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kun1

new to video

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Hey,

 

im looking for some help and tips on shooting on underwater video. I didn't see a newbie forum for video just photography so if im in the wrong place apologies, maybe a mod could directed this thread to the correct section...

 

First things first, i've been diving for around 11 years now and i've been to some pretty amazing places but i have nothing to remind me of some of the stunning sights i've seen, mantas, dolphins, sperm whales and crazy macro are all just memories in my head! So earlier this year i decided im going to have to do something about this so i can relive my trips and share them with others. So i looked into getting a video setup....

 

I was looking at getting a ikelite housing until i noticed a setup on Ebay. I managed to pick up a Sony fx7 and a Amphibico housing at a really good price . A local shop also told me the fx7 would be a much better choice as i would be able to white balance etc manually which i would want to do later down the line.

 

So what i have here is a video of the sand tiger shark migration off the coast of kwazulu natal on Protea Banks. i've seen some absolutely amazing videos on this board and it's very inspiring. i'm a little embarrassed to show my video here to be honest. But im willing to take a bit of a bashing if it will help me in the long run, i was wondering if you could give me some tips tell me what ive done wrong so i can improve. The things i dont like about it are it looks very blue and the images arnt very sharp?? but maybe that's because of the depth??.. what i do like is the sharks were a pretty good subject to practice on, theyre pretty docile if you follow a few simple rules.

 

I know nothing about cameras or filming, hope you guys can help me out?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpNtq0mdRfY

Edited by kun1

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Welcome to the world of video. Took a look at your footage and here are some suggestions. When filming any marine life, try to get a bit below your subject and shoot upwards. Shooting down tends to flatten out the image. Avoid shooting from behind the subject as well. Use lights for those close shots. The biggest problem I saw was that much of the footage seemed out of focus. Not sure if you are filming using auto focus or not, but you will find that once you get used to manually focusing, your clips will be the better for it. Practice, practice, practice...we all started at the same point and you will only improve with shooting experience.

Good luck to ya'

Steve

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Welcome to the world of video. Took a look at your footage and here are some suggestions. When filming any marine life, try to get a bit below your subject and shoot upwards. Shooting down tends to flatten out the image. Avoid shooting from behind the subject as well. Use lights for those close shots. The biggest problem I saw was that much of the footage seemed out of focus. Not sure if you are filming using auto focus or not, but you will find that once you get used to manually focusing, your clips will be the better for it. Practice, practice, practice...we all started at the same point and you will only improve with shooting experience.

Good luck to ya'

Steve

 

Hi, Thanks for replying. Yeah it was all in auto focus, prior to the trip i did read on here that i should avoid using auto focus, but i tried it in manual and it was even worse. i've uploaded some footage of me approaching a small school of fish with the camera already recording in the hope that they would go into a nice formation. turns out they dispersed and its a clip on how not to manual focus.

 

If you watch from about 50secs in you can see its in and out of focus (also the marble ray on the sand which i didnt even see when i was filming :D ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nZI1yeKbQU

 

How do you set the manual focus up once in the cameras manual mode? Do you set the focus and then just leave it for the entire dive or do you constantly adjust it for every shot?

 

Here are the options the housing allows me to access on the camera.

 

FOCUSING

The camcorder focus on the Endeavor can

be set to either auto or manual focus. To

toggle from auto to manual focus, simply

press on the AF TOGGLE button to navigate

through Auto and Manual focus.

 

Manual Focus

In manual focus, fine tune the focus by using

the FOCUS + and FOCUS - buttons.

Use the right grip MOMENT AF button (by

holding it down) to temporary auto focus.

Letting go will return to manual focus.

 

Expanded focus

In order enable the Expanded Focus functions

of the camcorder, locate the push

button below the Iris Adjustment Panel. By

pushing on the button, the image shown in

the viewfinder will be magnified by about 2

times. This will help you set the focus during

manual focusing.

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I used the V1 for a couple of years which is basically the FX7 with a few bells and whistles. For wide angle using a dome set the focus to 0.3m and just leave it at that - everything from your port out will be in focus. If you are using a flat port set focus to infinity - it wont work as well as a dome, but its ok. Never, ever, ever, ever never, ever, ever use AF underwater!! (well that is unless you decide to break all the rules but leave that till you've got a bit more experience under your belt!) :D

 

Not had time to look at your video, but I will try over the next couple of days.

 

Cheers, Simon

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Hi,

 

I am no professional by all means but a few things I have picked up along the way.

 

1) You will want to look into manual white balance to help with color correction. It makes a big difference and saves a lot of time when editing. You can use a white/grey slate, the sand, a white fin, the sun on the water surface etc. There should be many other posts about this that you can find.

 

2) Stability in the water. Camera shake is one of the most distracting things for a viewer. Buoyancy and stability are very important. Of course the first thing your learn 11 years ago was to never hold your breath while diving. Agreed....there is a BUT in my eyes. I hold my breath all of the time to help myself stay still. Only do this if your are comfortable with it and understand when you can and cant breath hold. Other breathing techniques can also be useful for certain types of up/down shots.

 

Another very useful tool is a tripod. Yes more stuff to lug around but I use my tripod a lot! For wide angle, macro, free swimming and panning. I have a gorilla pod and I brace 2 of the legs on my forearms for additional stability and it does help. The more points of contact with the rig the better as long as you are in a comfortable position and can see the LCD screen.

 

3) As Steve mentioned downward shots can make the subject look quite 2 dimensional so try to shoot up with the sun at your back. Shooting into the sun can often highlight all the particles in the water and make exposure difficult. In saying that silhouette shots can be very nice (ei. a turtle blocking the sun).

 

4) Editing is all practice makes perfect. Along with filming. You will notice in most documentaries and short films that the clip lengths are generally quite short. 2-5 seconds depending. When you have a subject try to get various shots to tell the story. Wide angle...close ups...different angles. The more you film the easier it becomes to find what you think looks nice.

 

5) Panning shots can be difficult. Try to move slowly and smooth. Often following a subject makes it look much nicer.

 

You may notice your general diving speed slows down...Annoying your buddy unless he has a camera too. Take your time. Get the shot. Stay in the water and practice as much as possible and soon you will not want to dive without a camera in front of your face.

 

Good luck!!!

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some great advice thank you very much.

 

Simon, thank you very much for the input, i remember watching your 'circle of life' film (that's you right?) totally awesome, part of the reason why i want to capture some of the underwater action us divers see.Immense. Good to get advice on the actual equipment i'm using, thanks for that. Its that simple? just set it to 0.3m . i must be missing something.. i know thats not going to give me footage like yours instantly as there is much more than just getting the shot in focus but just to have it in focus will be amazing.

 

what does the 0.3 actually mean? to me someone who knows nothing it would indicate anything upto 0.3m will be in focus after it will start to blur... im using a amphibico 94 degree wide angle port so the 0.3 still stands with that? its gets confusing what people call domes, wide angle etc

 

what's the difference between the wide angle 94 degree, standard dome and flat port? is it the wide angle will magnify the field of view so i can get more in the shot, the dome just lets you use the optics the cameras lens has underwater, the flat port i have no idea??

 

BC seaDragon... appreciate the time you spent posting that.

 

 

I will take a slate down with me next time, i tried it off the sand to know avail. How big a slate would you recommend?

 

I thought my stability with the camera was ok for a beginner, my buoyancy is pretty much spot on (without the cam) and as you say i control my buoyancy with my breathing rather than my bc.

 

Yep will always shot horizontally or up at my subjects from now on.. no shooting fish backsides now either :D

 

Editing was very tricky, my main problem is i dont have enough footage at the moment so when i put the clip together i had to drag some shots out sometimes to over 30secs just so you could see the actual quality (or lack ) of the film.

 

Funny you should say that. i annoyed a buddy in the philippines because i just wanted to spend around 30minutes watching a cuttle fish, i actually forgot about him, pretty irresponsible but we were both advanced divers and the dive was only at about 12m. I would have been quite happy to spend the whole dive with just the cuttlefish http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsxxUpy61D4

. This video was also shot in auto with no white balance or filter with just the standard dome port.

 

The things i want to try and nail on my next trip are getting the shots in focus and getting a decent white balance.

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One thing to add to BC Dragon's excellent suggestions. It is okay, and often desirable to allow your subject to come into the frame and go out. No need to always follow the critter with you turning

circles. Get low whenever you can. Okay, that was 2 things.

 

As far as editing is concerned...most beginners make their films far too long. They make the error of falling in love with their own footage. It might kill you to cut some of your clips out of that 10 minute sequence but, once done, you will see for yourself that it is a better film. Sometimes, after editing for several days, it is a good thing not to look at it for a couple of days. Then go back and you will see it with fresh eyes and ears. That's always a good thing.

Steve

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OK I've had a chance to watch through your vid now Kun. Nice sharks(!) and pretty good for a first video, but here's some tips both general and camera specific (I'll try not to repeat what others have said as there is already a lot of great advice that doesn't need repeating.)

 

Focus - Yes when using a dome set the focus to 0.3 meters. This should put everything into focus from just beyond your dome out to infinity. It doesn't always work for every camera/dome combination, but I can't see a reason why it wouldn't for the FX7 with the Amphibico housing and WA port. Infinity will also work, but it will generally be a bit softer than 0.3 as you are actually focusing inside the housing and then still need to pass through the port itself. 0.3m generally wont work as well on a flat port and I'd almost always revert to just using infinity. I'm sure someone can explain the technical reasons why this works far better than I can!

 

WB - The FX7 needs to WB regularly as you move down the water column. If you just drop down to 20m + and try to WB it just wont work, so you need to WB every 5m at most. I've managed to WB down to around 35m in clear tropical blue seas, but that is very rare and I'd say the normal maximum would be 20-25m (this is assuming that you are using a URPRO filter). There are a number of different options for WB targets when using a FX7 without having to revert to using cards. The best bar none is white sand. Next best is the palm of your hand and another good option is the surface of the water (ideally with the sun in shot, but this actually isn't essential). These are all methods that will get the WB close to what you want it to be with only minor colour correction in post.

 

Edit - completely agree with a previous comment regarding clip length. Look to edit with clips 1 - 6 seconds long.

 

The more time in the water with your camera and the more you get to know what it is and what it is not capable of achieving, the better you'll get so practice, have fun and enjoy! :D

 

Cheers, Simon

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WB - The FX7 needs to WB regularly as you move down the water column. If you just drop down to 20m + and try to WB it just wont work, so you need to WB every 5m at most. I've managed to WB down to around 35m in clear tropical blue seas, but that is very rare and I'd say the normal maximum would be 20-25m (this is assuming that you are using a URPRO filter). There are a number of different options for WB targets when using a FX7 without having to revert to using cards. The best bar none is white sand. Next best is the palm of your hand and another good option is the surface of the water (ideally with the sun in shot, but this actually isn't essential). These are all methods that will get the WB close to what you want it to be with only minor colour correction in post.

 

I have never actually tried to white balance with the water surface and no sun. This seems to work well Simon?

 

All good points.

 

Besides time in the water and editing you need to use your down time on this website and others. Learning about different techniques, equipment, maintenance, watching videos and seeing what you like and dislike and researching your next dive destination!

 

I have picked up a lot of very useful information on here regarding all of the above!

 

Now its off to the Red Sea for me!!!

 

Cheers,

 

Kelly

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I have never actually tried to white balance with the water surface and no sun. This seems to work well Simon?

 

Hi Kelly

 

On some cameras it doesn't work well at all, but on the FX7/V1 it seems to work pretty good and it will certainly get you close enough to adjust the colour balance when editing. I've used that method in both tropical blue water and temperate green water seas and it works equally well in both.

 

Cheers, Simon

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