Underwater Motion-Picture Filming

Underwater Motion-Picture Filming


the filming of underwater objects— for example, marine and freshwater flora and fauna—underwater movie scenes and construction work and other activities conducted underwater. Filming is carried out either with ordinary cameras through the portholes of submarines, windows of deep-diving vessels, or transparent sides of pools or aquariums or with cameras enclosed together with independent drive in watertight cases.

In the USSR, the first camera for underwater filming was developed in 1933 by F. A. Leontovich, a cameraman for the Central Documentary Film Studio. This camera, operated by a diver, had a spring drive and a magazine for 120 m of film and was enclosed in a watertight case.

Underwater filming became widespread after the invention of the aqualung by J. Y. Cousteau and E. Gagnan (France, 1943), permitting cameramen to stay underwater for a sufficiently long time— an hour or more. For ease of movement, members of the film crew often use underwater scooters and maintain communications through hydroacoustic apparatus. The present level of technology allows filming even at depths inaccessible to divers equipped with aqualungs. At such depths, the camera is operated by remote control, sometimes with the use of television to monitor filming. The case containing the camera is pressurized (with compressed gas) to compensate for water pressure. In cases of poor illumination of the subject being filmed, special lighting adapted for underwater use is employed. High-contrast color film is usually required because of the extreme diffusion of light in natural bodies of water, caused by inorganic suspended matter, plankton, and so forth. Underwater filming is used in making features, documentary, educational, popular-science, and scientific-research films.


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Podvodnaia fotografiia. Leningrad, 1969.
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