From Polaroid: SX-70 Manipulation Issues

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Alex Hawley, Jun 9, 2005.

  1. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Found this today while browsing Polaroid's Creative section:

    "It has recently been brought to our attention that, due to a change in manufacturing process, current supplies of Time-Zero film no longer have the ability to be "manipulated" for Creative purposes. This is an unintended - and unanticipated - consequence of a process change. We understand the passion that the artistic community has for the Creative Uses technique, and want to assure you that we are taking this situation very seriously.

    We are currently working on possible solutions, though we cannot promise a replacement product. We are very sorry for this situation, and again, are treating it with the utmost urgency. We will post further updates on this site as they become available. If you have further questions, please call our Technical Assistance group @ 1.800.225.1618."


    Here's the link.
     
  2. Shmoo

    Shmoo Member

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    Normally I'd say "how sad"...but what I'm really thinking is "how stupid" of them to change the manufacturing process on a film without testing all of its applications. Some product manager's head ought to be rolling about now and if not, then Polaroid deserves the financial hits it's been getting. The next thing they'll be telling us is that we won't be able to do image transfers and emulsion lifts with Type 59 film. Or with our luck, the Time Zero film product manager will get transferred to the Type 59 film product...

    I'm depressed...

    Addendum - I just sent an email to Polaroid via their "Ask Polaroid" part of their website (support section) and would suggest you do so as well if you are concerned about their products.
     
  3. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    good thing I read this, I was watching a sx-70 outfit that ends in 2 hours. No way will I go for something that has no film to do what I wanted to do. OH well, I can admire the ones Sharon has created.
     
  4. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    I couldn't find a date for this posting, please see if this a current issue. It could have been up since the late 90's and never taken down.
     
  5. Shmoo

    Shmoo Member

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    Actually, Ann was trying to teach her class SX70 manipulations and was having problems with the film. I'm wondering if this is the same thing...Ann????
     
  6. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    I think its very recent Jeremy. I was looking for their SX-70 Manipulation article yesterday and couldn't find it. Then today, this notice was posted at the top of the article list.
     
  7. Dorothy Blum Cooper

    Dorothy Blum Cooper Member

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    It is crazy! Can't quite figure out what possessed them to 'change' a formula after all these years!

    Just FYI...this is the email my husband received on May 17th. He (hubby) is an artist as well as a photographer. His work was featured in the artists section on Polaroid's site for the SX-70 images. Polaroid's unexpected "change" doesn't make much sense:

    We are contacting you today because we have your name in our customer database as being a user of our SX-70 Time Zero Film, specifically for artistic purposes. In addition, your SX-70 portfolio is showcased in PolaroidÂ’s creative gallery at www.polaroid.com. Because you have been such a valued customer, we wanted to inform you of a technical problem that we have just uncovered with our Time Zero product. Due to a change in manufacturing process, current supplies of Time Zero film no longer have the ability to be "manipulated" for Creative purposes. This is an unintended and unanticipated consequence of a process change.

    We understand the passion that the artistic community has for this Creative Uses technique and want to assure you that we are taking this situation very seriously. We are currently working on possible solutions, though we cannot promise a replacement product. We are sorry for this situation and again, are treating it with the utmost urgency and would expect to have some preliminary news in several days. We will post further updates on our web site as they become available.

    Based on the current situation, we would also like to inform you that we will be removing all informational and instructional material on SX-70 Manipulation from our web site including all artistÂ’s portfolios. We regret having to make this decision but we feel that we cannot promote this Creative Use of Time Zero film until we have a solution for the problem we are currently facing. If you have further questions, please call our Technical Assistance Support line at 800-225-1618.
     
  8. Shmoo

    Shmoo Member

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    Just to let you know, the batch with the 12/2005 date on it seems to work (just bought a box). I think (operative word "think") that the batch dated 02/2006 is also good and I'll test a pack tomorrow. I got confirmation from Samy's in LA that the newer batches will not manipulate. So sad.

    S
     
  9. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Well, at least they are being up front about it. I'm not going to read in marketing conspiracy into this; there's no evidence to support that. Having been an engineer for nearly thirty years, I can say that these unintended changes do happen. Someone comes up with an idea for "improving" the process. Almost always, that means a lowering of production costs. That will get the executives ear, and despite any objections, win approval.

    The current production lot of Kodak's Azo paper changed significantly from the previous run. However, Kodak invites Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee to the factory to test the paper. This ensures the artistic community is informed at the getgo of changes in the paper's characteristics.

    It would have been nice if Polaroid would have done the same thing with Time-Zero. But that sort of thing is not on the typical financial wiz's agenda.
     
  10. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    I just checked my stock and it expires 03/06. It seemed to work fine but I have no previous experience to compare it to. Mine came from B&H a week ago.
     
  11. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Leave it to a bunch of bean counters to do this. Beans cause gass, and that is what most not all bean counters produce, a lot of gas, and a lot of gas is just a warning that there is a lot of shit coming soon. I agree with Sharon, I'm pissed! This leaves a whole lot of polaroid manipulation artists without product to work with. Why even have examples and instructions on a website that no longer gives a damn?
     
  12. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    Uh, oh :sad:

    I was hoping it was just another instance of companies not updating their web presences, but alas....
     
  13. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    I just checked Aggie. All the examples and instructions are gone. That's what led me to this "discovery" today.

    Let's give them a chance to explain further or make some further statement. Given the age and "obsolescence" of the SX-70, it might be that the artist community is what keeps this film alive, much like Azo. If that's true, and the line produces some amount of profit, perhaps they will remedy the situation.

    That's my "half-full" impression. My full empty impression of the MBA pukes is mean and nasty.
     
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  15. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    In today's bottom line corporate world, the big companies don't care about those using their products, they only care if they can save a few cents or utilize machinery for another product they hope to push ie. the 600 film. But Alex, I called around here in SF, and there quite a few cases worth of the time zero film dated with a exp date of Dec. 2005 or sooner. If you want I can grab as much as I can for you and others who would be interested. I just lost my desire to even experiment on something that will be gone as soon as the film is used up. So much for me doing an issue on Polariod as well. Was considering it for issue #6. What is sad is there are quite a few workshops this summer where this is being taught. Ms. Carr is In Montana in a few weeks teaching Polariod lifts and manipulations. This is very sad.
     
  16. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    You're right Aggie, but customers generate the revenue. Remeber what happened when Kodak tried to wean everyone off of Tri-X in favor of TMAX? Didn't work and Tri-X is still going strong.

    If, as you say, there are many workshops scheduled, that means a lot of customers and potential customers will be pissed and not buying. The Biz-wizzers don't care about pissed customers but ex-customers get someone's attention, if not another bankruptcy.

    This thing is just getting started.
     
  17. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    I talked with the tech people before leaving town on the 20th of the month (May). they pulled all information until they can correct the problem.

    I called them in mid may, and they were very responsive about the problem and at that time were collecting information to back track the issues.

    Shortly after that they did post a message regarding the issues, and pulled all information until they can get things resolved; or so i was told.

    the technical department has always been responsive to my calls, and at this time i am just waiting to see what is going to happen.
     
  18. jtsatterlee

    jtsatterlee Member

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    Remember, when Polaroid designed the film they did not intend for the emulsion to be soft and manipulative - it was a defect and a deviation from spec.

    The artistic function of the film was unintended, although welcomed and used.

    Since it was originally a defect and unexpected result Polaroid may not know all the factors behind the manipulative nature of the emulsion. And we do not know what their changes were, perhaps they were necessary to keep the film in production - Polaroid is not in the best of financial shape.

    Although the future of manipulations is uncertain, Polaroid should be commended for contacting as many people as they could and removing the information from their website. They acknowledged the change, the impact and do not want to mislead any newcomers to their products.
     
  19. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    There are books, and workshops all geared around this film. The art schools tout it as a great product for manipulations. If polaroid after the fact could not figure out what they did, that is sad. It would not take a rocket scientist to figure out why the emulsion stayed soft enough for a while to work with.

    Maybe Ole could help us. It might only take using a tiny toothpick sized drop of a solvent like acetone to get the emulsion soft enough to work with. It might be worth a try.
     
  20. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    I have to concur, being the former head of engineering myself at a large multi-national manufacturer. Often times changes are meant to 'improve' a process and end up with side effects not thought about in the final design. I suspect this is what happened.

    I don't think they intended any harm purposely to the end users. I'll bet they honestly thought they could improve the process, save money and produce the same product. Obviously they were wrong, but I wouldn't say they don't care about the users.

    Again I think this is too harsh an indictment. It wouldn't take a rocket scientist, but a chemical engineer! :tongue:

    Art.
     
  21. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Right Art. You can bet the technical staff has known all along what characteristics enabled the manipulation. I was doing some research today on the film and learned that it, Time-Zero, came on the market in 1980. The original SX-70 film had problems with fading. I wouldn't say that the emulsion softness was a defect; it may have been a technical issue that hadn't been resolved due to a variety of reasons; maybe the development was halted at the "good enough" stage.

    If anyone wants some heady reading, try this. Its the final court judgement in the Polaroid vs Kodak patent infingement case. The first 10 pages are the Judge's summary of all the technical and business testimony given by both parties. The SX-70 and its film were at the core of this patent infringement suit.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 10, 2005
  22. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    I talked with the technical support people at Polaroid today.

    They are working on finding a solution to this issue. Polariod is concerned and understand how important this film is too a great many people, "not just the folks on APUG "(my statement, not theirs).

    They made some changes earlier in the year, and did run test on the newer version and the scientific feedback was positive. THey didn't check the moveability of the newer emulsion and are now working to correct the problem. They hope to have things back on track within 4 -6 weeks.
     
  23. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Thanks for posting this Ann. This is good news to hear. Maybe I will e-mail the Technical Dept. and thank them.
     
  24. photomc

    photomc Member

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    For those working with SX-70/Time Zero Film just got this update from Kathleen Carr's email newsletter..

    "UPDATE ABOUT TIME ZERO FILM GLITCH
    Polaroid has been working on fixing the temporary glitch with the latest batches of Time Zero Film--the film that we use for SX-70 Manipulations. I have been told that they are very close, and will be sending me some film to test very soon. Some of the newest batches don't manipulate properly, however we have discovered a fix for it until the error is rectified. Just heat the newly exposed and developed print for two minutes, and reheat as needed. I recommend keeping the print constantly warm until you finish manipulating it. My favorite way is to use a heating pad with an acrylic clipboard on top of it for a heated surface.


    This glitch affects many film batches with the expiration date of 11-05, 12-05 and later, even 5-05. The following batches are good and work fine:
    12-05 expiration, lot numbers ending with 682-685
    1-06 expiration, lot numbers ending with 817-819
    5-06 expiration, lot numbers ending with 019, 020


    If you buy Time Zero film that doesn't manipulate properly, call Polaroid's Technical Assistance Hotline at 800-225-1618, M-F from 8am-8pm EST and give them the batch numbers and expiration date. If you can't get the film to manipulate, they will work with you on this problem.
    "

    Thought this might be of interest to everyone working with the film...
     
  25. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Thanks for posting this update Mike. That's really good information. Glad to see Polaroid is not leaving its artistic support in the digital dustcloud like another large American photo corporation is.
     
  26. Dorothy Blum Cooper

    Dorothy Blum Cooper Member

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    Thanks for that bit of information, Mike.