Micro Movie
Created Sunday, November 23, 2008 | Added Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Essentially for this project, we were supposed to create a short narrative movie relating to microscopy.  We were also required to shoot the movie using a microscope (the teacher had a number of “toy” microscopes for us to use).

I hand drew my movie and captured every frame (which was, of course, a separate hand drawn image) under the microscope.  At the beginning of my movie, we see a small dot.  The microscope then zooms in until the dot is distinguishable as an atom.  However, upon zooming in even further, it appears the the atom is actually a planet with orbiting rings.  We continue to zoom on one of the planet’s continents, the continent’s city, the city’s block, the block’s building, and a room in the building where we see a man sitting down looking through a microscope.  Looking through the microscope ourselves we see an amoeba about to devour a smaller organism.  Zooming once again, we see the smaller organism is actually a space ship traveling through (what it perceives to be) space.  Focusing on one of the stars beyond the ship, we find a small solar system.  After zooming in to the sun of this solar system, we finally begin to zoom out.  However, upon zooming out, we realize that the sun of the solar system is actually the pupil of a man’s eye.  Continuing to zoom out, this man’s head is lost to the cosmos which we soon find is actually an electron orbiting an atom.  The video is meant to be looped indefinitely.

Here is the original project assignment:

Making a microscope movie
Visiting an electron microscopy facility (I am still working on this), watching Fantastic Voyage and Being John Malkovich has made us think about the invisible made visible, scale and size. This project uses Intel Play Microscopes as devices for developing and creating a narrative that is formally based upon and has content related to the infinitesimal. Visualizing something that is not seen, but imagined.

You will work alone. I have four microscopes and am bidding on a few more on Ebay. The themes/content of the project must be related to scale and size. The project must have a narrative quality that we can discern and the images must initially be created using the microscope. There are many ways to do this; you can animate frame-by-frame or stage a video.


  • Small format video
  • Alternative input devices
  • DVD authoring review
  • Image research
  • Digital color

You can use iMovie, FCP, and Photoshop and Flash to bring together your images for this project. If anyone has questions on what I am asking for, please do not hesitate to contact me. You will turn in two DVDs, a data DVD (with an .mov file) with your process work and an authored DVD that works on DVD player. Your movie must be at least 2 minutes but no longer than 4.

You will generate the content/images for this project from the microscope. They may be minimally processed in whatever editing program you use. Minimal processing means color correction, contrast, sharpness. You can not go back and edit every frame in PS or add extra elements using PS or AE.
Think about or ask yourself the following as preparation or during this process:

  • How does scale change one’s perspective of an image?
  • What is my content and does it relate to the theme of scale?
  • What kinds of research or preparation do I need to do for the content I have chosen?
  • What materials can I experiment with to convey my content?
  • What type of preparation ie storyboard or some other organizational method will I use to set up my shots?
  • How is the formal part of this project connected to the conceptual theme?
  • What software will be the best tool for the content of my project
  • How can I use the technology to enhance the setting that I wish to create?
  • How will I organize my shots in to a cohesive sequence of images?


This is not a one take affair. You may have to shoot a fair amount of video. This project is much more about preparation and setting up the shot as opposed to major manipulation after the fact. Think of it as documenting a performance rather than an editing exercise. After you have shot all of your footage, WATCH IT. Play around with their sequence and the speed. Be sure that the visual framework that you are creating best contextualizes your content. Like everything you have done this far, play with this idea.

Lastly and this is part of why we are in school, show and discuss you ideas with one another. This is what we do during critique.