Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Underwater Blue Screen


Does anyone think that attempting to film a person with blue screen background underwater(in a pool) would have many pitfalls to overcome ie : bubbles, mimicking water distortions on the matted background layer.

Or might it be just fine technically and even have an interesting look?

Anybody have some idea's or experience with this?

Brent Marrale

Does anyone think that attempting to film a person with blue screen .background underwater(in a pool)

Did an ocean effect this way once. Found good footage with streaks of sunlight moving through the water.

After watching the footage, I wanted to imitate it.

For lighting we used a shallow acrylic tank above the talent and shown light through it and gelled it accordingly to create the same effect and it worked quite well. I was worried about the water wavy effect but in the end the
waves from my tank made the person look like they were in the water.

I think it's all about symmetry, that is unless you want it to look off kilter.

Walter Graff
Producer, Director, Creative Director, Cinematographer
HellGate Pictures, Inc.
BlueSky, LLC

Brent Marrale wrote :

>Anybody have some idea's or experience with this?

I have a vague memory that JAWS 3D did some of this, I think they may have done some effects as Ultimatte composites at SD Video resolution. I know there was an AC article about it, way back when. '83 maybe??

Steven Bradford DP

I did a shoot where we had to add a background to a guy swimming in a pool. We discussed doing it as a blue screen, but it ended up as a luminance key. My part was simple - shoot the guy swimming against the wall of the pool. It was top light with no direct light on the wall behind him. I was not directly involved with the post.

Marty Mullin
Los Angeles

Hi Brent,

There's a purpose built facility for this just down the road a few miles.

Basically it's the same as any BS, use underwater Kino's for the screen and try and keep any caustics off it, they're the ripples you get in the lighting caused by the water, they cause havoc with keyers.

Otherwise it's a fairly common and easy thing to do.

All the usual advice about safety divers etc....


Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based

One should have a look at the Test footage on the NEW Procomp CD, which has footage of ghost model, dressed in translucent reflective material, flowing slowly round in this tank. The blue screen bounce is drastically cut down as a result. No problem with the background matte's either.

Carey Duffy

South London Filter Ltd
No 3 Richborne Terrace, London, SW8 1AS.


We did a commercial in which a girl swims around a house. We shot the background plates in the house then shot her against blue screen in a pool. She was wearing a white T-shirt and it was very difficult to (in fact we were unable to totally) remove blue tinges from the white shirt. This was probably due more to the water than to reflection off the blue screen.

There was a BMW commercial, that we used as reference, in which a woman dived into and swam around a pool. There is a BMW driving along the bottom of the pool and seemingly no water in the pool. She is wearing a black swimsuit but overall it looks fantastic, very little affect on her face or body from the water and no blue tinge.

Earle Dresner
Camera Dept
Film Graphics Productions

We did a commercial in which a girl swims around a house.

Is that the Uncle Toby's commercial? I thought that one looked quite nice, but indeed you can see that the compositing was problematic.

Although, many other people who are not into filmmaking, didn't notice it (as usual), until I pointed it out of course


Martin Heffels

Sydney, Australia

"Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut that held its ground."


Yes it is the Uncle Tobys spot with Giann Rooney.

You can probably view it on the filmgraphics website : by following links to the director Phil Meatchem, if anyone's interested.


Earle Dresner
AC/DP Sydney, Australia

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