The Republic of Palau continues to provide great opportunities for Media Production. I would like to share some of the highlights from the past year and our hopes for the future.
New media techniques and projects in Palau
Over the last 12 months we have continued to diversify our filming techniques. Aerial filming with Drones and Aircraft mounted action cams have provided great footage for our clients.
Exciting 6K B-roll from Time-lapse techniques have also added to production value.
We have embraced 360 VR and continue to develop this new and exciting form of media. Mosaic panoramas provide a new and artistic form in addition to producing very high resolution images for printing.
Underwater filming in Palau is still incredible. New behaviors and environments were documented in greater detail this past year. Our cameras can output 4K Raw footage. This means we get the very best colors possible in UHD.
Wildlife and conservation topics are still very close to our hearts. A large project on migratory shorebirds was completed in the Autumn. This milestone project raised local awareness for the need to protect certain coastal environments in Palau.
Plastic Pollution is an incredibly damaging aspect of our world in this century. This film was our first venture into raising awareness of this issue
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support into 2018.
Together we can make Lightning Strike Productions grow further and provide more innovative and educational media for Palau and Micronesia.
As natural events go, very little compares to fish spawning aggregations and it’s the time of year again to be diving Peleliu. Both the Sailfin Snapper (Symphorichthys spilurus) and Red Snapper (Lutjanus bohar) are starting to aggregate along the east reefs of Yellow Wall and Peleliu Express to the corner.
For those intrepid divers, early morning dives just before the full moon will find them spawning in their thousands. Also making an appearance are the predators such as Bull Sharks and Oceanic Black Tips.
How to find the aggregations
I joined Dari Divers for this trip as they know exactly where and when to jump in, even once on the reef they can interpret the fishes behavior and know how to approach them. Check out the edited short film from this year:
Check out last years showreel with footage from the Red Snapper spawning dives here.
Watch this space for updates as we return to document this impressive natural event.
Over the last few months I’ve been diving with Dari Dive Palau. Together we are planning on showing all the cool fish, sharks and mantas at new locations they know. They asked me to put together a short film of the regular features such as the spawning dives, aggregations, Blue Corner, Blue Holes, German Channel etc to begin with, which you can see here:
I have found Dari Divers to be particularly good. Apart from offering Nitrox, great lunches and taking small groups to the best sites, I’m finding that they have a deep understanding of the timing of natural events. This rich knowledge enables them to put their divers in the water at exactly the right time on the right day to witness nature at it’s best.
See another film I produced on another trip with them here.
After diving at a professional level for close to 20 years, in a wide variety of locations and shops around the world, I hope I can say that I have a reasonable amount of experience in the business of recreational diving. Many shops are very busy always running at 150% (great for business/bad for customer satisfaction), some cut corners and the customers are left with substandard guides, poor rental equipment, boats that break down etc. It’s a fine blend of personal attention and the excitement of discovery and adventure that for me makes Dari Divers stand out for a great diving experience in Palau.
Making the film
All the underwater stuff is shot on the Canon 5D3 running Magic Lantern capable of outputting 4K Raw footage. For more info on this set up see this post
Aerials were shot using the DJI Inspire 1, hand launched and caught from the bow of the boat during the surface intervals.
For the editing I looked at a different aspect ratio this time. 2.35:1 instead of the usual 16:9 to see how it holds up over time and initially I like the look. To me it makes the screen bigger even though it’s actually smaller…..
Let me know in the comments section below what you think to the film and whether or not the 2.35:1 ratio works for this sort of thing.
Watch out for new media coming from this new collaboration as well as views from new as yet undisclosed sites around Palau.
I get a lot of e-mails asking me how to become a successful underwater cameraman, or how I’ve got to where I am as a media producer. So I thought I’d put together a short blog to help all those aspiring shooters.
There is no one course or definite route. The more successful underwater camera operators you meet the more varied the stories you’ll get. For the sake of this, here are some recurring similarities.
Most of it may seem like common sense but hopefully my contribution offers you some insight.
If any readers have ideas that they can offer, things that I haven’t encountered or mentioned it would be great to hear from you. Please leave a comment at the bottom to help every aspiring shooter out there.
I’ve been a Media Producer in various guises in Palau for 10 years now, initially as an underwater cameraman with a little bit of topside work thrown in, then diversifying into Time-lapse, run n’ gun, aerials (drone and aircraft), interviews etc.
Palau has changed a lot in those 10 years and this has made me change with it.
Here are 10 things (actually 11) I’ve learned about Media Production in that time:
So many cameras
Now more than ever people have cameras, as a dedicated cameraman I’m being squeezed by the ready availability of cameras. Everyone over the age of 5 seems to have one (gross over generalization, I know). So now more than ever I have to be inventive with my imaging, flexibility and the old cliche of thinking outside the box are more important than ever before. Don’t be afraid to try new techniques, think about a sequence or image you want to acquire, no matter how crazy or impossible it first appears to be, then work out how to do it. Dare to be different.