The Paralenz Dive Camera is continuously developing, same as the community that uses it. Until now the camera has been used for different purposes, from an underwater holiday memory to scientific explorations to 3D mapping of the bottom of the ocean.

The story that follows, comes from Shawn Mahoney, a passionate diver, moviemaker, conservationist and a really awesome guy!

Shawn Mahoney – diver and movie-maker

A fin gently and slowly breaks the surface of the water, “Look, a dolphin,” one shouts. Moments later, blood-curdling screams are heard up and down the beach and people are scrambling to the shore. We all know how this scene plays out in every lame shark movie and it’s nowhere close to accurate. At least, that’s what I’ve come to know in my 15-years of diving, in particular, the last 18-months.

Shawn Mahoney camera

As a kid, I dreamed of having a top of the line Nikon or Canon, you know, one of those cameras that the sports photographers use that shoot what seems like a million frames per second and don’t miss a thing. At the end of 2016, I made it happen and early in 2017, I released my first short film about the Cenotes of the Mayan Riviera which, became a finalist in the most competitive underwater film festival in the world right here in San Diego, the San Diego Undersea Film Exhibition.

I was up against professionals with decades of experience shooting for National Geographic, IMAX, and more as well as films that had budgets or took years to make. Because of this, after the show, I became obsessed with making enough money to go out and get the best. At the time I purchased it, I thought that the amount I spent on the Canon 1DXMKII and the housing, the lights, all the accessories, etc., would be my ceiling, and I’d never own one of those National Geographic cameras like a RED of ARRI. But here I am, staring down the barrel of doing just that.

I’ve become wiser lately though. I’m going to put buying that broadcast quality stuff off for a little while. Why? Because I’ve learned that the right camera is the one you have in your hand as the moment unfolds. Perfection is nice but rarely possible with random moments, especially in the ocean, nothing is or can be staged with nature’s animals. If you shoot something good enough, people get lost in the story and nobody notices 8K vs. 4K vs. 2K.

The Setup

Unless you’re right up close, you can’t really tell the difference between 4K and 2K most of the time. But here’s the thing, sensor technology is so good now that I’ve put together a film that has Paralenz, GoPro, Canon and RED footage all in it. GoPro, Canon and RED are all at 4K but I set Paralenz to 2.7K so I could set it to 60fps allowing me to slow it down to half speed and do so smoothly.

Most people can’t tell one set of footage from the other, though, one does stand out to the semi-savvy and to be honest, that is a $50,000 camera, which is a little lopsided of a comparison.

 

Let’s talk about red, green and blue for a second. After about 10-feet of depth in the water, you start to lose red. Sure, you can stick on one of those red filters, but you’re then altering the light for the rest of the color spectrum and throwing off green and blue. Sure you can try to color correct but if you’re at 60-ft where there is basically no red, you can’t add in something that never existed, so your footage won’t look right at all, it’ll be very blue.

That’s why this is such a great little camera and why what the team at Paralenz is doing is so special. It’s the David that can take on Goliath. If you are in blue water just set color correction to blue and it will automatically adjust the color mash up of red, green and blue based on depth. If you’re in the green water, set it to green and it does the same thing, automatic.

For me though, I’m usually shooting either, close to the surface, or deeper with lights. Midday sun is 5600K and my lights are 5000K so I set it to whichever one corresponds to which one I’m doing.

The journey

So about those sharks. I’ve had my Paralenz camera in the water with literally, thousands of sharks. I took it to Guadalupe Island with the Great White Sharks initially. But recently, I took it to Fiji where I went for an underwater cinematography workshop by RED and Gates Underwater Products put on by Pete Lightowler of Down Under Aquatic Imaging, Sean Ruggeri from RED and Becky Kagan Schott of Liquid Productions, a group of the best in the underwater imaging world. We dove with Beqa Adventure Divers run by Mike Neumann, a man who I can tell you truly cares about the sharks. Fiji is way ahead of the world on sharks. They’ve long since banned anything to do with the shark fin trade and even created the Shark Reef Marine Reserve.

So, the dives? Sharks, hundreds of sharks, including the largest bull sharks in the world, up to 12-feet. This is one world-class operation, their #1 priority being safety, human and shark. The sharks come incredibly close but I was so relaxed and safe because sharks are smart and know we aren’t food, but also because the crew was on top of everything. There is a ton of cool information on their website at www.fijisharkdive.com.

The results

Overall, the trip was a success and I came away with an appreciation for the sharks as always, but the amount of knowledge gained will propel me to a new level in the underwater cinematography world and my shark conservation mission, which Paralenz is 100% a necessary tool in.

But my gosh, those sharks are forever unforgettable. I had a lot of fun at Guadalupe with the Great Whites, but I wanted to get out of the cage but they don’t allow it any longer for the protection of us, yes, but more so the sharks. So having 60+ bull sharks, some almost as big as a white shark, around me in the open water, with 22 of them in one single frame of footage, wow, you’ll just never forget that.

 

And this camera, it took a beating by them, which you can see, in the short clips below and it didn’t phase it at all. It got hit quite a few times by the bulls as they whipped by or manoeuvred into position to catch some of the fish being fed to them out of the barrel.

 

And as you can see from the opening scene of the short film, “Fear Me Not”(to be released 23.07.18 9 AM Pacific Time) one of my “things” is taking multiple angles of a single epic scene and mashing them up together. The Paralenz footage kicks in at 14/15-seconds in and captures that beautiful, elongated body of the bull shark. Quick tip, I usually have my Paralenz mounted to the very front of my underwater housing so that I can use the monitor of my main housing to show me what both cameras are seeing.

Lastly, I will say this about the cinematography world, there can be a lot of competition and egos. I only partner with the coolest that have no ego and are easy to deal with.

That’s why you’ll almost always see me tagging Paralenz and HECS Aquatic. The people behind Paralenz are so cool, so humble, and just want to do good things. I’m truly impressed with how they listen, understand and quickly make changes. In this world of breakneck speed, change to survive must be quick so one must constantly be innovating and Paralenz delivers every time. I’m quite curious to see what future products we’ll see. But I can honestly say I’m honored to be a part of the family.

Learn more about underwater 8K/4K cinematography by Beacons Films and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

 

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