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  1. #1
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    Some thoughts on product availability

    Here are some thoughts that might interest you about analog photo products.

    The only films that are currently being mass produced at high volumes are motion picture color negative films and the associated print films. All other films are such low volume runners, the actual quantities would surprise you.

    Kodak is the largest manufacturer of motion picture films, and Fuji is a distant second.

    Kodak and Fuji can continue piggybacking all other films onto the motion picture production schedule just to keep things going and can take up the slack when the analog still market fluctuates.

    Companies that do not produce color or motion picture films rely solely on production of their B&W film and paper. Market fluctuations or declines must be directly reflected in production schedules and prices.

    Environmentalists are after all chemical industries, no matter the nature, to clean them up or shut them down. (preferrably the latter) They do this by making it so hard or expensive to operate a chemical industry that we are all paying a price in the US, Canada, Europe and Japan. The electronics industry has not been fully recognized as a 'chemical' industry and therefore has a rather free hand in their operations. Even though the environmentalists are wrong in this latter 'assumption', it is a fact until now but is gradually changing starting with the disposal of used electronics.

    Fewer and fewer young people are going into chemistry and chemical engineering career paths due to this trend in 'distrust' of the chemical industry.

    So, I believe that it is a race between how long film will be used in the motion picture industry and the environmental movement that will determine the commitment of both Kodak and Fuji to stay in the analog photography business. At the present time, their production, although miniscule compared to previous levels, dwarfs the production of all other companies put together.

    All current sales models fail to predict analog B&W film and paper sales due to the huge and violent swings in the market due to changes in digital. At the present time, declines are still exceeding all predictions and profits are falling drastically. All analog film and paper companies are hurting. Kodak and Fuji are hurting the least due solely to color and motion picture products.

    This is from a number of sources and includes information from some of my previous posts. It is meant to be an informative collection of information in one post, but not conclusive in the sense that it predicts anything except the probable result which would take place if the motion picture industry goes digital or environmentalists take a larger part in the control of chemical usage.

    I should add that I am not against environmental control of pollution, but merely express the concern that there is a difference between placing a moving car into 'park' or gradually applying the brakes. It can be done in a rational or irrational manner. Some are reacting irrationally from a sense of fear of chemistry. If you don't believe that, try going into a UPS store to ship a bottle of chemicals. Even if it is just Sodium Chloride (table salt), there can be a major conference or even alarm. Now, the local UPS people are used to sending my packages. I cannot ship organic solvents, oxidants, reductants, acids or bases without a special permit and a visit to the main office.

    These restrictions are what limit the ability of various photo shops to get us processing chemistry at all, or what drives the price up so high for shipping and what is helping drive us out of analog photography. Some people will feel 'safer' somehow when chemistry is no longer in the hands of the likes of us. Developers are classed as alkalis, and blix and bleach are classed as oxidants. I cannot ship them and to buy them I have to pay a huge surcharge if I can get them at all.

    This pretty much summarizes all information that I've been able to gather about the current situation regarding analog photography. I wish to thank everyone for their input in getting this together.

    PE

  2. #2

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    I was just talking to a fellow about the chemicals situation at one of the few remaining film dealers in Seattle. He told me about what had to be done to ship stop bath, including a dirt catch basin in the crate. I suggested that it be labeled "non-potable concentrated vinegar" instead.

    Kodak's press release for a new disposable film camera claims "consumers in the US purchasing nearly a half million rolls of KODAK film and single use cameras each day". That would be over 165 million rolls worth of consumer film per year, and to think that pales in comparison to movie studio use is mind-boggling.

  3. #3
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    Brian, remember that some motion picture camera and print films are 70mm. This is as opposed to disposable cameras using 35mm exclusively.

    Also, the motion picture film is routinely used in 1000 ft rolls or longer. And, they shoot lots more film than they use in the final film.

    In addition, many many prints are made for distribution and this also consumes a lot of film.

    Add on the fact that this supply is for world wide motion picture and TV production.

    But you are right, that level of production is mind boggling, isn't it? You have to consider that all 14 or so layers in Vision-2 film are coated in one pass at very high speed too.

    PE

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    It seems like some of the production, roll sizes, and volume issues might be responsible for prices and available sizes in aerographic films. I think a potentially tough situation for 35mm still film users might be availability only in long rolls. So pricing on aerographic films is somewhat high, but do you think that might happen with some 35mm films?

    On the subject of motion picture films, I have read in a few areas that India was one of the largest users of these films. I am not sure if they surpass Hollywood in this, but I found the statements about India somewhat surprising. Perhaps China are headed in that direction of heavy usage, since I have seen mention of their movie industry picking up volume recently.

    Motion picture films also get used for many television productions. One reason given by many producers is to future proof content for syndication to later evolving HDTV standards. Of course, it is tough to predict the trends in the future.

    I think you have a nice concise overview in your posting above. Quite likely environmental issues vould be a greater factor affecting future film production. I'm all for having a clean environment, but I agree that these things need to be phased into existing facilities in a way that does not force them offshore.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio

  5. #5
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    I don't have even a fraction of the expertise displayed by you guys in this topic, but the remarks made by Photo Engineer reminded me of something I read about the subject "digital versus film" in the film industry. It has to do with the recent production of Miami Vice, with Colin Farrel. If I remember well, this film was shot digitally and some people argued that its image quality was sometimes lousy. I noticed that some ugly noise was clearly visible in some night scenes.
    I brought this up to raise the following idea: perhaps people in the film industry will also object to giving in to digital and will remain loyal to film. That might, perhaps, ensure the survival of film for longer than the pessimists believe feasible.
    Well, that's just a thought.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HerrBremerhaven View Post
    On the subject of motion picture films, I have read in a few areas that India was one of the largest users of these films. I am not sure if they surpass Hollywood in this, but I found the statements about India somewhat surprising.
    There was a clip on one of the news shows about one guy in Bollywood. He has done 14 feature films in 2006. Those weren't bit parts either. He starred in that many. Imagine if Hollywood pumped out films at that rate.

  7. #7
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    I find this fascinating, while everyone is going nuts on film chemcials, the circuit boards of all those obsolete DSLRs and point and shoots contain heavy metals that are murder on the water table. It also reminds me of another local argument over the switch to compact florescents in homes from tungstan light bulbs. One little detail overlooked is the "new and improved" lightbulbs contain mercury. Sometimes the replacement technology is more toxic than the original.

    Bill
    "Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once and a while, you might just miss it."
    Ferris Bueller

  8. #8

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    Interesting information. Sometimes enviromental concerns can run amok. For instance the huge push to use flourescent longer lasting light bulbs in place of incandescents. While the use of the flourescents may indeed have some impact on the amount of coal burned to produce electricity, every one of those bulbs contains a minimum of 2 miligrams of mercury that once the bulbs are tossed (only a fraction will be properly disposed of) into landfills, the mercury will eventually find its way into the groundwater. If one really wants to make an impact on power plant emissions without unintended enviromental consequences, one should ban airconditioners and computers, the two biggest gobblers of electricity in the home or office.

    There is little doubt to me that if mass produced traditional photographic materials dissapear it will be because enviromental regulations will make the cost of the materials so high that most of us will not be able to afford them, thus killing the remaining market and companies.
    "Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
    Robert Adams

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    I think most people who buy fluorescent bulbs know that they need to be disposed of properly. People arent buying them to be cool, they are buying them because they are more aware. Few ignorant people are buying them in the first place.

    I agree the regs on shipping chemicals are ridiculous.

    Wayne

  10. #10
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    A few points I would like to make here:

    I'm a chemist and I had thought that mercury had been replaced in these new fluorescent bulbs. So, I tossed the two that went bad in the regular glass bin. We have no bin for toxic waste and must search for a disposal plant on our own.

    The major impediment to wholesale use of digital in motion picture is not quality but rather cost. The cost of a new digital projector is over $100,000 US. Profit margins at movie theaters is very low. Digital does not increase profit margin much except that the number of projector operaters can theoretically be reduced. The unions here object to that of course.

    A big concern is over digital distribution. Format and anti piracy methods are still shifting and need to be resolved.

    If everything comes together and prices drop, there may be a rapid shift towards the use of digital.

    One final note... Using digital, it is possible to create an all digital actor for a film, and so with modern digital animation, a live action motion picture with Clark Gable or John Wayne could be made. Legal issues aside, this is an interesting side force driving digital.

    Thanks all for your comments.

    PE

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