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In some movies, for instance the Jaws series, it's a wonderful feeling to see sharks underwater and have it feel very realistic.

I'm curious to know how they film underwater scenes in movies. Not just in Jaws, but other movies as well.

What are the techniques used to film the underwater scenes in movies?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Mostly with underwater cameras and divers mixed with Computer Generated Imagery (CGI).

  • This particular scene looks to be filmed completely underwater with a shark model. Nowadays they would simply film the water surface and add a CG shark later. CG effects grow better and they just make complete scene with CG.
  • When there is a need to film an actor in water the scene is shot in a swimming pool and cover the background with green screen so the CG can make it seem they are deep in the water or in some other location.

Behind the cameras there is full team in scuba gear. The scene is shot in many little pieces depending how long actors can hold their breaths before they surface or are given an air tank. When the video is cut and other camera angles added it appears as they never left the water.

When an actor's face is not visible, a professional "breath hold" diver is shot in the scene in one continuous roll.

Here you can see how they filmed Harry Potter underwater.

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+1, this answer made me not to post my answer because your answer is better then what i am going to post. –  Ankit Sharma Apr 25 '12 at 15:42
+1 for the amazing youtube link. –  Vijin Paulraj Apr 26 '12 at 10:31
Worth pointing that underwater vehicles are often models shot in fog in slow motion. No water involved. –  Michael Itzoe Nov 30 '12 at 13:38
Divers do not use an "oxygen tank". At more than around 33 feet deep, pure oxygen is deadly. Most scuba tanks contain compressed air, or maybe nitrox "enriched air" which has an increased content of oxygen. Air is 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. The most enriched air in common recreational use is 64% nitrogen, 36% oxygen but depth is limited to 95 feet. –  wallyk May 27 '13 at 17:20

In some cheap movies (fairy tales) they clearly used aquarium, either standing in front of the actors, or overlaid over the actors in postproduction.

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