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24 Hours Worth of Fresh Video Ideas

By Jill Heinerth

A Paralenz (or two) can be used to capture a different perspective – including the in vogue selfie! Photo: Jill Heinerth

One of my favourite video sequences of all time was orchestrated by acclaimed adventure filmmaker Adam Ravetch. In 2012, he was in the Arctic filming Polar Bears: A Summer Odyssey, following a young bear’s epic migration through the icy waters of Hudson Bay. The underwater work was exceptional, but it was some of the land footage that got my attention. Adam fastened a GoPro camera to a remote-controlled toy truck. In the sequence, the polar bear approaches the truck head on, just as Adam turns the motor on full speed to escape. The bear bounds straight at the camera in a lengthy slow-motion, closeup that reveals the sinewy power of the massive animal in full stride. At the end of the sequence, a huge paw rises to crush the camera and toy truck in a single swat. I have never seen anything like it. Some might call that a gimmick, but I thought it was creative brilliance. I loved it and wanted to see more. 

The next time you head off on a dive trip, think of channeling Adam’s imagination in unique ways that capture the attention of your audience. Here are a few ideas to try out.

6:00 am – Time Lapse

Loading the boat before a dive trip might seem mundane, but if you capture a time-lapse of the process of filling up the vessel with a mountain of gear, it can be a great start to a video. If you want a cheap solution for a time-lapse that pans (and don’t want to buy an expensive video camera slider), you can duct tape a small action camera to the rotating dial of a chef’s timer. Lay the timer on its back then set the timer to the length of your sequence and it will click and move slightly with each passing minute. 

7:00 am – The Captain’s Mast

With the boat loaded and ready for departure, if you learn that you will be crossing some rough water to get to the dive site, look at it as an opportunity. Grab some Dramamine then affix an action camera to the tallest point on the boat or the forward rail. If you anticipate dolphins riding in the wake, then put another camera on the transom. Turn the camera on as you leave the dock. You might only use a few clips from the video capture, but those moments will define the adventure.

9:00 am – Take the Plunge  

Most people have their camera system passed down to them in the water. If conditions permit and your camera can take it, make your giant stride or back roll from the boat with the camera rolling. The confusion of white water is a terrific transition into the underwater portion of your shoot.

9:15 am – The Ocean at Eye Level

You’re floating on the water, waiting for your dive buddy to join you. Try shooting a “half in/half out” sequence of their giant stride entrance. 

9:30 am – All About Me

Selfies are all the rage in photography and they make great transitions and sequences underwater, too. If you are using autofocus, grab a quick focus on something at arm’s reach, such as your fin tip or the reef. Rotate the camera to face you, but don’t become obsessed with looking straight into the lens. Try looking left and right, over the camera and below, like natural searching behaviour. You may need to aim video lights right in your face for illumination.

10:00 am – The Eyes Have It

Dedicate an action camera like the wide-angled Paralenz to point straight into your eyes, very close to your mask. Strap it backwards to one of your camera arms, then go about your dive with the Paralenz recording continuously. After a few minutes, you won’t notice it, and it might capture some magical expressions like the one that happens when you see your first giant eagle ray.

2:00 pm – Set It and Forget It

On your morning dive, you have had a chance to find some fascinating nooks and crannies with fishy residents. Perhaps you located an octopus den or a jawfish burrow. These timid animals might not want you in their space, so take a small tripod and carefully park your camera in a way that does not damage the environment. Hit record and swim away. You can fetch your camera at the end of the dive, and with any luck, you will have caught some interesting natural behaviour.

8:00 pm – Stealth Mode

It’s time for a night dive, but you don’t want to scare away the ocean inhabitants. Use a red light or red gel over your primary light. It will be enough for you to see your way around the reef but not enough to frighten the evening reef crawlers. When you find something worth shooting, turn on your video lights, but be prepared to quickly catch the action as you startle the fish!

8:15 am – Great Balls of Fire

Now that you have alerted everything on the reef to your existence, go “full spotlight” mode using every light you own either on or off the camera. You will attract dense schools of small fish and worms. Rather than cursing their presence in your frame, make them the subject, then watch the periphery as the larger critters come to feed on your baitfish.

10:00 pm – Making Music

Back on the liveaboard, you are feeling excited about the day’s activities. Start a jam session of you and your friends making music using your dive gear. The attention-getting cacophany can include hand-slaps on tanks, drumming with fins, and even whooshes of gas from your BCD inflator. Record the session for your video and capture the laughs of everyone who tries to add to the dive gear orchestra.

4:00 am – The Dawn Wall

Night dives are spectacular but if you have never done a dawn dive, you owe yourself the opportunity. There is an entirely different cast of characters swimming on the reef as the sun peeks over the horizon. Watching the fish transition from night to day is unique and offers a fitting end to a trip full of great experiences.

Now that you have added a little spice to your diving video, continue channeling your inner Adam Ravetch creativity. I challenge someone out there to build an ROV that the fish will chase around the reef without using bait. Do you have some great tips? Let us know in the comments below… 

Into the planet Jill’s biography can be purchased now through Amazon.

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