I personally spent a couple years in South East Asia working as a professional videographer and can attest to the many hazards that face divers filming underwater. The first and possible the most dangerous is the fact that most find themselves solo diving. And most, including myself at the time, without the training required to safety conduct such dives. Often far away from the group gathering marine life footage or deeper for silhouette shots, most are often unaware of the consequences that would occur in the unlikely event of any equipment malfunction. Secondly, regardless of their experience, underwater camera operators use more air then normal as they have to swim quite large distances and faster speeds to get the shots required to make a visually appealing film. For this reason even experienced divers find themselves surfacing will minimal air compared to the open water divers they are filming.
Video Student Kerry filming on sidemount here in Dahab, Egypt.
Its for both the above reasons that Team Blue Immersion FX stresses the importance of some type of redundancy training. Sidemount training solves both these problems. With two independent air sources and proper gas management, the technical concept of ‘redundancy’ can now be applied to recreational diving. If a videographer did ever find themselves separated from the group or too far away from a potential buddy then isolating the problem and resorting to the reserve tank will provide ample gas and time to safely reach the surface.
Remember also that you now have DOUBLE the amount of air. This covers the second safety aspect involving gas consumption. Now that I am involved primarily into the technical side of diving, where gas planning regarding air consumption is pre-planned with a reserve of an extra 1/3, I could not believe how nonchalant most treat their air supply. Having the piece of mind that you have more then enough air required to film a given project lets the videographer focus on the other concepts of filming (composition, storyboard, etc) rather then the concern of lack of air. Excessive multi-tasking can lead to stress, which can further lead to accidents underwater.
A great video of Dolphins filmed entirely on sidemount. The videographer was able to stay with them for over an hour based on her gas management and quantity of air.
Most videographers are guilty of one or both of the above dangers of filming while diving. There are no more excuses. The knowledge and training is now readily available. I wish all my friends from the past who are still involved in underwater video production to SERIOUSLY consider the above aspects of redundancy systems while filming.
Safe Diving and Filming
Erik Brown – Sidemount Training
Aron Arngrimsson – Video Training