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Scuba diving / recording under pressure

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Hi all,

Has anyone had any success with recording the audio of Scuba divers, using body pack recorders only?

I have a couple of Zaxcom ZFR-300 recorders that i can use, but wouldn’t want to without reading about someones prior experiments in these conditions, pressure, waterproofing etc…

Thanks!!

 

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AFAIK most of these underwatrr recordings would be done using hydrophones, but I'd be interested in hearing about other techniques as well.

A hydrophone, a phantom power suppy and a ZFR in am aquapac could probably be mounted on a diver like a lav and provide interesting recordings

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17 minutes ago, Constantin said:

A hydrophone, a phantom power suppy and a ZFR in am aquapac could probably be mounted on a diver like a lav and provide interesting recordings

Top tip! however remember that aquapacs are for surface use only.

If they are going to be scuba diving at any sort of depth you are playing with fire.. or water. 

Either way sound travels extremely well underwater, so a lazy hydrophone suspended by a cable from a boat can record great sounds of scuba divers down below. 

 

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Top tip! however remember that aquapacs are for surface use only.

Ah, I didn't know that. I've only had them on swimmers so far, so a couple of feet are fine.

You'll probably need to look into special scuba diving equipment for the case.
If they go down really far, there's pressure to consider, too

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axel   

just interested in which sounds you want to capture, could be easier then to give any recommendations.

- Wildtracking might be worth considering, because Scuba diving is mostly about regulator/bubbles sounds.

- Hydrophones mounted on divers may be susceptible to tactile noises, so do some testing before.

- scuba diving means exposing your equipment to salt water AND high pressure. Any parts containing membranes and/or air filled spaces may be easily destroyed if they are not kept in sealed containers. If I was not 100% sure the cable outlet for the hydrophone would be really waterproof even under pressure, I'd keep the ZFR300s inside an Aquapak even inside the pressure proof housing.


- Gopro's can be a cheap and viable solution for reference/guide track. Those are really waterproof down to 40 meters, easy to operate and record sound. Battery wise they record for 1 hour easily, with some optimizing/testing 2 hs should be in reach. Be prepared the low frequencies won't make it through the housing. Tactile noise issues also apply.

Edited by axel

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mikewest   

On the later Cousteau expeditions I used OTS systems that work with a full face mask.

Yep a lot of breathing noise and bubbles etc but they add to the picture!

mike

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axel   

I also used OTS once on a reality project for an arabic programme, but I think, that in a proper setup this system would require lots of prep and thorough testing.

We came to use it on the spot, it was a ready made installation brought by a british diving team for that specific shoot. The mic signal from the diver's full face masks was split into the comm transceiver and also into the bodypack recorder the divers carried inside a waterproof housing. All cabling with bulky waterproof connections. We also recorded the surface unit for sync reasons , but the signal was so bad you could even hardly tell if somebody was speaking. As the talent was arabic I could not understand a word, anyway.

The bodypack units delivered a better signal, comparable to a helicopter intercom, but I cannot remember if the mic signal was split ahead of the transceiver unit or looped through it. For the bodypacks they used some flashcard recorders of the very first generation, w/o TC and only built in batteries, we recorded some seconds of TC audio ahead of adjusting the level and sealing them inside the housings. Then we hoped the batteries would carry them recording over the next 45 minutes. It took us around 2 minutes to prep each diver properly and they had to stand in the hot sun with all their wetsuits and full face mask on.

 

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jcb   

Depending on where and what you want to record, it might be much easier if the divers wear a dry suit (trilaminated might give a chance to a  lavalier to get some sound to a bodypack/recorder while neoprene will definitely not). I never recorded from inside such a suit but have carried electronics this way (car keys, body monitor) with no ill effects as inside the suit everything is dry and air pressure is in equilibrium with the outside water. Going this way everything would be inside the suit : microphone (probably attached inside the suit material), connections and bodypack/recorder.

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