Feature Stories

The Big Blue: Create & Play Under the Sea

Five years after moving to Taiwan to pursue his MBA, 30-year old Dean Fredericks discovers free diving as his new passion, which characterizes his affection with waters of his home in Cape Town, South Africa. Today, Dean has more than 10,000 fans on his YouTube channel, featuring his adventures underwater.

A fast growing action sport, free diving is underwater diving that relies on the diver's ability to hold his breath until resurfacing. This is much different from the more common scuba diving that requires scuba gear and tanks.

Instead of taking the competitive route, Dean chooses to free dive to shoot videos underwater so he can share his adventure with his friends and family overseas.

"I take videos and share them on my YouTube channel, since all the action takes place underwater in a place where most people can't see. It [taking videos] is a way for me to show my friends and family, firstly what free diving is, and secondly, to introduce them to the underwater world," says Dean.

Dean has explored the underwater world in many exotic locations including, the South Africa, Taiwan, Japan, Palau, the Philippines where he encountered spectacular reefs, sharks, World War II wrecks, sunken airplanes, and even an ancient underwater pyramid of unknown origin.

dive collage

The challenges of shooting underwater

Apart from holding his breath for a long time, Dean notes that capturing the underwater scenes is especially challenging because of limited time to shoot and uncontrolled eventualities in location such as weather conditions. These factors affect the quality of videos, he says.

"In diving, water color can vary, and the results of your video are often unknown until you get back on land to check the colors on your PC - sometimes the colors are mostly green or blue and sometimes it's just inconstant - very rarely can you get perfect colors as seen with your own eyes," Dean explains.

"It's pretty frustrating to travel halfway around to world to a dive, have only one chance to get the video, and then get back on land to discover your entire video is pea green," he adds.

He says that diving deeper further will reveal more beautiful creatures but one faces the problem of light source.

"One major challenge [with underwater video shooting] is that as you go deeper, you lose more and more colors, until blue is the only color remaining in your footage," says Dean.

PowerDirector brings life to his under the sea video footage

Shortly after his every dive, Dean quickly edits his videos so that he can share them with his family as well as to his fans on YouTube. He says finding the right video editing software to meet his requirements was another challenge.

dive under the sea

"I started off with some basic editing tools, but found the lacked many of features to adjust underwater footage. I tried switching to more advanced editing tools - but the user interfaces were complicated and slowed my whole workflow down," says Dean.

"PowerDirector packs the powerful features I need into easy-to-use interface. Its fast response time make its perfect for editing on my Win8 Ultrabook, which I take with me on dive trips. Since I travel a lot I cannot have a huge PC with all the power, so Ultrabook performance is important to me."

Apart from speed and quality, bringing out the correct color of the water is Dean's foremost concern when editing his videos. "ColorDirector [included in PowerDirector 12 Ultimate Suite] allows me to tweak the water colors back," notes Dean.

Tips for free dive starters

dive under the sea


Safety is first of Dean's concern when asked for tips on how to start getting into the sport of free diving.

"I would advice beginners to take the initiative to get certified so that they get to learn the basics of diving, safety and rescue," Dean says noting that "without being certified, you are a risk to yourself and the people you dive with."

He further explains that even as an expert Dean had once experienced losing his breath on a 40-meter dive as he was startled by junk and ropes on the quarry floor.


Gears and gadget

Taking videos on free diving requires compact action gears that deliver results that are as colorful and natural as possible.

"I have three GoPro hero cams! I started with a GoPro Hero 2. Its small compact size is great for action sports like free diving. I also have a Hero 3 Black Edition, and a Hero 3+ Black edition," he says when asked for his camera.

He also boasts that he required editing high definition to be enjoyed by his fans on YouTube. "It's all about 1080p video! For editing, I use a Sony Vaio Pro 13, with a FullHD or 1080p display, with Windows 8.1 and Cyberlink Powerdirector 12 Ultimate Suite."

Dean is a full time Senior Engineer for a Swiss power and automation company and does free diving only for a hobby.

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