OT: Mucky Secrets. A new underwater video to share

NickHope wrote on 10/10/2013, 10:07 AM
I have been working on a new 90-minute documentary about the weird and wonderful marine life of the Lembeh Strait in Indonesia.

I have still some way to go with that, but today I released a short prologue video as a trailer and a chance to be creative in a different way from the main feature (which is slow paced with narration). (EDIT: The full 90-minute documentary has now been published. Skip down to my post of 9/2/2014 1:32:37 PM)

I shot it with my Sony HVR-Z1P HDV camera with a Century Optics +3.5 achromatic diopter, in a Light & Motion underwater housing with a flat port and halogen lights.

In Vegas I corrected each clip with Color Curves then processed for YouTube by my usual convoluted but proven method. 2 clips were cropped from 1080 to 720p, the rest were downscaled.

I didn't set out to cut to the music this time, but that's how it ended up for most clips. Hence it's fast paced, which is good for YouTube, and hopefully I've just about managed to convey the personalities of these quirky creatures without the cutting being jarring. Would be interested in views on that, or any other feedback. Cheers



musicvid10 wrote on 10/10/2013, 10:23 AM
Simply brilliant, Nick!
This is stuff that most people will never see any other way in their lifetimes.
Best music choice to date. Video-to-music sync shows well, although you've discovered that some of that is coincidental, in a good way.
Caption font could be a little fatter, and they go by rather quickly. Had to pause to read some of them. Maybe omit the scientific names for the unwashed masses?

Are you still shooting HDV?

For the uninitiated, Nick's Dakuwaga's Garden video has over 17 million Youtube hits and still climbing. He is truly a treasure to have on this forum, both as an artist and teacher.


Kimberly wrote on 10/10/2013, 10:31 AM
Absolutely stunning. Especially the mandarin fish. Earlier this year we found mandarin fish on one of our wrecks. It's difficult to appreciate how TINY they are until you see them in relation to a known object.

YouTube stalled a number of times and gave pixelated frames now and then, but that's just YouTube or my connection.
set wrote on 10/10/2013, 10:32 AM
Lembeh Strait, North of Sulawesi Island...

Love it! Thanks for recording them!


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NickHope wrote on 10/10/2013, 10:39 AM
Thank you very much Musicvid.

In my days and days of RF stock music auditioning, that track did stand out, and I knew I had to use it for something, and I chose the clips to fit it. Very lucky to find it, and still enjoying it despite countless listens.

No choice on caption fonts I'm afraid. They are what YouTube gives you. To be honest the amount of info in each caption is partly there to help the video get discovered. I think most people probably have the captions turned off (?).

My only underwater rig is still my old Z1 rig, but I haven't shot with it for over a year. I still have so much old footage like this that I need to publish before I indulge myself by going out gathering more (er... cough cough... this was shot in 2007...). My only other camera is an RX100 that I've dabbled with topside.
NickHope wrote on 10/10/2013, 10:47 AM
Yes Kimberly, those mandarinfish are a challenge to shoot. You have to sit there with the lights off until the last moment, then attempt to frame, light and nail a shot in an instant. I have plenty of clips where they aborted their nooky and headed back into the coral when they suddenly realised they were under floodlights. But luckily a few times they just couldn't stop themselves.

I still remember I actually messed up on that dive, and mistakenly had gain set to auto. As a result I expected the gain to throttle down during the clip and spoil the footage, but for some reason it didn't seem to. Lucky.
john_dennis wrote on 10/10/2013, 2:40 PM
I added your video as one of my Favorites only because youtube doesn't have a Most Favorites category.

Speaking of [I]murky[/I], everything you post makes all of mine look downright...

...wait for it...

riredale wrote on 10/10/2013, 2:41 PM
How far underwater are you when you shoot these amazing creatures? Remarkable footage and also an eye-opener as to the variety of lifeforms underwater.

I also wonder what the average lifespan is of one of these creatures. I suspect it's "eat and get eaten" in short order.
RalphM wrote on 10/10/2013, 8:14 PM
Amazing - spectacular footage - obviously you are a patient man (with gills?)
NickHope wrote on 10/10/2013, 11:57 PM
Thanks again.

riredale, all this footage is around 5 to 20 metres depth. The pygmy seahorse in the sea fan may have been a little deeper where they like to live.

Data on lifespans is pretty difficult to locate. Most of it comes from aquarists, but many of these species are difficult or impossible to keep in aquariums. Pygmygobies start at 59 days (shortest known lifespan of any vertebrate). Typical small tropical fish seem to average about 5 years. But in the Lembeh Strait it's probably a lot shorter for many. The place is an absolute minefield of cryptic ambush predators.

To give you an idea of what horrors lie in wait for poor unsuspecting fishies, check out these 2 videos (sadly not mine) of the bobbit worm from the Lembeh Strait. Yes, it's said to be named after John Wayne Bobbitt, with very good reason. The first fishy's grisly demise is ludicrously theatrical. Like something am aquatic Hannibal Lecter would dream up.

Definitely parental advisory! As my mum would say, goodnight kiddies, sleep well...

FilmingPhotoGuy wrote on 10/11/2013, 3:52 AM
Thank you Mr. Nick Hope for sharing this stunning clip with us. Beautifully shot and edited. I can't wait to see the final. Well done.

amendegw wrote on 10/11/2013, 6:39 AM
This is beyond brilliant!


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gpsmikey wrote on 10/11/2013, 10:03 AM
Very impressive !! That was indeed the perfect music for that - almost a Fantasia feel to it. Really makes me miss my time underwater.

Laurence wrote on 10/11/2013, 10:07 AM
Just stunningly beautiful in every way!
Rory Cooper wrote on 10/16/2013, 2:29 AM
Nick absolutely stunning images, very impressive!! how did you set those shots up? Just the thought of “my air is running out” being serene is going to be the last thing on my mind.
ushere wrote on 10/16/2013, 4:19 AM

every aspect of it....
kairosmatt wrote on 10/16/2013, 9:16 AM
That's really amazing and inspiring.

I have a similar generation Panasonic HMC150 but haven't shot it with underwater for a while, seeing this makes me want to get it wet again and up my game. Thanks for sharing-made my morning!

NickHope wrote on 4/11/2014, 4:06 AM
After an unforeseen delay, I finally completed my "Mucky Secrets" documentary and have started serialising it on YouTube.

Part 1 is an introduction to the Lembeh Strait's location at the heart of the Coral Triangle, followed by a brief look at corals and tunicates. Future episodes will cover a whole range of the area's diverse creatures.

If anyone is interested in following along with the weekly series, please subscribe to my YouTube channel. Some time after completing the series, I will publish the whole 90 minute documentary and post a link to it on this thread.

I made it in Vegas Pro 10.0e. As always, feedback is welcome - positive or negative.

ushere wrote on 4/11/2014, 4:50 AM

well done!!!!
Laurence wrote on 4/11/2014, 7:26 AM
>As always, feedback is welcome - positive or negative

Negative: not enough boobs, guns and car chases...

Other than that, outstanding!
Paul Fierlinger wrote on 4/11/2014, 10:48 AM
I will contribute only as the non-camera filmmaker I am, so my view will be less of the technical accomplishments nature. The mastery of the underwater camera work becomes indisputable very quickly to the likes of me.

So I miss long shots. To become better oriented and enjoy the scope of the scenery I need to be told where I am. Someone here noted that others can't appreciate the miniscule size of a certain species and that speaks to my point ; why not help a person like me and show how tiny these creatures are in comparison to others. All creatures in this teaser are framed too closely to each other in most of the scenes which makes them all look just about even in size. If this is to be a teaser to make people want to come back for more, and I am a sucker for nature documentaries, it should showcase more variety of life's dimensions down there so that I'll know more about where I would be coming back to..
Laurence wrote on 4/11/2014, 11:22 AM

... but then you would see he's just in a public aquarium...

Paul Fierlinger wrote on 4/11/2014, 12:10 PM
Sure! Then I'll want to know which one!
NormanPCN wrote on 4/11/2014, 12:15 PM
Very nice. All I can say is I wanted more when the video ended.
NickHope wrote on 4/14/2014, 1:29 AM
Thanks for the feedback folks.

@Paul - I do take your point about a lack of wide, establishing shots to set up the story. I actually had a technical limitation with that. On almost every dive I had a Century +3.5 diopter screwed to the front of the camera. So I could only go so wide. I've done my best with the footage I had available.

I guess you're talking mainly about the prologue video, rather than the first part of the documentary proper? In that video I attempted to make all those tight shots work in sequence from an artistic standpoint, and to inspire curiosity.

Since dSLRs became popular for underwater shooting, a lot of videos suffer this lack of wide shots, because lenses can't be changed underwater. There is one Nauticam port that allows the Olympus M43 12-50 lens to be switched between its regular and macro modes underwater, and that's a port I'm hoping will allow me to get both the wide(ish) and macro shots in the same dive with my next camera (probably GH4).