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Benjamin Goldsmith; TJ Givens / Senior Staff Designer

Head coach Jim Engles was one of the first Division I coaches to use the video system, and helped bring the product to Columbia.

When former NBA commissioner David Stern walked into a men’s basketball practice this November, the first thing he noticed had nothing to do with what was happening on the court.

Instead, he asked about a small camera mounted on the ceiling, just above the top of the bleachers. Along with bringing in a new coaching staff and implementing a new offense, that camera, made by Keemotion, has been a crucial component of head coach Jim Engles’ eight-month tenure.

Founded in Belgium in 2012, Keemotion is an automated filming service that creates gameplay videos and allows for real-time tagging, as well as faster editing and distribution of footage. 

Most teams have to manually tag certain play types after a game or practice has ended. But with Keemotion, director of basketball operations Jonathan Safir is able to have an entire practice, with detailed tagging of all the offensive plays, on every player’s phone by the time they finish showering and leave the locker room. 

“When we were learning the new offense and all the plays, it helped so much,” junior guard Nate Hickman said. “They were able to tag the plays and then they’d just send them to us, and we’re able to watch right there.”

Keemotion is currently used by four professional soccer leagues, five NBA teams—most notably the Golden State Warriors—and eight NCAA Division I athletic programs, including Ivy rival Yale. 

Milton Lee, the current CEO of Keemotion and former Brooklyn Nets general manager of minor league operations, said Keemotion adds value in two ways: more personalized coaching and easy streaming.

Coaches and support staff can fully customize clips for instructional purposes, whether to assess individual defensive positioning, to teach offensive plays, or to simply see who’s paying attention in practice. This feature makes Keemotion especially attractive to small and mid-major programs—such as Columbia—that have fewer student managers and personnel. 

But Safir doesn’t put everything in the Keemotion sendouts. He still prefers for players to come into the old film room for more precise coaching points, while Keemotion is typically used to send video in bulk.

Within Columbia, the volleyball team has used Keemotion to stream games on the Ivy League Digital Network, and it’s reasonable to expect greater usage throughout the athletic department in the future. 

Lee said he believes the product’s functionality exceeds that of popular competitors like Hudl and Krossover because of its extra video and streaming deliverables. Hudl and Krossover require the video to be uploaded manually prior to editing, while Keemotion automatically consolidates these processes. 

Engles, who was one of the first Division I coaches to implement Keemotion during his tenure at NJIT, also said he believes the personalized feedback that Keemotion facilitates could be key to recruitment. 

And Safir, who has consistently been pushing the boundaries of how to integrate the system into Columbia basketball, knows that Keemotion will be crucial to the team’s improvement. 

“Every mid-major, low-major should have this,” Safir said. “The advantage, it’s just unbelievable what you can do. | @CUSpecSports

Columbia Lions Men's Basketball
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