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Kodak, Hollywood talking film guarantees


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#1 Todd Anderson

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Posted 30 July 2014 - 05:49 PM

Well, here is the latest. It would be great to see at least annual guarantees on a year by year basis for motion stock. Also, crossing my fingers that everything else Kodak's has laid out in their other business plan — in regards to touchscreen sensor film and printed circuit boards — brings in the expected big volumes by 2015 to keep the motion picture stock going on the side, as mentioned. Apparently, this is a 'bridging the gap' deal with the studios until such profits from the other business are seen next year.  

 

-T

 

(see article below)

 

 

 
Kodak, Hollywood talking film guarantees
 

 

July 30, 2014

Hollywood is great at finding new life in something old, from the 007 franchise to the 200-plus times Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed on screen.

 

Now major Hollywood studios are helping extend the life of Eastman Kodak Co.'s rapidly evaporatingmotion picture film business.

 

The company confirmed Wednesday that it was in negotiations with a number of major studios to secure commitments to purchase guaranteed amounts of Kodak-made motion picture film in coming years.

 

The deals, first reported in The Wall Street Journal, could help shore up what has been a staggering decline in what long had been a big business for Kodak.

 

Kodak spokesman Christopher Veronda said Kodak will make roughly 450 million linear feet of film for producing and projecting motion pictures. That's roughly one twenty-eighth of the motion picture film the company produced in 2006.

 

Brad Kruchten, president of Kodak's graphics, entertainment and commercial film business, said the company hopes to have the agreements signed by the end of September. They likely would be one-year agreements that would be updated annually.

 

"We really want this to be a partnership with the industry," Kruchten said Wednesday. "(Studios) see real value in having film available — certainly we'd like to be able to support that."

 

And for Kodak, having such agreements in place let it better plan for the volumes it will need to make, Kruchten said.

 

Kodak's main film business rival, Fujifilm, quit making most motion picture films in March 2013, saying it would put its business focus on products and services aimed at the digital wing of motion picture production and projection.

 

Fujifilm that while it worked to cut the cost of making such films, "the dramatic decrease of demand in the last few years has become far too great a burden."

 

Traditionally, most of Kodak's motion picture film was used for projection. With theaters switching to digital projectors, "That's the one that's fallen off the fastest," Kruchten said.

 

When asked about how long Kodak's motion picture film business can exist given those declines, Kruchten said, "That's the $10,000 question."

 

The company hopes in 2015 to start seeing significant volumes from its nascent functional print business, which uses printing technology and some film equipment to turn out such products as touchscreen sensor film and printed circuit boards. Big volumes in that business area would let Kodak continue to turn out motion picture film on the side, Kruchten said. The Hollywood agreements "are bridging the gap."

 

MDANEMAN@DemocratandChronicle.com

 

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 July 2014 - 06:05 PM

People on the internet keep asking "why can't Kodak produce the stocks more cheaply?" forgetting that cost reductions are limited by two factors -- one is decreasing sales volume so you can't benefit from economies of scale, and the other is that it is made of SILVER.


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#3 Todd Anderson

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Posted 30 July 2014 - 06:47 PM

Exactly, Silver.

 

Not to mention the last time Kodak re-tooled their plant in Rochester it was during the heyday of film sales and not set up for a niche market. So, everything is geared for a certain amount of volume, no doubt. Let’s hope that Film Ferrania comes in and fills the gap in the case that Kodak’s plan falls through (at least for the indie scene), seeing how that team in Italy is well aware that they are trying to produce for a niche market (kind of like Ilforrd for still photography or the Impossible project for instant film) and are setting up their operation in that manner.

 

Of course, I'm hoping that the studio heads still see value in film. Perhaps, at least to the point that it may be a unique product to have in their arsenal to differentiate itself from all these other mediums they compete with everyday. Maybe one day that will make more sense to them. Just like the introduction of wide-screen in the 1950's was set up to differentiate from what was going on in the home with the TV set. I know they thought 3-D was going to be that this time around. But perhaps it may turn out to be good old film. The medium with its unique dreamy characteristics and imperfections that makes it a little easier to separate yourself from reality, suspend disbelief and float into a story on a screen in a darkened room (my own opinion, of course).

 

Either way, it doesn’t look all doom and gloom. There is a great chance that Kodak can pull off the sales with their other technologies and vertical markets. And I’m sure that it is well worth it from a Branding and Public Relations standpoint for Kodak to keep producing that “Hollywood” motion picture stock even if it is a break even or slight loss leader. Of course, this is only if the other businesses produced big volumes to the point that they would take that hit.

 

-T


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#4 Todd Anderson

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Posted 30 July 2014 - 07:03 PM

The article mentioned they want to produce 450 million feet of film (I assume per year, or in a batch that would last a few years, perhaps?).

 

450 feet of 4-perf 35mm = 5 minutes

5 minutes x 1,000,000 = 5,000,000 minutes

Divided by 60 minutes = 83,000 hours of film

 

I guess if we throw in an average shooting ratio, we could see how many films would be able to be produced with this amount of footage (discounting the mention that some of that 450 million feet would be allocated for film prints).

 

Of course, in my slightly twisted dream, I wish the demand was such that their was a shortage of film. And just as being a small child in the 1970’s in the states, with the gas shortage, you would have to drive up to the Kodak offices with either an even or odd vehcial liscense plate number to get your ration of film for the day. But of course that s not quite the case, as the last time I drove to get some film at the Kodak offices in Hollywood, I was a bit shocked it was now a small little will call office down the alley and not the big building! But I'm thankful you can at least buy Kodak film stock in person in Los Angeles and other cities. No complaints there.

 

Is my math correct above?

 

-T


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#5 John E Clark

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Posted 30 July 2014 - 08:55 PM

My epiphany on Film film came on 2 events... the Hunt brothers attempt to corner the Silver market, driving up 'film' prices, and working in image processing, and even at 640x480 resolutions, realizing that by 4x, 8x, resolution, most 'film' projects could be satisfied.

 

It took about 30 years for the resolutions to be up, the price of equipment down, but it eventually came to pass.


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#6 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 30 July 2014 - 11:35 PM

As long as they keep making it, I'll keep shooting it.


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#7 Doug Palmer

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 05:10 AM

As long as they keep making it, I'll keep shooting it.

Hear Hear !  :)


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#8 Heikki Repo

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 09:00 AM

Me too. Though I have to say, it would be great to have a webstore for ordering fresh Kodak 16mm film in Europe. At the moment I think there are none. Frame24 comes closest, but they sell only "second hand" Kodak film. If one wants to support Kodak directly by (impulse) buying fresh film, only super-8 is available.


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#9 Anthony Schilling

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 11:53 AM

 

Abrams said: "If film were to go away — and digital is challenging it — then the standard for the highest, best quality would go away."

The general consensus by Kodak and Hollywood is that film is important and must continue. It reminds me of how still film was sectioned off and then found a partnership with Lomography to help ensure the manufacturing. It's a necessary transition for something that was once a world dominant modality to a smaller but very important market.


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#10 Todd Anderson

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 12:05 PM

There is no question it is a very important niche market. The only downside is that Kodak's plant was never set up for a niche market. Though, they have mentioned they are looking forward with ways that could potentially work for the smaller market, as in, not unlike Kickstarter, a large group of people would pre-purchase a particular film stock and then when enough orders were met, they would make that batch of film to meet those orders. Perhaps it will come to that. The other hope is that if and when it gets to a point that Kodak and their stock holders no longer want to keep the Rochester plant going, that perhaps they would sell the science and patents to their film stocks and a smaller company could eventually tool up a smaller factory for that niche market (not unlike what Film Ferrania is trying to accomplish).

 

- T


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#11 Nicholas Kovats

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 12:17 PM

Best of luck to the Digital Illuminati in prying film stock and motion picture cameras from my hands! 


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#12 Todd Anderson

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 12:23 PM

Here is some other new information coming from Hollywood that is at least optimistic:

 

Tarantino, Nolan, Apatow, Abrams and Studios Team Up to Save Celluloid

 

July 30, 2014,

 

Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke confirmed today that his company will continue production of film stock. The announcement comes after such prominent directors as Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Judd Apatow, and J.J. Abrams campaigned heavily to get the major studios to continue using film stock. 

According to The Wall Street Journal, an agreement is being finalized which guarantees that the Hollywood studios (currently Disney, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Universal, The Weinstein Company) will purchase from Kodak a certain amount of film stock over the next few years. This will allow Kodak to continue operating its plant in Rochester, N.Y.

Bob Weinstein, co-chairman of Weinstein Co., commented: "It's a financial commitment, no doubt about it. But I don't think we could look some of our filmmakers in the eyes if we didn't do it."

Warner Brothers CEO Kevin Tsujihara added: "In an industry where we very rarely have unanimity, everyone has rallied around keeping film as an option for the foreseeable future". 

Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke also commented: "The unprecedented decline in the use of film in the entertainment industry created an enormous amount of uncertainty. We had to build a coalition among all the parties in order to reach a solution."


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#13 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 02:15 PM

Me too. Though I have to say, it would be great to have a webstore for ordering fresh Kodak 16mm film in Europe. At the moment I think there are none. Frame24 comes closest, but they sell only "second hand" Kodak film. If one wants to support Kodak directly by (impulse) buying fresh film, only super-8 is available.

 

Totally agree with you here.  I believe online ordering would greatly increase their sales simply due to the ease of the process.  I live in New York City about an hour away from their Manhattan office and even that can be a hassle.  I've been trying to set up an account with them so that all I have to do is give them a call when I need to order film.  I e-mailed and called the person I was told to contact and she never got back to me.  Told the people in the Manhattan office this, too.

 

This has always been Kodak's problem down through the ages.  Whenever they have had an opportunity to get ahead of things, they have never taken advantage of it, hence the current state of the company.  It's always their way or the highway.  And they are still doing it.


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#14 Anthony Schilling

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 04:50 PM

They did have online ordering for a brief time just a few years ago. I may recall that there were high minimums or some kind of costumer turn off? does anyone remember? it was about 2-3 years ago.

 

I agree that if Ferrania and Kodak Alaris/Lomography can tool for a nitch market, so can Kodak MP. Obviously Hollywood is a much bigger nitch than the markets in which those companies serve. It has more to do with Kodak not wanting to downsize tooling because on the inside they just want out of the MP business all together. I was actually told that by reps back in 2005. However they need it for the brand while they make the transition. With all of this support, maybe this is a triage transition for MP film until they can turf it to a new smaller company?


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#15 Heikki Repo

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 05:04 PM

They did have online ordering for a brief time just a few years ago. I may recall that there were high minimums or some kind of costumer turn off? does anyone remember? it was about 2-3 years ago.

 

It was only for US customers and as far as I remember, while the online shop was on the Kodak website, it was in reality not Kodak's but some other company's.


Edited by Heikki Repo, 31 July 2014 - 05:04 PM.

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#16 Todd Anderson

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 05:15 PM

Well. from the way I understand it, while Kodak sold off their still photography portion of the company to get out of bankruptcy (by essentially giving that company to the entities they owed pension funds to), they are still manufacturing the still photography stock in their plant in Rochester for Kodak Alaris. And so I think they held onto the Motion Picture portion for one or two reasons. One, they were maybe not to keen yet on giving away patents, science and technology to Kodak Alaris at this point, let alone letting them actually try to make the product with the quality control they are know for. And secondly, I think they realize that from a brand perspective, the "Hollywood" and historical image of Kodak attached to the Motion Picture industry (especially in Hollywood), is too much of a golden brand image component to let go of. It likely adds a massive allure to their other existing brands and products, which are obviously not very exciting. I mean, when you get a printed brochure from Kodak about their printed circuit board business, there is no doubt the opening paragraphs likely starts off with the Kodak legacy, history and their gold standard product for Hollywood.

 

As to this talk of they were thinking about shutting down the Rochester plant until this recent Hollywood studio deal, I have no idea how that would have effected Kodak Alaris and the still photography product. I would imagine it is all interrelated. And perhaps when they let go of the still photography portion of the company to Kodak Alaris, perhaps their is a clause in the contract that states if the Motion Picture portion of the company were to no longer turn a profit, then perhaps Kodak is no longer obligated to supply stock to Kodak Alaris. And maybe that is when this talk of tooling for a smaller niche market would come into play, or perhaps that would be the end of Kodak Alaris and the still photography side for that moment in time. It would be interesting to know how it is all tied together.

 

- T


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#17 Anthony Schilling

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 07:23 PM

And secondly, I think they realize that from a brand perspective, the "Hollywood" and historical image of Kodak attached to the Motion Picture industry (especially in Hollywood), is too much of a golden brand image component to let go of. It likely adds a massive allure to their other existing brands and products, which are obviously not very exciting. I mean, when you get a printed brochure from Kodak about their printed circuit board business, there is no doubt the opening paragraphs likely starts off with the Kodak legacy, history and their gold standard product for Hollywood.

Exactly. Hopefully their tablet film idea will supplement the equipment churning out film for a while, but the "hey we're the folks that make a sheet inside your phone screen that you don't know about people" is not as flashy or reputable as the traditional iconic brand.


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#18 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 01 August 2014 - 08:24 PM

Far more important than straight negative for capture, I'm more worried about archival stock for actually futureproofing digital pictures.

Long-term digital archiving is a far more pressing concern, and film still seems the best bet by far for that.
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#19 John E Clark

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 01:21 AM

Far more important than straight negative for capture, I'm more worried about archival stock for actually futureproofing digital pictures.

Long-term digital archiving is a far more pressing concern, and film still seems the best bet by far for that.

 

Well, 'color' film is not all that good, since what is left after processing is a dye and can fade, as demonstrated by many family albums. Of course a big time studio may pay for better storage conditions... unless they fall on hard times, then who knows what may happen.

 

But in terms of long term archival photographic processes, color separation negatives are the 'best', and I don't know that any films get that sort of treatment ever. (3-stripe Technicolor was a BW negative process, so it 'naturally' was an archival color separation process.)

 

Here's a note on the Technicolor wiki

---

Very few of the original camera negatives of movies made in Technicolor Process 2 or 3 survive. In the late 1940s, most were discarded from storage at Technicolor in a space-clearing move, after the studios declined to reclaim the materials. Original Technicolor prints that survived into the 1950s were often used to make black-and-white prints for television and simply discarded thereafter. This explains why so many early color films exist today solely in black and white.

---

(So, these film didn't survive  more than 20-30 years after their being made...)

 

Most of the 'restored' films coming out have had a lot of DSP work done to recover the negs, if the negs are available. For some the negs, or some shots are 'lost', and have to be replaced with whatever is available.

 

In the case of "Metropolis"(1929), a 'most likely illegal 16mm copy' was found in Argentina, and along with other prings in such places as New Zealand, the current restoration is believed to be 90-95% of the original 'cut' that was shown at its premiere.


Edited by jeclark2006, 02 August 2014 - 01:23 AM.

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#20 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 02:00 AM

But isn't that the point? That even with degradation some things can be salvaged. With digital ones and zeroes - if something goes wrong, the results are far more catastrophic.
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