Monday, September 5, 2016

New55 4X5 COLOR Kickstarter Can Include Work Toward Packfilms

Robert J. Crowley "Bob", medical
device inventor, industrialist, and
originator of New55 FILM
New!  We are on Kickstarter NOW to advance this last chance to save packfilms. Please support this effort. Your support is more than a purchase - it is truly a vote for the future of photography. Here is the link.  LINK

Today, New55 hand assembles everything. Pre-made sleeves are designed for hand assembly, not machine assembly. Our assemblers do a wonderful job but the work is slow, expensive and imprecise.

We started with no machinery at all. The addition of "The Thing" a coating rig made of plywood and hair dryers, and medical pumps and controls, was a huge step forward, but it is not enough.

Larger scale means better consistency and manufacturing economics. The cost of tooling, machinery, automation and improved coatings are rolled into the potential for a sustainable and growable small industry with ever improving quality and product offerings.

Black and white is good but many people only shoot color film. Our early hand made color film examples were a test of demand, and were built using old materials that were provided by our friends at 20x24.

Meanwhile, Fuji left the scene, at least as far as peelapart films. Their system represented a high point in industrial development but they decided to close it down when demand for passport pictures declined. The loss of packfilm represents another empty space for innovation, if we are bold enough.

Crowd funding has evolved into a merchandizing tool, mainly, but also a place to share risk among those who believe in coming together to make something happen. We have done the latter and today have proof-of-principle that complex technical and industrial projects can be crowd-funded, if there is the will.

Photography itself is redefining itself. To many, the so-called "alternative photography" term is synonymous with "real photography" meaning projecting light onto a chemical surface that you can see with your own eyes, and producing a photographic "thing". Our digis and phone devices are fantastic, and they have shown us that video (still, moving) is a better way to communicate. We use these tools as communications devices first, and sometimes as fine art. The interest in large format cameras is increasing at an impressive rate. The view of the ground glass and what it does to our perceptions is important and satisfying.

New55 exists because we believe all this and you did too. Though the expense has been very high it seems that many people do understand that technical and industrial progress occurs in stages in part funded by early sales, with the implication that continuous improvement will occur. We hope we have shown some signs of that philosophy in action with the introduction of new coatings, but there is much more to do.

I've gone on record that about $15M are needed to build the factory for peelapart films, including packfilm. Nobody is suggesting we attempt a $15M Kickstarter even though I am sure there will be even bigger crowd funding in the future in other fields, such as movie production. But the fact is we all crowd fund when we pay our monthly Verizon fees, or go to the food store. The difference is that deep pockets have placed products for us to consume. New55 is completely different in that regard, as instead we made products to demand.

The Color film exercise we just did was important and seems to point to how we can introduce peelapart color first in 4x5 and then in other formats large and small. A successful Kickstarter will establish the "sheet goods" requirement and sophisticated coating chemistry that has not been made before with earth-friendly materials. Many of the old chemicals cannot be used, and like The Impossible Project we will depend on new and less hazardous ones, if we can make the new system work well. This crucial step must occur if we are to progress. The effort will benefit black and white, too, with increased economies-of-scale in the factory, and broader, more effective quality improvements. New55's first Kickstarter was easy to understand, as it could be reduced (inaccurately) to bringing back, or resurrecting something that had gone. This is different: We need to find a way to pay for the factory. Pre-orders alone won't do that.

So we are at the moment of truth: Shall New55 continue and grow and if so, how? Together we have proven there is interest. Film use is up over previous years. New film cameras are still being made, and photography itself is bifurcating with one arm in analog. We know what is needed and can design and build the tools and factory to do it and have done so in a small way. From a purely business perspective we could make the case that it is a good investment, but we can't do that ourselves.

How do we communicate and get support for what is almost purely an industrial effort? Over the next week we will decide if we should announce a new Kickstarter effort to raise $500,000, or 20% more than the last time, to introduce color 4X5 and pave the way for other formats, such as packfilms. 

Bob Crowley


mark henriksen said...

The new Lomo camera Kickstarter has surpassed $400,000. I don't think $500K is unrealistic given the increasing interest in analog photography. By the way, you should make this post available on the blog section of the new55 website to reach more people.

The Salaryman said...

Bob this is a valiant effort. One assumes colour 4x5 is easier and faster to bring to market than a pack film equivalent of fp3000b, which presumably has a larger market? And I must plea - please put commercial pragmatism and product cost before any Eco jive. Our planet needs love but a niche products chemical choices will not have any impact other than on some spiritual level. We need pack film good and inexpensive enough to shoot, We will not get Fuji passport prices again but the higher the cost the lower the likely market interest. You are a genius, you know what you are doing but in the spirit of the motto of the old MiG bureau, don't let the best be the enemy of the good. Godspeed.

Bob Crowley said...

It's much cheaper to be green. Permits, disposal fees and regulations on toxic and VOC materials add up to extreme costs.

Old lines like Fujifilm are stuck with their legacy materials and have to shut down to clear it all out, which they must do or face fines.

We have none of those problems, because we have a clean slate and select greener materials, from the start. Eco jive? no. Good business practice.

Bottom line: Saves money.

The Salaryman said...

You got me there, Bob. My first hand industrial experience is rather limited so I did not understand the reality. Thanks for setting it straight - saving money and doing right is a winning combo,

Luis Rubim (aka Dr. Uberfunk) said...

Please do come up with a FP100 replacement. My Polaroid Land cameras are screaming to be used with their native format.

Robert England said...

At least with a peel-apart film you won't have to worry about an opacifier layer to protect the film during development. That is the worst part of Impossible Project films; having to stick the photo someplace dark while it develops. Integral instant film was meant to be held in the hand and watched!

Jimmy said...

You still have opacification issues, if you want to save the neg. It's going to solarize if you don't immediately fix it, right?

And what about this: "Old lines like Fujifilm are stuck with their legacy materials and have to shut down to clear it all out, which they must do or face fines."

Really? You have insight into Fuji's reasons for shutting down FP100c line? Doubtful. Plus you just said elsewhere it was due to market demand for passport photos going away. So which is it? The answer is you have no idea, nor does anyone.

We should all be so lucky to be "stuck with" Fuji's "legacy materials" for as long as possible, it was easily the high-water point of instant film, and the best that we'll see in our lifetimes.

Bob Crowley said...

We do not have an opacification layer in our products. You might be confusing us with TIP. Companies like Fujifilm have problems with chemicals that were alright to use ten or twenty years ago but now are more costly, harder to get, and sometimes not permitted. In Europe especially the lack of an MSDS was enough to prevent Fuji FFP-100C from distribution. Yes I have direct knowledge and this also applies to other legacy makers.

It all comes down to cost, of course. The hassle of using exotic or toxic materials is sometimes worth it, if the money is there. The decline of passport photo cameras that use instant film cut consumption severely. Both Polaroid and Fujifilm sold far more peelapart films for industrial and business use than for consumers who had been long switched over to integral.

The quality of Fujifilm FP series peelaparts was higher in some cases than that of Polaroid. In particular, FP-100C had a very high dmax and balanced in tungsten, daylight, and fluorescent lighting, and also reduced "red face" syndrome. I assume you know about all that.

Other people are angry too about the state of films, often about high prices. The days of a one dollar burger are gone too, but we can sometimes treat ourselves, if the kitchen is still open.

Jack said...

I certainly hope this gets off the ground. I would love to do my part in support, but I just can't afford 75 bucks for 5 exposures. I am new to large format photography and my interest in instant film is an economical one. As in the pre digital days, I want instant film for a test shot before I expose my sheet film.
Of course I decided to take up large format shortly after Fuji pulled out of instant. That's okay, I bought a Beta Max too.
Best of luck and I truly hope to be a loyal customer one day.

Aaron said...

I know I'm late to the conversation, but I'm all for this. I'm very new to the large format, but I know I'd use it. And especially new peel-pack for my old Polaroid Automatic 340!

Lost Americana said...

As cool as it would be to make this product in the US I think if it's going to be anything more than a novelty it's needs to be affordable. I shoot 4x5 slide (E6) a lot. At $10 a shutter click (price of film plus developing) I don't see how instant will kick off again unless it can beat the price by half. Other words photographers like me are going to buy like 1 or 2 packs once and then stick with neg & slide film.

You should really be looking into manufacturing with a company that is already doing similar stuff so they can just add one more machine onto their production lines. Start talking to Venture capitalist guys who do business in China. It can't hurt.

Bob Crowley said...

Would you shoot a 4x5 instant negative film? How much would you pay for that? Let me ask it another way: How much does that currently cost you?