Film Shoot

Cenote shots from PADI shoot


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An old friend Jonas got in touch asking if I would be interested in making a sidemount configuration and skills video for both recreational and technical sidemount. He recently took on a role as a PADI regional manager and was flying to India to do a presentation to help promote the sidemount market there and wanted a video to show people what it was all about. We had 10 days to do the shoot, finish the edit and send it off. Tamara and I jumped in for 4 days of filming in El Eden cenote. The in water skills portion of the shoot coincided with a tropical storm so it was challenging for the first two days because the water levels in the cenote had risen by about a foot and there was strong current which proved a difficult environment to perform demonstration level skills in! However for the final day the sun was shining and after 48 hours of non stop editing lots of coffee to keep myself awake we produced a nice film. PADI is still yet to confirm whether we can out their logos on it and if there is anything they would like adding in and changing but the draft was used for the presentation and Jonas was very happy with the end result which is nice! Here is a short compilation of shots I took but didn’t use in the final edit due to the 15 minute length the film ending up being just with configuration and skills. I felt very lucky to capture a bird hunting underwater which was a first for me and felt it needed to be shown somehow!

Filmed and edited by Katy Fraser

Diver Tamara Lelani May

Music by CloZee

Logistics and facilities provided by Planet Scuba Mexico

Cave Diving Progression

El Eden on Issac’s Cavern Guiding Internship


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Markus and Issac decided to do some more training on cavern lines as part of Issac’s Cavern Guiding Internship so I went with them to get some more footage of El Eden. The Internship I think is a great concept, the aim is for you to become a good guide. Here in Mexico even the cavern systems are relatively quite complex and to jump in from doing full cave and start guiding I think is quite a bold move if not perhaps an irresponsible one. The courses is to help you learn the main lines and how to go about correct safety briefings and procedures, the ‘do’s and dont’s’ if you like of mexico cavern guiding. A lot of my friends want to get into the diving world, however the unknown is always a factor. It’s quite often that after doing instructor or dive master qualifications abroad you are left with the hard job of finding work and guidance as to how to obtain visas to do everything properly and on top it tends to be a long tedious process leaving you feeling somewhat lost.

We arrived at the site around 12 so the beams of light were at their brightest cascading through the mangrove roots in a beautiful array of colours, silhouetted to that backdrop were the two divers moving gracefully in trim. We were completely alone so I had so much room on shot angles on this dive, there was no frustration that usually entailed spending the dive cursing recreational divers for ruining my shot and it really beat the other cavern dives for that reason, this was really something to see and was a pleasure to shoot.

The question is on this dive do I credit Markus as a model or a personal trainer?I have been so used to filming cenote tours and how easy it is to keep up with divers when they have open toed Cressi fins on, that when I went to film two technical divers who are pretty decent when it comes to the art of propulsion, stopping to take a shot and then trying to get in front of them to take a different shot while they were trying to continue with the dive started off as a pretty challenging fitness work out and then quickly became the worlds hellish underwater marathon! There were so many beautiful shots EVERYWHERE! We talked about communication before the dive and went through all the shots, however I wanted to try to disrupt the dive as little as possible as Issac was trying to learn the lines, but once in there that shot list grew exponentially and so after spending the first portion of the dive finning around like a crazy person I resorted to stopping them and actually taking the time to position the shot correctly and I am very glad I did 🙂

 

 

Cave Diving Progression, Film Shoot

This is why we dive cenotes!


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Planet Scuba Mexico Cavern Video

Filmed and edited by Katy Fraser

 

 

After 20 hours of long editing I completed the first of a series of promotional films for Planet Scuba Mexico. The video is a compilation of several Cenotes. I wanted to fill the video full of my best shots over a series of dives to create a strong representation about what people will see when they come here. This gave me time to review footage and plan which cenotes I needed to go back to and get different angles etc. Initially I went out on everyday tours with recreational divers to get an idea of the lines and places I thought I could get the best shots and took film on the fly and ended up with some usable footage. I then went back with Markus and Issac to certain places where I felt I needed more time or a shot needed some set up to fill in the gaps.

Filming in the cenotes is still very new and I have so many ideas about ways to creatively light the caverns to capture them more successfully as they are very dark in places. My video lights attached to my camera only works up to a point before the ISO is screaming or I am just left with too much darkness in my shot. This will be something I will practise in the next week so I can then apply it to filming the caves which will be my next project!

What I love about the diving here is that massive variation of dive sites, this video barely scrapes the surface of all the beautiful dives here so I look forward to making cavern video 2,3,4 +,  it will be hard not too!

Cave Diving Progression

Casa Cenote final shoot


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Casa Cenote is an incredibly photogenic dive site, although fairly unchallenging it was still very satisfying to take my camera here as part of getting the final shots for the Cavern promotional video. Issac came along to both act as my model and also continue to train on his twinset. In comparison to filming with a buddy or people you know as opposed to the cavern tours I found I got much more rewarding footage, it’s easier to encourage the diver to interact with the camera and the dive is based around the shoot as opposed to shoot being based around a dive which is difficult because it feels as if your in a constant rush to get shots and not become separated from the group. As I am diving more in the dive sites here I am beginning to learn the lines, this also makes a big difference on the tours as I know the places I can get shots and which angles to shoot divers from so it’s not all just fins in my viewfinder. Knowing the site I feel gives room for more creativity.

Now I am on the final edit for the cavern film which is exciting!

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 ..

http://audiojungle.net

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 ..

Jamendo

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.

 

 

 

 

Cave Diving Progression

Into the bird cage


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Nohoch Nah Chich Is part of the Sac Actun system. The Mayan translation means ‘the giant bird cage’ which is very fitting due to its beautiful decoration! We drove down jungle road for a good while before we came across the Cenote. It was the first time both Markus and I had dived the site which was quite exciting however connecting to the cave line took some time.

On studying the map and talking to one of the Cenote workers we came to a general conclusion about where the line was.  On diving in I made my primary tie off, secondary tie off and we went to the left and came across a line, it wasn’t cave line like the previous caves I have dived it was still the explorer line and although we were still in the cavern zone when we hit the line I couldn’t see where the line started. After making a temporary T and placing my cookie we went right and headed into the cave. The passage was relatively small compared to what I had done previously but very heavily decorated with lots of small white stalactites, after finning for a few minutes the line ended on a jump, this wasn’t in the plan and as I am only intro to cave I could not complete the jump so we turned the dive as we had clearly taken the wrong line. I reeled back and we surfaced, we were still well within our 6ths so we descended this time to the right, under where all the snorkelers were swimming. It is a long dome of that goes back far into the cenote, we were under it right until we found the correct cave line. The line again was still explorer line which is the same thickness as my reel line, it had the original knots on it the person had made which was pretty cool.

 

Nohoch map

 

Although I didn’t spider web my line all over the cave I didn’t take the most direct route to the cave line this was mainly because I had never dived the cave before and therefore wasn’t 100% sure where it was. It was funny on reeling in on the way out a group of divers also had followed our slightly convoluted path to connect in, perhaps it was their first time too.

The dive was beautiful and has made the filming list with its big open white rooms and intricate decoration. This list seems to be ever expanding at the moment there are just so many beautiful dives here and each cave system seems to have it’s own unique quality.  The average depth for the whole dive was 6m! so we could easily do a 40min penetration well within both gas allowances and NDL.

 

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

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