Almost every equestrian wishes that they had the ability to video their rides, but most robotic camera systems on the market are expensive, painful to set up and have lots of limitations.
Enter the Pivo Pod, an affordable auto-follow camera mount that turns your existing smartphone into a robotic cameraman. Place your phone on the Pivo pod, connect it, and the two devices will now follow you as you ride. It will automatically track you, keep you in the frame, auto-zoom in, and much more.
Being able to watch your rides and “review the game tape” as it were is invaluable, it allows you to see what you’re doing right and not so well. More precisely, it lets you see what your coach sees.
After getting over the shock of your coach actually being right about that thing that they’ve been telling you to fix for the past 6 months, you can review your progression towards fixing that, and the other million things you see on film.
In addition, being able to film your rides with the Pivo gives you invaluable non-selfie or phone-on-a-fence-post-video Instagram content. On that topic, please follow me on Instagram @niko.andalusian.
Read my full Pivo Pod review and owner guide below.
Pivo Pod Overview
- Compact and lightweight
- User-friendly with superb customer support
- Affordably priced compared to the alternatives
- Uses your own smartphone as the camera & supports most common phones
- Long battery life (up to 10 hours)
- Large active Facebook community of Pivo owners
- Can be used indoors and outdoors
- Good auto-tracking capabilities with the Pivo Silver
- Can’t be used with multiple horses in the ring
- Is not weatherproof, but many users have used plastic bags to great effect
- If your horse does not stand out against the background it may have trouble following you
- The technology and app is still new and there are some bugs, but the Pivo team is very responsive to these issues and are constantly improving the software (all updates are free)
- Rotates and zooms, does not tilt up and down, so riding on uneven terrain may not work
Pivo Options: Red vs Silver
There are currently two Pivo Pod options: Red or Silver. The only difference between the two is that the Pivo Silver pod has the capability of rotating twice as fast as the Pivo Red pod, giving a much smoother motion when filming.
For high-speed activities – such as riding – the Pivo Silver is recommended, however many users are having success using the Pivo Red. The Pivo Silver is slightly more expensive than the Pivo Red, but only marginally so and worth the extra few dollars.
See more details about both Pivo Pods here on the Pivo website.
What Accessories Does the Pivo Come With?
The basic Pivo Pod comes with the Pivo Pod and Pivo Remote; as long as your phone is relatively slim (no bulky cases) and you have a tripod, this is all you will need.
Additional accessories you can buy:
- Phone Mount: You can get this if your phone or case is larger than normal, but it is not needed for most phones
- Action Mount: This allows you to attach your GoPro to your phone/Pivo. The GoPro will not link to the app, but rather allow you to film the same thing with the GoPro as well as your phone.
- Pivo Tripod: A tripod that is particularly designed for the Pivo Pod, a lot of people really like this tripod, however, you can use any tripod with a ¼” mount.
Pivo Pod Auto-Follow Camera Mount Review
The Pivo is a small pod (about half the size of a pop/beer can) that has a swivel top that holds your phone in place using a vice-like grip. The unit is lightweight and sturdy and can either be used on its own (placed on top of a fence or box) or attached to a tripod using a standard ¼” screw mount.
To use the Pivo Pod, you download the Pivo App and connect to the Pod using a Bluetooth connection within the application. You do not need a WiFi or cellular connection to use the Pivo Pod; once the app is downloaded, the Pivo Pod can be used independent of any cell or WiFi connection, unless using the Pivo Meet application to live-stream.
The Pivo Application is fairly user-friendly and setup is a breeze; from the home screen, you swipe left or right to view and change the modes and settings respectively.
I had my Pivo up and recording within 5 minutes in my first use, and now that I’m used to it, the typical setup time is about 30-60 seconds. (Previous to the Pivo, I used a Soloshot3 which would take 5-10 minutes to set up.)
Your Pivo will come with a remote that you can use to start and stop recording video, which is very handy for those who don’t want to film warm-up or walk breaks, and also saves video in smaller segments.
To show you how a recording with the a Pivo Pod looks, here is short clip of me riding that was captured with the Pivo Pod:
Using The Pivo Pod
To use the Pivo Pod, you will turn on the pod and connect to it using the Pivo App. Once your phone is connected it will default to the video screen usually set to the front camera (selfie) mode.
To access the modes and settings, you will swipe left or right on the screen to access these menus where you can choose what speed and tracking options you want for your session.
Once you have chosen your settings, you will swipe back to the camera area, scroll through the mode to “Horse” or “Horse Beta” version, point your phone camera at your horse, wait to see the red box appear around your horse (indicating that it recognizes the shape) and start recording!
Pivo has been very dedicated to improving the user experience, and has recently made numerous improvements in direct response to user feedback on social media, including adding a sound and flash to signal when recording has started.
Pivo will work both indoors and out, and inside or outside of the ring; some riders set up their Pivo in the center of the ring, others use it just outside the fence line.
Your Pivo is not weatherproof, so you will want to make sure that it does not get rained or snowed on, however, some users have been using a small umbrella attachment or even a sandwich bag to keep their Pivo dry.
Here is a helpful video I made on using the Pivo:
- It is recommended to use your phone’s back camera (non-selfie camera) as that camera usually has better quality video capability.
- Horse mode works best when your phone is horizontal, in “landscape” mode
- Place your Pivo where it will have the best unobstructed “view” of you and your horse
- Be cognizant of your surroundings, your Pivo won’t be able to follow you well if there are lots of obstacles, if it is hard to differentiate your horse from the background, or if you ride in front of direct sunlight.
- Make sure you have enough memory to record the length/size of the video you want; if the phone runs out of memory, it will not save any video. PSA: 4K video yields HUGE video files. 1080 is “good enough” for most people.
- The Pivo Pod has a level bubble built-in; make sure that bubble is even or you may end up with some video that is very skewed!
Your Pivo Pod will pan 360˚ and zoom in and out to keep you and your horse in-frame. It will save the video on the app, and to your device directly if you so choose.
It’s worth noting that the video will be set to your camera quality, and will record in one continuous video, so you will want to be cognizant of how much room you have on your phone to accommodate video.
Your video can be exported to your phone or (if using Apple products) Airdropped to another device from the App. You can edit the video using any number of video editing programs, and screenshots are a snap to capture the perfect moment.
The quality of the video (and screenshots of said video) are dependent on the quality of the camera that your phone possesses; you can get an amazing video if your smartphone has a good quality camera – this may be the push you’ve been waiting for to upgrade your phone.
How is Pivo customer support?
The Pivo support team are extremely responsive and they really want to improve their product by listening to your feedback. My unit was a bit ‘sticky’ and didn’t pan super smoothly, so they sent me a new unit without any questions.
Also, there are Facebook groups that are very active with lots of users helping people who need assistance.
Pivo Pod Review Final Verdict
Overall the Pivo exceeded my expectations. I didn’t think that a $180 device would be very useful and had low expectations at best, however, the Pivo far outperforms my $1000 Soloshot 3 that I had previously.
There is a big and fast-growing online equestrian community for Pivo owners and nearly all the reviews chatter about the Pivo is positive. Overall, I think Pivo is a superb auto-follow and recording camera mount and well worth the price tag!
Also, please follow my Instagram @niko.andalusian here.
Pivo Pod Alternatives
One alternative is the Soloshot3 that I owned before the Pivo. I wasn’t too happy with it and found the Pivo, a much cheaper alternative, to be far better. Therefore, I can’t recommend it.
However, the main alternative for the Pivo is the Pixio or Pixem auto-follow camera systems from Move N’ See. These are much more expensive starting at around $600, but they are an improvement on the Pivo.
One main benefit is that both devices can track the horse much better, at a greater range, and even with multiple horses in the area. They do this by not tracking the horse, but by tracking a watch worn by the rider.
You can see our review of the Pixio and Pixem in our best auto-follow cameras for horse riders‘ article. Also, find more information on the Move N’ See website here.