360 Video filming & immersive experience

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Everything seems to be proclaiming its worth in technology, better resolution, more immersive and more reliable being among the tenants of marketed products the world over. What do we actually benefit from in these technologies? What value can we realise?

To set the scene, Advanced Diving NZ has a working relationship with Boxfish Research, an Auckland based start up company specialising in high quality underwater technologies both video and robotic. The video we shoot from the 360 camera is 5K right, but there is not a current monitor that can display it to its full effect! So where is the value?

The Bias of Photography

Since people learned to take an image we have been able to select a “perfect” subject for presentation. Look at photographs of soldiers in any major conflicts. Standing reasonably well dressed against a seemingly befitting background. Unbeknownst to the voyeur that there may have been horrors just behind the shot or more insidiously someone directing the image for greater political motivation. How are we to know if we are seeing the image as it should be, as a real representation of the experience we wish to take part?

The artistry of photography

I am a fan of Photography and an admirer of those who pursue it to its best. Nothing reflects this more that those who are prepared to engage in an alien environment with all of the challenges that go alongside simply operating a camera well. Don’t get me wrong - I love a sunset too, but I appreciate the skill and dedication of an artist.

So “Artist” yeah? I would call this someone with purpose and process. Skill matters little IMHO without dedicated and thorough application to task, vision , goal to name but a few key points. Everyone now has the power to take a great Phone”tograph” but how many would put themselves on a route to excellence in spite of the increasing technological competition. Many professional photographers I know seem to pursue this medium in spite of the ease of technological ability. They have passion and a passion for communication.

The essence of experience

Place, person, position, all are paramount! When we capture something we want it to communicate, we wish it to be to the upmost relevance and prominence. For others to step briefly into our experiential shoes and believe they were part of the moment in which this most important occasion was captured. When others feel this it is rewarding and validating. Efforts made to attain craftsman ship become vindicated and all in all its quite nice really. But the lengths we go to are sometimes extreme! I have watched photographers position creatures and themselves at the expense of others to get that “perfect shot”. This is wrong, it defrauds the voyeur and in a quest for achievement the artist has become a thief of others joy at being part of something special. Be it documentary, conceptual or any other stylistic way you create, make sure your communication is honest, the soul of your work benefits from it.

Private guiding

I have worked in many great locations. The vibrant reefs of Indonesia, the intricate and delicate caves of Mexico and the Tuamotu Island atolls of the South Pacific among them but my single biggest regret is that I could not show others the amazing life that was there. You show someone a clip of thousands of schooling Barracuda and they say “great mate”! Soon enough it fades and you are left longing to immerse them further, not in your own experience, but the place as a whole. Let’s face it, as divers we can go to places most will never access! Wouldn’t it be great to put them there?

How did I end up here?

I left underwater photography alone after dabbling with it for a few years, I used Go Pro cameras and put up the holiday snaps edition of my experiences but was never a professional. Since starting to work with Boxfish Research all of a sudden I have had exposure to technologies I could not have dreamed of using as a lowly Instructor. “Just go and shoot” with the $20K camera………. “Huh”………. “Um”………”OK”……

Two things became really apparent: First that I had become really good at diving in my creative absence and second the capturing process of 360 footage is incredibly similar to my terrestrial video work in the UK. I was all of a sudden able to put people in the environment again and create a place where they existed in it. Not just the 2D snapshots that I never felt truly reflected what I wanted to show.

Putting a VR headset on someone and watching them swivel in an office chair or blowing a kids mind at a trade show by showing them sharks connected me again with an audience! And it was as honest as I could make it.

Conclusion

Whatever way you create, I hope you have a vision, a way to differentiate yourself from others who snap at everything. Identity is visible in peoples work and to reflect over a period of images and see that they have direction is as rewarding as skill development in any other vein.

I am glad to have found a way to display my process again and link it with my passion. I hope you enjoy the videos I make. The value for me is that I can put others if for only a moment somewhere in between my goals and my soul.

“I'm really interested in photography, like every other human being.”
- Alexa Chung

“All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.”
- Richard Avedon