Madison MooreJanuary 10, 2017

10 Short Science Films Celebrating Tiny Details Usually Unseen

Films

This selection of shorts celebrates tiny details of things usually unseen. The films, which range from experimental lab footage to carefully crafted documentary, reveal the artistry and innate beauty of scientific processes and phenomena. Some present destruction, while others focus on genesis, yet under the microscope, these oppositional forces begin to complement one another.

Refraction: The Alphabet

Refraction: The Alphabet

Jesse Zaninger’s playful experiment demonstrates the concept of refraction in accompaniment with Richard Pryor’s whimsical rendition of the ABCs. As they float within the confines of a beaker, a series of microscopic bubbles display the letters of the alphabet thanks to the basic principles of physics.

Limbic

Limbic

Manfred Borsch’s visceral clip highlights the impact of “emotional processing of music” through a series of shots capturing physical reactions to sound. These powerful close-ups provoke the viewer’s limbic system, giving audiences the same “chills” like those shown on screen.

Deforest

Deforest

In this short, Greyson Cooke creates a haunting stream of visuals through the process of destruction. He highlights the significance of degradation by using corrosive acid to destroy images of the forests he wishes to defend. This interaction between subject and medium gives further depth to the challenges of conservation and the “experience of…loss.”

Foreign Bodies

Foreign Bodies

Anatomy escapes the confines of familiar and finite science in Nicolas Brault’s pensive sequence of medical scans. Instead, it is ethereal and mesmerizing. As images of bones and other organs float across the screen, they are re-interpreted as a sort of “mythical landscape of transparent bodies…instilling a sense of strangeness” we do not often consider for ourselves.

Confluence

Confluence

“In “Confluence,” a new film by director Noah Shulman, viewers look beyond what the human eye is capable of seeing to experience those moments in between the transformations that we perceive. Noah Shulman shot an array of processes both natural and mechanical at an incredibly close range and in a controlled environment, allowing to isolate the micro-movements that constantly occur around us in a nearly balletic way. 

The film includes extreme close-ups of everything from magnetic to chemical and heat reactions, but it’s up to the viewer to extrapolate out from what they can see to imagine the larger view that they can’t. Created with specialty macro lenses and microscopes and shot in 4K resolution, the film reveals hauntingly beautiful movement at the microscopic level and reminds viewers that everything around them is in flux, even when the surface is calm.”

Praying Mantis Research: SUNY Fredonia Sexual Cannibalism and Reproduction

Praying Mantis Research — SUNY Fredonia Sexual Cannibalism and Reproduction

Brutal in its presentation of life and death, Phil Hastings’ documentation of praying mantis behavior captures essential moments in the species’ life cycle and the ways in which they are intertwined. Close-ups put the animals’ features and interactions on full display, allowing for a detailed examination of their morbid reproductive process.

Microscope Time-Lapse: Sugar Crystalizing out of Solution

Microscope Time-Lapse: Sugar Crystalizing out of Solution

Gary Greenberg shares his “appreciation of the crystallization process as a beautiful quantum phenomenon” in the form of an enchanting music video. His colorful time-lapse of sugar crystalizing out of a solution evolves into a growing assortment of geometric shapes under the microscope, which Greenberg has edited to the rhythm of the soundtrack.

Cytoplasmic Playgrounds

Cytoplasmic Playgrounds

In this brilliant animated short, Markos Kay transcends textbook symbolism of the “world of the cytoplasm in biological cells” by suggesting that “complex interactions can be thought of as a playful dance between macromolecules, minerals, ions and proteins.” Throughout the video, “complex molecular events that occur in the cytoplasm are interpreted as abstract forms and movement, staying away from traditional scientific iconography,” allowing Kay to animate an otherwise “invisible” process.

Electrostabilis Cardium

Electrostabilis Cardium

Agi Haines speculates about the emergence of bio-printing new organs in this captivating short. She contemplates the fact that “Frankenstein-esque hybrid organs could then be put together using cells from different body parts or even different species,” pairing her sense of wonder with palpable close-up shots of live tissue.

How to Make a Prosthetic Eye

How to make a prosthetic eye

In this fascinating documentary, Barry J. Gibb demonstrates how “art, medicine and engineering collide to create beautiful artificial eyes.” His short concentrates on both the creative and scientific expertise that helps to free those who have “experienced disfigurement” from any stigma.

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