How To Shoot A Video Underwater
How To Shoot A Video Underwater
VideoJug's expert underwater filmmaker shows you everything you need to know about making a film beneath the waves. The opportunities are endless when you learn this new skill of shooting a video underwater.
Step 1: Perfect your scuba skills
Buoyancy control - or the ability to hover over, under or by an object in the water - is the most vital skill that all divers must accomplish, videographers or not.
The mastering of this skill cannot be over emphasized. It will help with the most fundamental technique to creating watchable footage: image steadiness and sharper pictures.
It will also ensure you avoid contact with delicate marine organisms… Remember, if you have to damage anything to take a shot - don't take it. No photo is worth the life of an aquatic plant or animal…
At the beginning of every dive, refresh your buoyancy skills by practicing some exercises you learnt during your first certification course…
Step 2: Take proper care of your equipment
Proper maintenance of your underwater housing is of the utmost importance to avoid water damage to your camera…
You'll find the one thing that all housings have in common are the O-ring seals. These are rubber rings that compress under pressure to join the surfaces with a watertight seal. Always remember that it's not the housing that keeps out the water, it's the O-rings, and you must pay extra special attention to them.
Because they're fragile, care must be taken so as not to stretch, or accidentally cut or tear them. Use a Q-tip to clean any stray hairs or dust from the o-ring groove and make sure to periodically lubricate them with silicone grease...
Most importantly, wash the outer housing after every use in fresh water. You must not let saltwater dry on the joints of the controls and metal fittings.
Step 3: Be careful with colour
As we dive deeper into the ocean, water absorbs the rays of sunlight that comprise colour. As you descend, the warm hues of red, orange and yellow are gradually lost, until we get to about 60ft/18metres when pictures start to become just a monochromatic blue.
Most underwater housings have an internal filter, while some use an external, removable one. This red filter is for use at depths below around 15 feet or 5 metres. Above this, and the footage will look too red. Below it, and it will be excellent for bringing back many of the lost colours.
You could also simply stay shallow, because that's there where there's more light!
Step 4: Watch the white balance
A camera's automatic white balance control operates in the same way as our brains. It assesses the dominant light source and boosts other colours in the video signal in order to compensate.
Be aware that underwater, as you change your depth, you also change your lighting. So there's a significant improvement in manually white balancing.
Always carry a white plastic slate with you underwater so that can re-white balance as the conditions of your shooting change. Just remember that your white slate must cover 70% or more of your shot when you do this.
Step 5: Be familiar with filming techniques
Every video should tell a story, with a beginning, a middle and an end even if it's just the story of your diving day. This is where you'll want to be familiar with different film techniques.
Let's start with horizontal movement - panning - and vertical movement - tilting.
Panning lets the viewer take in a wide expanse, whether it be underwater or above. Perhaps you want to convey the sheer size of a wreck… or maybe the splendour of a large coral reef…
Tilting is used less often and can emphasise the relationship between the bottom and surface.
The Lead-in pan is often used to begin a scene and involves panning with a moving subject; coming to rest on a second subject - which is the important one - and allowing the first subject to disappear from shot.
Step 6: Filming movement
Filming movement is an important skill to give your videos variety…
And this is where we come to The Zoom. After