Digital Studio recently caught up with shark expert, videographer and presenter Joe Romeiro to talk about filming the great sea creatures.
DS: Tell us about the series for Shark Week.
They are starting Shark Week on TV on August 28th here and I am in the first two premier shows in the States. We did five or six shows altogether but those two premier shows are the ones that they’re focusing on. One is called Tiger Beach and has to do with a study off Grand Bahama island. It follows all these tiger sharks where we actually tag and track them throughout the area of sea where they go. There are a lot of issues with fishermen; every time we want to protect an area for sharks they always want to say, “Well prove it”. That’s what the tags do: they prove that the animals travel to those areas, so we can protect those areas and better protect the animals.
The mako shark episode was about comparing the differences of mako sharks in the Pacific and the Atlantic. We went to my home town of Rhode Island and we went to California. We wanted to try to get them on both coasts and we wanted to see if there was a difference in behaviour at night. These big animals have figured out that at 3 O’Clock in the morning there are no big fishing boats, there is no-one around wanting to hurt them so they can get away with feeding and actually coming up from the depth and doing what they normally do. So we went out there and filmed them at night and we filmed the first ever 1000 pound mako at night, probably one of the first ever 1000 pound makos ever to be filmed.
DS: What kind of technology do you use for filming?
We use everything. Right now we are using virtual reality systems which consist of six different cameras facing in all different ways. We do 360-degree films but VR is now taking over. You put on the VR goggles and no matter where you look you’re in the situation; it’s every direction. Sometimes the camera is on a pole, sometimes on a tripod.
We often use GoPros although I’m shooting with a RED Dragon right now. The cameras most of us shoot with are REDs – mainly Epics, Dragons and Weapons. Those are the same cameras they shot Transformers, Lord of the Rings, all the big Hollywood cinema. It’s just that now we have underwater housing.
DS: How about night time filming?
You need a lot of light for night time filming, depending on the types of camera. Right now we are filming on a Sony A7S2, which is a very low light camera. I also use REDs because they have more of a raw image and you have a lot of post adjustment that you can do to it.
DS: Sharks are perceived as dangerous to humans. What do you say to people who believe that?
I would say we’re not on any shark’s menu. There is no way that naturally we’re in any kind of risk. Sharks aren’t hunting humans in any way. Millions of humans enter the water every year and eight to nine of them get hurt. If they were hunting us, we’d be the easiest things to hunt. Sometimes there are animals that are starving from areas that have been overfished and you’ll have accidents, but that comes from human pressure. If you starved anything to death it would start to try to eat anything that it could to survive. As far as humans go, we’re not on their menu and we’re not in any danger. People have very little to worry or fear of sharks.
I think what makes sharks so enticing and mysterious to people is that they do feel an element of danger from this animal. But in all aspects this animal has no resentment towards humans, they don’t ever hold vendettas towards humans. Sharks are indifferent to us. A shark’s biggest hope is just to be left alone. Sharks are rare animals; if you get to see one you’re lucky.
DS: Do you hope your films will change attitudes to sharks?
I know that the way Shark Week is going now they really care about sharks and the future of sharks so there are a lot of conservation messages coming out throughout all the entertainment.