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  1. #1

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    A question on R&D......

    Hello Simon,

    You and the rest of Ilford have always been so great on providing information to this comunity that I can't resist asking for some info that I think would be enlightening for everyone.

    What are the actual R&D costs for creating a new film or offering an existing film in a new format? I ask because I know there are a few items we have all said that we want but but have been told that the R&D costs make it unreadable for how few of us would most likely purchase the resulting product. So, for arguments sake, how much would it cost to develop a new true IR film? What about offering Ortho Copy in 120 & 135? Maybe even offering Pan F in sheet sizes?

    The core of my request really though is this: with the rise of places like Kickstarter could we fund these costs ourselves? Is it at all realistic? Would the costs be a $100k or $1million? Both can be doable if people really want it. Could this even work for products like Pan F in sheets were it would normally canabalise sales of other films by only offering them through group pre-order models like this?

    I think as we move forward this is information we would all apreciate as the costs of introducing and sustaining new products becomes arduous to the point of being impossible. Let us help out. Let us chip in. If you don't ever let us put our money where our mouths are how can any of us ever really know what could have been?
    Last edited by alarickc; 02-22-2013 at 12:45 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #2

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    Kodak master rolls were 54 inch width and 11000 feet long if I remember right. That is a lot of emulsion.

  3. #3
    AgX
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    The lenght of a master-roll is not god-given.

    But with shortening coatings there still are the install and run-up costs. And these are fixed.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by AgX View Post
    The lenght of a master-roll is not god-given.

    But with shortening coatings there still are the install and run-up costs. And these are fixed.
    Which is the idea behind this. There are 62k members on here; imagine if they all chipped in ten bucks to guarantee a new emulsion be made. $620k right there. Take the IR film. It's not economical because R&D is high, the film is short lived, and demand is low. Imagine if they did a Kickstarter to cover R&D and the first batch, and then offered it as a conditional part of the ULF run each year. If enough people preorder it they do a run. Then you can let demand build back up and maybe it takes three years for another run to happen, but at least it's still available in some form.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by alarickc View Post
    Which is the idea behind this. There are 62k members on here; imagine if they all chipped in ten bucks to guarantee a new emulsion be made. $620k right there. Take the IR film. It's not economical because R&D is high, the film is short lived, and demand is low. Imagine if they did a Kickstarter to cover R&D and the first batch, and then offered it as a conditional part of the ULF run each year. If enough people preorder it they do a run. Then you can let demand build back up and maybe it takes three years for another run to happen, but at least it's still available in some form.
    I know that Ilford has some system where photographers pledge a certain amount and if there is enough demand they do a run, some of us are trying to get a run on 70mm PanF+ this year, however I don't know where this happens, I wish they would simply create an online sign up sheet with a deposit made as a pre-order, and if there isn't enough demand they refund the money? It seems simple to me, not sure why Simon hasn't just set up a site like that. Also technically like banks and such, if it's a 6 month wait on orders, they can make some % off the interest on the held monies which also helps them, it's a win-win.

    Just my take on it all...

  6. #6
    Ken Nadvornick's Avatar
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    Perhaps one of the unanticipated arguments against such an approach might be that Harman Technology Ltd. has managed to rescue the Ilford brand—and the rest of us—by designing and implementing a well thought out business plan to do just that. And that plan is working. For them as well as all of us.

    Jumping to a Kickstarter business model could conceivably be incompatible with the continued success of that business plan. And I don't think they, or any of us, would want that.

    Ken
    "They are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they’ll still be there looking at you."

    — Diane Arbus, March 15, 1971, in response to a request for a brief statement about photographs

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Nadvornick View Post
    Perhaps one of the unanticipated arguments against such an approach might be that Harman Technology Ltd. has managed to rescue the Ilford brand—and the rest of us—by designing and implementing a well thought out business plan to do just that. And that plan is working. For them as well as all of us.

    Jumping to a Kickstarter business model could conceivably be incompatible with the continued success of that business plan. And I don't think they, or any of us, would want that.

    Ken
    I think we can all agree that if that would be the result of doing a Kickstarter none of us would want that. However, on the other hand, I seriously doubt that would happen. I say that mostly because I'm not(and I doubt others would) advocate that this become their main buisness model. Instead I am suggesting that this become a way of R&D new photographic products that while they would be profitable for continuing manufacture(Or limited manufacture like the ULF run) would be unfeasable because of R&D and tooling cost. It has sounded like in the past that there may be a number of items Ilford could and would make, but they'd never be able to pay off the upfront investment in a reasonable timeframe. Take out some or most of theupfront cost of the run, and all the sudden it's feasible. We've already seen that a Kickstarter with 10k-20k backers can make $100k-$1million. With a compelling and unique paper or film I think it could happen. We want more choices, so let's do it. The outlet is now there, and who better to facilitate this then Ilford?

  8. #8
    Ken Nadvornick's Avatar
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    I'm not saying it couldn't work. All I'm saying is that I'd guess there might be more questions to answer and issues to address than simply being handed a one-time infusion of some cash. For example, the ongoing maintenance of a product line is a continuing expense over time. And a new product line would be a new continuing expense to be borne. Where that would pencil out overall is anybody's guess. A chunk of upfront money certainly couldn't hurt. But neither, I might guess, would it guarantee a new product.

    As a smaller, more targeted project, maybe something like the funding of a new 220 roll film finishing machine would be a better proof of concept goal. I seem to recall the number quoted in 2006 for that as being somewhere around 300K GBP (455K USD). There were other ongoing expense issues for that as well (including large MOQ new top and bottom backing paper orders), but if Harman were successfully handed a one-time lump sum of half-a-million dollars for a one-time expense of designing and building a new 220 machine, who knows, it might fly.

    And if that smaller project successfully flew, then further down the road, who also knows??

    I'd certainly contribute my share of money.

    Ken
    "They are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they’ll still be there looking at you."

    — Diane Arbus, March 15, 1971, in response to a request for a brief statement about photographs

  9. #9
    David Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alarickc View Post
    There are 62k members on here; imagine if they all chipped in ten bucks ...

  10. #10

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    A question on R&D......

    Quote Originally Posted by David Brown View Post
    But how many are active? That's the number you need to look at, those that actively post, subtract the classified posters' numbers and that's closer to the true number, any mods have that info?


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk

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