How to Record Video Underwater

Shooting video

Video cameras were miniaturised even before digital still cameras, and for this reason many divers have taken up underwater video-recording. Miniaturisation has meant that submarine housings for video cameras are smaller, too, and this makes them practical for single operators to use. Video cameras for amateur use have been tiny for some time now, but the ones for professional use are now smaller, too.

If you stay shallower than about 12 m (40 feet), a video camera, with its ability to colour balance the electronic signal automatically, will produce very reasonable colour images of the underwater world. Once you go deeper, you will need to equip yourself with some powerful lights that must be capable of emitting a diffuse and even beam.

The rules of shooting video are the same underwater as they are above the surface. You should endeavour to hold the camera still with perfect buoyancy control while your subject moves within the frame. You will need to build up shots so that you have enough material for your final video production. You will need a wide establishing shot, as well as shots of the action from the middle distance and close up. You don’t have to shoot them in that order, of course. A finished program can contain a series of events joined together into a sequence to represent something that may not have ever actually happened.

Video-recording tips

The same rules apply to video-recording as to still photography underwater: you should get in close to your subject. It’s not necessary to get everything into one camera frame. A video camera has the advantage over a still camera of giving you the opportunity to construct a sequence from several shots later.

You should remember that although you may find one particular animal fascinating and dwell on it for a long time with your camera, your audience may get quickly bored watching the action later. A good guide is to look at television commercials that have high production values. There may well be a dozen or so different shots used in a sequence, but the whole thing only lasts an attention-grabbing 30 seconds.

When you construct your program from the footage you recorded, bear in mind that there are very few audiences that do not tire after watching an amateur underwater film that lasts for more than 20 minutes. A good 20-minute program may have more than 250 individually recorded moments in it.

The other thing to remember if you are diving in a group is that if you find something interesting, you should not dwell on it too long. You should give other divers get a chance to take their pictures.

It is important to remember to rinse your camera housing in clean, fresh water after every dive. You should also remove and scrupulously clean any water-sealing O-rings, greasing them lightly before replacing them in the grooves of the housing. Humidity, which causes condensation, is a great nuisance to videographers. You should make sure that the air inside your housing is warm and dry before closing it up.

Finally, be sure that you know the difference between the operating and standby mode of your video camera. Many people have come back with very dull footage of the seabed because they thought their video camera was running when it was not, and vice versa.

Filed Under: Sports & Fitness


About the Author: Cody Riffel is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo. She likes to write on variety of topics, whatever interests her. She also likes to share what she learns over the Internet and her day-to-day life.

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