (today I'm saying that seriously, since most of the pandemic I've been muttering that sarcastically)

  5. Do you prefer pixio or pivo? I am trying to decide which brand to go for. Hoping for insight since you had both. Thanks.

    1. A lot of it depends on your budget, your riding space, and your purpose for the footage. In terms of the way I have time to process media and not having so many fussy things to charge, the Pivo is easier for me, and the price point is much more palatable. However, now that my horses are back on day turnout, I get a lot of footage of them eating hay in the background instead of the horse I'm riding 🤦‍♀️ ultimately I'm happy with the choice I made to sell my Pixio and get a Pivo instead, but the woman who bought it off me is equally thrilled (because she has different goals for her footage).