by David Haylock, updated 01 Mar 2010 2:17am
Although there is a hydrophone on most of the underwater housings supplied by Budget Video Rentals, actually getting useful audio in the water is a substantial challenge. If you have ever tried to communicate in a swimming pool, for instance, yelling as loud as you can into the water (while exhaling) will be barely heard by another in the water, and it will be the same for the HYDROPHONE on the camera. In water, sound effects tend to be banging on a metal tank, or doing some kind of noisy construction, slamming a metal door on a metal ship in the water, for instance.
Budget Video rents a number of water-sound devices. One of the most useful is the in-the-water speaker system whereby the topside director can talk clearly to everyone in the water at once, without the expense and complexity of an underwater communications system. This underwater speaker system is listed HERE.
Underwater Communications from Budget Video Rentals is all OTS Ocean Technology Systems gear, both SSB Wireless and Buddy Line hard-wired. The Swedish-made AGA masks can be attached to either the wireless unit-to-unit or unit-to-surface or both. We have designed an underwater housing for the Sony TCD5 DAT recorder which gives the diver the option to not only record to the surface, record to the tape in the underwater housing (on request wiring can be set up for this), but also make a continuous 125 minute audio tape that will be recorded even when the camera is not running. Keep in mind that the AGA mask and microphone system obscure the mouth of talent, so lip sync is not going to happen anyway. Therefore the DAT audio can be used at any point in the production desired.
Communications systems can be rented with virtually unlimited divers on the line at one time.
Top of the line underwater communication is achieved with the Lama helmet from France. This must be used with a very experienced diver, and there is a learning curve involved. It is supplied with a technician who makes certain that the system is working from not only an air supply point of view but quality audio from the talent, too.