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Frederick Muller

Underwater filming for video

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I am in my last year at film school and DP'ng for our end of year project that requires shooting underwater in a swimming pool (indoor night) and in a lake (day - this might be simulated in an outdoor pool). All the on-land footage will be shot on an SDX 900 progressive. The underwater footage I am tossing between SD or HD.

 

The depth in both underwater circumstances will be no more than 10 feet. I will be filming on either SD or HD and wondering if there are any things I should know in terms of filming underwater as oppose on land, ie. exposure, water density, lighting for interior pool night and day time in the lake, also will filming HD be better than SD? How to get maximum quality out of shooting. Will there be a major change from cutting from the SDX 900 to the underwater camera? Filters required or to enhance?

 

I will do a test before filming but any help or tips will be greatly appreciated.

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I just put my camera in a tank and shoot, everything else especially in terms of exposure and lighting that's up to you and the mood of the script. Lake water... that might be a bit muddy and not clear so just give this a try and see. Some people would use filters for the way the skin looks underwater but I actually like the look that it gives. The best way to do this is literally just go out there and test it for yourself,

That's a link to stuff that I tested, unfortunately for the 16mm shots I had done well I was stupid I shot at F/1.4-2.8 I believe so the there wasn't much in terms of depth so a lot was out of focus.

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Call and talk to the folks Hydroflex who can give you a wealth of information. Their websites also a some preliminary information that should get your conversation going. They have housings for both film and video and if you talk to them about what kind of shots you'll be doing and what kind of budget you've got, they can make suggestions about what's the best solution for you.

 

http://hydroflex.com/

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I am in my last year at film school and DP'ng for our end of year project that requires shooting underwater in a swimming pool (indoor night) and in a lake (day - this might be simulated in an outdoor pool). All the on-land footage will be shot on an SDX 900 progressive. The underwater footage I am tossing between SD or HD.

 

The depth in both underwater circumstances will be no more than 10 feet. I will be filming on either SD or HD and wondering if there are any things I should know in terms of filming underwater as oppose on land, ie. exposure, water density, lighting for interior pool night and day time in the lake, also will filming HD be better than SD? How to get maximum quality out of shooting. Will there be a major change from cutting from the SDX 900 to the underwater camera? Filters required or to enhance?

 

I will do a test before filming but any help or tips will be greatly appreciated.

 

 

Hi Frederick

 

I live in Cairns, Australia shooting SD and HD here on the Great Barrier Reef mainly now. Put a camera in the water (in a housing naturally. ha-ha) and an almost magical thing happens.

 

First of all, the completely different environment the audience is now seeing will make them more willing to accept any difference in look as a normal underwater image. Add to that the light dispersion by the waves etc. and low contrast environment created by suspended particulate matter which softens or evens out the look so much that even consumer cameras start to look good.

 

I've been in production for almost 30 years and ran CCU's when cameras still had tubes (yes , that old!!). In my view, the big problem with video comes from the detail enhancement circuitry which artificially sharpens the image. Most video cameras are horrendously over-enhanced and then your TV compounds it again with it's own detail circuit when watching. This is what gives that trailing edge black line you see on objects especially in the highlight areas. As long as it's a 3 chip camera and you don't overexpose the highlight areas I think you can get away with an SD record.

 

Best of luck with the shoot.

 

Cheers

Norbert

Edited by Norvbert von der Heidt

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Hi Frederick,

 

for underwater footage I use "only" SD - DVX100B and Equinox housing with HLC/HLX halogen lights. No filters and any "magic" lens filters. The footage from DVX is so color rich that you don't need any post production tricks.

 

Here is DEMO Video from Red Sea.

 

/peter

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