One of the really neat things seen at the Kodak booth during the 2018 CES show in Las Vegas was a lightbox featuring customized strips of 35mm film. I was amazed when I saw this image pop up in my social media feed along with a link to help me design and print my very own customized filmstrips! I went over to the website, www.filmstripcreator.com, and began to create my own.
When starting your project the first choice you have to make is whether or not to include an audio track on your filmstrip, simply create it to be “silent”. The audio track appears along one side of the strip, just as it would appear on a motion picture print that a cinema or movie theater would screen. According to the website, the audio strip is a recording of Kodak founder George Eastman, as provided by the George Eastman Museum.
The second choice you’ll be asked to make is to determine how many frames you’d like to include in this project. The minimum number of frames you can select per filmstrip is four, up to a maximum of 12 (regardless of how many frames you choose, the minimum order is 100 filmstrips).
Once you make these two decisions, you are taken to the actual filmstrip creator.
Pictured here is the first frame of my four-strip, no-audio project:
The actual filmstrip creator interface has a minimalist design and can be slightly challenging to use. If you have experience using graphic design or photo editing programs that utilize layers, then you should not have too much difficulty in creating the layout of your filmstrip.
Be prepared: there are no templates or examples that you can customize to your preference. The only thing this creator provides you with is a completely blank slate. You can import images, change the background color of the frames and create text boxes, but that’s it.
It took me about an hour and a half to design my filmstrip. Depending on your skills in graphic design and how many pre-prepared assets you have for the project (photographs, logos, etc.), your time might be considerably shorter or longer than mine. Keep in mind when designing your filmstrip that it is what it says it is, a 35mm filmstrip. If you include lots of text, intricate designs, or photos with a lot going on inside, your intended audience might not be able to see them without the use of a lightbox, magnifying glass or projector.
Keep it simple and don’t give your viewers a headache.
The cost for the most basic project, 100 four-frame filmstrips, is 20 GBP. This price does not include any taxes or shipping. The full cost of my project, including shipping, was 27.24 GBP (living in the USA, I paid 38.17 USD).
The production time is fairly quick. Depending on where in the world you live, shipping time is variable. My filmstrips were shipped quickly but languished for a few days at customs once they entered the USA.
These are the real things: actual 35mm film strips. They are not some kind of reproduction or pseudo-film substitute. The filmstrips look really sharp. I have no doubt that if it were projected on to a screen the resulting image would also be sharp. Of course, this all depends on the quality of the graphics and photos you use in the project.
Another plus is the novelty and creativity factor. If you are a film enthusiast, using one of these custom filmstrips to identify and promote yourself is likely to make an impression.
The only truly negative experience I had with ordering these filmstrips was the extremely horrible way they were packaged and the very lazy presentation. The strips appeared in my mailbox inside of a basic padded mailer (first image below), which had arrived battered from the trials of international shipping. Using a rigid mailer or a small box (even if it increases the cost of postage) would be a much better choice to ship something as delicate as filmstrips, especially if it is going overseas.
If this wasn’t bad enough, the second image shows how the filmstrips were secured and presented.
You are looking at 100 filmstrips inside of a plastic re-sealable bag. The presentation box (flat post-printing) is also in there in case you want to assemble it, organize the filmstrips, put them in the box, close the box, and then imagine you received them in this more dignified manner. Even putting them in a small envelope would have been better than the plastic bag.
You may have noticed while looking at the filmstrip creator website, Kodak is not the manufacturer of the customized filmstrips. A London-based company named Cinema Printing Company London Ltd (CPC London) actually prints and ships this product; they license the Kodak name and logo.
With EM’s help, I was able to share my concerns with one of the Directors at CPC London and received a very friendly response back. I also gained some insights into why the filmstrips were packaged in this manner.
It should come to no surprise to anyone who purchases, sells, or otherwise ships items through the mail that shipping costs are directly based upon the destination, how fast it is supposed to arrive at the destination, envelope/parcel size, and total weight.
At the time, the padded mailer was seen as the most cost-effective, fastest and convenient way to get the filmstrips from CPC London to the hands of the person who ordered them – going from London via DHL to their German distribution center and then on to their destination.
I was assured by Chris that going forward, filmstrips would be sent out in a rigid mailer along with better organization of the filmstrips within the mailer itself. This satisfied my concerns and I’m very grateful that the folks at CPC London were responsive to my feedback and willing to make improvements where needed. Thank you.
Aside from my trouble with the packaging and presentation, I really do like this product!
It does have its limitations, but this is true with any medium. I don’t think it will ever replace the standard business card, which is far more durable and versatile in normal handling than a strip of 35mm film could ever be. If you can accept the limitations and fragility of this medium, you can express your creativity in a lot of ways.
As a film photographer, handing one of these filmstrips out is a neat way to identify and differentiate me from the crowd. To my knowledge, I don’t know of something like this being produced before and I wonder why it hasn’t. It is a niche product, but a fun one, and something that film photographers looking to promote themselves in face-to-face contact should at least consider.
Would I order this product again? I think I would. The display that Kodak had at CES shows just a handful of the possibilities that one can create. Film folks are a creative bunch and it will be interesting to see what designs people come up with.
~ Kikie Wilkins
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