Media diving is the practice of underwater photography and underwater cinematography outside of normal recreational interests. Media diving is often carried out in support of television documentaries, such as the BBC series Planet Earth or movies, with feature films such as Titanic and The Perfect Storm featuring underwater photography or footage. Media divers are normally highly skilled camera operators who use diving as a method to reach their workplace, although some underwater photographers start as recreational divers and move on to make a living from their hobby.
Equipment in this field is varied with scuba and surface supplied equipment used, depending on requirements, but rebreathers are often used for wildlife related work as they are normally quiet, release few or no bubbles and allow the diver a lengthy bottom time with a reduced risk of frightening off the subject.
Applications and scope of work
Media diving is underwater photography and filming, often in support of television documentaries or films with underwater footage. Media divers are likely to be skilled camera operators who trained as divers to expand the scope of their operations, though some have started as recreational divers and later turned professional.
Media divers are the diving personnel who work in support of underwater media work, and include photographers, camera operators, sound and lighting technicians, journalists and presenters. They are not the divers who may be needed to prepare the underwater location using engineering and construction skills and equipment, or the use of explosives, which is classified as commercial diving work. In jurisdictions where media diving is considered commercial diving work this distinction falls away, but the code of practice to be followed may still differ according to the actual work of the dive.
The media diver will prepare, clean, and maintain recording equipment such as high definition video cameras in underwater housings, with special underwater lighting, andremote cameras, plan and research dives and expeditions, dive, and shoot footage. Additional tasks commonly include maintaining generators, compressors, diving gear, boats and other diving support equipment. Rebreather skills may be necessary to reduce the impact of diver presence on wildlife, as open circuit scuba is noisy. Remotely operated underwater vehicles may be used for access to depths beyond those accessible to divers.
Qualification and registration
The qualifications legally required for media diving vary considerably across the world. In some jurisdictions the occupation is simply considered to be an aspect of professional diving, and as it is an activity of employment, the practice falls under occupational health and safety legislation. In other countries there is no legislation specifying requirements.
The requirements for actors and performers taking part in a recording session or live performance may differ from those for media divers, and may include recreational diving certification, for example to EN 14153-3/ISO 24801-3 Level 3 "Dive Leader" In such operations the performers may not be included as part of the diving team for safety purposes.
- The Australian/New Zealand Standard 2299 Occupational diving operations; Part 4: Film and photographic diving covers media diving in those countries, and provides requirements and guidance for producers, contractors and employees.
- In the UK the status of media diving and the required qualification are specified in Media diving projects: Diving at Work Regulations 1997: Approved Code of Practice and guidance, and Diving at Work Regulations 1997: List of Approved Diving Qualifications
- In South Africa, media diving is considered to be a branch of commercial diving, and requires the same qualifications for the same mode and depth range.
- "Media diving". Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme. Retrieved 2013-09-19.
- Frink, Stephen (2005). "The Best Reason to Recycle". Archived from the original on 2015-02-03. Retrieved 2013-09-19.
- "Media diver". Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
- Health and Safety Executive (2014). Media diving projects: Diving at Work Regulations 1997: Approved Code of Practice and guidance (PDF) (2nd ed.). HSE Books. ISBN 978 0 7176 6595 2.
- "Diving Regulations 2009". Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 – Regulations and Notices – Government Notice R41. Pretoria: Government Printer. Retrieved 21 October 2019 – via Southern African Legal Information Institute.
- "Schedule 5: Media Diving". Diving at Work Regulations 1997: List of Approved Diving Qualifications (PDF). Health and Safety Executive. 20 April 2019. Retrieved 22 October 2019.