Swimming in plastic

Swimming in plastic

It's no secret that our ocean environments are under threat from single use plastics. It's been hard to miss it... However, up until now, no one's really shown what it's like to swim in that kind of debris.

Teaming up with The Big Bang Fair, Cow PR and some very talented synchronised swimmers, we set out to demonstrate to what that would look like. The aim of the piece was to resonate an emotional link between our human actions and what’s happening in the oceans.

We started by piling plastics into a swimming pool (we cleaned it first!). We wanted to encompass a cinematic feel to some of the content so I chose to shoot at 100fps on my Sony FS7. This helped build tension in the piece.

A colleague, Ant Dodge jumped into the pool with an underwater housing unit to capture it from under the waterline. Unfortunately sinking a video camera, with underwater housing in the water and still using it turned out to be quite a challenge. Even though we had a couple of different setups with us, we ended up shooting most of the in water content using a GoPro with dome type lens mount. This gave us a point and shoot method without having to worry about knocking the settings or getting it in focus. 

Even so, it was still a challenge to sink it in the pool. For one shot we attached the GoPro to a boom pole and tried to push it down from the side… for another shot we asked our talented swimmers to sink the GoPro down to the bottom of the pool and weight it down with kettle bells. The length of time they could hold the breath to do this, astonished us all! 

GoPro Sunk in Swimming Pool

My favourite underwater angle, a GoPro 3.5m under the water looking vertically up.

To show the scale of the plastics with our talented swimmers, we wanted a way to show what it looked like from above the pool. Sadly the jib I hired for the shoot, wasn’t quite long enough to do this justice. Instead I decided to launch my DJI Mavic drone and attempt to capture it from the air. Whilst the room had a high ceiling and enough space to manoeuvre in, I did find the various down drafts and turbulence a challenge to operate in. That said, I successfully captured the shots and they really help tell the story. In my opinion, it’s uses like this that drones really come into their own. 

Mavic Drone Flying Indoors

Flying my Mavic Drone indoors above the swimming pool. 

Finally it was a matter of pulling it all together. Edited into a 1min 20sec for media and YouTube and a 60sec for Facebook. Coverage went down well with features by ITV, Metro and The Daily Mail to name a few.

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