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Standard Operating Procedures  

 

In order to avoid costly or poor production quality mistakes it is a very good idea to establish a set of Standard Operating Procedures when shooting video underwater. 

 

Keep all of your manuals in a waterproof zip lock bag so that they are available to you while on location if required. Transport your equipment in a sturdy carrying case that will protect your equipment. Be advised that you will likely require extra time to go through airport security since the inspectors generally want to have a closer look at your gear. The airlines have strict baggage allowances these days so be prepared for overweight baggage charges as well. 

  

Whenever possible load the camera into the housing in a dry, air-conditioned environment.  Take your time!  I have long ago lost count of the number of flooded housings that I have seen due to somebody rushing to put their equipment together.  Grease your O-rings as required, secure the housing latches, turn the housing on and check that all controls are operating correctly.  Keep a lens cover over your lens to protect it from scratches when not in use.  It is a good idea to have twice as many batteries as you require for the operation of your equipment.  That way you can always have a fully charged battery available.  I learned the hard way to determine how much battery and how much film you have available to you for a dive.  Murphy’s Law dictates that you will either run out of film or have the battery die just as you are about to get the shot that will make you famous. 

  

Never jump into the water with your housing. After your entry come back to the boat and have somebody hand the housing to you. Over time I have established a practice that I go through every time I enter the water. First, I turn the housing on and check the moisture indicator and then inspect the housing to ensure that there are no bubbles coming from it since this would indicate water getting inside. Then I attach the housing to my BCD with a retractable cord. If the lens cover is still in place I remove it and store it in a BCD pocket. Next I whisk my hand in front of the lens to remove any bubbles that might be stuck on the port. Then I ensure that the red filter is engaged and white balance the camera using Amphibico’s white balance slate. All of this takes about the same amount of time that is required for the descent. Once at depth I white balance the camera again. 

 

Generally, just before taking a shot I will adjust white balance due to changing depth or light conditions and also periodically ensure that the lens has not accumulated bubbles from other divers’ exhaust. A few years ago I was filming a couple of reef sharks and was able to get some incredible close-ups. When I reviewed the footage later I realized that I had been recording while swimming to get into position and then hit standby when I had intended to record the shot.  Since it can take a few seconds for the housing to engage record or standby check to make sure that you are recording when you think you are recording.  In all the excitement, my fingers had become out of sync with the housing controls.

Always check your dive gauges after shooting a sequence to ensure that you are still within depth or no decompression limits.  It is quite easy to become so absorbed in getting the shot that you may forget basic dive safety protocols.

          

 

 

Katyk BriceƱo
"Amazing!!! Beautiful!!" 
 
Daniel LaFrance  
"Beautiful, akin to an underwater spiritual experience of sorts."
 
Walter Marshall   
"Whenever I watch your videos I am just taken away." 
 
Shaun Diaz   
"Well done, very well done. Mysterious, gorgeous and deeply inspiring... The best part is I am not naming any of it. It is nature in its most perfect and beautiful form." 
 
Christie Lopez  
"David...the video is beautiful and so is the music!! I love the music!!!!" 
 
Brian Dodd
"I just wanted to thank you for the moments of peace and beauty these clips brought to my hectic life."