Underwater film post production


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.


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