Underwater Randomness

Thoughts on video

OK, so you got your GoPro HERO, Contour HD/GPS/etc.. or sweet new video capable DSLR point and shoot or handy cam.

(this is of course assuming you are not a professional videographer and you are shooting video for the memories and joy of sharing with other divers and non divers)

So here’s the deal.

You go out, you shoot video that, if you have the right cables and your camera talks to your computer, it gets downloaded and takes up space.   Video like that is hard to consume.  The majority of video shot dies a young sad death.   Some of the footage is quite stunning, but it gets archived, left on cards or tapes, put in boxes and drawers never to be seen again.

An editing program makes your footage TEN TIMES more consumable.  Footage that you might never watch again…  TEN TIMES!   You can take raw footage with all the bobbles and sand shots and blurry shots etc.. and create a MOVIE!  Memories!  Tell a story!   Compared to many of you, i’m a marginal story teller, and compared to many, I’m a just adequate videographer.  BUT…  What i can do is create consumable media.  I edit.  It may not be perfect, but it has titles and transitions, music and rhythm…  I make it personal not only for me, but for the divers I shared that experience with…  I just LOVE seeing peoples faces light up when they watch video of themselves, and i can see them remember…  for a moment they are back there, underwater, reliving that dive and those reminders are one of the things that helps keep people coming back for more!  Even a simple edit of mediocre footage makes something wonderful!

OK, now that is out of the way…  Here are a few thoughts  🙂

1) Please for the love of plankton go get a flat port for that gopro housing. I swear I see so much potential out there that is simply ruined by the thought that ‘it can’t be that bad’ or ‘maybe mine will be better than those 3000 other folks who tried this before me’ or whatever it is that possesses folks to strap that gopro on and shoot 45 min of blurry video.

2) Get or make a baseplate. Jiggly footage is painful.  Motion, shake, smooth cam, lock and load, etc… can only take out so much motion in post.

3) Please put some kind of reflector or diffuser on your light. Or better yet, GET a video light (or two!) put it on your baseplate, on arms.  That disco-strobo-effect is cool in the club but gets hard to watch after about a minute.

4) Beg, borrow or find an editing program that you can suss out. If you simply don’t have time to bother, buy your friend who does/can edit dinner or a six pack of beer (or throw em a 20-spot for their time). Even the person who shared that dive with you may be hard pressed to watch the whole 45 minutes straight through (blurry or not) and unless you are the next Howard Hall and a rockstar at in camera editing, the rest of your diving friends (and non diving for that matter) will be much more likely to watch the whole thing if you cut it up to 10 min or less (3-5 ideally)

45 min video exemption = training practice vid.

5) If you are going to shoot training practice videos for your friends, stay on the same plane and get some shots close enough so they can see their efficiency of motion with the skills. This is about learning, right???

Shoot skills from side view as well so they can actually see their trim. A valve drill may look great head on but if its done at 30-40 degrees of trim, it is practicing and ingraining incorrect body position for skills (and make them harder, but thats for another post).

Tilting the camera so they look ‘good’ does not help when it comes time for fundies class. For the love of plankton please hold that camera still.   Sending them screen grabs of the split second where they were in trim may be awesome for FB profiles but if they are not suffering through watching themselves with dropped knees and whatever else is going on and LEARNING from it, they may also get a reality check come class time.

Training video is not the time to be patting each other on the back about how awesome you look (I mean unless you DO look awesome, but I have yet to meet anyone who started out that way).

No matter how badass your mentor thinks they are, it never hurts to occasionally turn the camera on them. I’ve spent my share of time hiding behind the camera, blaming my knees and trim on the fact that I’m shooting video…. but the truth of the matter is that you CAN shoot video of someone else floating around in the water column next to you in good trim. If you don’t believe me, take a class from Bob Sherwood or Richard Lundgren and watch them film your skills AND control the class AND catch all your mess ups on film, AND maintain perfect trim and minimal fin movement.



I’ve been planning to start writing some dive kit reviews for several months now.   My hope has been to ‘review’ each item of my kit.   The title should probably be something along the lines of “This is my kit, there are many like it, but this one is mine”  or something catchy, but instead I’ll just be a bit boring and put it under the Cont. Adventures.


I dive two drysuits.  Both from DUI, a CF200 and a CLX450.   The CF is warmer, a bit stretchy (AKA my fat winter suit) and very durable and puncture/tear resistant, the CLX is lighter, dries faster, has as quick zip (which means the zipper will last forever) and more abrasion resistant.

The biggest difference in these two suits though is that the CLX450 simply loves to dive.   If i do not dive the CLX the upper body that has the cordura overlay gets stiff.  Like cardboard.  Cardboard reinforced with steel girders.   I look like i’m participating in solo WWF getting into my suit, or some contortionist torture, or maybe trying out for cirque de soleil.    Even the thought of a valve drill is enough to cause my pupils to contract.    It gets so stiff that its actually incentive to dive.   every day.   must. keep. CLX. happy.

If i dive it every day though, its like a different animal.  The Cordura is fantastic, DUI has taken great care to put the overly in exactly the areas that are showing wear from my BC Harness on the CF200.   The FLX lower half is super …flexible, and a breeze to don and doff, climb over rocks and down ripraff walls, etc.  The suit drys fast (so its not just being wet that makes it so flexible) which means its ideal for travel (Icy cold Swiss lakes anyone?)

So all in all, the CLX450 gets two fins up on the DiverLaura Scale.  When I first got it last year as a backup suit I worried that i’d made a horrible mistake, but after a week straight of diving I sometimes wonder if I should elevate to primary suit and put the suit heater inlet on it, which is a quick way to tell which suit is getting the most use.  (well, as soon as I loose those 5lbs of insulation left over from winter)  😉

upcoming brief reviews, partial list… (so stay tuned!)

BTS Suit Heater


Halcyon EOS 12w LED

Halcyon 21w HID

Halcyon Mini-explorer

Halcyon Scout HP and XP

DUI Rockboots (old style)

Halcyon BAP (big ass pockets)

Halcyon T14 Scooter

Halcyon T16 Scooter

AGA old style positive pressure ffm vs. recreational style demand regulator

Scubapro trimfins (err.. Jetfins) vs. Hollis F1’s

Halcyon Infinity BCD

Halcyon short plate vs. standard plate

Halcyon Cinch harness of goodness


Private Megalodon

You will not say a word! You will not speak unless spoken to! Do you ladies understand me? (Sir! Yes! Sir!). From this point forward you will eat, think and dream Meglodon!  Do you maggots understand? (Sir! Yes! Sir!) We are in a war, Gentlemen! The future of the free world depends on you people becoming Meg rebreather certified! You each will become a Meg Diver! Every time you see a rebreather that does not say Megalodon on it you will kill it! What are you going to do ladies? (Kill! Kill! Kill!). That’s right. Each week we will be adding a new lesson so that you will become strong of mind and pure of heart! We are going to rid the world of all commie, pinko, leftist rebreathers and replace them with Megs! You are going to be trained mercenaries of ISC spreading the gospel of Meg! Now get your ADV and fall out on the parade deck!


You will learn the APECS model!


You will learn milivolt reference points!



Please Masterchief, I wanna go back to open circut!


(thank you Lamont for pointing me in the direction and that routergod bloggy as the basis for my little humorous adaptation)