The purpose of this lesson is to show you how to use 14 basic segments to construct a video documenting a dive trip. Each of the 14 essential segments will consist of one or more video shots. The segments – joined end to end – form your movie.

Because each videographer’s location and purpose will vary, you can modify these segments for your specific needs. The 14 segments require minimal posing for your group. Most of the people shots will be natural – you will shoot them as they are. The basic segments are listed below:

1. Group establishing shot.

2. Boarding the boat.

3. Preparing for the dive.

4. Entering the water.

5. U/W establishing shots.

6. The U/W action.

7.Divers ascending.

8. The safety stop.

9. Individual head and shoulder shots.

10. To the ladder (U/W).

11. Up the ladder (lift).

12. Up the ladder (topside view).

13. Activities on boat.

14. Group leaving the boat.

14 vital segments for a dive trip video

Some of these segments require one shot, others require several shots. For other activities, such as diving at a resort or from a beach, write a new list of modified segments before you start shooting. The following segments are for documenting one or more days of diving aboard a day or live-aboard dive boat.


Begin by establishing the location and event and introducing the cast of characters to the viewer:

1. GROUP ESTABLISHING SHOT: The immediate goal is to set the stage for action that follows. If the boat is moored at a photogenic dock, begin with a wide view of the boat. Then show two or three LS views of the group on the dock as they prepare to board the boat. You can, for example, have them gather and face the camera, then turn and walk toward the boat as you continue shooting. The top-side introductory segment can be short: 15 or 20 seconds is about the maximum. You don’t have to shoot each individual; you can get them later.

2. BOARDING THE BOAT: Use your zoom control or move in closer for shots of divers boarding the boat. You can start shooting on the dock, then move to the boat to add shots of divers stepping aboard. Important tip: Get your dive gear aboard ahead of time so you can concentrate on shooting divers.

3. PREPARING FOR THE DIVE: Get shots of individual divers gearing up. Concentrate on those persons you missed in segments 1 and 2. If the divemaster gives a chalk talk about the site, get some of this on tape. Begin with ten seconds of the divemaster giving the briefing, cut to a shot of the group watching the divemaster and end with another shot of the divemaster. Important tip: You don’t have to shoot the entire briefing; nobody will want to view a long-winded dive brief when they watch your tape weeks later.

4. ENTERING THE WATER: If divers enter the water at a specific place, such as the swimstep of the boat, shoot about 10 seconds of each person approaching the entry point. Stop the camera until they get their gear adjusted to avoid long scenes showing nothing important. When they are ready start the camera and pan with them as they step into the water. The purpose of these “mug shots” is to make sure you have a head and shoulders shot of each person. If you miss someone, make a mental note to get him/her later.

If you are on a live-aboard, you can also take entering the water shots from the boat’s dinghy. Ask a crew member if he can position you about 15 or 20 feet beyond the live-aboard’s stern.


If the group consists of novice divers or macho explorers, don’t even think about complicated scenes. Settle for an establishing shot to start the U/W action. Shoot whatever action you see. Then shoot a resolving shot to end the sequence.

5. U/W ESTABLISHING SHOTS: Get below the boat and shoot some long shots of divers descending. Ask some of them (ahead of time) to swim over you. Don’t try to include everyone. Some will be clearing their ears on the line, others will be heading in other directions. Concentrate on small groups and buddy pairs. Get low and use seafans or corals to frame your subjects. If there is a bright overhead sun, position yourself in the shadow of the boat. This reduces image burnout and you may get some dramatic sunbeams radiating around the boat. Important tip: If you get into the water last, because you were shooting the entry shots, shoot the U/W establishing shots on the second dive and edit later.

6. THE U/W ACTION: Your control over the situation ends quickly when the group reaches the bottom. (People who promised to pose frequently develop subsea amnesia.) Shoot several shots each of as many persons as possible. Concentrate on action, such as divers feeding fish or taking pictures. If several divers are swimming along a wall, try to get ahead and below them. Shoot their approach and pan slowly as they pass. Lag behind the group and fins and tank bottoms will be all you’ll see.


It’s time to finish your mug shots and resolve the U/W action:

7. DIVERS ASCENDING: Try for a reverse of your opening U/W establishing shots. Get low and frame divers with seafans, corals, wreckage or anemones as they head up the ascent fine. Then move in for some midwater shots at different angles.

8. THE SAFETY STOP: A few shots of the group decompressing on a line or hang-bar help make the transition from U/W action to the mug shots that follow.

9. INDIVIDUAL HEAD AND SHOULDERS SHOTS: This is your golden opportunity to get mug shots of those persons you’ve missed up to now. It’s OK if they clown around or make faces at the camera; they’ll enjoy their antics when they view the finished video. important tips: When shooting mug shots, position yourself so the sun is behind your back and you are slightly above your subject. This helps illuminate their faces. Remove the reddish filter or your video will be too red. If you can’t, reset white balance for indoor if you have a white balance control.

10. TO THE LADDER (U/W): Shoot a transition shot showing one diver leaving the safety stop and swimming up to the ladder. Because divers often spend a minute or more removing fins, etc., end the scene (by stopping the camera or editing later) as soon as the diver grabs the ladder.

11. UP THE LADDER (LIFT): As soon as one diver starts up the ladder, exhale and rise. Lift the camera up through the surface for a topside shot of the diver ascending the ladder. Important tip: To minimize water droplets on the lens port while shooting lift shots, coat the port’s outer surface with Rain-X or Pledge furniture wax.

Segments 10 and 11 end the transition between the dive and the topside action that follows. You only need one “diver up the ladder” shot. However, shoot at least two so you can choose the best one when you edit.


Now that the dive is over, it’s time to reestablish the topside scene.

12. UP THE LADDER (TOPSIDE VIEW): Get out of the water and shoot a diver coming up the ladder. If you previously missed shooting any divers entering the water, you can add them with up the ladder shots.

13. ACTIVITIES ABOARD THE BOAT: There will be a mix of excitement and confusion as divers return. Shoot several divers removing gear and talking about the dive. Get some shots of lunchtime and divers relaxing between sites. If the divers are shaded under a canopy, use the iris override to open the aperture. Otherwise, the automatic exposure control will respond to the bright background and underexpose your subject’s faces.

14. GROUP LEAVING THE BOAT: Get off the boat quickly and take a few shots of divers disembarking. If possible, have the group assemble by the boat, face the camera and then walk past you as you shoot this ending scene.


Although you will edit in camera as much as possible, it may be difficult to shoot each of the 14 segments in the desired sequence. Thus, you will probably need to do some basic editing later. The topside shots – especially aboard the boat – can be hazardous to your equipment. Avoid the temptation to remove your camcorder from the housing unless conditions are ideal. The optics and sound won’t be as good if you shoot through the housing port but salt spray won’t ruin your camcorder and condensation won’t trigger the dew shutoff mechanism that turns the camera off.


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