All ‘Underwater’ Articles
New ARRI Alexa underwater housing ! Zuccarini Design fabricated by Watershot LLC,
I had a chance to look this housing over and …….well it’s a work of art!
Complete access to all of the cameras functions, superlightweight construction (carbon Fiber&Alumn.)
Depth Rated at 135+ !!
Accepts Panavion Primos as well as, Cooke s4, Master Primes, Leica, Hawk V-lites and unheard of in a underwater housing Arri LWZ 15-45 and the Angenieux 16-42 optimos.
Complete access to camera side control panel.
and all other buttons as well.
Beautiful attention to detail
Naturally also has FOCUS and IRIS control of the lens.
Default Flat front port, many other port options available as well….Dome, extenders etc..
Large side handles and long top handle are extremely useful and necessary for the operator
left side view
THE END…..hopefully I will get to use this beautiful work of art soon and get wet with it!!
Please contact Peter Zuccarini himself at 305-661-2900 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Myself of course 310.592.8450 / email@example.com or Bobby Settlemire firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions or rental inquiries.
Got hired to film a sequence of the US Olympic water polo team as they prepare for the 2012 summer Olympics in LONDON!!
Incredible guys! So proud of them. They are tremendous athletes and favored for a GOLD!!
The best our country has….really amazing.
It was an honor work with them.
We shot some awesome stuff on the RED EPIC in high speed…. Lots of surface work and some cool underwater shots too. Showing all the complex movements they have to make underwater to be able to leap out of the water and do what they do.
Red EPIC camera
Hydroflex DW housing
16mm Ultra Prime (4k full coverage)
Zeiss Compact Primes (various lengths)
Here is a gallery with some pictures of an unforgettable day in the water.
Last year I did some tests with a Focus Optics Ruby 14-24mm lens. I tested them on a 3D rig and underwater with a flat and dome port. So this is Part 2.
More info on the 3D lens testing here on my previous article where I tested a matched pair on a 3D Rig. (Part 1)
Using one of those lenses a RED One and a Element Technica REDONE underwater housing. Using a Dome port and a Flat port.
The purpose of this test is too determine how bad is a wider focal length underwater on a flat port.
When shooting underwater with a beam splitter you are forced to use a flat port. This is because of the (virtual) overlapping of the lenses. A dome port is simply impossible when using a beamsplitter.
At the same time we all know that wide lenses optically perform extremely poor with flat ports.
Flat ports exhibit a few main issues underwater, the flat port is unable to correct for the distortion produced by the differences between the indexes of light refraction in air and water. Using a flat port introduces a number of aberrations when used underwater. They are:
This is the bending of light waves as they pass through different mediums of optical density (the air inside the camera housing and the water outside the lens port). Light is refracted 25 percent, causing the lens to undergo the same magnification you would see through a facemask. The focal length of your lens also increases by approximately 25 percent.
Demonstrated here in this split level shot of my assistant. His body looks huge compared to his head. This is a clear demonstration of refraction and the magnification it produces.
If the subjects moves things get even worse! Needless to say split level shots with a flat port are not advised. Unless you want the effect!
Because flat ports do not distort light rays equally, they have a progressive radial distortion that becomes more obvious as wider lenses are used. The effect is a progressive blur, that increases with large apertures on wide lenses. Light rays passing through the center of the port are not affected because their direction of travel is at right angles to the water-air interface of the port.
White light, when refracted, is separated into the color spectrum. The component colors of white light do not travel at the same speed, and light rays passing from water to glass to air will be unequally bent. When light separates into its component colors, the different colors slightly overlap, causing a loss of sharpness and color saturation, which is more noticeable with wider lenses.
The dome port is a concentric lens that acts as an additional optical element to the camera lens. The dome port significantly reduces the problems of refraction, radial distortion and axial and chromatic aberrations when the curvature of the dome’s inside radius center is placed as close as possible to the nodal point of the lens. When a dome port is used, all the rays of light pass through un-refracted, which allows the “in-air” lens to retain its angle of view. Optically a “virtual image” is created inches in front of the lens. To photograph a subject underwater with a dome port you must focus the lens on the virtual image”, not the subject itself. The dome port makes the footage marks on the lens totally inaccurate for underwater focus. Therefore lenses should be calibrated underwater. The dome port offers no special optics above water and functions as a clear window.
It’s really too bad were are stuck with the Flat port for 3D but there is little we can do. Sure you can use a “side by side” configuration with dual dome ports but this would result in a large inter-axial which is really not ideal for feature film 3D production.
So the purpose of this test is just to get an idea how poor and what the loss is and if that will be acceptable to potential cinematographer for use on feature productions.
Here you see the lens in the housing before I put the final port on.
As you will see below I first shot the camera on the surface with no port, dome and flat. Then Underwater dome and flat at various focal lengths.
I setup a c-stand with my homemade geometrical chart i use for 3D aligment but I added 2 putora sharpness charts at each edge.
Now, naturally the results are predictable. The dome port performed well (not great, a bigger dome would of done even better) and the flat port performed poorly and got worse as we got wider. So we expected this. The questions really was how bad was it and is it acceptable?
My point is, the level of acceptable image quality is very subjective and is one that needs to be evaluated by the FX supervisor(post house), DP and Director. Ultimately in 3D feature productions we just don’t have a choice….we HAVE to use a flat port and in certain situations we might HAVE to use a 16mm lens.
I think that what might make it easier for Directors and Dp’s to “swallow” and image which is less than perfect so to speak is the fact that underwater and in 3D you tend not to put anything on the edges of frame to avoid “window violations” of the 3D space and in the center of the frame things are sharp. and the edges well they can tend to be the very “homogenous” blue ocean…. even when things are filling the frame if you also add motion blur into the mix a lot of shots can then get a “passing grade”. Just take the image of the anchor or the fish in my ocean shots below, you eyes are drawn towards the center and you tend to ignore the edges. I can guarantee that if those images were 3D that would be even more true.
To illustrate my point….
I was the stereographer on a $40 million feature called shark night 3D
This was our underwater camera rig…..a now aging but capable PACE|FUSION side by side rig/housing. Also used in James Cameron’s underwater documentaries “Aliens of the Deep” and “Ghost of the Abyss” and others blockbusters like “Sanctum” and Resident evil 3D.
Sony F950 cameras and poor quality Fujinon zooms (I forget the focal range but they were very wide on the wide end maybe 16mm equivalent) on a FLAT GLASS PORT.
Open rear view of the housing
Coming out of the water on set.
It has a massive 2.75″ IO poor quality Fujinon lenses(when compared to cinema lenses) and flat port.
Most of the shots were done on the wide end.
We shot many charts underwater for VFX/post to correct the images. Post then takes the chart and corrects the distortion and applies the corrections to all the underwater footage. This way it gets rid of one of the flat port side effects. Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done to correct the soft edges….so not everything can be fixed in post!
The Fujinon lenses even above water displayed CA and significant barrel distortion on the wide end. Underwater it just got worse.
********PACE now has a new underwater rig…..they used it on “Life of Pi”. I have first hand confirmation(from the camera crew) that they did have to use 16mm on a flat port at times.*********
Point is…..all these features saw theatrical release. All these features were able to correct the distortion and other issues with the images this rig created. To what degree? Well pop in the DVD and watch for yourself.
Furthermore…..here is the “Panavision 3D splash box” we used on some above water scenes………..the “box” had just come back from shooting “Pirates of the Carribean 4″ 3D on RED one cameras.
The “box/fishtank” features a large FLAT glass port”. Lens most used in this setup was…..you guess it a 16mm. I have friends that worked with the box on pirates and can verify that.
We used the Box/fishtank with a 18mm cooke zoom (18-40)
Here it is in all it’s glory.
Did you watch Pirates of Caribbean 4? Then you saw images created using this box/fishtank and a flat port with a wide lens.
Here is a side shot.
I’m not doubting the laws of physics that we are fighting. My job is test stuff and present it to people above my pay grade regardless how ridiculous it might seam.
It’s up to them (mostly VFX guys/post) to evaluate it work their million dollar post tools on it and tell us if it’s an image they can work with and make better.
That’s is the main purpose behind this test…..
Based of my past experiences (posted above) coupled with this test, I think that with a 5k epic (more pixels and data for post) great lenses (ruby) instead of Fujinons that 16mm will can be usable in a flat port.
I would generally advise going below 20mm but it’s up to them to decide.
Filmmakers “might” be willing to live with “good enough”. Certainly has been the case in the recent past as I pointed out.
Why this is relevant to me and others,
Because for feature film production we are forced to used “Beamsplitter” rig because this allows us the smaller IA needed for large screen 3D production. The only way to get parallax into reasonable parameters for large screen production is to use a beamsplitter and therefore we are also forced to live with Flat ports.
Here is the GATES “DEEP EPIC” underwater housing for the 3ality Technica “ATOM” rig.
The other feature quality (Red Epic 5k) underwater beamsplitter housing I will be using and that is currently available is the “Mocean Armor Magicine GV4″ Red Epic beamplitter housing. (full review article coming soon)
Used by underwater cinematographer Ken Corben recently in the Artic.
In the end I just point my camera at what the DP tell me to!
So I leave the final evaluation and decision to you the reader, DP, director…..etc….
Here some “real world” image grabs from video shot with a Red One with a Flat port in Catalina Island, CA (Casino Point) on a very sunny day…..
Bouey Anchor 30ft depth…
another chart shot…you can see the chromatic aberrations towards the edges and the distortion and the soft edges…..hehehe it’s all in this picture! Naturally notice the center is tack sharp.
Last image from my dive…I saw a shadow on the sea floor then looked up to see this….I was around 60ft unfortunately so most of my light was gone….it did give this a eerie feel to it.
1stAC E.Gunnar Mortensen for his help on this day.
Element Technica for use of their housing.
I’ll leave you with a gallery of the test,
Dariusz Wolski talks 3D movie making with the ASC magazine….
I feel for Dave….
“Steadicam operator David Luckenbach was laboring beneath a heavy stereo rig, waiting for director Rob Marshall to call “action.”
My longtime collaborator and filmaker Robert “Bobby” Settlemire recently purchase one of the best housings in the market for his Canon. Naturally I jumped at the opportunity to try out his new housing.
Me and my brother jumped on the Catalina Express and headed over to the famous Casino Point Kelp forests for the day.
I’m a Nikon guy by blood….but naturally have shot alot with the 5D before but I’m looking forward getting my next Nikon a nice housing like this.
The housing is billet machined from a single block of 6061 T6 Marine Grade Aluminum and hard anodized to a durable finish. The High Aspect Ratio Seal and signature WaterLatch closure system ensure that the camera is protected and secure. The housing comes standard with either a Nikonos or S6 strobe connector and is supported by an extensive lineup of ports, handles, focus lights and accessories. Every detail of this housing has been designed to create a powerful and intuitive professional underwater imaging tool.
I was very impressed.
Depth Rating – 60 Meters
Auduble and Visual Leak Sensors
Complete Access to All Camera Functions
Compact Ergonomic Design and Construction
8.25″ x 6″ x 5.25″ (WHD)
210mm x 152mm x 133mm
Check out the Watershot website for more info and pricing.
Once underwater the housing was great! albeit a bit too heavy for surf or surface shooting underwater it shines. All the camera features are accessible so full functionality is maintained.
I used the larger 9″ Dome port and a 16-35mm lens.
Here my best frames….
I absolutely love my new Dive computer…..Uemis Zurich. $1500–$1600. It’s expensive….but then again, it’s helping keep me alive. I I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a dive computer that will be working with a viewfinder in the deep blue.
It has a solar panel that charges during use which essentially means it will never die.
It has a very bright OLED screen that you can view in any angle underwater. If you have ever used one of the watch style computers the screen is hard to view at certain angles.
It has a wireless tank pressure transmitter that sends tank pressure to the computer to help it calculate all the stuff it does….you can even monitor your buddies air supply if the have a transmitter on and they are nearby.
my dive buddy was able to look over from a few feet away to check depth, he was very impressed and surprised.
The best thing for me about it is the very LARGE very “DuMB” alerts. Since it’s easy for me to get lost in the viewfinder its great for me to look over and see in BIG RED letters….ASCEND! or SLOW DOWN! END DIVE!
Best part is when you get home plug in usb to my laptop and review lots of data and log it.
Interesting to see my air consumption rate and workload change and affect my camera operation….
as expected the slower I breathe the better my shots get…..
i love the challenge of shooting underwater…..exposure, light composition, buoyancy, breathing…..it’s all part of it….
and so is staying safe and staying alive to shoot another day. This is where I think the uemis works best for me. It grabs my attention with it large display and graphics.
FINALLY…..Million thanks to the guys over at Hollywood divers that made the suggestion and let me test one out. I’m now the proud owner of a Zurich thanks to them.
Trailer for the movie I worked on as stereographer last year has now been released on itunes!!
I hope everyone gets to enjoy the movie soon!!
I use a Halcyon Infinity backplate/wing style BC. WHY?
I found a great explanation online explaining the differences between BP/W style BC and the more popular “Vest” style. I have paraphrased the article I found here.
First lets take a look.
More popular “vest style” looks like this.
My Halcyon Infinity BP/W BC
The first thing you need ask yourself before buying any kind of equipment is what are your requirements? How will YOU use this?
This should ultimately be your mantra while investigating what to buy.
diver first has to ask himself/herself, “What is it, exactly, that I want a BC to do for me?” Certainly the answer to that question can be as diverse as the current lineup of BC’s flooding the market. However, I found that most divers, myself included, placed two functions of a BC at the top of their list. They are:
1- A BC needs to hold everything together. Simply put, it must hold the tanks squarely on the diver’s back, without shifting around and causing unnecessary movement. This includes the movement of tanks and weights, especially annoying in any case and downright painful in others.
2- A BC needs to provide buoyancy. That is, it needs to enable the diver to wear the correct amount of weight in order to sink at all times, and it needs to enable the diver to float at the surface at all times. It needs to help the diver to achieve neutral buoyancy – the ability to be neither too heavy nor too light. Most of all, it needs to do that in such a fashion that it does not roll or pitch the diver in an unnatural position.
In this article, I will address the second main function of a BC before the first, since I found this to be a less commonly addressed issue in a BC.
There are three main designs of BC’s on the market today: The jacket-style BC, the back-inflate style BC, and the backplate and wing style BC.
If you were taught to dive any time in the past two decades, then you probably learned to dive in a jacket-style BC. These are by far the most common style of BC, and can be seen and rented in nearly any dive shop. They are common, accepted, and have a good record of safety. Typically, they come in several different sizes, and since they resemble a common life vest, are readily accepted by the new diver. They are also quickly and easily adjusted while on the diver, and provide the diver with a comforting “heads up” position while floating on the surface. However, many experienced divers shy away from jacket-style BC’s, as they are notoriously bulky and cumbersome because of their “wraparound” air bladder. In the worst cases, divers claim that a fully inflated jacket-style BC “squeezes” them and prevents them from taking a full breath. While I personally have found some to be worse offenders of this than others, there are other reasons why a diver purchasing his/her own personal gear might want to steer clear of them.
Jacket-style BC’s do a fine job of floating a diver vertically in the water because of the physical distance between their center of gravity and their center of buoyancy. Observe the simple sketch.
The black represents the diver’s body, while the yellow represents the tank(s) that the diver typically carries on his/her back. The blue outline represents the air bladder, also called the “cell,” and the red square represents the typical placement of weight on the diver, usually in weight pockets or a weight belt worn by the diver. The green dot represents the center of buoyancy or lift, while the orange dot represents the center of gravity. Notice that while the diver is vertical, the two are nearly in line with each other, and the diver can control whether he sinks or floats based on how much air he puts in the cell (or how much lift he creates). Obviously, this is a relatively effective system.
However, once underwater, most divers desire a prone or “horizontal” body position. There are many advantages to this position, including the ability to swim forward in an easy and efficient manner.
Unfortunately, jacket-style BC’s do not allow a diver to easily stay in this position without constantly swimming or “sculling” with the hands and feet.
The reason is because the center of gravity and the center of buoyancy are so far apart. The forces at work – lift and gravity – tend to make this diver prone to becoming vertical constantly, reducing the diver’s efficiency in the water. Reduced efficiency means that the diver has to work harder to stay correctly positioned, and therefore uses up his air or gas supply much faster than he would otherwise. Additionally, a diver who is constantly forced into a vertical position has the tendency to have his fins pointed downward, stirring up a soft muddy bottom and reducing visibility. In the worst case, an unskilled diver wearing jacket-style BC can do quite a bit of damage to the surrounding marine life, especially if he’s diving over a delicate coral reef.
For cameramen …..stirring up a soft muddy/silty bottom can end/ruin your shot. This of course is a big concern.
Back-inflate style BC’s are a departure from the “norm” and are largely marketed as “more streamlined” or “more comfortable” because they remove the air cell from the chest of the diver. The advantages in doing this are numerous: The diver now has less material to push through the water when swimming. The diver cannot suffer from “squeeze,” because there is no cell on the chest. With a reduced amount of material on the front of the diver, there is now a more comfortable “open” feeling associated with back-inflates, and there is more room to put more useful gear, such as lights, slates and cameras.
Not all divers, however, are big fans of back-inflate style BC’s. These are notorious for pushing the diver “face forward” at the surface, and therefore are not favored by many divers who spend a lot of time at the surface, such as instructors, students, or boat divers.
The following diagram shows this “face forward” phenomenon in action. At the surface (or while vertical) the diver’s center of lift and center of gravity are poorly situated, and the resulting net force is a forward pitch.
Underwater, and in a horizontal position, the system does not work much better than a jacket-style BC. There is a large difference between the center of lift and the center of gravity.
To counteract this problem in both of these styles of BC, many of today’s manufacturers are selling their BC’s with “trim pockets” placed behind the diver and on either side of the tank. this is a dramatic improvement to the systems, and with the correct weighting, a diver’s center of lift and center of gravity can be much closer to each other, reducing any unpleasant effects from what I have termed as “opinionated” BC’s.
A radical departure from either of these two BC’s is simultaneously the newest and oldest BC offered on the market today. Divers from decades ago will remember that there was a time when a “BC” consisted of a simple metal plate affixed to a scuba tank, which was simply strapped to the body of the diver. Sometimes a diver had an air cell attached, and sometimes he did not (in order to achieve simplicity, a diver would sometimes forgo a bulky air cell, which was commonly worn on the FRONT of the diver, in a “horse collar” style).
What makes this type of BC “new” is the concept of taking the cell and moving it behind the diver, around the tank rather than around the diver.
This has a very interesting effect on the center of gravity of the diver and the center of lift of the diver… It brings them very close together, to the point of being nearly the same. Experienced divers use tanks of different weights, placement of weights (the backplate itself weighing typically six pounds, and perfectly balanced on the back, bringing the center of gravity up and back on the diver) and a variety of accessories to balance and trim themselves skillfully, making a BC that is not only effective, but very trimmed and “unopinionated,” no matter what position the diver chooses.
Backplates and wings have other advantages as well.
Since they are modular, a diver can completely customize the BC to include or exclude any feature he or she desires. They can choose from a variety of pockets, clips, D-rings, lights, and accessories; whatever they prefer in their own custom “rig.” Backplates and wings (commonly referred to as “bp/wings”) also typically utilize simple 2-inch (50mm) straps, proven to be comfortable, durable, streamlined, and easily replaced in the event of damage. They also pack up easily and simply, and clean off and dry out faster than BC’s with thick, heavy padding.
It is argued by those divers who are opposed to bp/wings that they will “miss” the padding of a jacket-style or back-inflate style BC. While this may initially seem logical (especially if you simply try one on in a dive shop somewhere), almost always a diver dives with enough neoprene or insulation that it really is a non-issue above the water. Under the water, the lack of thick padding means that the rig feels stable and solid, and makes for a very enjoyable dive. In fact, of all of the BC’s I tested, a bp/wing was by far the most secure and stable mount. The lack of thick padding also means that it does not absorb water (which would otherwise make for a very heavy rig when exiting the water).
There are other advantages as well… Typically, a bp/wing is considerably less expensive than the best jacket-style BC’s or back-inflate style BC’s, and there is much more flexibility in terms of the size of the cell. A diver who uses a bp/wing has the ability to choose large, powerful wings, should the dive require it, and then easily switch to smaller, simpler, less cumbersome wings when the situation allows it. A bp/wing also allows for a very easy switch between single tanks and double tanks. Lastly, since bp/wings are of such simple and rugged design (most of them consisting primarily of a stainless steel plate), the bp/wing can outlast any other BC on the market.
For these reasons, but especially because I liked the sheer trim and buoyancy performance of the bp/wing, I chose to purchase that rather than a jacket-style BC or a back-inflate style BC.
…And I would recommend it to other divers and camera operators…… Highly.
The housing accommodates the Neutron rig with two SI-2K Minis, Cinedeck & two Anton Bauer HyTRON 140 batteries. It can be configured as a free-swimming, un-tethered housing with operator viewing on the Cinedeck and full lens & stereographic control underwater or SD video and full remote control of the rig can be cabled to the surface. The Neutron rig allows for inter-axial travel of 0 – 3.5″, and minimum convergence distance of 4ft.
CAMERA: Two SI-2K Minis
Inter-axial travel 0 – 3.5″
Min. convergence distance 4ft.
LENGTH: 16 ¾
HEIGHT: 17 ½
WEIGHT OUT OF WATER: 108 lbs
WEIGHT IN WATER: 2 lbs
With the SI-2K Hawkeye 3D Underwater Housing, HydroFlex offers a small and simple solution to cinema quality 3D shooting underwater.
SI-2K mini cameras with two C-mount lenses and is suitable for feature film 2K cinema. The lenses are fixed at 65mm interaxial with no convergence.
The housing accommodates either two 4.8mm or 8mm Schneider fixed-focus lenses and provides external iris control. The Cinedeck is contained within the housing and allows the operator a clear view of the 7″ LCD screen through the back of the housing while HD-SDI can be cabled to the surface for the director’s viewing. With two Anton Bauer HyTRON 140 batteries mounted inside to power camera and Cinedeck, the housing is completely self contained & free swimming.
CAMERA: SI-2K Hawkeye
OPERATING DEPTH: 60 ft.
WEIGHT IN AIR: 6.4 lbs
WEIGHT IN WATER: 1.5 lbs
LENSES: Schneider 4.8mm, f1.8, C-mount
Schneider 8mm, f1.4, C-mount