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>Camera Support In Shallow Water

Published : 24th September 2003

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Hello,

 

Hope I'm posting this to the right list; I am shooting a short film that takes place in & around a rock pool (seawater).

 

I'll have a Bolex in an Underwater Housing for the underwater stuff and another camera in a splash bag/housing for the above water stuff, but the director wants to shoot when there are some waves crashing in, being as close as possible, which would make the camera positions somewhat -- wet. I have shot under water before but only hand held, but this is not the kind of story where I'd want to go hand held for a greater portion of the film (most of it takes place around this rock pool).

 

So I am a concerned about putting sticks in the drink, I imagine they wouldn't take too kindly to it (talking 1' - 2') and I'm looking for alternatives.

 

I am shooting (regular)16mm, SRII, with probably a selection of Zeiss primes and a 10-100 Zeiss zoom.

 

This is a student production with very limited funds so *creative* solutions are very welcome.

 

Cheers,

 

Kim Sargenius

(recently graduated) student shooter

Sydney

 


Kim,

 

My best suggestion is that you locate a very inexpensive set of wooden tripod legs. The wood will survive the salt water better than aluminium, steel, or CF, and if you do end up sacrificing them the cost will be much more acceptable than a nice set of Ronford legs! AND.please don't rent them and then not tell the rental house what you're doing. It gets us very cranky!

 

Marty Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer Cine Rental

Oppenheimer Camera Products

Seattle, Washington USA

 


Marty,

 

>The wood will survive the salt water better than aluminium, steel, or CF,

 

style="margin-top:0;">Yeah, that was one of the options I thought of. The school where I'm getting the camera from has a few of those.

>AND, please don't rent them and then not tell the rental house what >you're doing. It gets us very cranky!

 

Would imagine so."Hey, how come this leg's so sticky??!?"

 

Anyway, I was also thinking about some sort of flying fox rig/bungee rig but that still means I'll have to fix the rope/wire to something (eg a stand or pole of some sort)... Any thoughts out there?

 

Cheers,

 

Kim Sargenius

(recently graduated) student shooter

Sydney

 


How about something like a 2-3 step ladder with a hi-hat strapped to the top? Or a sand bag instead of a hi-hat / head, that way it would not matter if it got dunked.

 

We did something similar on Friday. I've submerged aluminium legs w/. bogan beater head in a lake but, won't have if it was salt water (yes the rental house knew in advance). They were the best shots in the show too, I think they still use them as image clips, beauty piece for the State of New Hampshire.

 

Dave Winters

DP in L.A.

 


 

Kim,

 

I worked on a doc in the Philippines where we often shot in water sometimes up to our chest. I used a Gitzo TeleStudex still camera tripod and it survived well for the three weeks. It's constructed mostly of aluminium and rubber.

 

Washed it out every evening with fresh water and sprayed LPS-1 liberally about. I'm still using that tripod 10 years later. I'd do it again.

 

Rod Williams

Motion Picture First Camera Assistant

Petaluma, California

U.S.A.

 


 

Marty Oppenheimer wrote :

 

>My best suggestion is that you locate a very inexpensive set of wooden >tripod legs.The wood will survive the salt water better than aluminium, >steel,

 

But don't expect to be able to adjust the leg length once you get them soaked.

 

Wade K. Ramsey, DP

Dept. of Cinema & Video Production

Bob Jones University

Greenville, SC 29614

 


 

Rod,

 

>I used a Gitzo TeleStudex

 

Would it hold the weight of an SRII with a 10x zoom and splash housing?

 

>Washed it out every evening with fresh water and sprayed LPS-1

 

LPS-1? Never heard of it, what is it, what does it do, and where would I get it?

 

cheers,

 

Kim Sargenius

(recently graduated) student shooter

Sydney

 


 

Dave,

 

>How about something like a 2-3 step ladder with a hi-hat

 

*Now* we're talking! I like it, that's the kind of thinking I had in mind. Somehow that one slipped my mind -- have done that a few times in the past for high angle shots. The sandbag's not a bad idea either, although hopefully there won't be too much panning/tilting. Will need some step laddering anyway, seeing as I have a couple of bird's eye type of shots.

 

What kind of camera did you fly off your step ladder setup? Any chance of seeing it here down under?

 

*off to B/B/S (beg/borrow/steal) some step ladders*

 

cheers,

 

Kim Sargenius

(recently graduated) student shooter

Sydney

 


 

Wade Ramsey :

 

>But don't expect to be able to adjust the leg length once you get them >soaked.

 

Good point.Although I do anticipate limited leg length adjustment no matter what kind of solution I end up with.

 

Cheers,

 

Kim Sargenius

(recently graduated) student shooter

Sydney

 


 

I've used wooden legs in all sorts of less than pleasant situations. For instance, I set a camera in the drain pit in the middle of a car wash bay on wooden baby legs. This was a three foot deep pit of muddy, oily, sludge. Ick!

 

At the end -o- the day we hosed it off, scrubbed it good with some 'Dawn' dishwashing liquid and then wiped it down with some wood oil and voila - good as.old wooden legs again.

 

I've also used them in ocean water in Mexico.

 

Roderick Stevens

Az. D.P./Cinematographer

www.restevens.com

12 On / 12 Off

 


 

Kim Sargenius wrote :

 

>LPS-1? Never heard of it, what is it, what does it do, and where would I >get it?

 

Same thing as WD-40, a very light spray lubricant that dries to a greaseless film, repelling moisture. It's used generally for lubricating delicate machinery and on surfaces you don't want to rust in moisture-laden environments.

 

And I've just talked myself into coating a set of wooden legs with it that have been jamming in wet weather...!

 

Wade K. Ramsey, DP

Dept. of Cinema & Video Production

Bob Jones University

Greenville, SC 29614

 


 

Hello Kim

 

With my experience of being a Sailor, Diver, Key Grip and owner of Film-gear I have the following suggestions. Please do not under estimate the power of waves and the under stream in shallow water. A tripod will get stuck in the best case. The worst case might be a tip down. The same situation might occur for the tripod-idea.

 

What might be a good plan is let a carpenter make a platform-table at the desired height (= the water level) with the size of say 1meter by 1,5meter.let it be a platform-table with plywood on the top and the bottom. The bottom will fill itself with sand in such way that you have an automatic-filling-sandbag for your wanted stability. On the top you can rig (and screw) a high-hat or even the suggested wooden tripod. If you have some money left you can let the carpenter make a second platform as a working platform (and let him make it say 50centimeters higher...

 

After shooting clean all the equipment you have used. If you do not have the time for cleaning, store it in a plastic bag or box together with the salted water and keep it (salted)wet. In this way it won't get rusty and you can clean it whenever you have the time...(with clean distilled water).

 

Kind regards and good luck

 

Onno Perdijk

Key Grip

Amsterdam, Netherlands

 


 

Onno Perdijk wrote :

 

>What might be a good plan is let a carpenter make a platform-table at >the desired height

  

I've seen the bottom half of scaffolding used with the legs adjusted for uneven terrain as well as the floor height adjusted to accommodate the water/camera level. Usually quite stable and adjustable for the present conditions. Diagonal bracing can be added for stabilization.

 

In any case, NEVER leave the camera unattended in a water situation. I've saw a Moviecam take a slight dip in a pool and no one could get to it fast enough. Everyone looked to be in slow motion as they tried to run in the water to reach the tilting camera from across the pool. An early "LUNCH 1 hour" had to be called as a replacement was sent.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Jim Sofranko

NY/DP

 


 

Onno Perdijk :

 

>What might be a good plan is let a carpenter make a platform-table

 

I'll be on rock, with not much sand around, so I'm not too worried about getting buried like that.

 

>a second platform as a working platform

 

I might look it into that..

 

>If you do not have the time for cleaning, store it in a plastic bag or box >together with the salted water and keep it (salted)wet

 

style="margin-top:0;">I think you're right, something with two levels would allow the water to stream through, and *hopefully* make it a little harder to wash the platform away.

Nice one -- like it a lot!

 

Thanks for the advice.

 

Cheers,

 

Kim Sargenius

(recently graduated) student shooter

Sydney

 


 

Jim,

 

>I've seen the bottom half of scaffolding used with the legs adjusted for

 

No proper Grip around for this one I'm afraid. And as far as scaffolding goes -- I know what it looks like if you know what I mean.but yes, ideally, would have wanted to go with this sort of option.

 

>water to reach the tilting camera from across the pool. An early "LUNCH >1 hour" had to be called as a replacement was sent.

 

Well, I'm certainly going to make sure my *lunch breaks* stay within the scheduled time.

 

Cheers,

 

Kim Sargenius

(recently graduated) student shooter

Sydney

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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