Underwater Scene

Hi, I’m taking a class online from NYU Tisch,  for one project I’m looking to do a brief shot of a stop motion shark swimming and getting caught in a net.  I need it to look as realistic as possible on a very tight budget.  Thanks ahead of time!


  • I have a still camera, and appropriate lenses and a subscription of premiere 2021, to give you an idea of what I have.
  • Hi John,

    Sounds like a fun project!  Are there any specific aspects of it you are looking for assistance with?

  • I’m just curious how to simulate the underwater aspect, it’s supposed to be the shark caught by a taxidermist during the 1916 shark attacks.  So bay water, I know I’ll have to animate to simulate slow movements,  but not sure about how to do it dry for wet, and in stop motion at those considerations.  Thanks!
  • My armature build wip.!
  • For simulating underwater in stop motion, there are many options to help sell the effect.

    A fogger or hazer is often used in dry for wet, but it can be too difficult to maintain an even saturation between frames for stop motion.  You can simulate fog by shooting through layers of scrim, breaking your scene into planes of depth, where the further back you view the more accumulative scrim layers there are for the captured image.

    Lighting is key, so have plenty of references of underwater shots that are similar to yours, and try and match the lights using shape, color, and contrast.

    For a more complex lighting effect, you can animate light shafts by using a cuculoris (aka cookie) to shape your light into beams that can be moved between frames.  Possibly having 2 layers moving in different directions in each frame.

    You can also try simulating caustics, a refraction effect caused by light passing through the water surface.  You may be able to simulate this effect by shining a bright light through layers of textured glass, then animate it by slowly sliding one of the layers.

    Adding in other animated elements like kelp/seaweed or bubbles can help, though that can be a lot of work for a single animator.

    You can also add distortion to the camera to create a wavy effect by moving something translucent in front of the camera.  Either clear texture glass, a clear film, etc.

    Some of these effects can be added in post, but with stop motion, it's usually ideal to capture everything in-camera.

    That's just a few ideas off the top of my head, but I'm sure there is plenty more you can do.

  • Thanks so much!  I’ll keep posted when I have more progress pictures, I’m really excited!

  • Progress, on weekends!
  • Looking good!

  • Thanks!
  • can't wait 2 see the shark in action 
  • I’ll keep posted when I have more progress pictures, I’m really excited!
  • I’m actually in the process of finally learning to use a lathe and milling machine, so I’m redoing the balls as 302 stainless!  Thanks for the kind words!
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