20 April 2023

Bioquest takes Atomos underwater

Queensland-based production facility BioQuest Studios captures awe-inspiring underwater footage with help from Atomos Ninja, Shogun and Sumo production tools. Read how Atomos plays an essential role in filming challenging but beautiful aquatic environments.

By Atomos

BioQuest has been entertaining and educating audiences with captivating films about aquatic life for over six years, while Producer/DoP Pete West has over 40 years of experience under his belt. An accomplished maker of quality documentaries, BioQuest’s recent projects include Netflix’s original Puff: Wonders of the Reef which documents the colorful adventures of a baby pufferfish in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

For much of their marine work, at sea and in their comprehensively equipped studio facility in Port Douglas, BioQuest shoots with a RED Gemini camera, whose 5K Super 35mm sensor’s low-light capability captures detailed cinematic images of aquatic animals and plants. Alongside the Gemini, BioQuest also deploys Canon DSLR and Sony mirrorless cameras for critical time-lapse and focus stacking work.

BioQuest shoots underwater and on land, almost always with Atomos monitoring playing a central role in composition, confidence and quality checks. Pete West explained, “We use the Ninja V+ or Shogun 7 both in the studio and underwater. They give the operator access to a large, bright screen and easy access to functions like focus peaking. And, of course, being able to record is invaluable.

BioQuest documents undersea wonders with Ninja and Shogun

Underwater, the Atomos devices are protected in Nauticam aquatic housings that give operators immediate access to all key functions beneath the waves. Pete also notes that the adaptable Ninja provides some big workflow benefits during challenging oceanic shoots: “We have the optional SDI module fitted to the Ninja. This adds lets us output an SDI signal either to an in-water director’s monitor – such as our Shogun in its Nauticam housing – or feed the signal via an underwater SDI cable to a large director’s/client’s monitor like Sumo 19 onboard the boat.”

“Our workplace can be an extremely harsh environment, where salt, air and moisture take their toll on anything that isn’t well designed and manufactured.”

As well as performing monitoring duties, Ninja frequently doubles as a recorder, capturing into Apple ProRes from the underwater camera’s output. “Depending on our choice of camera and underwater housing, it’s often advantageous for us to record a signal direct to the Atomos devices,” explains Pete: “Especially so when we’re using our RED Gemini. Being able to record Apple ProRes for immediate playback and evaluation while underwater is an excellent way to maximise efficiency.”

Sumo 19 is used as principal director's monitor

BioQuest also depends on Atomos innovation on dry land, using a full complement of devices in their Port Douglas studios, as Pete confirms: “We use the Sumo as our principal directors’ monitors on all of our motion control systems and studio rigs, while the Shogun is an excellent lightweight on-camera operator’s monitor. In addition to these. All our Atomos devices are extremely robust: their versatile mounting options give us total flexibility in positioning them wherever we need.”

“Our workplace can be an extremely harsh environment, where salt, air and moisture take their toll on anything that isn’t well designed and manufactured‚” concludes Pete. “For us, Atomos has proved to be a reliable choice for all our production needs.”

Big thanks to Monsoon Reef Charters: https://www.monsoonreefcharters.com.au/


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