14 May 2021
Top Tips for How to Shoot and Edit the Best Underwater Videos
When you're on holiday somewhere on the coast and you get the unbelievable opportunity to explore the depths of the sea through scuba diving and snorkeling, the images will stay with you forever. However, how can you share these and keep some exceptional memories in video for later? Learning how to shoot underwater video can take some time and it's not the most straightforward skill, but it's easy to get started.
For those of you who are looking at how to take video underwater for a professional or school project, this guide will also help you learn how to adjust and edit underwater footage so you can get the perfect video of your adventures under the sea.
Tips for Shooting Underwater Films
Some of the most difficult aspects of shooting underwater come from the challenges around moving and staying still (yes, the two opposites!). It can also be tricky to keep yourself composed for long enough to take enough shots, so make sure you do some swimming and diving training specifically for filmmakers beforehand.
Avoid shaky camera movement
The best tip is to sit still as much as you can when you're shooting a specific creature or scene. While you won't have to worry so much about shaky movements underwater as you do on land, you still need to stabilize your camera to get the best clips. When learning how to take video underwater, bear in mind what your audience will see and how much they will appreciate a steady hand.
Additionally, ensure you get enough footage of every scene, so stabilize yourself and the camera for a few seconds at a time so you can later edit around a specific shot.
Get varied shots
It's always more interesting to include variety in your filming, so make sure you move to different sections of your underwater adventure and film from different angles. Many people find this out when looking at how to shoot a snorkeling underwater video, when the sheer variety of the fauna and flora is so surprising and they want to keep moving to new spots to catch different glimpses of it.
Be aware of those around you
You will be focusing on shooting the underwater scenery and wildlife, but don't forget the other divers. Most likely, you want to avoid them being in your film. You may just want to keep the camera rolling to get additional footage which you can then cut out in post-production if it's been interfered with by the appearance of someone else.
Know your white balance
If you're shooting underwater, you must have a camera that gives you various white balance functions. In this situation, if you're shooting macro with lights, you can just leave your white balance to automatic. However, if you want to use any ambient lighting, you need to learn how to adjust manual white balance. You can get some more tips on that here.
Additionally, you may want to learn a bit more about lighting and effects specific to underwater filming, such as when to use wide-angle, macro, etc.
Take advice from the pros
Beyond the obvious suggestions, there are many tips and tricks that professional underwater videographers can share for when you want to step it up a notch with your filming. Underwater BBC filmmaker Roger Munns shares some of his favorite extra rules here.
Moreover, you can always check out underwater videos from professionals for inspiration of angles, story ideas, and techniques. Something like this National Geographic documentary could provide you with some thoughts to get started.
How to edit underwater video like a pro
Now you have your best underwater shots, you may be wondering how to add color to underwater video that maybe lacks some because of the lighting, how to adjust your video to make it look its best, and how to cut and edit your video down to the ideal size.
Here are the best editing tips specific to underwater video.
Keep it short
No matter how interesting the subject matter is, your underwater video needs to be cut to match your viewers' attention span. Especially if you plan to share your video to social media and don't know how to adjust your underwater video for every channel, the best suggestion is to be ruthless with cutting down the footage. Pick only the best clips and you'll keep your audience engaged.
Tell a story
Consider the logical sequence of your clips and how they tie together to tell a story. This can be enhanced with a few transitions or some text overlaid onto your video, that can offer additional information for the audience.
Depending on the aim of your video, you can also record and add a voice-over narration that explains what is being shown on the screen.
Correct color and light
One of the most often asked questions is how to color correct underwater video. This is because colors often appear more subdued under water, so you will want to enhance the coloring on elements such as coral reefs to prevent them from appearing dull.
You can adjust the color balance of your footage during post-production thanks to your video editing app. All such apps will have some tools to help with underwater video color correction, so familiarize yourself with the menu of your app. Some apps will also let you adjust lighting, temperature, and tint.
As you will have guessed, while you travel underwater the camera will be recording very little sound. Therefore, even if you choose not to speak on your video, you will still need to add some musical background as part of your underwater video editing process.
Search for royalty-free music online or use some music that's part of your video editing app's catalog.
Don't forget small details
A few well-placed pieces of information in text overlaid to your video, as well as helpful titles and transitions, can make your underwater video editing complete. It's great to add these small details at the end of your editing process after you've left your video alone for a little while and you return to it with a clear mind. Then you might also spot any errors that need to be fixed before your audience sees the video.
Once you have finished your underwater video editing, share it with some close friends to get their feedback first, before publishing it to social media. Make sure you share your final product as much as possible to make the most of what you've learned about how to shoot underwater video. And, next time you're swimming and filming, enjoy yourself knowing that you can edit and enhance your footage to make the best clips!