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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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Frontline workers honoured with free dive trip to Yap

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The remote island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia is among the few places in the world that remains free of Covid-19 thanks to its ocean border and a strict travel ban that has kept its residents safe.

Nonetheless, Yap has been affected, too. As one of the world’s premier, award-winning destinations for divers, this paradisiacal location in the western Pacific Ocean has had no outside visitors to its rich shores and reef for nearly a year. But while there may be no virus, the island hasn’t been cut off from the economic impact experienced around the globe.

Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers by A. Tareg

That didn’t stop Bill Acker, CEO and founder of the Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers, from doing something, though.

Last March, soon after the island went into lockdown, Bill began to realize the effect of the virus on daily life beyond the island. “Yes, we are closed, have no divers, had to send our employees home and prepare for difficult times,” he said. “But we’re lucky in that we have, for the most part, avoided the human suffering and death this pandemic has caused.”

Thinking about the problems faced by his family business, they paled when he compared them to those endured by the healthcare workers who have been fighting selflessly around the clock for months on end for the well-being and lives of others.

“One evening, while checking the news online, I saw pictures of frontline workers who were tending to desperately ill and dying people when families and friends could not be with their loved ones. It was heartbreaking,” he added.

The next day, a meeting was held with the resort’s staff and Bill invited suggestions for ways they could do something to honor healthcare workers. The result was the idea to award twenty divers who are working on the frontline to save other’s lives during this pandemic while risking their own, with a free week at the resort.

Manta ray, Manta birostris, gliding over a cleaning station in M’il Channel, Yap, Micronesia by David Fleetham

Divers around the world who had been guests at Manta Ray Bay in the past were invited to submit the names of candidates for the award by December 31, 2020. “We received nominations for 126 individuals from as far away as Germany, the U.S., Australia and Canada,” he said. “It was not easy choosing the winners but our committee of staff members took on the job and selected the 20 finalists.”

“While trying to choose the people to reward for their hard work during this Covid-19 crisis,” Bill added, “by reading the nominations we saw that every one of the nominees was doing things above and beyond the call of duty. Sadly, we don’t have the finances to offer over 100 free weeks in Yap, but we do want to recognize the contributions all of them are making to our world. So, we are offering the rest of the nominees a free week of diving in Yap which includes room, hotel tax, airport transfers, breakfast, diving and Wi-Fi.  The only requirement is that they travel with at least three other people and stay in two rooms or more.”

“We do not yet know when Yap will open its borders,” said Bill, “but when it does, we will welcome these important guests to Yap to relax and dive with the manta rays and the other beautiful denizens of the ocean surrounding our island home. They are the true heroes of this devastating, historic time and we look forward to honoring them with a well-deserved dive vacation.”

Watch out for our exclusive trip report from a healthcare worker from the UK who is one of the 20 to have been awarded this amazing dive trip!

For more information on Manta Ray Bay and Yap Divers visit their website by clicking here.

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Dive Training Blogs

Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)

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It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker

This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!

The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!

But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress! 

Thanks for watching, Team!

James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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