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How I filmed this video:
A couple of people have been in touch to ask me how I filmed last nights video. I'm always happy to share these stores and I'm also delighted to be asked so thanks Ruth Kennedy for being the first to ask this time around! So here goes:
I swim at the 40 Foot a lot. This gives me a great perspective on how the light is at different times of the day and, even more importantly, where the rocks are at various tides. I've also developed a keener sense of what's visually interesting for people around that area as a result of regularly taking photographs there each day after I go swimming. Many of these photos can be found on my Instagram profile here.
Camera: GoPro Hero https://amzn.to/2uIKbTB
Camera buoyancy aid: GoPro Floaty Backdoor https://amzn.to/2zObmSX
Grip that doubles as buoyancy aidt: https://amzn.to/2L382s9
The mechanics of how I got the shots:
The whole thing was filmed in two takes with a really old GoPro Hero (Autumn 2014) with a “Floaty” stuck to the back of it to keep it afloat in case I dropped it. It can also quick tricky to hold a GoPro when filming so I also used a GoPro Floating Handle Grip. This also added even more buoyancy to my setup. One could possibly get away with just the Handle Grip but I'm not going to recommend that until I've tested it first in a bath!
In the first take I filmed as I jumped into the water. In another take I asked Aislinn to film as I jumped into the water. In post I editing the two shots together, using the splash to "switch cameras". If you look carefully you'll see that I jump in alone but when I surface again the rocks where I jumped form are full of people!
I use Final Cut Pro (FCPX) to edit on a MacBook with a nice big external monitor. As this wasn't a technical or complex edit I could have just as easily filmed it on my phone. However, the main technical barrier in this instance would have been trying to get the content from the device to the phone. This would have required several external widgets and adaptors. Who needs that hassle?! Thankfully, the newer GoPro's have a really nice app to whiz your video files across from camera to phone in jig time!
Environmental opportunities and technical challenges:
This evening the tide was quite low which made for a great splash. Unfortunately the light was a little harsh as it was still quite early in the evening. As I was filming with a GoPro I had no control over things like aperture and shutter speed which didn't help either. Worth noting that it is possible to get ND (neutral density) filters for some GoPro cameras.
Simply put, ND filters are like sunglasses for cameras. However, the subject of ND filters would easily take up an entire blog post in itself (not to mention topic of sourcing ND filters for a GoPro) so I'll park those ideas for now. Thankfully, tonight's GoPro handled the light surprisingly well. Also, did you see that sweet lens flare? Who ever said you shouldn't shoot directly into bright light!!
In a pinch, a great way of compensating for challenging lighting conditions can be to use a cheeky Instagram filter. In this case, this helped me to achieve a much softer image before posting to Instagram. Instagram then seems to automatically save all of my posted video to my phone's camera roll (iPhone 6s running latest version of iOS). This means that I am left with a copy that I can then upload to other social media platforms like Facebook, Vero (@Richard Donelan) and YouTube.
What could I have done differently?
Perhaps I'd have used one of my newer GoPro's. I love my original Hero Session as it is so small and the fact that it is a cube shape means that I can (after framing my shot) leave it down on a level surface and let it record away. I had great success self-filming some snowboarding this way a few months ago. I even managed a selfie by grabbing a frame in post! You can checkout that visual content over on Instagram here.
The audio in the newer GoPro's is much better too and the screens on the updated Hero models can (not surprisingly) be very helpful in assisting the operator to frame their shots!
Worth noting too that GoPro recently announced a budget version of their 'Hero' range, simply called Hero. Although this doesn't have a 4K shooting it is a great value full HD camera if you're on a budget.
GoPro Hero Session: https://amzn.to/2zKjWCk
GoPro Hero (2018): https://amzn.to/2uygntG
A note on safety:
For safety I didn't tie the handle's chord around my wrist or hold it out in front of me - instead I held it out to the side during the jump as I'd rather risk losing a camera than injuring myself. A few years ago a friend of mine decided to dive in head first (same place but higher tide) with the camera outstretched in front of his face. Suffice it to say that didn't end well. The impact of hitting the water forced the camera into his face resulting in a big bruise and the temporary loss of the device!
Thanks for reading and, as always, please feel welcome to get in touch if you have any questions about photo or video kit or production either via the comments below or directly here!