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Nezmo Productions, from tanks to reefs.

Posted 01/20/2018 at 08:24 AM by skune

It all started back around 1975. We were visiting friends in Pittsburgh, and they told us they had a very cool place to show us on this trip. They took us to Monroeville and stopped at a place called Elmer's Aquarium.
I'll never forget the first time I set foot inside Elmer's. Back then, the left wall of the store was lined with saltwater aquariums, and this was the first time I had ever seen coral reef fish. This was before the internet and the availability of underwater videos, so it was a shock to suddenly be face to face with a flame angel for the first time!
I can still remember some of the fish from that first encounter. A blue tang, a christmas wrasse, a gold-rim tang, a coral beauty dwarf angel, some juvenile larger angels, and of course yellow tangs and clownfish.
I was instantly hooked, I had to have a saltwater tank! I walked out of there with a 30 gallon starter kit.
If you are wondering what a salt setup was like in those started with an undergravel filter with crushed dolomite as the gravel to keep the PH in balance. This also served as a home for the bacteria colonies making up the biological filter. The filter was basically a slotted raised plate that covered the entire tank bottom, with about 3 inches of the dolomite on top of the filter. There was an attached lift tube in the back on each side of the filter that had an airline from a Silent Giant air pump with an airstone at the bottom of the tube. The raising bubbles from the airstone created a suction as the bubbles lifted, and pulled water through the filter and created a flow through the gravel and provided the necessary oxygen for the bacteria in the gravel bed.
As I best recall, we cycled the aquarium with crabs and anemones and pencil urchins, that we just fed and waited for the filter to cycle. When the cycle was done, we took the cycling crew back to the store, and could at last add our first fish!
The rule back then was that you could add one fish every 3 weeks, so we made a 70 mile run to Monroeville every 3 weeks to anxiously get our new fish. We eventually had 3 tanks, and knew we would always have coral reef fish in our living room.
Fast forward several decades to when our son had grown up and moved to Hawaii. We visited him for the first time and realized that it was not impossible (like I always thought) to actually go out on a coral reef and see these incredible fish in their natural habitat!
Many of the best shallow reefs are right offshore and can easily be accessed right from the beach! All we needed was a mask, snorkel, fins, and we were in another world!
The first time I put my face down in the water, I saw a pair of adult saddleback butterflies, and a turtle and immediately I knew I had to record this, as just seeing it was not enough!
Having a son in Hawaii (the big island) meant a yearly trip to visit him, and another chance to explore the thing we loved the most... that other world on the reef!
It must have been comical to other snorkelers to see me chasing fish with that big yellow box on the same reefs where they were casually snorkeling, but I was a man on a mission!
At that time no one else was even trying to shoot video while snorkeling, but to me it was an opportunity I just had to take advantage of.
Fran started shooting also, and a typical trip is 2 weeks with both of us shooting 4-5 hours a day.We start at 4 AM, getting everything ready and are typically standing on the beach in the dark at 6 AM waiting for the first hints of a sunrise. We found that the best light for shooting is the first light of the day, and the last light before dark.
We have been doing this for nearly 20 years, and have visited, Hawaii, all 3 US Virgin Islands, Bonaire, Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, 2 different islands in Fiji, and last year, Bali. Many of these multiple times.
I am now retired from video editing and am spending all my time finally producing videos shot by us and am starting to make them available on our YouTube channel.
One thing I want to stress is that our style of video is one of lifelong saltwater aquarists, who study the fish before acquiring them, learn their habits and what they eat, and when we have them, are fascinated daily just watching them go about their lives.
We save up all year to fly half way around the world to spend as much time as possible on the reefs, so our videos are not just a glimpse of this fish and a few seconds of another.
Our videos are meant to recreate the experience of being on the reef and studying the various species and sea life we run into.
I've always been a little disappointed in videos that start out on a coral reef with a wide shot of the corals and schools of anthias, then a flash of an angel fish, then a butterfly, or parrot fish, then it's right up the food chain...turtles, dolphins, sharks, mantas, whales, whale sharks, which are all very fascinating, but as an aquarist, I really wanted a better look at that angel fish, and wanted to explore all those other wonders on the reef itself.

If you are on Reef Central, these videos are as close as you will get to actually shooting them yourself in a manner that appeals to you.They are not for the short attention span crowd, they are for enthusiasts that want something to entertain and delight them when the tank lights go out! They are all in full HD, edited and color-corrected with enjoyable music.

We call our main videos "immersions", and are basically a day of shooting and studying the animals we encounter, and trying our best to capture their lifestyle and personality. You will see many species that are new to you as they cannot be kept because of their feeding requirements, or because they get too big, or they will eat everyone else.
You also see fish in their different stages of development. A good example of this are wrasses. The young juveniles, the females that form harems, and the males that convert from
females and eventually can become the supermales with their spectacular coloring.

I have 10 videos on our channel right now. Four of the Immersion series videos from Mantaray Island in the Yasawa Island Group in Fiji, our favorite place so far. Their house reef has been a protected sanctuary for 30 years, so there is an incredible amount and variety of fishlife there, as well as some pristine coral growths in every direction.
During the season, there are also Manta Rays feeding in a nearby shallow channel, and the first Immersion video also features shots of them at the end.
Another series we have is called "Just Chillin", and is basically an extended look at a single subject. There is one featuring an octopus that played hide and seek with me for about 10 minutes, or one about clownfish that features a family of the spectacular blue-striped clowns in a beautiful purple carpet anemone, and a huge colony of tomato clowns living in their own green bubble tipped anemones, along with a few other species and ending with a visit from Dory, the blue palette tang in the wild.

There is another about rays, various stingrays doing their thing also including eagle rays, Mantas, and ending with some of the few sharks we have seen on the shallow reefs.

Of particular interest to aquarists is the latest one about the "ghost" tang, a rare white color morph of a yellow tang that we saw on our last trip to Hawaii.
Just for our reefer friends we started a new series called "What about the corals?" The first one features a gorgeous hard coral reef in Fiji that we hit at just the right time to see many of the colorful corals with polyps fully extended, and in just the right light, with the clearest water we have come across. We float casually across the corals and zoom in for close-ups where appropriate to give you a look at what a full coral garden looks like as you'd like to see it!

If all that is not enough, there is a "one of a kind" video shot by Fran of a dancing circle-cheek wrasse we called "Wet Willie" that was so enchanted by her that he put on quite a show featuring his best dance moves. Then I finish the video with a series of sea life from all over keeping up with the music.

I'm inviting everyone on Reef Central to have a look at what we created with you in mind, and to help us spread the word to other fans of coral reefs to enjoy what we have prepared for all of you.
I'm just getting started, so please subscribe to our channel to keep up with the latest offerings, and feel free to comment or ask questions on any of our videos. The link to our Youtube channel is:
We call ourselves Nezmo Productions, but it's just me (Gary) and Fran sharing our passion and inviting you along with us on our undersea adventures. If you can stream these to a Flatscreen TV through Youtube, you will not be disappointed, or just enjoy on your computer or device.If you like what you see, help us out by sharing these with like-minded friends.
Future postings will discuss some of our adventures from our shoots and discuss the newer videos as they are released so stay tuned, and I will be happy to answer any questions.
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