I’ve seen the future of film... and it is bright. In the next few weeks I will be interviewing companies that are pushing the film photography industry forward. As the large film companies cut film stocks from production, these people are pushing forward. Developing new films, cameras, products, and services. This week, I start with CineStill.
These young start-up companies are developing new films, cameras, products, and services as large film manufacturers cut film stocks from production. The indie spirit to push forward is much needed in an industry that has been somewhat stagnant for the past decade. (Above Photo:Sandy Phimester.)
For the past few years, CineStill has been reverse engineering motion picture film to be usable with 35mm still cameras and C-41 processing. Cinema is the bleeding edge of film stock technology and they are bringing these products over to the still photography world. The CineStill 800T can be exposed across a huge range of exposure. It can be shot between ISO 200 and ISO 1250 without sacrificing highlight or shadow detail while maintaining refined film grain and consistent color rendition. All without the need to push while processing. It is also balanced for tungsten white balance, giving it a unique advantage for the typical low light indoor light setting.
Now, anyone can use film in the same lighting situations as new blockbuster movies and TV shows such as Inception, Argo, Lincoln, all of the Batman movies, Django Unchained, Man of Steel, Les Misérables, The Master, the new Star Trek films, the forthcoming Star Wars films, all Wes Anderson's films, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Boardwalk Empire, Castle, True Blood, American Horror Story, 30 Rock, and the list goes on and on and on. No more switching to high ISO digital or on camera flash in tungsten lit environments, because CineStill 800Tungsten Xpro C-41 is now available to still photographers worldwide!
Medium Format CineStill
They have been offering 800Tungsten film in 35mm for the past few years and just launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring it to 120 format. This stock is incredible in medium format, the larger format gives better color and contrast across the image along with less noticeable film grain. Allowing photographers to shoot well after dark and in difficult lighting situations.
Question and answer time with Brian M. Wright of CineStill:
Q. What type of photographer is buying your motion picture film? Pretty much all types of photographers are using CineStill 800T, from analog enthusiasts and artists processing their own film in Tetenal kits, to professionals shooting paid work and using pro labs. This film us huge for weddings but also is really unique in that it may be used in the studio with hot lights or on location for varied cinematic looks. All in all it is very flexible film stock that people are using in a variety creative ways.
Q. I've noticed an explosion of new film labs around the world, does this mean there is a lot more film being shot than 5+ years ago.. or are people just taking the processing/scanning more seriously? I think it is both. There is a growing renaissance of photographers rediscovering film and incorporating a digital workflow with analog technology. I can tell you that I have heard from major film manufactures and labs that there has been a consistent growth of 5-15% every year for the past 5 years. This growth includes die hard film shooters shooting more film and incorporating high end scanning into their workflow, as well as many photographers who were born into the digital revolution and are discovering the wonders of analog technology anew. All of this translates to a new wave of creativity in photography.
Q. Kodak and Fuji have been discontinuing film stocks at what seems a rapid rate, do you think this trend will move photographers to rely more on independent producers such as yourselves? I think that both those companies are adjusting to the market in the only way they could. The technical limitations and economy of volume when spreading emulsion and finishing roll film are what they are because these products were designed to be household items made in large scale factories. These technologies were developed when machinery needed to be engineered to produce miles of film at a time, and to continue running round the clock. Now, production runs of these emulsions are set up less frequently (just starting up a machine to spread emulsion creates waste) and distributed to a worldwide niche in much smaller volume, and there is a likelihood that they will sit in a shop or warehouse longer than their shelf life. This means that having 4 types of film that do the same thing results 4 times the waste. Though demand is now growing, they need to reduce waste to maintain availability and accessibility of quality materials. Part of that is cutting products that aren't efficient, and the other part is actively engaging the analog community and collaborating. The latter is what we are seeing from the smaller companies that are able to now release new materials in lower volume efficiently. The shape of the industry is changing, and the problem is now finding space and use for the existing large-scale engineering. I wouldn't say it's a rapid rate of discontinuation, but I would call it an equalization that is reaching equilibrium. The future is taking shape and it will be a diverse landscape of film products and more collaborating companies.
Q. Whats next for CineStill? We just launched a Kickstarter for new medium format film. Our first will be our CineStill 800T in 120! We are truly excited for this and confident in the support of the film shooting community. This will be a huge step in the right direction for supporting the film industry as a whole (still and motion), and will enable us to do far more much sooner. You can check it out here. Our goal is to do more than just a small release but rather, to produce a line of new materials for photographers that they can count on for years to come. We also have plans for a variety of other new products and are continuing to expand our existing production of successful products as well.
Q. Where do you see the film industry in 5 years? 10? I see the industry continuing to grow and adapt. In 5 years I suspect we will see even more analog options, and passionate supporters. I believe we are entering a post-digital world where tactile things will be more appreciated and even aided by digital tools. Digital is no longer the latest and greatest. It just is. And analog mediums are now seen by many as new different options. In 10 years, who knows. Maybe technology will make these options even more accessible and result in even higher in quality than we already have. Development of analog technology may have been put in slow motion for the last decade, but it is far from its potential. Film is a relatively young technology really when compared to its potential.
Q. If you could have one roll of film, one camera, and shoot one subject.. what would it be? That is tough... There is no way. There are way too many films, cameras and subjects. :-) I'd probably want the longest roll imaginable in the most modular camera, and a very interesting and patient subject. If you pressed me to make a reasonable choice I'd go with William Dafoe, Rollei SL66 and CineStill 800T in 120!