Cells on film - the past and future of cinemicroscopy

J Cell Sci. 2015 Jan 1;128(1):9-13. doi: 10.1242/jcs.165019.


Movie making is now a ubiquitous experimental tool that biologists use alongside more traditional techniques such as molecular biology and biochemistry. It is no longer just cell biologists, but scientists from many other disciplines, such as immunology and neuroscience, that utilise movies to dissect their processes of interest. When did filming become such a standard laboratory technique? Who developed the use of the movie as an experimental tool? The Wellcome Library has recently restored and digitized a number of original 16-mm films from two pioneering cinemicroscopists, Ronald Canti and Michael Abercrombie, which are now freely available to the scientific community. In light of these films, this Essay will give a brief history of the early cinemicroscopists and discuss what is driving the use of movies in the laboratory today.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Microscopy, Video / history*
  • Microscopy, Video / methods*
  • Microscopy, Video / trends*