Manufacturing film?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by michaelag, Nov 1, 2017.

  1. Hello, I am in a Photography class and we use Kodak's Tri-X 400 Film of black and white negative film.I was wondering how is that film manufactured? If someone is able to provide information or point me in the direction of finding that information, that would be great! Thank you!:)
  2. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    I don't mean to be harsh, but the internet is your friend.
    michaelag likes this.
  3. Slightly old, but very relevant:

    michaelag likes this.
  4. Here's a nice article on Building 38

    How Kodak makes its film in Rochester

    When Building 38 was built in the early 1990s, it was the most sophisticated film production line in the world. Everything was highly automated, and it had one purpose-to crank out as much film as possible with as much quality control and as inexpensively as they could. When they were selling consumer print film, motion picture print film, and other products by the hundreds of miles a week, they ran 6 lines 24/7.

    With film in the state it is now, they run one coating line and probably only for a single shift.

    Coating is just the first step, though. The completed coated film is spun onto master reels that are several feet wide and sometimes a mile or more long. Depending on the film and the demand for it, a master roll might sit in storage in a salt mine(constant temperature, very little cosmic radiation) for a little while before it is cut and packaged.

    BTW, as a side note, it's worth mentioning that when it comes to sheet films Kodak will cut pretty much any size you want as long as you're willing to commit to a master roll in that size. Ask them for Tri-X 320 Pro in 20x24, and if you sell a kidney or two they'll probably do it for you. Sheet film is a bit of a different animal, though, as it's coated on a polyester base(not acetate like roll films).
    michaelag likes this.
  5. "Hello, I am in a Photography class..."
    - Then ask your tutor.

    You might also want to question why film photography is being taught at all. Chemical process control has absolutely nothing to do with creating a good image.
  6. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    I think there are real benefits to learning with film. Having been revisiting film photography after a more than 10 year span of entirely digital, there are benefits in both process and outcomes. With a limited number of exposures between reloads, consideration of composition and planning the shots becomes important. Since there is no opportunity to shoot, chimp and reshoot, getting proper exposure the first time is critical. In post, there is considerably less that can be done with scanned film than to a RAW image or even a JPEG. I certainly have no plan to give up digital, but even without considering the appeal of film images, particularly monochrome, there is an attractive risk in film photography, working methodically and carefully with the chance of producing treasure or trash. One photographer I knew used disposable cameras with his students -- first day and last. Interesting way to evaluate learning and progress.
  7. The process is actually rather simple. "Plastic and goop go in one end, and camera film comes out the other end."

    For lots of useful refs, go to :
    how make photographic film - Google Search

    Good research techniques help you know where and how to look to quickly obtain useful information. The first step is often a library or Wikipedia.
  8. There's been several questions from photography students on the forum recently. I wonder if the word has gotten out that this is a good resource? Personally I think it is, but agree that there are answers to these questions readily available without having to wait for someone to post a response.
    Sandy Vongries likes this.
  9. Yes I agree with you that the internet is my friend but for class I was to: "initiate a thread on an issue that you encountered and are attempting to solve or on a topic that interests you. Use replies as a benchmark to continue your research and as a forum to engage in a dialogue about the topic with others. Report your takeaway back to the class in the form of a five-minute presentation or one-page paper on your findings. " Just thought I would give some insight on why I asked that question!
  10. Thank you so much! I am going to go and watch this now. You are a life safer. Thanks again!
  11. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    Sorry, IMO, an imposition. A pox on your instructor.
  12. Here is a link to Ferrania Film and their factory. This is a new film factory sort of. They acquired old machines and spent a great deal of time refitting and such to start up film production again. I have not shot any of the film but it is currently available. Anyway not sure if there is anything useful to your class in this link but check it out if you wish. I shoot Kodak Tri-X a great deal and hope to keep using the product all of my life. Anyway if you wanted to you can go on you-tube on Wednesdays at 12:00 noon Pacific Standard time and join in with Nico's Photography live show and ask him questions about film production or anything about film. He is a very polite and knowledgeable photographer. Good luck in your class.
  13. Hi, I figured that your interest was specific to Tri-X, and not to other general film making/coating topics. But perhaps it's not that limited, so here's a couple of resources.

    Page 4

    For general information, I had forgotten how good the (1957?) introductory book by George Eaton on photo chemistry, including a short chapter on emulsions, is. It can be read online, here. Photographic Chemistry

    Additionally, in its heyday this site had several members who had been involved in Kodak color film manufacture; I'll list some names if you're interested; you can search on their old posts. One who is current (I think) is user randrew1. Try a photonet search for "coating" by user "randrew1"
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2017
  14. Interesting idea.

    In general, one is allowed to ask homework questions in discussion groups, but one should state in advance that it is a homework question.

    In this case, you could have mentioned your instructors request from the beginning, but then again, you didn't (yet) know that.

    Have fun with your class!
  15. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    No,no no. You guys have got it all wrong. I got the real true facts from Ron Mowrey a former Kodak engineer:

  16. "I think there are real benefits to learning with film."

    - Educational theorists say otherwise.

    An important aspect of experiential learning (i.e. learning a practical skill) is getting feedback, analysing performance, devising improvement strategies and acting upon them.

    None of the above steps are improved by having to wait hours for feedback, with another, completely unrelated, process being intervened. Even more so if the intervening process requires the learning of a new skillset in itself, and carries the risk of introducing errors outside of the learner's control.

    So how does using film over digital directly improve a student's ability to pre-visualise an image? Or to translate 3 dimensional surfaces to 2 dimensional tones? To appreciate and control lighting? To know the effect of shutter time? Of aperture variation? Of focal length and distance on perspective?
    To compose an image. To 'work' the subject? To expand creative horizons? Etc.

    Getting a grainy image out of a length of film improves precisely none of those skills mentioned above that are of real importance. Whether to personal growth in, or making a successful business of, photography.

    Tutors' and students' time would be much better spent working on visual abilities rather than on outdated chemical process control. While camera operating skills are common to both film and digital, and are a given.

    On top of which, shouldn't schools and colleges be encouraging an eco-friendly and non polluting outlook?
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2017
  17. Rodeo, there is little eco friendly about digital gear either. And film and chemical process is not "outdated." A little bit of personal bias howing through on your lart.
  18. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    Based on the current sad state of higher education, the theorists are clueless.
    Sorry, Joe digital is great, but easier than film. Under average conditions, it is virtually impossible to get a bad exposure, especially if shooting RAW. Under difficult conditions, a little knowledge, trial and error while chimping (plus post if needed) will nearly always get a decent photo.
    As you must know, film does not have to be grainy, but obviously, since some try to duplicate the effect digitally, grain must have appeal.
    Though you are emphasizing it, darkroom work is simply a means to an end offering student the opportunity to control the entire photographic process. Not a lot harder than cooking an edible meal.
    In terms of pollution, every living thing pollutes to some extent, as do volcanoes, wildfires, etc. I believe that the means to control the pollution caused by photo chemicals have long existed - I can recall reading Kodak publications back in the '60's. Then, there's Dave's point as well.
    Frankly, I don't see a great deal of benefit in taking photo courses unless the student plans a career in photography, in that case, a trade school would be the smartest choice. In this day and age looking for a career in photography is a bit like apprenticing to be a buggy whip maker. Not a big market, or a lot of jobs to be had.
    Moving On likes this.
  19. Those of us who shot GAF 500 and HIgh-Speed Ektachrome necessarily had to embrace grain.

    100% crop of GAF 500 slide - minaret of Ibn Tulun mosque, Cairo
    AJG and Sandy Vongries like this.
  20. I don't see any grain there :)

    Those are some big dye clouds, though.

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