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Member Since 25 May 2005
Offline Last Active Sep 21 2015 02:28 PM

#365295 Devils in the sky at Cannibal rock,Komodo by GH4

Posted by peterbkk on 16 September 2015 - 02:37 PM

Hi Nu,

Wow, what a great opportunity. Cannibal Rock is always a great dive but usually for Macro. You were lucky to be there when those rays arrived and also lucky to see them as it's usually a dive of intense focus towards the rock rather than out in the blue (actually, I should say "out in the green").

But, can I give you 3 pieces of advice.

1. Do some more color correction work on the footage. You have some reddish - purple in the highlights from the surface. With some careful secondary color correction, you should be able to pull that out.

2. Cut the yawning frog fish. This is what I call the "self-editors dilemma": you shot something interesting so you want to get it into the final cut, even though it has nothing to do with the storyline. An editor would chop it because it distracts from the story. The audience wonders what is the connection with the Rays. Is it yawning because the dive was boring before the Rays arrived? You get the point? No matter how much you love that shot, if it is not relevant to the story, it ends up on the cutting room floor. Maybe you can use it in a different story about yawning fish.

3. Don't use YouTube for quality footage. I'm sure that what you uploaded to YT looks great but their lousy compression ruins it. Especially bad in open water footage like this. Lots of ugly compression artefacts. Vimeo is better - not great, but better.

But, otherwise, great stuff!


#364374 Sony a7s and MWB

Posted by peterbkk on 18 August 2015 - 05:28 AM

IMHO, the Sony cameras have never been great at MWB underwater. The MWB software seems to be desperately looking for red.  You can fudge it with a pink plastic card but it's still a bit hit and miss.


Rather that stuff-around with MWB while diving, I prefer to be able to quickly get to a WB that approximates the conditions.  The typical conditions are:

  • Light blue colour cast - shallow, clear tropical water
  • Deep blue colour cast - deep, clear tropical water
  • Light blue-green colour cast - shallow tropical water with some suspended plankton
  • Deep blue-green-green colour cast - deeper tropical water and/or lots of suspended plankton
  • Video lights dominate (night, cave, etc.) - use AWB
So I made 4 A4 pages in PhotoShop that approximate each of those colour casts and printed them.  Then I put the pages in sunlight and took an MWB off each one, saving one into each of the 4 WB presets of the camera - then saving all the settings into the Custom Sets that I had already created for different exposure / focusing custom sets.
You can find the coloured pages in a PDF in this thread: http://wetpixel.com/...nce#entry355784

#363557 18 Years - A Story of a Broken Curse

Posted by peterbkk on 24 July 2015 - 06:50 PM

Fantastic.  Loved every minute.

#362314 It's not about the equipments, Komodo National Park Dive Trip June 2015

Posted by peterbkk on 16 June 2015 - 07:12 PM


1. My footage is less stable. Bear in mind we both shoot the same GH4, without IS. Yet almost 80% I say mine was shaky. I considered my buoyancy control is ok, but not in the current filled water of Komodo.


2. We shoot WA most of the time, and Nu's clip can get up close and personal with the object. I used hook most of the time but I observed that Nu were free and somehow can manage the current to his advantage. Case in point was where we shooting Manta at Karang Makasar (Manta on the Moon), the current were about 3-4 knots, while I was fighting with one hand on the hook and the other on the camera Nu was free roaming and get close and personal with the Manta. My footage was just side view of the manta swimming in the current 



Two points:


Stability takes time to develop.  Let me compare it to a racing car driver.  Most people, with a bit of guidance, can get a car around an empty race track.  Why can racing drivers do it multiple times faster alongside other fast-moving cars.  After years of practice and experience, the race car driver's perception of the world expands to include the car.  Yes, his brain builds a map of the outer edges of the car as if it was an extension of his own body - just like his fingers but further away.  He can't "think" or "calculate" his way through a narrow gap at 300kmh, his brain just "feels" that the car will clear the gap.       After shooting video for long enough, the camera becomes an extension of the body.  Your hands, wrists and arms "mentally fuse" with the camera and you instinctually feel where it needs to be pointed and how it needs to be adjusted for small movements of current.  Of course, large unexpected buffets by the the current will overcome the muscles ability to adjust.  But you get the point.  Spend every chance you can handling the camera underwater.  Eventually your perception will expand to include the camera.  Your muscles will do the work without you needing to think about it.


Secondly, in most currents, shooting video with a reef hook is challenging.  Instead of flowing with the water, you are being bounced around on the end of a short string.  Every eddy in the current is getting transmitted straight into your body and through you into the camera.  So, it's preferable not to use a reef hook when shooting video.  Get down low and use the natural topography to avoid being blown away e.g. behind a bommie.  Of course, don't risk yourself and don't damage marine life.  If the currents are too strong, and you must use a reef hook for safety, a springy one connected near your belly is better, find a place where the current is somewhat slowed and smoothed by the bottom topography, then establish an aerodynamic profile so you are flying "hands-free".  But, it's not easy.


I know that a lot of "tourist divers" love the flying currents of Komodo but the strong currents are not the more conducive to good video.  When I was there last, I specifically planned the trip around half-moon when the currents are milder.  Then, for dives in the Straits, I worked with the Dive Manager to plan many of the current-prone dives around slack water.  Of course, they have to cater for all customers so you will find yourself flying through Shotgun wondering how to avoid crashing your camera into something...




#362158 Snoot for under $5

Posted by peterbkk on 13 June 2015 - 12:41 AM

Given that my last topic here was about the Shogun housing that cost me an arm and a leg, I thought I'd go to the other end of the spectrum and describe the cheapest piece of underwater video equipment that I ever bought.


Last weekend, I was wandering around a huge hardware store here in Bangkok when I had an idea for a snoot.

I found two bits of "reducing diameter" water pipe that fit snugly together and, by some miracle of hardware sizing, fits perfectly on the iTorch Pro 7.  Because the wider end is slightly tapered, it slides on tight enough to wedge on without any tape, velcro, clamps or locks.  It needs to be wiggled slightly to get it off.   It's like someone designed these plumbing pieces to be made into a snoot!
Of course it helps that the iTorch Pro 7 is exactly a particular dimension and has its one switch far enough back that the snoot does not interfere with it.
I just glued the 2 bits of pipe together and painted it black with a can of matt spray paint.
It fits into the same pocket on my BP/W belt as the one that I use to carry my light filters.
From about 15cm from the mouth of the snoot, it makes a oblong of light about 6cm across with quite defined edges.
Total cost: about $5 for two, plus the spray paint.
The iTorch Light and the water pipe parts:
Snoot Parts.jpg
The finished Snoot painted black:
Finished Snoot.jpg
The Snoot mounted on the light:
Mounted Snoot.jpg

#361768 Nauticam Shogun Housing is here

Posted by peterbkk on 03 June 2015 - 03:03 AM

I know some of you want to see some graded underwater footage from the GH4 / Shogun combination.


A week ago, David Cheung and I spent a few days diving in Lembeh Straits.  I was capturing footage for the octopus documentary that I'm working on.  So, I did not specifically shoot any "let me test this system" footage.  I'm more of a storyteller than a technician.


I did get some excellent footage of octopus behaviours to add to my increasing library of these amazing critters.  Some of the footage reminds me of playing with our cats at home - they just don't react they way you expect them to.


It took me a couple of dives to get used to the changed handling of the rig.


The one huge upside was the big monitor with its ability to do focus-peaking with different colors (red works best during the day, light blue at night).  It made a huge difference to capturing footage of moving octopus, close up.  I could always see if the octopus was in the band of focus.  At some angles, the band of focus shows up as a pathway across the monitor.  All I had to do was to mentally will the octopus to walk along that pathway (or move the pathway to suit the octopus).


Anyway, sorting through the clips, I did find once piece of footage that I thought might test the tolerance of the ProResHQ 4K 422 10bit footage.  One afternoon after heavy rain, the water was dark, murky and very, very green.  We were hunting blue-ring octopus (we did find a beauty and got some great blue-ring CU footage later in the dive) but I did a quick test shot on a nudibranch to make sure all was working.


The original footage is green.  So I put it on a FCPX timeline and pushed the colour-correction to get rid of the greeness. It took 3 CC effects (1 primary, 2 secondary masks) to get it looking the way that I wanted it to look.  The footage held together really well.   I have no idea if this is a valid test but it convinced me that ProResHQ 4K 422 10bit footage is worth the extra effort of lugging the Shogun housing with me on future trips (underwater it is perfectly balanced / slightly negative)


I have posted the test footage on YouTube in 4K


(3 seconds original / 7 seconds graded)



(switch the little cog thingy to 4K before watching).




#361677 Raja Ampat in West Papua, Indonesia

Posted by peterbkk on 31 May 2015 - 05:29 PM

I just posted a five-minute short video from a recent dive trip to Raja Ampat in West Papua, Indonesia onto my website.





I was only in Raja Ampat for 3 days to shoot a promo video for a dive resort (see below).  But, even in that short time, I came across an amazing amount of marine life.  Rather than squeeze in lots of quick snippets of the myriad of creatures, for this short video, I just edited down to a few of the more impressive or colourful fish.


Raja Ampat really is a diver's paradise!


(And, if you want to dive the northern area from a very comfortable resort, I can recommend the Raja Ampat Dive Lodge which is, not only in the midst of the sites, but also has an amazing dive under its own jetty)





Shot with a GH4 in a Nauticam housing.


#361652 Locline. Does it always creak?

Posted by peterbkk on 30 May 2015 - 04:56 PM

Hi Nick,

It's a shame that we did not meet in Lembeh last week because then I could have shown you my new light arms.

I used Locline for many years but was always annoyed by the creaking. Worse than that problem, after a lot of use, the arms became less firm and could move in a strong current, adding a wobble and a creak to the footage. But, as you say, the ability to quickly reposition the lights without undoing bolts is important when shooting in a rapidly changing situation.

Then, on a dive boat earlier this year, I saw some flexible arms that seemed much better. David Cheung of ScubaCam said they come from 10-Bar and he got me a pair of 36cm arms. They have a 5mm t-mount for the camera (fits out of the box on the GH4) and a YS-Mount on the top end.

I just used them on 15 dives - a couple of times in mild to strong current. They hold their position solidly, especially underwater.

I can't say if they'll get looser with wear over time but they were not that expensive so you could just get new ones when that happens.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

#361329 A Touch of Bali

Posted by peterbkk on 19 May 2015 - 04:54 PM

Nice one Mike.
Some think that YouTube is currently giving better quality than Vimeo.

Hmmmmm. After reading your post here, I went and watched one of my videos on Vimeo. http://www.peterwalker.com/komodo.html

To me it appears to now have more compression artifacts than it used to when I first uploaded in mid-2014. Maybe it's my imagination but it does look like Vimeo either re-compressed it or their viewing engine is squeezing it on the fly to reduce bandwidth. It's not terrible and, IMHO, still slightly better than YouTube. But not as good as it used to be and not as good as I'd like it to be.


#361139 Nauticam Shogun Housing is here

Posted by peterbkk on 15 May 2015 - 03:40 PM

Wetpixel members are smart enough to see with their own eyes to determind whether a codec is good for 4K or not, they certainly don't need to be told what to believe!

Hi A.Y.,

Well said. You are right. I'm increasingly frustrated by some people in this forum who post opinions that are not based on experience or knowledge.

You know, when I first started learning and sharing on WetPixel Video a few years ago, we had many active members with deep experience and knowledge. I got some great advice. But most of those people are now gone. Why? Well, I have only discussed it with a couple of those departed people and they both said the same thing. They got pissed off by some of the newer members who have opinions but no experience or knowledge; People who just read something on the Internet and regurgitate it here. We see some examples in this thread. Sometimes I think it's going to drive me away too.

I urge everyone who posts here to think carefully before you post opinions, suppositions and unverified information. Do you really know something for a fact. Or just read it. It's OK to have opinions or even regurgitate what you've read. But declare it. Like, "I don't know for sure but I wonder if ..." Or, "I read this story by Xxxxxxx on website Yyyyyyyy and he said ..."

Think before you post.


#360844 Nauticam Shogun Housing is here

Posted by peterbkk on 06 May 2015 - 02:18 AM

It took a while for Nauticam to sort out a few issues but finally I received my Nauticam Shogun housing this week. I'm not going to write a full review.  I'll leave that to those better qualified.  But here are some photos and first impressions.  After a few days diving in Lembeh at the end of this month, I will give an update on how it performs in action.  


Of course, the Shogun monitor is great for seeing what you are shooting and being able to record ProRes HQ 422 10 bit video puts it into the realm of much more expensive systems.


Shogun Housing.JPG


Firstly, the NA-Shogun is big.  Needs to be big to allow room for the Shogun, a big Sony battery and some cooling fans.  This system is not for the casual videographer.  However, with bigness comes stability.  The addition of this housing, line astern from the camera housing, will definitely help overcome some of the "pitch" stability issues inherent in the "still" camera format when shooting handheld video.  It also adds a lot more mass (but not in-water weight) - great for stability.


Secondly, it is well-engineered.  All the housing functions are available, except the menu - but then you should not need to play with the Shogun menu underwater. The function buttons give you control over focus assist, histograms, etc.  The "overhead" mount bar give a lot of flexibility for positioning. The HDMI cable seems to be solid - if you are careful with aligning the plugs.  It includes a full leak detection and vacuum system.  The base plate provides many options for mounting legs for macro.  Note: the housing does not actually connect to the base plate.  The overhead arm holds the monitor housing.  The base plate stops the whole rig from falling over with the weight of the Shogun housing.  It's also for connecting legs.  (Once I have worked out my preferred viewing angle, I might add a rubber-stopper to the base plate to give the bottom of the Shogun housing something to rest on - not necessary but might stop any wobble through the arm.)




Thirdly, it took me a while to get it set up the first time. But that's probably my incompetence - it's been a while since I played with Meccano.  Now that I know how to do it, I can get it done in about 20 minutes.  But, of course, you only need to set it up once at the beginning of a dive trip - you can do everything you need to do inside the camera housing and the Shogun housing with them all connected together.


Fourthly, unassembled, the GH4 in its housing / port and the Shogun in its housing, two video lights and their arms and some accessories all fit into a large carry-on size photo backpack.  No need to check it in.  If my checked luggage is delayed, I can still go diving and shoot, at least for a couple of hours.




The Shogun battery (Sony NP-970) lasts about 90 minutes of run time - maybe longer. There's space inside the housing to look at putting in an extended battery system for longer.   A 1Tb SSD holds 2 hours and 20 minutes of ProRes HQ 422 10 bit video.


This coming weekend I will test it in a pool (maybe my fish pond) and get the buoyancy and balance right.  I think that it needs a 1kg dive weight strapped under the rear of the rig - the Shogun housing is positively buoyant but the GH4 housing is slightly negative - together they still float.  A dive weight and a cable-tie should fix it.


Then it's off to Lembeh to see if it is worth the investment.  I'll keep you posted.






#360600 Does my color right? Nusa Penida WA shoot with GH4

Posted by peterbkk on 28 April 2015 - 09:23 PM

Hi all,


I played around with Premiere Pro color effect and I just love it. I think I'm bit carried away with the color, but with the vibrant color of the Nusa Penida underwater realm (shoot at Manta Point and Crystal Bay) I cannot help it but bump the saturation way too much.


As always, critics and comments besides the color and the camera shake are always welcome.


Thanks for watching,





Hi Bona,


Colour is very much a matter for personal taste.  Some people love to see the reds pushed to the max.  For me personally, i prefer to get the colour as close as what it looked like, to my eyes, underwater.  So, I would not have pushed the reds and the saturation as far as you did.  I call that look the tourist brochure colour space.


But, I repeat, it is personal choice and if that's the look you were aiming for, then you should be happy.




#360534 Nudibranch of Anilao in 4K - Panasonic LX100

Posted by peterbkk on 27 April 2015 - 05:33 PM

It's my first time shooting with the Panasonic LX100, Nauticam CMC-1, first time to Anilao and second time shooting macro. I'm starting to accept the result especially I only have around 150 dives under my belt. I found that the more dive experience I have, the more comfortable I feel about getting close, slow down to think and adjust my camera setting (not having a big group of divers lining up or selfish dive buddy would help too!


If you have 1080P display, watch in 1080P setting, then watch again with 4K setting, see if you can see the benefit of 4K. If you have 4K display, then of course watch it in 4K setting.


I output my final video to target of 80Mbps. A 8 minutes video is about 4.6Gb, it took about two hours to upload to Youtube and process. It's really hard for countries that do not have fast internet to provide 4K content. I don't know what's the final bitrate that Youtube produce, but if it's buffering right, the Youtube deliver quality is very close to my 4.6Gb mp4 sitting in my local hard drive.


Make sure you watch the whole thing!


As usual, suggestion, critique, comment are all welcome!




Hi Moses,


Good job. I enjoyed watching it.


I watched it through (on my iMac 5K) twice, firstly in 1080 then in 2160.  I can definitely see a difference.  Some of the finer details are more apparent - like the horizontal layers in the antenna.


The only improvement I could suggest would be to take another pass on the exposure and colour correction.  A couple of shots could use more contrast while lowering the overall exposure.  And a couple would look better with less green in the background - maybe some secondary colour correction to keep the subject as-is.




#360426 How important is underwater tripod?

Posted by peterbkk on 23 April 2015 - 02:32 PM

Hi all,
Would like to get an opinion in regards of underwater tripod. I'm thinking to purchase one for video both for WA shoot and macro.
I do have gorilla pod that can be used underwater but adjusting them is such a pain!
Considering the price - the proper one is expensive! - I do want to be sure it will help in getting a stable clip.
Thanks in advance!

Like most things in life, the answer is "it depends". :)

It depends on what you want to use it for.

For most WA shooting underwater, you don't need a tripod. For some scenes it might help but for others it will be a hindrance.

For most macro, a tripod is very important. If you are shooting bottom-dwelling creatures, a large Gorillapod is great. I think that the "Focus" model is the biggest. If you soak them well after diving, they will last a while. Easy to position. More difficult to keep still.

A tripod wth hard legs is necessary when you want to do macro above the bottom, like on a wall. But, here you will often have a challenge finding the best position to place the legs. The "hard leg" tripods are also a bit more fiddly to adjust the camera angle and position. But very stable.

In summary, there is no perfect answer. You need to work out what works best for you and then become familiar its use.


#360022 Potential solution to shaky video footage?

Posted by peterbkk on 14 April 2015 - 01:36 AM


Even though I have my GH4 as neutral as possible (and thanks to your tips on this) it still suffers from some jittering underwater if I pan etc.



Is the housing well-balanced?  Jittering can come from muscles countering balance issues. 


The other tip for panning is to point your body towards the end point of the pan and then swing your arms / camera towards the start point.  Start the shot still for a few seconds then pan so that your arms are moving into their natural alignment with your body rather than away from it.  Your muscles relax during the pan rather than tighten up.