Professional Underwater Videography Training & Internship
Koh Tao, Thailand
The 12 day professional underwater videography training course focuses on documentary film-making and starts with an introduction to the camera and housing. We show you how to set-up and maintain the equipment and then progress on to film styles, camera angles, composition and shot making. We’ll then introduce you to the computer editing programs and show you how you can put sound effects and music onto your movies. We’ll spend 7 days in the water- 2 dives per day filming and the rest of the time we spend editing 6 movies and a show-reel. During the course we will use wide angle lenses focusing on wide shots on some days. While on other days we use macro lenses to film the small critters in the sand.
Pre-requisites: PADI Advanced Open Diver (or equivalent) with 50+ logged dives. It is possible to add on the scuba training courses before the start of the Professional Underwater Videography Training if you need experience to meet the prerequisites. Just let us know what you want to do.
Available Course Dates
The Professional Underwater videography Training Course is available year-round, except in November and December when Oceans Below goes on expeditions with ex-students to film great marine life around the globe. We take maximum 2 people per course to ensure that you get lots of personalized attention throughout. These courses usually are booked at least a few months in advance, so make sure you check in with us prior to traveling to ensure availability.
Health Requirements for underwater videographers
If you are looking to participate in this program you need to ensure that you are reasonably fit and free from any conditions that may prevent from or be a danger to you while diving. Before signing up, it is best to consult your doctor and get a signed Medical Statement
Underwater Videography Internship
(Available only after the Pro Videography Course).
Once you have completed your training, you will have the option to do the following:
- Documentary Film making Internship: Continue your education and skill development. Quite simply, diving and filming to produce your own short documentary. Diving away from the main student dive sites and avoiding the crowds is one of the goals of this internship. You may find yourself spending 45 minutes filming a seahorse to get that perfect shot. This is a 10 day program
- Learn how to make promo videos for dive centers or promotional pieces for social media and creative editing. This is a 10 day program
More Info: Underwater Videography Courses
Here are my top 10 tips on how to shoot underwater videos
- Stay shallow if you want to make sure your footage is of the highest quality possible.
- If you do go deeper…bring video lights.
- Get close! This way there’s less water between your camera and the subject and less loss of light. Water absorbs and diffuses light resulting in a loss of color (among other things). Your footage also will look more intimate If you get close.
- Know your camera well. Changing camera settings underwater should be second nature. If you can change F-stop, ISO etc. on your camera, make sure you know how to do it with your camera in an underwater housing!
- To get steady shots you will need great buoyancy control. Keep working on that every time you dive- even if you haven’t brought your camera.
- Get a great shooting angle. Preferably go below your subject, or shoot at eye level.
- Use manual White Balance if that is possible on your camera. Otherwise, opt for Underwater White Balance mode or Fish Mode.
- Don’t chase fish. It doesn’t look good on a video to see just fish tails swimming away.
- Hold the camera still. Avoid shaky movements, but make sure that most of your shots are moving shots to avoid a boring sequence. Video is great because we can move!
- Get a variety of shots. You want to have some wide shots, a couple of mid shots and a few closer up shots to tell the story of your marine critters. Alternate these with some moving shots over the coral, showing the environment.
Check out my blog on 10 tips to improve your underwater video in the BLOG How much does an underwater cameraman make? So you have done a video course, you invested in a camera and housing, and now, you are ready to take on a real paid job in underwater video production.
Well… that all depends! The more lumens, the better. You can never have too much light would be the easy answer. A very high output light will have a lower output mode, so you will never encounter the problem of having too much light. However, it all depends on what you are shooting. On night dives for example, you’ll find that even a 2500 lumens video light produces enough light to capture good footage.
As a rule of thumb, when shooting with a weaker video light, position yourself very close to your subject or shoot macro subjects. No further than 1 to 1.5m away. Strong video lights (10,000+ lumens) may allow you to shoot from 2m, but the light is getting absorbed fast underwater. If you want to make sure your footage is as good as possible, get close.
In 2021, 2500 lumens is an excellent light strength for night diving and macro video, 5000 lumens is considered a mid-range video light and anything above 12,000 is considered very powerful.
Why are most videographers going for such high lumens? The light needs to be able to overpower the sunlight when filming in the shallows. And if you are filming wide angle with video lights, you need to make sure your scene can be lit up to get a great shot!
I often get asked by my trainees for advice on how to build a career in underwater filmmaking. And there’s no easy answer. There is no well-defined path to follow which would guarantee you a sustainable living doing underwater video work for the rest of your life. You have to be willing to work hard for it and for a very long time to get to the point where you can make a living. The job is hugely rewarding and can be a good source of income, but it is always a challenge!
Some tips though:
- Make sure your diving skills are great. Good buoyancy is the key!
- Sign up for a video course. Of course you can figure everything out yourself over time, but why not get all the right tools and tips in a short time during an underwater video course and be good right away?
- Study marine life. What do they eat? How do they move? What environment are they living in? As a cameraman you will often have to predict what your next shot should be, so by knowing about your subject, you increase your chances of capturing the behaviour you want.
- Watch nature documentaries with the eye of a cameraman instead of the viewer. How did they get that shot? What’s the lighting look like…?
- Invest in a decent camera with manual controls and a good quality housing. And then learn how to operate the camera well. Practise as much as you can.
- Participate in film festivals with your own short documentaries. This well help get your name out and inspire you to produce your best work. Make your own website, upload your work on Instagram, Vimeo, and YouTube… Make short vlogs about your job, experiences or new gear. Establish your name in the field!
- Learn how to edit great underwater videos. 8. Be persistent. If this is your dream job, keep at it! One day it will happen.
The GoPro is the world’s most popular underwater camera. It is compact and affordable and basically anyone can take it on a dive and get decent-quality video!
The GoPro has limited features for underwater videography, but it is equipped with a good lens that can capture sharp videos. This all depends on conditions and accessories used, of course.
To get the best footage out of your GoPro consider:
- Using a tray with handle bars to be able to get much more stable video.
- Using video lights. The only way to get really nice colours underwater is to use video lights. 2500 lumens is a great start and will mkake subjects 1m away pop more!
- Using a macro lens to allow you to video small marine life.
If you shoot with the Hypersmooth Stabilization turned on, your footage will look quite stable already.
If now you would shoot in 2.7K resolution and 60fps for example, you can edit the footage in a 1080p sized timeline at 30fps, crop down your footage and stabilize it with the Warp Stabilizer tool in Adobe Premiere, for example. The advantage of shooting in 2.7K is that it provides the extra resolution to allow for cropping and stabilization without any compromise on the quality of your final 1080 resolution video. And because you shoot in 60 fps, you can easily slow down your footage by 50% without losing quality.
This can be handy to slow down fast hunting behaviour of some marine life, and it can make a wobbly shot smoother in your video!
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4/15 Moo 1, Koh Tao, Suratthani 84360, Thailand
Tel/Whatsapp: +66 81 268 20 31