Would you get up close to a 200 million-year-old creature with squirming tentacles and ferocious, snapping pincers? Austrian filmmaker and multimedia artist Clemens Wirth did just that for a new short film. It may sound scary, but don't worry--the creatures that star in the two-minute video were no bigger than a couple of millimeters.
Wirth's "Micro Empire" spotlights the hidden world of microbes—bacteria and tiny creatures that look more like something out of a sci-fi novel than a biology textbook.
Wirth, a 27-year-old freelance motion designer from Innsbruck, captured the tiny organisms using a Canon 5D Mark II camera and a monocular microscope. He employed "dark field" microscopy, a technique that allows specimens to be viewed in their natural environment, without the use of chemical stains that can be lethal to microbes. He magnified microbes in pond, lake, and fish tank water, finding tiny crustaceans, mosquito larvae and more--and then worked with Radium Audio, a London-based music production company, to get the haunting soundtrack just right.
“I’m a macro enthusiast and I love to experiment,” Wirth told The Huffington Post in an email. “This time I wanted to go deeper than the macro universe, so I found myself hanging on the eyepiece of a microscope...The real challenge was definitely the small depth of field in microscopy. But the fascination and details kept me motivated.”
The whole process took about six months, Wirth said.
Seeing so much activity in a drop of water--and so many scary-looking creatures--can be off-putting to some viewers. But, says Wirth, “Don’t worry. You will find none of those life forms in fresh water or tap water.”