Hello there! Harvey here with another installment of all things gear related!
A few years ago, during the production of Endless Abilities, we purchased an underwater housing for the Canon 5D Mark II. The end of the film culminated in some very important surfing scenes and occasionally went up against some pretty serious waves as well.
Not long after, we ended up selling the Canon 5D and moved on to the C100, turning our underwater housing into a very big paperweight. Unable to find a buyer for an underwater housing for an outdated camera, it has sat collecting dust for over a year now. After that experience, we decided we needed a better system. We went about designing a more flexible one ourselves. Here are a few of our goals from when we started the project:
- Durable and watertight
- Camera agnostic
- Easy to hold
- Compatible with a wireless follow focus
- Can accommodate a wired or wireless video signal
- Easily accessible
The first version (V1) that resulted from this list was far from perfect. As all V1s tend to be.
We very unsuccessfully tried to fuse together two pelican cases that we had lying around. Not a good plan.
But we did learn a lot. We had the very rough dimensions that we thought could accommodate both our DSLR and a very built up C100 and beyond. We set about looking for a single water proof case that we could use. We finally landed on the HPRC 4100. n.b. This was one of the few top loaded cases that went as large as we needed.
We then added a front lens port and rear viewing port constructed from a combination of highly impact resistant lexan, epoxy, and marine silicone. Again, in case it wasn’t obvious, the waterproofing here is paramount. We then utilized my favorite quick release system on the market – Kessler Quick Release – and the K-plate to build a lightweight rod system that could be bolted through to the bottom of the case and would still allow us to drop the camera straight down and not require the extra space that a sliding plate, such as the Manfrotto 504 needs. This drop down function becomes especially critical near the end.The 15mm rods allowed us to mount the Redrock microRemote and focus motor, as well.
Next up was the wired video out – this is required in any underwater situation because the Paralinx Arrow will cut out instantly when submerged. Initially, we went with female to female HDMI and BNC connections. With a cable plugged in and some self sealing tape, we were all set. But this connector quickly corroded from being covered in salt spray when not in use. So, we decided to upgrade to complete cable runs using water tight caps from Fuerte. These are also nice because when the cable is pulled the strain goes to the cable and not to your delicate camera connectors.
Here is a quick rundown on all the pieces we use to build and operate this housing:
- Lexan Sheeting
- Marine Silicone
- Teks Roofing Screws
As you can imagine it gets pretty crowded in there pretty quickly. Here is a short video showing the prep and final shooting ready kit.
All in all, it has proven to be a super durable housing for everything from car rigs in the rain to underwater shoots. We recently took it out to Martha’s Vineyard to shoot incredibly fast hydro-foiling kitesurfing. Take a look at the final video here.