Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996Underwater Motion Control
Published : 7th February 2010
Bit of a strange one...been asked by a director about using a motion control rig [or at least a head] underwater.
Is there such a thing in the UK? Or anywhere for that matter?
Joe Lewis (friend but not financially connected) did provide motion control in the states for perfect storm.
I would suggest contacting him if you have no joy in the US....either putting one of his heads underwater or in terms of interfacing his motion control systems with one of the Hydroflex underwater heads... General Lift and Hydroflex have worked together before on underwater projects and are ideally situated physically and psychically to do so again. Joe does have some representation in the UK but the underwater stuff would probably come from the US
Contact me off-list with detailed specifics and I can probably advise as to feasibility, or contact joe lewis directly:
Joe Lewis - General Lift 310 414 0717
It is a starting point, at any rate.
LA based - headed to airport
General Lift in LA built such a rig for Hollowman. I believe they adapted a HydroFlex head with stepper motors, attached it to one of their dollies that ran poolside and dragged the camera through the water, and ran the rig via Kuper controls.
If you have HydroFlex available in the UK, you might try Justin Pentecoste from this like and see if he could convert it for underwater.
General Lift in LA is +1-310-414-0717, ask for Joe Lewis.
Justin can be reached in London at 07973 317 241
Gear+Rose Motion Control
I would also recommend Joe Lewis in El Segundo CA, General Lift, Inc.
I have worked with his equipment alot (although not the underwater rig) and it's come through every time.
(No financial interest here either, just confidence)
Jake Polonsky wrote:
>> Bit of a strange one...been asked by a director about using a motion control rig [or at least a >>head] underwater.
>>Is there such a thing in the UK? Or anywhere for that matter?
It's the head that's the "Problem" an underwater tracking shot is comparatively simple as long as it's in a pool, two motion control dollies (one on either side of the pool) with tube between them and dropping down would make a tracking shot comparatively simple.
There are several difficulties to overcome, would you be using an HD camera or a film camera ? If it's film them some way to remove it and replace it while it's being reloaded is a must.
Also how far down you want to go is also important.
There is no mechanical problem with using one of the vinten heads I have underwater for a couple of days in a couple of metre's of water. They have only a single bearing which will not start be get rough until it has run dry for quite a while .
I spoke to a motor supplier they were under the impression that an ip67 motor should last several days shoot underwater as long a it wasn't more than 2m metres and the water was not salty. IP67 will operate at 1meter below in theory indefinitely.
It is possible to make an underwater moco rig if the parameters are simple. If it's any more complicated than that then one would have to get a hydroflex in from General lift. Andy Bowman has a great relationship with Joe Lewis so he would be the person to talk to about that.
Specialist Camera Assistant
07973 317 241
Portable Pan Tilt And Track Moco rig
I wonder if production has considered shooting dry for wet, and doing it on a stage? And if the shot includes flora and/or fauna then 3D tracking would be called for, not mocon. Harder than topside tracking, but far from impossible - vis "Sea Monsters", now in release, which we tracked extensively to insert prehistoric creatures.
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA
Can you tell us a bit more about why motion control might be needed?
There's often quite a bit of scope to tie things together underwater, and it's probably worth exploring poor mans solutions in consultation with post house before getting into complex bespoke gear. That said, depending on the shot, would a periscope lens (e.g. Innovision, can't remember if there are others that can go underwater) on a big moco arm get you deep enough to be useful? It's only going to go about a foot below the surface safely. Probably not worth considering except in very controlled circumstances - the moco gear I've met is not the type of stuff to get wet...
If I can help in any way... fire at will.
Franz Pagot AIC MBKS
Director of Photography/Underwater cameraman
mob UK +447770520757
mob ITALY +39 340 9344107
Uber Geek wrote:
>>underwater for a couple of days in a couple of metre's of water. They have only a single bearing >>which will not start be get rough until it has run dry for quite a while .
Try your local outboard motor dealership/repair shop, they should sell a waterproof grease that is used in the final drive to the prop.
Other problems I can think of:
1) Justin - you can't swim.
2) No-one wants to see you in a pair of Speedos.
Camera and Lens Engineer
Tel: 01895 457100
Fax: 01895 457101