Beakers, flasks, and test tubes are essential tools for conducting chemical reactions. However, their refraction and reflection could become distractions when filming chemical reactions happening inside them. To get rid of these distractions, we used cubic glass containers like fish tanks but much smaller. Blow is a photo of these containers. Their volume from left to right: 5 x 5 x 5 cm3, 3 x 3 x 3 cm3, and 2 x 2 x 2 cm3, respectively.
For lighting, we used two LED panels each with 1300 small LED lights. We place one panel on the left of the glass container and the other on the right, with the two panels parallel to each other. This simple setup was quite enough to achieve a uniform lighting inside the container. Also this setup was good for eliminating the reflection of the glass container.
Music and sound effects are very important to our videos. During editing, since we did not have enough time to create original music and sound effects, we relied heavily on the audio asset shipped with Maxon Cinema 4D and the default sound effects library inside Final Cut Pro X. Luckily for us, these audio clips worked very well for our videos. But for future content, we might need the help of musicians and sound effects artists for better results!
Shooting chemical reactions with a new perspective is the essential part of Beautiful Chemistry. Right at the beginning, we wanted to shoot in 4K UltraHD resolution (3840×2160) to capture the amazing details of chemical reactions like never before. Selecting Panasonic GH4 was a no-brainer for us for 3 reasons. First, very positive GH4 reviews just came out before we made the purchase. Second, because we shot at close distance with macro lenses, we wanted the depth of field to be as large as possible. The micro 4/3 format is perfect for our task. Third, the cost of GH4 was very reasonable compared to other alternatives.
The lens we used most was a Tokina 100mm f/2.8 macro. The lens is optically excellent and comes with a handy aperture ring. For most of our footages, we shot at f/16 to maximize the DOF. In addition, the reproduction ratio was typically between 1:1 to 1:1.5.
We used an 8-core Mac Pro and Final Cut Pro X to edit the 4K footages shot with GH4. The footage file size out of GH4 is quite reasonable. However, for smooth editing in FCP X, we transcoded all footages to ProRes 422 and the file size became about 6 times larger. To solve this problem, we bought an external RAID system to store the transcoded media for efficient editing.
Finally, as mentioned by many GH4 users, still frames from 4K video footages can be used as 8-megapixel photos. Many still images below were taken from our 4K footages.