Underwater Drones Are Revolutionizing Visual Storytelling

Boxfish Luna underwater drone -- video screenshot -- drone underwater, walrus.

Aerial drones have revolutionized the way visual artists can tell stories, and the burgeoning field of underwater drones has begun to achieve the same transformative power for aquatic photo and video.

The Boxfish Luna is a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that captures 8K cinema-quality footage and 50-megapixel photos underwater. Although, unlike aerial drones, the Luna and other underwater drones must be tethered, specialized products like the Luna are enabling creators in new and exciting ways.

French production company Black Whale Pictures is one of the studios using the Boxfish Luna to create beautiful underwater art. Its founder, experienced underwater camera operator and diver Antoine Drancey, recently chatted with Boxfish about how his studio uses Luna in its productions.

Boxfish Luna underwater drone -- underwater filmmaker Antoine Drancey in a boat with the Luna.
Antoine Drancey

With the Luna, the camera operator is safely on a boat, remotely controlling the underwater drone. This has numerous immediate benefits. One significant advantage concerns safety, as diving, even for seasoned professionals, comes with risk, especially when trying to film and photograph wildlife. Relatedly, they can focus exclusively on getting great shots because the camera operator isn’t underwater. They don’t need to swim to different areas to change their perspective or angle, they don’t need to monitor their oxygen levels, and they don’t need to worry about their safety.

Boxfish Luna underwater drone -- video screenshot -- walrus and drone.
This sort of situation could put a diver at significant risk.

Drancey says that Luna offers him and other visual creators the time and space to think, plan, and execute shots in ways that are impossible when physically underwater with a camera. “The artist in every camera [operator] can speak,” Drancey explains.

Boxfish Luna underwater drone -- video screenshot -- drone underwater.

Due to the challenge of underwater photography and videography, traditional aquatic photographers must get safety shots, which take valuable time, oxygen, and resources. There is so much involved in getting certain shots that it’s essential to get something before taking more creative risks. With Luna, many of these concerns are solved, and operators can not only focus more on the artistry but have significantly more time to spend trying to get the perfect shot.

Boxfish Luna underwater drone -- video screenshot -- drone underwater, beluga whale.

Looking specifically at some brilliant footage of walruses underwater, Luna proved to be a game-changer for Black Whale Pictures. While cute from a distance, walruses are exceptionally large, powerful, and fast underwater. They are not typically aggressive, but they can be deadly when put into a defensive position.

Allowing photographers to avoid these underwater hazards while simultaneously enabling them to focus more on their art is an obvious win-win.

While underwater drones are still in their relative infancy compared to aerial drones, their impact on professional photo and video work is already being felt.

Image credits: Black Whale Pictures and Boxfish