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DUT Television School first in SA to train underrwater cameramen

DUT Television School first in SA to train underrwater cameramen

Media statement by Ms Nomonde Mbadi, Executive Director: Corporate Affairs

How many students would love to ditch the lecture room in favour of spending their class time swimming in the azure waters of Durban’s Ushaka aquaria? This was exactly the scenario for 8 hand-picked students who were chosen for places on a brand new degree course in Video Technology , offered by the Durban University of Technology.

This unique degree includes a course in underwater camerawork, or marine videography – a first in South Africa. DUT Television School HOD Professor Pete Burnett said “Durban is ideally suited, with our warm weather, Ushaka aquaria and reefs and wrecks to offer a course in marine videography. The DUT Television School has a long history of preparing graduates to enter the television industry. This new, fourth year course adds another unique dimension to our training and produces qualified underwater cameramen for a niche area in the industry” .

Veteran marine videographer John Du Plessis was contracted to run the course which included PADI Discover Scuba qualifications for each student who, on completion of the training, were qualified to dive up to 12 metres with an instructor. Initial dives took place in the Ushaka aquaria which provided a safe and protected environment in which to learn the necessary scuba skills. Once competent at diving, students turned their attention to mastering shooting under water. “There are a lot of shot opportunities at the aquarium because of the abundant marine life, but an interesting challenge was the current, which simulated the natural marine environment and helped prepare them for the later ocean dives” said Cary Burnett, the course leader for the fourth year.

Tackling surf launches and diving in the ocean was a “whole other experience” for the 8 students. Rishane Rajkomaar described the ocean dives as physically challenging and “like trying to hold a camera in a hurricane”. Rishane always wanted to try scuba diving so getting the opportunity to do so as part of his studies was a dream come true. Like others in his group he wants to continue on and get his Open Water scuba diving qualification.

For Marcello Maffeis the course was a highlight and “the coolest thing I’ve done all year”. Some of the students were already keen on water sports, including Adam Van Heerden who is an avid surfer. “It was actually difficult to get really good shots underwater. There are so many more factors to consider than when on land. It was a real eye opener to see all the marine life”, said Adam, who is determined to pursue this option and become an underwater cameraman. “I want to specialize in shooting surfing and travel the world doing it” he said. Another keen surfer in the group was Jeremy Martin whose best moment was a chance to swim with the dolphins on the way out to Blood Reef.

Marine Videographer John Du Plessis described the group as talented and rated their underwater filming efforts highly. “I was pleased to get such good feedback about the students” said Cary Burnett. “This is our first year offering this course and we are still feeling our way. The feedback from both lecturer and students has been very good so we are definitely going to continue offering training in marine videography”.

For comment, please contact the following:
Prof Pete Burnett, Head of Deprtment – 083 6568950
Jon Caramanus – 083 650 9595
Maffeis – 082 886 0803
Rishane Rajkoomar – 083 205 3709
Stuart Strydom – 082 820 1208
Van Heerden – 072 9974334