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Achieving a simple underwater/drowning effect


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#1 Miska Draskoczy

Miska Draskoczy
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Posted 03 August 2007 - 01:16 PM

Hi,

I'm researching how to pull off a shot of an actor drowning underwater. Its a low budget horror short so the effect needs to be as simple as possible while getting across the idea. My first thought is a head and shoulders shot of the actor, gasping for breath, screaming, bubbles coming out mouth, maybe sinking out of view, etc. Background is dark green (supposed to be a lake).

The easiest way I can think of to shoot it would be to buy/rent an hv20 (to be cut with varicam), get an underwater housing and shoot it in the lake near where principal photography is taking place, natural lighting. The only problem with this is that the shoot is tentatively schedule for late sept/early oct and it may be too cold to have an actor in the water. Even so, if this were to happen (maybe wet/dry suit can be used), what are the rules for such things? Do we need safety person or diver on set? Even if its shooting in 4ft of water and just dunking our heads under for 30secs at a time, talent and operator?

Otherwise, are there any other low budget options? I'm assuming anything involving a pool is going to cost a lot of money. I'd like to shoot with natural lighting if possible to avoid all the safety concerns and costs of having lights around water. But maybe there are underwater tank studios in the NYC area that are set up to do all this already such that we could strike a deal to rent for a half day or so?

Or if anyone has a brilliant idea for achieving a similar effect on a small scale, like maybe there is a way to just dunk head and shoulders in an acrylic box and shoot from below with a dark background strung up above, with some way to light such that the surface waves on the water are not showing right above the head.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated... thanks!

-miska
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