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EMULSIVE x Kodak Alaris Community Interview: Submit your questions


It’s time to introduce the third in our series of EMULSIVE Community Interviews and if the two previous interviews with ILFORD and Lomography weren’t enough for you to fill your boots, perhaps the subject of interview three will give you the satisfaction you need.

As the title says,  time, we’re bringing you the one and only Kodak Alaris.

 

Kodak…Alaris?

Yes, Kodak Alaris. Still not 100% sure who they are? Here’s a primer: he business was formed in September 2013 and is an independent organisation to the Eastman Kodak Company. Alaris was born following the acquisition of Eastman Kodak’s Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses by the UK Kodak Pension Plan.

Kodak Alaris supply and support all of Kodak’s remaining (non-motion picture) film stocks, as well as a whole raft of other photographic papers, scanners and high-end business services. Given the nature of EMULSIVE, we’re here to talk with them about everything film.

To alleviate any confusion, we’ll be using Alaris and Kodak Alaris interchangeably in this and all future articles relating to this interview. When discussing the Eastman Kodak Company, or Kodak Motion, we will be using “Eastman Kodak” and “Kodak Motion” respectively.

Questions as to what would motivate a pension plan to make such a huge move are best left to the Kodak Alaris FAQ page.

 

 

Interview timeline

As per our introductory article, this interview will be presented in three parts:

 

Part one: Call for submissions (this article)

The submission window is open for two weeks from today until midnight on Friday 14th October 2016.

This is your chance to have a think about what kind of questions you want to ask to Kodak Alaris and submit them in the comments section below. The comments section of this article is the only place we will be accepting questions.

Please keep your questions concise and limit yourself to a single question per comment. You may post two comments each. As already mentioned above, please try to stay away from asking questions already covered on the Kodak Alaris FAQ page; they’ll simply be skipped.

Only new, parent comments will be considered for entry, so please don’t add yours as a reply if you want a chance to have yours featured.

When doors close at midnight on Friday 14th October 2016, we’ll be locking the thread and our panel will be tasked with whittling down your submissions to roughly ten questions (more on the panel in a bit).

 

Part two: Handover

The submission window will close on midnight on Friday 14th October 2016, at which point the panel will come together to deliberate. A shortlist of questions and commentary will then be passed over to Alaris for review.

We’ll be working with Kodak Alaris to put together a finished article as soon as possible after the submission window closes.

 

Part three: Release

We’re expecting to have the finished interview released toward the middle of November 2016. If you posted a question that made the cut, you’ll be credited in the finished piece. There may be other things to announce here but we’ll leave that until closer to the time.

 

 

Interview structure and panel

The panel shortlist will consist of ~10 questions submitted by you, the film photography community, two questions from yours truly and one each from the panel. It’s the job of the panel to help make the final decision as to which of the questions submitted will make the cut for the final piece, as well as to discuss, review and revise the final interview before it’s released.

Why go to the trouble of selecting a panel?

We want to alleviate any concerns regarding impartiality and bias and make the process transparent. Anyone can be a panel member for future Community Interviews, all you need do is ask.

Speaking of the panel, here they are:

Ribnar @ribnar

Erik Gould @clickerik
(Read Erik’s EMULSIVE interview)

David Toman @etudeimaging
(Read David’s EMULSIVE interview)

 

 

Starting questions

The questions below form only the beginning of this Community Interview and can be added to, or expanded upon with your own. Please be careful not to repeat, or post similar questions to the ones below, as you entry will likely be discarded. Here’s what we have to start things off:

 

Ribnar:

Can you share the current state of the art in terms of R&D work being done at Kodak in film/emulsion technology? Specifically, given the resurgence of interest in film, can we expect rebirths/reformulation of classic Kodak emulsions (TechPan, Kodachrome, Kodalith…) in limited special order runs if there is enough interest? Additionally, is there a way for us to order specific formats of Kodak film directly from Kodak? e.g. I would love to get my hands on fresh stock of 5×7 T-Max 100 but I have no idea how to go about ordering something custom or if that is even possible.

Another aspect I’m interested in is my favorite format – the super 8 and the recent announcement of Kodak’s foray into the analog renaissance by launching its Kodak’s super 8 camera? Can you talk about the total cost of ownership? What is Kodak’s vision of pricing including film, dev and scan? Today competitors like Pro8mm are offering a package (film+dev+scan) for around $120 per cassette which is pretty steep for average enthusiasts wanting to get into super 8 movies. Is there a pricing “sweet spot” you guys have identified. Would love to hear your thoughts.

 

David:

Everywhere I go, when people see me shooting film they invariably respond with incredulity, asking “You can still buy film?” If they see me with Kodak film, the response is doubly disbelieving, like “Didn’t Kodak go under a few years ago?”

The widespread perception is that Kodak was dissolved due to bankruptcy and that film is no longer available – to the average person, film is dead.

How are you working to get out that awareness deficit and get people to buy and use fresh film; and what strategies do you have in mind to postpone film’s funeral for a while longer?

 

Erik:

I would love to see Alaris play “small ball” with the great range of films you now offer. Things like offering some motion film stocks such as Double-X in cassettes, or specially priced sample packs marketed to appeal to people who are curious about the buzz surrounding film. Do you have any plans along those lines?

On the support side of the business, Eastman Kodak recently announced it will reestablish film labs in India, and Kodak Motion have recently acquired iDalies. Does Alaris have plans to rebuild the lab network that seems so essential to getting folks to try film or to come back to film? As an aside, please never stop making TMax 400, it’s awesome!

 

EMULSIVE: It’s no secret that Eastman Kodak has had more than its fair share of hard times since the turn of the century but during the last three years or so, things seem to be very much on the up-and-up. It strikes me that the “Big Six Deal” was pivotal in securing breathing space for not only Eastman Kodak but also Kodak Motion, Kodak Alaris and subsidiary companies. With Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke having been quoted as saying, we are no longer reliant on those agreements [with Hollywood] to make film earlier this year, how do you see the future of Kodak Alaris as it relates to the supply of consumer film products over the next 5-10 years?

 

EMULSIVE: Kodachrome…ouch. Bad memories for some. I never shot the film myself and not as attached as some. What were the commercial realities behind the decision to retire this stock, as well as the rest of your slide film line? Do you see a future where your slide films could be reintroduced, or the technology sold/licensed to others?

Additionally, what if any product innovation is happening at Kodak with regards to new and existing film stocks? It’s widely understood that New Kodak Portra enjoys technology brought over from Kodak Motion’s VISION line but what else have you got up your sleeves?

 

 

Next steps and guidelines

Doors for your submissions are open until midnight on Friday 14th October 2016 and the only way to submit your question is in the comments section below.

1) Questions are not subject to moderation at this stage but you are asked to keep them civil and in the spirit of the community.

2) Any question deemed to be hostile or not encouraging reasonable discussion will be removed and the poster will be banned from future participation. In short, we’re all here for the same thing, so don’t be a troll.

3) Please prepend your submission with, “Question:”.

4) Submitted questions may be edited down into smaller chunks or merged with others if we feel there’s a need to do so. This being said, all questions will be submitted in their original form for Kodak Alaris to answer.

5) If two or more very similar questions are posted, we will endeavour to credit the first person who posted it.

6) If we feel that two or more questions can be combined without losing their original value, we’ll credit each submitter as required.

These guidelines are by no means exhaustive but you can be assured that we’ll keep everything as transparent as possible during the process — see the EMULSIVE x Lomography and EMULSIVE x ILFORD interviews for an example of how this finished interview might appear.

Over to you, let’s see what you’ve got.

~ EMULSIVE

 


About The Author

EMULSIVE

Self confessed film-freak and filmphotography mad-obsessive. I push, pull, shoot, boil and burn film everyday, and I want to share what I learn. It might not all be right but it's a start.

26 Comments

  1. Question for Kodak Alaris community interview:
    Hello, I have discovered film photography for the first time over the last 18 months. Kodak Ektar is my go to colour film and it’s colour rendering produces some magical tones in both overcast and golden hour light. Kodak Alaris seems to be directing a lot of its film information and documents toward professional photographers and labs – any plans to provide a more enthusiast friendly face, especially when it comes to colour film and C-41 process support (chemicals, film and developer spec sheets, etc.).

    At this stage, sourcing the full processing kit for home (C-41) is fairly tricky and this may be an opening where Kodak Alaris could fill the gap, end to end. Any plans to extend the offering to include C-41 chemicals as well?

    Regards

    Toni

    Reply
    • Thanks so much, Toni! Great question. Please keep sharing – the more questions the better.

      Reply
    • A really great point and strongly agree regarding the documentation. It’s still targeted at ‘pro’ labs etc and I have included a comment in my question regarding this. My students would have to use 3rd party support and then reference the original Kodak documentation to to make sense of the (admittedly excellent technically) Kodak Alaris information.

      Reply
    • I also think that film companies should do much more in bringing the film development to home users (developing the DIY zone). As it is today, there are too many obstacles for artists (which are not rich), art schools and enthusiasts: high price for mechanical cameras and low availability, a huge stock of broken cameras which costs a fortune to get a CLA, low availability of film, expensive chemicals, expensive everything – if there nobody takes action and try to benefit from this wave of new interest regarding film, there will be masses who will return to digital in disappointment. I do sacrifices in shooting both digital and film. metering for Minolta SRT 101 (which don’t have viable batteries for exposure meter anymore) and shooting like film with my Canon 100D. (bizitown.blogspot.ro bwlight.blogspot.ro).

      Reply
  2. I would like to thank Kodak for engaging in this community interview as it is a real sign of willingness to engage with customers and listen to our needs.

    We’ve heard there’s been real growth in Kodak film sales in the last year, which is great news for everyone involved in film photography. However in the UK over the last 9 months we have faced Kodak stock shortages: in Spring many of the big UK online retailers were out of Portra 160, 400 and Ektar 100 in 35mm; now at the end of this summer Boots, the largest UK pharmacy chain who have made a commitment to high street film sales, are out of UltraMax 400 and Gold 200 in 35mm. On both occasions these retailers’ have cited via social media that supply issues are the reason for Kodak products being out of stock.

    For many film photographers like myself, consistency in choice of film stock is important in maintaining the look of their work, so it is frustrating when supplies dry up. The film photography resurgence is still fragile and film photographers remain nervous as other big brand companies continue to cull film stocks. I have three questions that I would like to propose for the interview as follows:

    1. I would like to ask whether these supply issues have been directly related to increased demand, or has this been down to something more mundane like trade deals or other logistical challenges?

    2. If the challenge has been to meet increased demand from consumers, how are Kodak resourcing production to respond to this?

    3. What other steps might Kodak be considering to build and inspire confidence in their commitment to film production and development?

    Thanks for all the work behind the scenes at Emulsive for pulling this interview together and good luck!
    Happy shooting!

    Neil

    Reply
  3. The Pakon 135 scanner has soared in popularity the past few years. Prices went from $250 to now upwards of $650. There is definitely a cult following, but for good reason. The speed, ease, and resolution are really unbeatable. But the interface and software requirements are atrocious!
    Is there any possibility/ interest in offering a software upgrade for the scanner? The film community would LOVE Kodak for a move like that.

    Reply
    • I regret not getting into film photography in my early years, so have missed the many great slide films Kodak had produced in the past. If given the opportunity, which slide film would you resurrect (or modify) and why?

      Reply
      • @Dizzy Cow: My favorite slide film to resurrect (or whose look I’d like to see emulated by a negative stock) would be E100VS aka Elitechrome ExtraColor. Not only is it much easier to process and manufacture than legendary Kodachrome (which makes it more likely to get re-introduced one way or another), it has a really high saturation with vibrant colors and a soft contrast as smooth as cream. After all, saturation without artifacts is one of the definite advantages film still has over digital.

    • I agree, my Kodak Pakon 135+ scanner makes a huge difference to my film photography workflow. It is fast, reliable and producers superior colour images (B&W as well). I would think that a modern replacement for the Pakon would be a smart business move as it would enable people to rapidly share in a cost-effective way the wonderful images that Kodak film produces (I use Ektar, Portra, Tri-X and T-Max). My question: will Kodak Alaris please look at producing a modern Pakon replacement?

      Reply
  4. For me I see Kodak as my go to film for Colour (b&w & slide elsewhere) I love the saturated colours of Ektar & am a big fan of using Vision film also. I like Portra alot but not for nature, landscapes etc. Vision is a struggle to get developed by any lab thus would Kodak consider a line of slighly faster pro colour films (200 & 400iso) for the Ektar range as I believe this would prove popular?

    Reply
  5. Question: Kodak motion picture film is very popular among photographers, to the extent that we have bought short ends and re-cans, loaded them in cassettes and processed them in C-41 chemistry going through the very messy remjet removal ourselves. Now, we all know CineStill has been trying to bring this film with remjet removed, or “premoved” as they call it. While that is excellent, their product lines are limited (and expensive).

    ••• Can Kodak bring motion picture film to the still picture market? •••
    I see this happening in one of two ways:
    A) selling the film as is but helping with the processing (somewhat like Kodachrome) where we send the film back to Kodak or Kodak certified labs who can process it either in ECN-2 chemistry or C-41 chemistry
    B) selling the film with the anti-halation layer removed (like CineStill is doing) and then we can process it like regular C-41 (and with some luck ECN-2)

    Reply
    • This is already happening with Ektar 100. Ektar 100 is basically Vision3 with an additional emphasis upon reds, pinks, and oranges.

      Reply
  6. Question:

    Hi, I think it;s great and a very positive sign that they are engaging with the film using community. My question is ” Tri-X is regarded as one of the ‘gold standards’ of B&W emulsions. After the re-engineering in of the emulsion in 2007 no changes have been apparent. Is Kodak Alaris going to keep Tri-X in this format (due to its immense historical and cultural importance) if further emulsion developments are planned?

    A second point as a follow on from Toni; Kodak’s (when I used them professionally) documentation and research papers on its chemistry and emulsions were second to none. Is there a commitment to continue and develop this role, including documentation, “how to’s” targeted at newcomers, students etc. as well as the technical papers that you were renowned for.

    A thank you to Emulsive and the panel for this interesting development; may it be the beginning of an ongoing programme.

    Reply
  7. Question:
    For me Kodak has been synonymous of film for a very long time, when I started using my first camera several years ago. And has been a regret when I’ve heard about some film stock retirement, or economic difficulties that seemed to end in bankrupt, or simply disappearing from the market. But fortunately this is not the case and you’re still there to feed our passion with your products!
    1. As you can see, film community is very active and growing up every day. Do you have any particular marketing strategy to meet his demand and needs? I think this interview can be considered a “first” step, but what about the future?
    2. We often hear, in this community, talking about old film formats (yes, me too :D) or special formats that are not so easy to find in the market from any company. Do you have any plans to produce your current emulsions in such formats? Do you see feasible a special order form related to these (e.g. yearly) that will allow us to continue to contribute to the film hardiness?
    3. Finally, do you have any R&D plan to have again a slide color film like Ektachrome, that was my absolute favorite film in my early film age?

    Reply
  8. Does Kodak Alaris have any plans to package its Endura Premier/ Metallic papers in sheet form? As their production will be moving to a plant that does have the capability to finish products into sheets, this would be a great boon – not least as Endura is pretty much the nicest looking RA4 paper around & nothing looks like a print exposed directly from the negative. It was a big pity when Kodak stopped offering colour neg papers in sheet form – would taking the pre-order approach that is used for the odd/ ULF films be feasible? Or perhaps a once yearly order window?

    Further to this, would Alaris be able to look into the possibility of bringing a room-temperature compatible set of RA4 chemicals to the market? I think this would get more people into the art of wet printing from colour negatives & really demonstrate what the films are capable of.

    Finally, given the popularity of cross-processing tungsten balanced cinema film in C-41, does Alaris have any thoughts about possibly offering a tungsten balanced, low reciprocity error film – something like what Portra 100T & its predecessors were? Ideally I’d like to see this in sheet format, but I’m all too aware of the realities of the market for such products…

    Reply
  9. Question: Regarding SLR manual cameras, lenses have survived the bodies, most popular mounts for them being K-mount, Nikon F-mount, and M42 screw mount (M bayonet and M39 screw mount for rangefinders). Would you consider _securing_ your film production by designing an open-source mechanical and durable camera (for a mount or another – at your choice, or with interchangeable mounts)? A reflex camera with Leica II shutter would be easy to make, or a camera with a metallic shutter activated by electromagnets but provided by you or other third parties. Why open source? To ensure a high survival time, and avoiding monopoly and high prices. This is what we need, along with a small and very cheap C-41 developing automaton for home. Well, we won’t get upset if you produce a cheap cooke triplet lens.

    Reply
  10. Question:
    Can we get some cool Kodak apparel? Like sweatshirts, I need a new sweatshirt.

    Reply
  11. Any chance they could start selling bulk rolls of the colour negative film? whether it was the basic colorplus or portra/ektar, it would be useful for people who like loading their own cassettes. Also have they considered releasing an ISO 1600 (e.g. Fuji natura 1600)?

    Reply
  12. Kodak Alaris and I chat often on social media. I’m aware that they don’t manufacture film, but sell what they can get to the retail market through distributors.

    All around me I see evidence of a shrinking general retail market, but a booming enthusiast market. New films are being launched all the time and my friends who supply film and darkroom supplies to enthusiasts are expanding their businesses, while mass market manufacturers like Kodak and FujiFilm cut their product lines in a slow death spiral because production MOQs are high and the logistics network is not set up to innovate or exploit niches.

    Q1: Does Alaris’ business projection anticipate that it can meet all pension obligations under the current business model? I suspect further haircuts may be required, or the model may not be sustainable for the duration of the obligations.

    Q2: Does Alaris have the mandate to pivot its strategy? For example, to order smaller quantities of a limited run of P3200?

    Q3: Can Alaris lead a negotiation with a smaller manufacturer to licence Kodak formulas and brands?

    Q4: Has Alaris any expectation of being able to make new films or relaunch old films previously cut?

    Q5: What beloved films are headed for the chopping block and how soon can we be expected to mourn their loss?

    Q6: If any of the answers to my above questions are “We are powerless”, isn’t it time to consider renegotiating with the rest of the group to ensure Alaris has the mandate to pivot into new opportunities to ensure the needs of all internal and external stakeholders are met?

    If you can’t answer, please try once again to raise the matter internally.

    Reply
  13. I really enjoy using Kodak’s product, and ‘Kodak’ is still synonym of ‘film’.
    My question is… I know Kodak had a troubled experience with instant film, but clearly the instant market is still one of the healthiest one in the film industry. The Impossible Project, Fujifilm Instax, New55, are all selling and being profitable. Is there any possibility to see Kodak collaborating (e.g. like Leica with Instax) or creating something around Instant film again?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  14. My previous comments were on behalf of the enthusiast community. I have some comments on behalf of the high street labs:

    Film is moving off the shelves slower than ever and we are cautious of buying film that will expire unsold. Is there any hope of making C-41 process films that have a longer shelf life? Can expiry dates on existing films be replaced with a manufacturing date and a degradation guideline that results in an extended shelf life?

    We cannot source parts for many of our process machines, particularly C-41 optical printing process, which is in demand among our enthusiast clients. When a part fails, service personnel cannot even scavenge cannibalised parts from old machines and the precious equipment is dumped because storage is costly. What are your plans to continue offering new machines with in-store parts?

    We thank you for Kodak Kiosk. This is a great solution for camera phone photographers in markets with a high cost of labour. In our market, there has been zero penetration in malls and convenience stores because of the cost of training staff to service the machines. Therefore almost all Kiosk operators are print labs. However, there are major drawbacks for lab use. The printers are incapable of making anything larger than 8×10 and are more costly and slower to print than wet process. Few Kiosk customers post process on calibrated monitors, but use phones, tablets and camera displays that are desaturated and complain that Kiosk prints come out dull and lifeless. In the wet process, we punch up the image with saturation and contrast just like we would with colour print film, but this isn’t available when using Kiosk. There simply isn’t the facility to add value with our skills. Do you have any plans to offer Kiosk printers that can compete with wet process machines?

    The smaller national distributors are disappearing. This means some retailers in some countries must deal with regional distributors who may not share the same language or dialect and deliveries take longer to arrange. Will you reestablish local distributors or force regional distributors to have local logistic facilities and points of contact?

    In summary, high street labs want to know if they should continue to support film, or chuck in the towel. How are you managing to adjust to smaller economies of scale up and down your value chain, is it sustainable in the long run and how can you make sure we can continue to operate and profitably?

    Reply
  15. I have been a fan of Kodak Film for many many years, but lately it has become difficult and expensive to continue to use Kodak for my 8×10 work. I am wondering if it is possible to get 8×10 TMax 100 at all? Is TMax 100 even available in 8×10? perhaps by special order? Ilford has an annual special order window, would Kodak Alaris consider a similar special order window? Not only for 8×10 but for 5×7 as well?

    Thank you to Alaris for keeping Kodak alive. As many have said, Kodak is Film and is Photography. I am glad it is still a player in the industry and is still supporting the #BelieveInFilm community.

    Reply
  16. Oh boy, oh boy! I just read your update that the interview is delayed until 2017, so I hope I’m still in time for my two questions!

    Question #1:

    What is Kodak Color Plus 200? The box reads http://www.kodakalaris.com , but there’s no information about the stock, or anywhere else on the web, for that matter. All the Kodak sites on Facebook (they all seem to be related to Kodak USA or Kodak Professional, but not to Alaris) tell me they have nothing to do with it or have even heard of it.

    While far from being sharp or fine-grained in any way, I really like its color palette for sunny days, where it reminds me a lot of legendary Kodachrome, plus it’s one of the rare stocks that even looks good on overcast days. You guys should really do more to market the film as what it is: A negative stock reminiscent of the Kodachrome color palette. For starters, you could acknowledge its sole existence on your website.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. EMULSIVE x Kodak Alaris Community Interview: Update | EMULSIVE | Filed under: Articles, Community Interviews - […] If you’re reading this them you’ll aware that we recently asked you to submit your questions for the third…
  2. EMULSIVE x Billingham Community Interview: Submit your questions | EMULSIVE | Filed under: Articles, Community Interviews, Film Culture - […] more attentive amongst you might be wondering what happened to interview number three, which was announced in mid-October. Well,…

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