Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

Underwater Housing

Published : 5th October 2003


I need some sort of housing for doing some water level, or just below water level, shooting with an SRII (kids falling in a small river, thrashing about.) Any suggestions out there for an inexpensive but safe submersion box or housing for this? If anyone has some suggestions that they've tried we can build it if it isn't too complex, since we don't have much time to devote to it. Or rent it for a week or so.

VF can be by video assist, if needed.

Or if not the SRII, we could use an ACL, but no vid assist. Both cameras are reg. 16.

Any ideas?

Wade K. Ramsey, DP
Dept. of Cinema & Video Production
Bob Jones University
Greenville, SC 29614



The cheapest easiest way to get there from here might be to purchase an aquarium. You will need to get the lens right up to the glass inside...one way to make a nice seal with the glass (to reduce reflection) might be with one of those big floppy rubber Len shades - leave it collapsed back, but tape it to the end of the aquarium. It the top is close to the waterline, extend a splash-shield up with wood or plastic.

You will want to make sure that the aquarium can't inadvertently slip low enough in the water to fill up with water. It might want to float, so you might have to put some weight inside it or otherwise hold it down.

I think that mounting a quick release plate to piece of wood or aluminium cut to fit the bottom of the tank will make it easier to keep the camera square to the end of the tank...put a dovetail on so you can slide the lens right up to the glass. Pan and tilt by wedging the whole tank up and down with respect to the cinderblocks or whatever that it is resting on in the water...or, you could have fun building a four legged trestle (like a sawhorse) with a speed rail flange fitting captive on the cross-bar that you can loosen and tilt up or down - screw a piece of ply to that and strap the aquarium to the wood. Now you can weight down the trestle instead of the tank in case you want to lift the camera out in a hurry.

Test rig without camera first.

Remember that your focus scribe marks will now lie to you. Multiply actual distance by 3/4 (.75 for decimal people) to find what your focus set should be.

Wear waders or a wetsuit or wait until July.

WARNING!

If you normally wear your light meter on your belt…REMEMBER TO TAKE IT OFF OR WEAR IT HIGHER THAN NORMAL!!! I came within 1/4" of flooding my meters on a job in a knee-deep tank when I squatted down to look through the lens

Weingartner
LA



Wade Ramsey wrote :

>I need some sort of housing for doing some water level

Wade- Abel rents scuba cams for XTRs - which is what I used it with. Worked great to get under a few feet. You'd need to find who rents one for an Arri. Should be out there.

My AC tested it with hotel towels in the pool the night before use. Good idea. Also he put tampons in when we used it for any slight slow leak that might develop. I went under with it to about 3 feet. Worked great for going from action on the surface across "the line" to underwater. you can see it on my website URL under Cast & Blast.

Access to cam controls is very poor - I could have used faster response with what I was doing. exposure was a lock for practical purposes, but if you can stop for 5 min and make adjustments - it's great. Watch out for runaway rolls with the cam trigger. Basically its a zip lock bag (but thick rubber) that’s fit-moulded to the camera shape. it has finger access pods for most controls - but with the Aaton - you couldn't see what you were moving. Between takes I actually would rack iris side to side to get a feel for centre area and then nudge for a 5.6 or an 8. When finished with a sequence the only thing I was interested in was how close I had guessed it - I was usually within a half stop. I’d say I was right on but then no one would believe me.

You have to shop for a deal. I think Abel's was 600/week. Have fun.

Caleb Crosby, s.o.c.
Cameraman
www.calebcrosby.com



Mark Weingartner wrote :

> Wear waders or a wetsuit or wait until July

BE CAREFUL with waders Wade! If you flood them they will drown you. Wear a tight belt at the waist so in the event you bend over or fall and fill with water - the water is trapped out of the pants. Think about it. Be smart.

>I came within 1/4" of flooding my meters on a job in a knee-deep tank >when I squatted down to look through the lens

Mark that is funny. Flooding my meter became an every other day experience on an outdoor TV show. Even in my wader chest pocket I'd drop it bending low on handheld shots. The Minolta F is basically impervious in my field tests. My AC and I got a system down. Pop batts. Open all compartments. Leave it lying around in the sun for 1/2 a day. batts back in - good as new.

I completely dunked it probably 10 times. The only up side was sending the hip NY Producer on the dead run for my spectra.

Caleb Crosby, s.o.c.
Cameraman



>Wade - Abel rents scuba cams for XTRs - which is what I used it with. >Worked great to get under a few feet. You'd need to find who rents one >for an Arri. Should be out there....

Thanks, Caleb & Mark, for some good ideas! I'll follow up, but still open if anyone has any other solutions.

I've used waders before and know what you're talking about! Thanks for the warning, tho', especially about dunking the meters. I'll have a new Spectra, but may borrow a Minolta IVF as a backup (or dunk in!)

Wade K. Ramsey, DP
Dept. of Cinema & Video Production
Bob Jones University
Greenville, SC 29614



Wade,

Commonly known as a splash box or water box, CineVideoTech here in Miami carries them. Ask for Egon Jr.

I have no affiliation with CVT nor will I profit from this information.

Regards,

Vincent G. Hogan
President
Cineworks Digital Studios, Inc.
www.cineworks.com



Hi Wade,

I've worked with a local DP over here, who has used the Zip lock style housing on the SR III to about 8' no problem, I'm not sure if its compatible with the SR II, & as far as I know he owns the housing. If you'd like I could get his opinion & forward it to you. With regard to your meter if you have access to a Minolta IV F, Hydroflex do a great housing, they rent as well as sell. I've had one for 4 years & used to a depth of over 20' again no problem.

Regards,

James Mc Guire
Gaffer, Dublin

(No connection to the above other than been very happy with their products)