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Mantis Sub: The world’s first production 3D/360-VR underwater housing

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Mantis Sub opens the realm of 3D production to professional underwater VR producers. To date, underwater VR cameras and housings have been either monoscopic, or the price and size of a new car. The producers of the NZVR Project wanted an alternative that could meet demanding professional production standards, offer 3D stereoscopy, and do it in a compact, affordable, robust housing that was good to 90 metres.

An early decision to leverage the performance, reliability and huge feature set of Insta360’s Pro2 camera set the course.

“It made perfect sense to use the Pro2 camera,” says James Frankham, publisher of New Zealand Geographic and director of the NZVR Project. “We had already been using it for our drone footage, and the interface, control app and workflow offered quick and elegant solutions to an excruciatingly complex technology. It offers 8k 3D production with a log format, and means that users can deploy the same camera in terrestrial and marine environments. In the end, it was a no-brainer.”

The distinctive hexagonal geometry of the housing grew out of the desire for an uninterrupted 360-degree view with clean zenith and nadir. Even the latches are recessed into the anodised aluminium body, resulting in a perfect stitch.

The camera can be switched on and controlled using capacitive-touch buttons on the body, or connected via a waterproof ethernet bulkhead to provide control and livestreaming via the Insta360 app. (On the surface, operators can use wifi/bluetooth for configuration and control as usual.) There are additional ports for a hydrophone, a vacuum valve, and numerous threaded mounts for attaching lighting, tripods and other production rigging.

“This is a camera designed by VR professionals for VR professionals,” says Frankham. “We understand the production community wants­­­­ robust, capable tools that are good value, reliable and extensible.”

From the stable of Insta360’s professional range, the high degree of control allows producers to finely control the camera’s response to difficult underwater conditions, add artificial lighting and ISO-limit the exposure for clean blacks when shooting in dark environments, at night or in caves.

The Mantis Sub already has a product variation in the Mantis Spray—a weatherproof housing designed to provide 3D-360 coverage aboard foiling AC75 Americas Cup yachts. Rather than submersion it had to resist sheets of spray and the rigours of sailing at speeds approaching 100 km/h while delivering uninterrupted VR footage to the world. A powerful, filtered fan was required to keep the unit cool inside the housing. It’s available in lightweight nylon or anodised aluminium.

“With the acceleration of virtual reality technology, the advent of 3D stereoscopy, and the desire to create visceral experiences in the marine realm, these housings have an important place in the way we cover extreme sports and the underwater world. I can’t wait to see what producers can do with them.”

Development was funded by New Zealand Geographic and Global Dive—a technical diving outfitter also based in New Zealand. Global Dive will be the international distributor and first point of contact for sales and service of the products, says director Andrew Simpson.

“Global Dive is proud to be involved in this product development, and brings considerable sales and service experience to the partnership, from an extensive international network of dive professionals to the meticulous in-house service crew to assemble the products and offer uncompromising after-sales support.”

For more information visit the website by clicking here.

Jeff Goodman is the Editor-at-Large for Scubaverse.com with responsibility for conservation and underwater videography. Jeff is an award-winning TV wildlife and underwater cameraman and film maker who lives in Cornwall, UK. With over 10,000 dives to his credit he has dived in many different environments around the world.

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Diving below the waves of the Western Cape, South Africa – Long Beach at night (Watch Video)

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Head under the waves of False Bay and explore the incredible diversity that is found along the Western Cape. The bay has popular dive spots from diving amongst the biodiverse underwater kelp forests to jumping in with the playful and friendly cape fur sealions (Arctocephalus pusillus). The bay along with the rest of the South Africa coast is known for the range of shark species that are found from the shallow coastal shores out into the open oceans. The coast is also home to numerous endemic shark species such as puffadder shyshark (Haploblepharus edwardsii) and Pyjama shark.

Longbeach is a shallow shore dive close to the coastal town of Simonstown on the Western Cape. The dive is mainly made up of diving across the sand with a few wreckages, rocks and outcrops where there’s algae growing. A pipeline can be found at the site which provides locations for species such as Pyjama Sharks (Poroderma africanum) and octopus (Octopus vulgaris) to shelter. Diving at night at the site provides the opportunity to see species that are more often hidden during the day such as cape Squid (Loligo reynaudii) and Biscuit Skate (Raja straeleni). Other shark species such as the small Puff Adder Shyshark (Haploblepharus edwardsii) are also occasionally seen at the site.

Diving with the local dive club – Cape Town Dive Centre.


Follow Jake aka JD Scuba on the YouTube channel @Don’t Think Just Blog.

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Miscellaneous Blogs

Book Review – The Final Dive: The Life and Death of ‘Buster’ Crabbe (2007)

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It was the height of the Cold War. The Soviet Cruiser Ordzhonikidz, supported by two destroyers, had brought Soviet leaders Khruschev and Bulganin to Britain for sensitive meetings with the British Government. The ships were moored in Portsmouth harbour and the Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, had expressly forbidden any clandestine inspection of them. However, on the morning of 19th April 1956 Commander Lionel ‘Buster’ Crabbe, an experienced naval diver, slipped into the cold waters of Portsmouth harbour. His top secret mission was to photograph the hull, propellers and rudder of the Ordzhonikidze. He was never seen alive again.

A badly decomposed body, with head and hands missing, was discovered by fishermen in Chichester harbour months later. It was claimed to be the missing body of Buster Crabbe – but many had doubts. The incident marked the start of a controversy that claimed the posts of several high ranking naval, government and intelligence service personnel. The author of The Final Dive, Don Hale, claims it is one that still rages and which may not be resolved even when secret government files are released in 2057.

Don Hale, an acknowledged campaigning journalist and former Journalist of the Year brings all his experience and skill to unravelling this longstanding scandal. He has drawn upon official reports and private letters, statements from government representatives, fellow officers and friends to piece together Buster’s life and events leading to his disappearance and subsequent investigation. He speaks of “inquiries blocked by intrigue, constant cover-ups and government bureaucracy coupled with threats relating to the Official Secrets Act” (p. xi). If you like reading about subterfuge on a grand scale you will enjoy The Final Dive.

Don Hale’s meticulous account of the life of Buster Crabbe is supported by dozens of black and white photos and extracts from numerous official documents. It reveals how an amazing series of civilian jobs, wartime activities and friendships with high ranking government officials, British intelligence officers, American CIA operatives. . . and now known spies, prepared him for his final dive and perhaps his fate. One of Crabbe’s acquaintances was the author Ian Fleming – of James Bond fame. Indeed, it is suggested that Fleming based the character of 007 on Buster Crabbe. After reading of his exploits, both before WWII, his bomb disposal work during the war, and afterwards it is easy to see why. Certainly, those who worked with Buster Crabbe “all agree he was fearless.” (p.59). After reading of his exploits one wonders if he was too fearless.

In the later stage of Buster’s life, prior to his disappearance, Don Hall recounts “a constant merry-go-round of overseas assignments” (p. 118) for Crabbe and how he “began to receive increasingly hazardous commissions” (p. 136). It culminated in the morning dive in Portsmouth harbour. Hale’s forsensic-like account of the events surrounding the final dive and aftermath reveals absolute panic and bungling behind the scenes as official answers conflict with known facts. He describes how “The whole incident still seems bathed in secrecy, with the true facts deliberately buried in bureaucracy, and supported at the highest level by an incredible cover-up operation”.(p. 205).

A final comment by Don Hale adds to the intrigue. He states “The only part of the Crabbe puzzle about which I am not certain is not who sent him – we know the answer to that – but why on earth he was he sent, possibly at considerable risk?” (p. 248). After reading The Final Dive: The Life and Death of ‘Buster’ Crabbe you will no doubt have your own ideas.


The Final Dive: The Life and Death of ‘Buster’ Crabbe (2007)

  • By Don Hale
  • Stroud: Sutton Publishing
  • ISBN 978 0 7509 4574 5
  • 260 pp

Don Hale was a professional footballer before becoming editor of several regional newspapers. He has received numerous national and international awards for investigative journalism including Journalist of the Year. In 2002 he was awarded an OBE for his campaigning journalism in the Stephen Downing miscarriage of justice case. He has championed several others who have been wrongly convicted.

His other books include Town without Pity (2002), Murder in the Graveyard (2019) and Mallard: How the ‘Blue Steak’ Broke the World Speed Record (2019).


Find out more about Professor Fred Lockwood, who is also a published author, at www.fredlockwood.co.uk.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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