Filming Development

Film Shoot, Filming Development

Hollis BTR500 drysuit – Behind the scenes

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Recently with the help of good friends Tamara May (from Dive Like a Ninja) and (Marielle Pronk) from Sirius Diving, I went about filming, modeling, directing and producing a shoot for the new Hollis BTR500 drysuit.

In April I returned from a trip to England and South Africa and when I arrived back we had a time frame of 10 days for the shoot as both Marielle and Tamara were due to leave. I had been running over how I would like the film shot while I was away and after spending some time with BBC Cinematographer Sean Leslie in Cape Town and showing him my past work, we discussed how I could take my filming to the next level.

I got the opportunity to visit AFDA film school where Sean lectures in Cape Town. I spent some time with his second years watching them colour grade a current film project they were working on. I got to see how they filmed the movies and all the camera angles and came to the conclusion that having a story line with any project, even if I am just shooting diving equipment makes a film so much more interesting.

The story line I wanted to follow for this shoot was a transition from what Tamara and I both were into who we are now. I wanted to promote the Hollis gear but in a more artistic way than I usually do, by the story line being the main theme and the gear being promoted through us kitting up and diving it.

The film starts with a kind of search through the jungle and dry caves to correlate with all the twists, turns and adventure a career in the technical diving industry has taken us on. I am so lucky here in Mexico because there is so much natural medial to play with. Aesthetically the shots are beautiful and combined with the chiffon skirts we were wearing the light and the wind enabled us to use it to add another dimension to the intro of the video.

This artistic theme fed over into the underwater portion. I wanted to create an ‘Alice falling down the Rabbit hole’ vibe when we reached the water and jumped in with both feet, symbolising that we both have really given it everything since we started. A free diving portion entailed which was pretty challenging for me to say the least. There was so much laughter while both of us were trying to be graceful at the same time as holding our breath.

I wanted to portray a stripping away of certain aspects of femininity and material attributes in the form of dropping jewellery and undressing. We have both lived out of a back packs for long periods of time and constantly moved around the world trying at the same time to stick to a budget. You really do have to give up a lot of the things you held on to in a past life, be it fashion/make up, home comforts, and earning enough to buy absolutely everything you want. There is rarely room for it when beginning to live a life devoted to diving. Buying new diving and camera gear, doing courses and paying rent pretty much takes up most of the monthly budget and to be honest it makes me so happy I wouldn’t change it for the world. I overlaid these images with film of us beginning to gear up in the drysuit and other Hollis gear as we were taking off our clothes and jewellery. This acted as the kind of exchange of lives I was explaining before. The film then moved into us diving. Up until this point we had shot film of us very separately, as we didn’t really know each other until we met in Egypt over a year ago now, although we were in places at the same time before hand but just never crossed paths.

Diving with Tamara is awesome, we have this synchronicity that I am yet to find in another diving buddy and I wanted to show this in capturing our descents and some skill sets in unison. It took several attempts to get it perfect, trying to place video lights perfectly and figuring out where we wanted to shoot to get the background and lighting right. It however, mainly came down to the fact I was still figuring out my weighting with some new gear and also Marielle went away for a few days during this time and we spent a whole day in Chikin Ha cenote with my housing mounted to a tripod doing helicopter turns and other skill sets in front of the camera only to come home and find we were too high in the shot! So we had to do that again the next day. This in particular really made me appreciate how beneficial delegating to a second camera person is, especially when your trying to play the roles of director, model and camera person yourself!

This shoot, once post production is finished, is probably going to be one of the strongest pieces of work I have done and it was honestly so much fun to do. Working with the girls is great and all of us having fairly open minds allowed us to come up with more ideas to make my idea grow to be even better.

This is a video of some shots I didn’t use in my final film, some out takes but mainly to give people an insight into what goes on behind the camera and how much fun we have!



Cave Diving Progression, Filming Development

Underwater Film Post production

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katy editing
It occurred to me that I write an awful lot about the diving and filming that I am undertaking but relatively little about all the work that goes into producing the result.

I will put it in some perspective for you ‘non-adobe premiere users’ out there! Each dive I do is on average 60 minutes long, once the footage is edited down to the beat of the music and put in sequence I am lucky if I get a minute worth of usable footage out of each dive I do .. This isn’t because the rest of the footage is no good but more so that if I included the full length of each shot, then my videos would be extremely long, each clip wouldn’t match the the beat and everyone would get extremely bored.

So what is editing? well for me editing is inspired by the music I choose. For the promotional videos I am filming at the moment I am looking for inspirational, motivating music with a good beat I enjoy listening to, as I will have to be listening to it for hours while I work! This brings me onto the first time consuming hurdle when editing … finding music. This is an extremely long and tedious process because unfortunately you can’t just choose your favourite main stream track and throw it on the timeline because of copy right issues, so you have to scroll through free music archives praying that you come across something decent soon. I have spent hours searching for music and now I have quite a nice library stocked up but it really does take time as each video is so specific and your looking for what feels like that one track in a million to fit.


What music archives do I use? Here are some links to a few of the sites I use/have used ..

I began using this site however you have to pay $18 per track and to be honest the thought of searching through that site ever again makes me feel ill. It’s crammed full of that type of awful music you listen to when you’re in an elevator or when your waiting on the other end of a commercial phone call for customer services to pick up, I could go on. Finding anything half descent on this site is next to impossible and painfully time consuming.

The Vimeo Music Store

This is pretty cool and very cheap and very fast … There are thousands of tracks on here available under a CC license for free! and even the ones you have to pay for are only a couple of dollars, however I did find it quite a pain to navigate and search through tracks but there is a lot of usable music on here for sure!

Free Music Archive.

This site has a huge library with many CC licenses and easy to navigate in terms of genres and styles of music you are looking for. I would say this site was my favourite if it wasn’t for my new find ..


This website is huge and crammed full of awesome music under various creative commons licenses. Some of these licenses require attribution, or don’t allow for derivative works, so you must always check that what you are wanting to do with the music applies to the license it has been shared under, this applies for all the sites above too! The thing I Iove about this site is that the people sharing music are real groups and artists, it’s not computer generated rubbish, its people with a passion and talent for what they do and it reflects in the work! The site is great to navigate and the drum & bass/glitch/dubstep music I tend to lean towards in my editing is on par to what is out there today on iTunes and its for free!! I am very happy with this find.

So now you have found the music its time to start putting everything on the time line, I usually have three different tracks I think I might want to use. Sometimes the track just doesn’t work with the footage even though you liked the sound and sometimes the footage actually brings what you first thought was quite a mundane track to life, so it’s always nice to have a few options.

The editing itself is my favourite part, I love how you are able to take the footage you have and present it in a way thats personal to you. A lot of my friends and family don’t dive so it’s great to be able to show them what I am doing and the things I am seeing as sometimes words just aren’t enough.

I feel it is very important to edit to the beat of the music it helps amalgamate the clips and the song so the film flows. The length of video is also key in my opinion as with commercial underwater films you are trying to sum up the best of what you have to offer in a short exciting sequence and I find anything longer than 1:30min – 2min people get bored and stop watching. Basically it has to appeal to all audiences and so the main aim is to sum what you are trying to promote as efficiently as possible, the more aesthetically pleasing and exciting the better!

Occasionally the footage needs a bit of colour correction I tend to add a bit of contrast to my shots regardless. Before I invested in video lights loosing the colour red was the main issue especially at the depth (below 30m), shots turned out quite blue despite the fact I was white balancing underwater and I found I used to have to adjust the RGB curves quite frequently, now I hardly do it at all. Once you have done all this you have the great pleasure of waiting for the footage to render so you can play it back in real time. Luckily I invested in quite a powerful Macbook so it’s not quite so time consuming as it used to be.

Deciding when your finished and to export can be a tricky decision to make. At the moment I am diving with my camera almost daily and therefore always getting more shots that are better or different to add in. There is a marked improvement on the footage I am producing in the caverns and caves now as apposed to when I started so it takes a bit off discipline to say when to finish a project because I know it will keep getting better. However I think it’s nice to have record of what you have done to compare to your later work because you can see what you have done differently and if I took a totally perfectionist stance I would never finish anything.





Film Shoot, Filming Development

Rhino Poaching short film completed!

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Whilst in South Africa during 2014, teaching some diving courses with Geko Divers. I got the opportunity to visit a friend Rabbo on a 26000 hectare farm he is managing in the Bushveld. I took some photos/video and planned to edit together a compilation from the trip. Whilst editing I started to listen to what the camera had picked up Rabbo talking about as I was filming .. it was really interesting and so I decided to do my piece for nature and make a short cause film on the Rhino poaching in South Africa. Excuse the wobbly footage in places … I was filming out of a Landrover

Cave Diving Progression, Film Shoot, Filming Development

Filming in the mangroves today

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Today I’m at Casa Cenote to get some shots of the mangroves. This is a very special Cenote at it is pretty much right on the ocean front and is littered with floating mangrove islands. Their roots create a very beautiful cavern zone scattering shafts of sunlight left right and centre. It was a lovely dive and very unique can’t wait to come back and take more shots