Mark Peters, an avid fisherman from Martinez, California, recently posted a spectacular underwater video of a school of dolphins on Vimeo, and within a week, it went totally viral. After garnering more than 600K views in three days on Vimeo alone, “The Blue” has been featured on Good Morning America, CBS news, The Today Show and various other media outlets. The 4-minute film, shot on a goPro Hero2 and encased in a special housing, shows surprisingly crisp footage of dolphins trailing a boat while Mr. Peters and his colleagues fished for albacore. Mr. Peters says the dolphins followed them for about 15 minutes.
Viewers either were completely amazed by the quality of the footage or questioned its authenticity, arguing that CGI made the dolphins come alive.
“Tell me a movie that looks as real as my footage that used CGI. I don’t even think Avatar looks as real as my footage,” he told Creativity. “I mean they spent millions of dollars. At first I was flattered but now I’m just tired of the comments.”
Mr. Peters says that many things contributed to the videos’ quality. The GoPro Hero 2 camera he used is known for its HD resolution. But instead of using a curved lens, Mr. Peters replaced it with a flat lens that he says works better for underwater filming.
The curved lens is “a very wide angle lens. There’s something about when you put it in water, that curvature distorts the image a bit. Makes it kind of blurry.” Additionally, they were fishing up to 20 miles off the coast of Santa Cruz, in clearer water, and used a clear housing for the camera; this all aided in the videos clarity.
“I made the housing clear that most of its invisible. I think the dolphins were intrigued by it. They were looking into it. When they’re there, their eye is looking inside the camera,” he said.
His intended audience was an online fishing forum. With up to 10,000 people in the forum, he was expecting to only reach 800-1000 views. Although he didn’t intend to have any commercial gain from the video, Mr. Peters says he’s looking into stock photo and image companies like Footage Search and iStock Photo to help license the footage.
And, if you’re not willing to take Mr. Peters’ word for it, we asked two visual effects experts, Framestore‘s William Bartlett and The Mill’s Angus Kneale, to weigh in on the video’s authenticity.