Experimental Film Captures the Beauty of Crystallization in 8K

Photographer Thomas Blanchard has captured the unstable mixture of water and sodium acetate. When subjected to even light agitation, the solution moves from a liquid to a solid, a process he captured in brilliant 8K resolution.

The project was shot by Blanchard as the subject of a music video for Sébastien Guérive titled Bellatrix. Guérive explains Bellatrix as the bridge track between his older, more electro album and the new artistic direction he’s taking for his more recent album.

“It is more electro in its construction. I think it’s the most accessible song, which is also why it’s one of the two singles. It’s a gateway to a more abstract world,” Guérive explains. “I wanted to add a real piano to give it a neoclassical direction as well. Strings were added to this piece in order to orchestrate this electro base and mix synthetic timbres with acoustic timbres, as I often like to do.”

Capturing the Formation of Crystals

The idea of an abstract world was where Blanchard came in. He describes himself as a French video artist who likes to explore themes and mix the arts, and decided to put Guérive’s new composition to the visuals of sodium acetate as it formed into a solid.

Sodium acetate is an anhydrous (meaning it contains no water), salt form of acetic acid. Blanchard tells PetaPixel that he mixed baking soda with white vinegar and heated the mixture until all the water evaporated. He then was able to harvest the white powder that remained, sodium acetate.

Crystallization of sodium acetate
Photo: Thomas Blanchard

To create the crystals, he took the sodium acetate and saturated it with hot water. Specifically, 100 grams of water and 120 grams of sodium acetate. Once the mixture was fully dissolved, he let it cool. Blanchard says that what remains is compositionally a liquid, but it is very unstable.

The process of soaking the sodium acetate in hot water results in an aqueous solution that is supersaturated. It is capable of cooling to room temperature without forming crystals, but will not necessarily stay that way. At the slightest disturbance, the liquid will start to form a solid, which is the crystalization that can be seen in his footage.

The music video was shot with a Red Helium 8K camera and a Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x macro lens and two LED lights.

More from Blanchard can be found on his website.