Tian Xiang

This week, we did one of my favourite dives here in Mauritius: the Tian Xiang wreck near Flic-en-Flac. It’s a deep dive, 40+ meters, so time is short down there. If you allow a few minutes of decompression, you get about 13 or so minutes bottom time, ie. without the descent and the ascent, the latter taking longer than usual for the decompression stops at several depths to get rid of all the nitrogen accumulated in your body due to the high pressure of the air you breathe.

I could stay down there forever. It’s how I imagine an elven world, dreamy, calm, peaceful, time flowing slowly. A mesmerising world.

For the first time, I took a video under water. Actually, it’s my first video at all. I had always refrained from shooting videos, as to create a good video takes so much time. The shooting is one thing, but then cutting and tweaking the raw material is another. For the shooting, I used my usual underwater camera, for cutting and assembling iMovie. I spent a few hours with iMovie, also as I had no idea how to use it. It’s a nice and useful program to start editing videos, once you get the hang of it. The resulting video is a good seven minutes in length, the raw footage is about 17 minutes.

Shooting a movie under water comes with its own challenges. You float, no firm ground to stabilise your shots. Better adjust the pressure in your vest (aka “the BCD” in diver lingo, the buoyancy control device) precisely to get the buoyancy right, and move slowly but continuously. Try to hold the camera as stable as possible. Considering it is my first underwater video, I think I did quite well, but there’s some jerkiness anyway at times. Also, I must improve on framing and slowing the panning.

Note the colours. Well, mostly one colour, blue-ish. I could have colour-corrected this, but I think I prefer to show exactly how it looks down there. When you see the diver with the lamp, Perrine, you get a quick impression of the “real” colours – real in the sense of perception under normal, white-ish daylight, as we’re used above water. But down there, it’s blue, or grey-black in the shadows.

Regarding the quality, I have no clue how Youtube mangles the uploaded videos. The original material is in 1080p, so if your network bandwidth is sufficiently generous, and your tablet’s or PC’s graphics processor has enough oomph, select one of the HD options in the Youtube player, especially in full-screen. I guess I will learn more about that stuff as I go and shoot more underwater videos.

As I don’t assume you want to hear me breathing for six minutes, I replaced the audio track as recorded by the camera with a prelude of Chopin, which fits the movie’s mood pretty well, I think. No other sounds down there. Did I say I love this calmness?

Note: the audio track is taken from a CD. I have no clue how this, strictly speaking, copyright infringement will be handled by Youtube. Maybe some ads of the copyright holder will appear (Universal Music)? Or I will have to take down the video? For now, I will just wait and see what is going to happen. I guess it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission in this case. :) In the worst case, I’ll need to replace the audio track. Easy enough to manage in iMovie.