Zero to Hero: The Origin of Magic Ocean Media
“An expert at anything was once a beginner.” -Helen Hayes
Or my version:
“If you do something enough times, eventually you will stop sucking at it.”
Earlier this year, I was a ZERO when it came to shooting videos. I got a sweet 4K video camera as a Christmas gift from my husband, Brian. He selected a Panasonic GH5, with an underwater housing, a powerful video light and an external strobe flash unit. I tore the wrapping off and eyed it with suspicion.
I secretly thought Brian was buying a present for himself when he hinted he wanted to borrow the new video rig sometimes. Brian is a talented underwater photographer and expert scuba diver.
The new camera got ignored for awhile. We were in Salt Lake City and I only took an interest in the powerful video light when I had to paint a dark closet at our AirBnB rental.
I did not shoot a single video until we got to our sailboat in French Polynesia three months later.
We were snorkeling in the gin clear waters of the South Pacific and I saw a magnificent eel waving in the current. It was so striking I felt immediately inspired to shoot videos of it. Later that day Brian and I went back with my new camera.
It was difficult to manage the cumbersome video rig underwater because its weight kept tipping me forward. My initial footage was poor. But the brief glimpses of what my videos could be when the focus worked and I wasn’t shaking the camera were pure magic. When I saw what this camera was able to capture, and what it could bring to the world, I was hooked. I took it on every dive.
The underwater world of the south pacific atolls is a stunning playground for a new videographer. I shot hundreds of really disappointing fish videos over the next few months as I practiced shooting videos underwater. But when the golden moments happened I was ready.
When a humpback whale and calf swooped in for a closer look, or three giant manta rays flew right up to my face, or when an aggregation of hundreds of sharks hunted around me at night, I got incredible, professional footage. My heart sang as I looked at my beautiful videos after these amazing dives. Now I could share my experiences with the world.
My videos looked like they were straight out of a documentary, and I could feel the electricity in my body telling me to do something big with these. Sometimes you can just feel your life changing. I retired from my career as a computer programmer earlier this year, and felt ready for a new direction. I wanted to do something and be someone, not just sit around drinking champagne and eating bon-bons.
I’ve always admired Sir David Attenborough and his style of cinematography. Underwater nature documentaries stoked my passion for the ocean when I was a child living in landlocked Boise, Idaho. When my brother and I first “met” mama ocean in Oregon, I was 7 and my brother was 10. We swam in it until we were blue and on the verge of hypothermia. I loved the ocean from day one.
I got my scuba certification in a muddy lake in Idaho in my early 20s, and the obsession began. Now I am 40 and live on a sailboat with a compressor, and am extremely fortunate to be able to go diving all the time.
The world needs more people working to instill love and appreciation for the ocean, like I felt as a child as I watched underwater documentaries. I want to be one of those people. Like Sir David Attenborough.
But to show people the magic of the ocean I would need to learn to produce documentaries, which is no small feat. The creatures of the ocean are not just beautiful, they have a story to tell.
So, with all my free time living aboard a sailboat, I began to learn about documentary production: storyboarding, script writing, shooting, editing, lighting, interviews, sound, and the most difficult, narration.
I needed to learn a TON of new stuff, without access to the internet or the luxury of a mentor. So I kindled up. I bought several hundred dollars of e-books about my new craft. Then I went on an epic learning binge (at a beautiful island).
My Amazon Kindle Reading List:
Documentary Storytelling: Creative Nonfiction on Screen
How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck
The Art of the Documentary Interview: Read Before Filming
Producing with Passion: Making Films That Change the World
VideoIdeas: Full of Awesome Ideas to try out your Video-making Skills
The Cool Stuff in Premiere Pro
The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide
Premiere Pro CC: Visual QuickStart Guide
VIDEO RULES: How to Think About How to Shoot
The Digital Filmmaking Handbook
The result? A new craft, a new direction in life and making meaning of retirement, in a way that benefits the world. This is what Magic Ocean Media means to me.
What new direction are YOU working toward in 2019?