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tips for filming underwater

tips for filming underwater
September 8, 2013 ghung

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur

Greg is a modern World Explorer, Film-maker, Mobile & Google friendly Website producer, & Entrepreneur at the intersection of travel and technology. He has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store in 2012. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom. His 4 month 2013 journey took him to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

tips for filming underwater

September 9 2013

A diving friend in Singapore wanted me to share some video footage from a recent trip to the Komodo Islands in Indonesia. I decided to put together a short video using some recent underwater footage I’ve produced in Australia and Indonesia. If you like it read on for some of my tips.

 

 

  1. Get the right tools -(Go Pro 3 Black edition & snap-on red filter)I was at the town of Cairns preparing for my Great Barrier Reef filming dive in June this year. I wanted to get the best underwater footage on a budget. I spoke to all the camera shops in town and determined unless you had a budget north of $2000 or more for an SLR camera casing the Go Pro Hero 3 is your best option for video and its ocean ready. You will also want to pair your Go pro 3 with a Red underwater filter. I chose a red snap on filter from polar pro for about $30US.
  2. Get stability – It is key to stabilize your Go Pro camera. At the time the products on the market stabilizing the camera underwater included the headstrap, the pole, and the wrist strap. I personally don’t use them. What I do use is the gopro suction cup mount and a custom built pvc pipe to pair with the mount.  I love this mount. It is strong enough to fix your camera to the hood of a car and if you find a smooth aluminum or plastic surface it is strong enough to stick while scuba diving in the ocean. The pvc pipe allowed me to fill it with water to allow me to take it underneath as it naturally wants to float. Get creative. You can use a juice container with a flat surface. Whatever you choose find something that you will provide stability while you are swimming . Thanks for the camera rental shops in Cairns for leading me down this path
  3. Learn how to use your tools – Your gopro camera does simplify the filming process, but it still means that you need to know how to film and get familiar with the camera. Practice lots. Get familiar with the menu settings on the camera and how to turn record off and on. Some settings I recommend using are frame rate 1080P 60fps and pro tune on. The go pro can film at a higher resolution, but it takes more memory space and will be a painful process when it comes time to edit the video. Get comfortable filming underwater in the swimming pool if you have access to one. The filter is pretty simple as it snaps on, but you will only need it below 10 feet in the water
  4. Lighting is key – Unless you have money for a high density waterproof underwater light you will be relying on the natural sunlight. Try to film when the sun is behind you and the light is on your subject, which is probably going to be some fish.
  5. Hone your scuba & swimming skills – In addition to practicing filming with the go pro you need to get comfortable with scuba diving and filming at the same time. Scuba diving itself can be challenging as you are gearing up on the boat, monitoring your air, remembering to breathe, and keeping aware of your surroundings. Lots of things to think of if you are just starting out, and you haven’t even started filming yet.  If you aren’t comfortable consider asking your diver master to help film you while you are in the water. Tell him or her how to operate it and to keep it still.
  6. Extra battery & memory – Check that you have enough batteries and memory card space for the camera otherwise all of above doesn’t matter. The gopro should be able to film 45 minutes to an hour. Once you are in the water it’s hard to get back on the boat so make sure you have your batteries fully charged. Yes that means buy a spare battery and have that charged. Bring a usb wall charger with you or even better a portable usb charge to charge the battery between dives. Bringing a 32gb sized micro sd  memory card and a spare isn’t a bad idea.

I recently launched a new course that will go into more depth about filming underwater with a Gpro as well as in the air and using a car. Check out the course preview by clicking here now. This link will provide a discount good until the end of October.

filming underwater

My new course for Gopro cameras. Check it out

I hope this article helps to get you started on capturing some amazing underwater footage. Don’t get frustrated if it takes some time. When I went filming my first scuba dive in Turks and Caicos I didn’t know any of this and had to learn the hard and expensive way. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and capture some great stuff. Have any other tips? Feel free to share on the comments below.

ChicVoyage in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands from chicvoyage on Vimeo.

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