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Phoenix1

Help for New Videographer

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A few months ago, I began thinking about getting video gear. I posted a few questions on how to get started.

 

Since then, I purchased a good used rig--L&M Bluefin, Sony HD camera, lights etc.

 

With my next dive trip still a few months away, I'd like to figure out how to use the stuff before getting it wet (or, more probably, before getting it wet in a pool before going on vacation).

 

What would you suggest I read/study as an underwater video beginner?

 

I have about 10 years experience with a Nikonos and another few with my current still rig, Nikon D700 in an Aquatica housing. So I am not new to UW photography. I have never spent any time with a video camera, on land, UW or otherwise.

 

I plan to use the footage for personal use and enjoyment--probably make a movie or two that combines still and video. I'm Mac conversant (OK, a Mac fanatic), so my production will be iMovie, FCE or FCP.

 

Thanks for any guidance you can pass along.

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A good all-round book is High Definition Underwater Video by Steven Fish, updated in 2009. ISBN: 0-9728329-3-9

 

Only real difference between still photography and video photography is the time dimension...

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I personally think the best way to learn is to watch the nature programs and study how they frame, follow subjects and allow subjects to enter and exit frames, which I think in many cases separates the amateurs and the pros.

Also taking stills can be less demanding on the body than shooting a continuous sequence. Staying steady so there isn't any jerky movements is vital to steady camerawork. Lars Von Trier/MTV style free hand action is nice if you are trying to simulate a diver's view, otherwise it's just distracting and even nausea inducing.

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Congratulations on your purchase, the Bluefin is a good rig.

 

One newbie mistake that I made in beginning was trying to follow the fish around just to keep it in the frames. It's nauseating to watch later. It's better to do static shots of fish as they swim in & out of frames (e.g. schooling anthias, anemonefish) and try to get close & zoom in for the details if they remain still (e.g. stingray under a rock, grouper being cleaned).

 

Some still photog techniques can also be used like CFWA with a wide angle lense (e.g. close-up of lion fish with a diver in the background). Shooting with the sun behind you also makes a big difference since you rely more on natural light for video.

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Congratulations on your purchase, the Bluefin is a good rig.

 

One newbie mistake that I made in beginning was trying to follow the fish around just to keep it in the frames. It's nauseating to watch later. It's better to do static shots of fish as they swim in & out of frames (e.g. schooling anthias, anemonefish) and try to get close & zoom in for the details if they remain still (e.g. stingray under a rock, grouper being cleaned).

 

Some still photog techniques can also be used like CFWA with a wide angle lense (e.g. close-up of lion fish with a diver in the background). Shooting with the sun behind you also makes a big difference since you rely more on natural light for video.

 

Those are great tips! Thanks for helping.

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Camp out on Youtube and Vimeo (there are a lot of Underwater channels on Vimeo) and watch other people's movies, find out what you like and what you don't and try to emulate it with an aim of building your own style.

 

Watch your air :P

Edited by Captain_Caveman

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Camping out on YouTube and Vimeo can be helpful in terms of seeing angle of shot and what to shoot. Sadly what you can't see is how people filtered or cut out or altered via post-production on the film. This board's been great in terms of reading thought processes for other video folks and talking with them about how they got a particular shot or effect, etc. Talking with other video-types is helpful, especially if they've been in the game a while and know how to make use of the housing/camera you might be using. The crazy part about video is that half of it is the shooting, half of it is the editing, and half of it is the story or underlying concept. And yes, that is 3 halves! With photography I find that post-production is the icing on the cake, while with editing, post-production is a huge part of making the video come alive.

 

I too am a Mac fanatic. iMovie did what I needed for "fun stuff" for about 2 months. But I found I began feeling constrained by the limits of iMovie. FCP is great when you hit that point. Don't know your level of comfort with FCP... Initially I avoided it b/c it is a rather overwhelming program to learn initially. But even if you think you know it, there are a lot of options and plugins that enhance the productivity and use of the program's elements. Steve Douglas (handle is "steve" on this board) probably knows more about FCP than anyone I've met and I give a hearty recommendation to hooking up with him for FCP and/or just general video stuff. Working with him accelerated my learning curve exponentially.

 

Welcome to a really fun rabbit-hole. Enjoy the fall!

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Sounds a little stupid but can you get in a pool and shoot something? The best way of learning is doing even if you are filming an inanimate object in the pool you can practice framing, white balance, focus, how to move steadily etc etc. Then you can also edit the footage.

 

If you can't do that take the camera and shoot topside stuff, the principal is still the same

 

Thirdly buy yourself some decent underwater films and watch how they shoot and visualize when you get in the water shooting the same way.

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Sounds a little stupid but can you get in a pool and shoot something? The best way of learning is doing even if you are filming an inanimate object in the pool you can practice framing, white balance, focus, how to move steadily etc etc. Then you can also edit the footage.

 

If you can't do that take the camera and shoot topside stuff, the principal is still the same

 

Thirdly buy yourself some decent underwater films and watch how they shoot and visualize when you get in the water shooting the same way.

 

Doesn't sound stupid at all. I plan to do that. Once I familiarize myself with the gear on land, I plan to take it to the local Y where our dive shop does classes. Should be fun and instructive . . . and something to do while waiting for my next dive trip

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