The Ultimate Underwater Video Course
with Jonathan Bird

Get ahead of the competition and learn all the basics of shooting
and editing underwater video in just one week!

Jonathan Bird shooting on Kwajalein with Mark Miller on sound assist.

NOTE: The next course dates will be announced.


About the Course...
The one week course will cover concepts in storyboarding, planning, gear consideration, composition, lighting, shooting for the edit, editing and advanced underwater techniques in macro and wide-angle video. This is not just a week of diving with a few tips and pointers. This is a complete course in video for anyone interested in learning how to shoot like a professional. Want to be a really good underwater shooter? Take a few years off your learning curve and take a class from a guy who shoots underwater for a living.

The course is basically broken into three different "sessions" each day--a lecture session, a shooting session and an editing session. The lecture involves 2-3 hours per day of classroom instruction followed by a shooting assignment and then later, an editing assignment. Each day, the class reviews editing assignments for group feedback. The schedule is busy...because there is a lot of material to squeeze into a week. At the end of the week, there will be a "film fest" where all the students will show off their best video.

Gear: What you need and what we bring...
Editing gear will be supplied, in the form of Mac laptops running Final Cut Pro. These are wonderful little workhorse mobile editing systems for short projects. Using FireWire, students can edit their footage and also run it back out to tape (pure loss!) and take everything they do home with them.

Students will need to bring their own cameras/housings/lights. For students who do not yet own this gear, please drop us a line and we can help you pick out the gear which is right for you. (We are not in the business of selling gear, however). At the very least you need a camera and housing, as well as plenty of tape stock (10 one-hour tapes will be more than enough). A firewire-equipped miniDV or Digital8 camera is required. Obviously, everyone needs to be not just certified divers, but competent divers too. This is not a diving class. Course size is limited to six to insure personal instruction for everyone.

Don't take our word for it!

I took Jonathan's video course in November 2001, held in Bonaire at Captain Don's Habitat. I'd been shooting Hi-8 video on most of our dive vacations for the previous four or five years and editing on an obsolete linear system (Pinnacle Studio 400). This is really a "hands-on" course, covering all aspects from shooting, scene composition, non-linear editing of video and sound, care and feeding of equipment to giving a mini-course on being a model to the partners of the students. It's a lot to pack into a week, but Jonathan is an excellent teacher and organizer who clearly knows his stuff, and is able to convey his knowledge in a clear and entertaining manner. I particularly liked being able to compare the wide range of cameras, housings and experience the other students brought along.

If you are a complete beginner, or someone like me, wanting to take your skills to the next level, I'd highly recommend this course.

Roger Burnham
Orange, California

During an edit session, Roger shows Jonathan how the edit looks so far. Roger's blenny edit was hilarious! Meanwhile, Chuck contemplates an edit decision.
"Having enjoyed underwater video as a hobby for a couple of years, I needed a workshop that would help me overcome some difficulties I encountered like how to do macro video, how to better stabilize my camera in surge and how to edit my tapes more professionally. Jonathan's videography workshop in Bonaire provided practical advice for handling these problems as well as some I didn't even know I had! His training blended an academic understanding of the concepts of shooting underwater video with hands-on exercises that put these concepts into practice. I highly recommend Jonathan's workshop to anyone who wants to shoot professional-looking video." --Judy

"I hadn't shot a single frame of video underwater before taking Jonathan's underwater video course in November of 2001. How was I to know that composing a shot while hovering head down over fire coral in a 4 knot current would be difficult, especially when that spotted moray eel doesn't want you there. Thanks to Jonathan's teaching techniques I was able to get that shot and many more.

Jonathan has an entertaining, easy going teaching style and keeps his students focused and having fun all day long. During our week on Bonaire we were learning from sun up on through the evening and enjoyed every minute of it. A typical day included morning lecture sessions followedby mid-day dives followed by editing sessions followed by night dives.The learning and laughs continued through our lunch and dinner breaks.

Taking Jonathan's course leaves you with much more than the average weeklong dive vacation. You come home with a feeling of accomplishment and a refreshed enthusiasm for diving. I would take another trip with Jonathan and crew whenever I have the opportunity."--Steve Groh

On the reefs of Bonaire, Bob shoots a Green moray.

During a lecture session, Jonathan demonstrates how to run Final Cut Pro using a laptop and video projector.

During an edit session, students work on their daily assigned projects.

Assistant instructor Greg ("Gator") Brunshidle helps Jeff learn the ins and outs of digitizing footage from his camera.

Jonathan films a manatee using a closed-circuit rebreather in Florida.

About Jonathan...
Jonathan Bird is a professional underwater cinematographer and photographer working in both the television and print worlds. He does a fair amount of still photography work for dive and nature magazines. However, he makes his principal income from work in video. Jonathan does television work on documentaries and news programs, both for outside clients as a freelancer, and for his own production company. He has won many awards including the CINE Golden Eagle and two Emmy Awards for his television work. He has been an adjunct professor at
New England Institute of Art and Communications (part of the Art Institute) for five years, teaching courses in television production (including single camera production, ENG/EFP production, post-production, non-linear editing and television engineering). His film Sharks: Search For a Feeding Frenzy is currently airing on the USA Network. His film Beneath the North Atlantic has aired all over the world and has been translated into dozens of languages. He has recently finished a one hour documentary about manatees called Endangered Mermaids which will air in the United States in 2002. He is currently in production on a film about the wrecks of Kwajalein Atoll. This is his most elaborate and involved film to date. Principal photography took over 2 months on location on Kwajalein. (There is an account of the first four weeks of shooting on-line for those interested). He has several books of his underwater photography, a line of calendars and even a poster. For more info, check out his on-line CV.

More Dive Adventures with Jonathan Bird...

Jonathan (right) shooting divers on a wreck in Kwajalein Lagoon during the filming of Oceanic Research Group's latest documentary The Silent Wrecks

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Last Update 5/7/03