Protist Lab Films has built an innovative 6K camera setup mounted to a microscope using a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K digital film camera to shoot microscopic single celled protists, some of the Earth’s smallest creatures. The videos are edited and graded using DaVinci Resolve editing, color grading, visual effects (VFX) and audio post production software.
Protist Lab Films is run by former water lab technician and sound engineer Fabian Weston. After 25 years as a sound engineer and music producer working alongside some of Australia’s best musicians, engineers and producers, including working inhouse at the famous Albert Studios, Weston returned to his passion for microscopy and the fascinating creatures that microscopes reveal.
Weston started Protist Lab Films a few years ago with only a microscope and his phone camera. He was familiar with Blackmagic Design from his years in the music and entertainment industry. After an industry friend recommended Blackmagic Design, Weston began looking at its extensive catalog of options. He soon discovered the extent to which both hardware and software from the Melbourne based company could assist him in his work at the microscope.
The end goal of Protist Lab Films is to generate awareness of the protist kingdom, protists being single celled eukaryotic organisms that are not animal, plant, fungus, bacteria or virus. Most people know them as algae and protozoa.
“I was familiar with Blackmagic Design from when I was working on live stream audio mixing at the Sydney jazz club The Basement some years back. We used to do live streams of shows from the production studio one floor above the venue straight to YouTube. It was all run with Blackmagic, the cameras in the venue and switchers upstairs, and via a MADI connection for a separate live audio mix in the studio,” Weston said.
Since the beginning of 2022, Weston has been using the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K to capture the amazing world of these tiny creatures. Relying on the camera’s ability to work with a number of different high quality microscope objective lens types and its easy to build onto design, Weston created a unique custom setup to connect his microscope directly to the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K. After capturing the images in Blackmagic RAW, footage is edited and then graded using DaVinci Resolve. For the final touch, drawing on his talent as
a musician and music producer, he adds a custom built soundtrack to some of the films before publishing the videos on the Protist Lab Films YouTube channel.
“It’s an unbroken end to end process, and it’s just great to work within the single domain. Plus, the tech support is lightning fast. Blackmagic Design has definitely made the whole workflow very easy and smooth,” Weston said.
Weston’s films are already turning heads; he was awarded first place in Nikon’s 2021 Small World in Motion Competition for a film documenting protists living in the guts of common Australian termites.
“Very few people are making music from scratch and putting it to footage of microscopic organisms, so what I’ve been able to achieve so far is something that is both unique and engaging. I’m a big fan of Blackmagic Design’s philosophy and industry focus, and I’m sure people like me will continue to use its gear for new and wonderful projects in the future too,” Weston concluded.
The films are available on Protist Lab Film’s YouTube channel.