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November 15th, 2013

Head of Kodak Alaris Tells Lomographers: Film Lives

In a move to reassure a large base of film buyers, Kodak Alaris President of Personalized Imaging Dennis Olbrich issued an open letter to members of the Lomographic Society yesterday. Olbrich told the international group of analogue camera enthusiasts that the Eastman Kodak spinoff is “as committed to preserving your Kodak Moments as we ever were!”

Kodak Alaris, Olbrich wrote, will continue to manufacture film and photographic paper and development chemicals, and will also continue to offer their instant printing kiosks.

Read the full letter on the Lomography site.

May 1st, 2013

Rep Confirms Business as Usual For Kodak’s Film Division After Spinoff

Kodak’s transfer of its Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses—including its photographic film division—to the UK Kodak Pension Plan (KPP) will not affect the production or distribution of photographic film, according to Audrey Jonckheer, Global Communications Director for Kodak’s Personalized Imaging business.

Jonckheer says the Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses are gearing up for what they hope will be a smooth transition. “This whole plan was put together so there would not be any changes in product, services or delivery to our customer base…. All of the manufacturing sites will continue to operate as normal.”

On Monday Eastman Kodak Company announced that it would turn its Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses over to KPP in order to settle $2.8 billion in claims KPP made against Kodak in bankruptcy proceedings. Kodak agreed to transfer the businesses to KPP for cash and non-cash consideration of $650 million. If the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and the UK Pensions Regulator approve the settlement, it will help pave the way for Kodak to emerge from Chapter 11.

The proposed deal has encouraged optimism, Jonckheer says. Today the KPP chairman, Steven Ross, was in Rochester, where Kodak is based, speaking with Kodak employees and local reporters. According to Jonckheer, “He exuded confidence in the growth prospects for the businesses,” and said that with the proper investment, which Kodak hasn’t been able to make due to their Chapter 11 status, the businesses could grow.

“That’s the part that’s exciting to us, because we are profitable,” Jonckheer says. “The future is looking bright.”

In the immediate aftermath of the announcement the majority of social media chatter was about the future of Kodak film, says Jonckheer. “From a social media perspective, from the immediate media coverage that we saw, it was primarily film. Film was in the headlines,” she told PDN. “No matter what this company does, the reaction is always, ‘How is this going to affect film?’”

“We have been asked that, and we have said what we’ve been saying all along, which is that the lifecycle of film depends on the demand for it, and as long as there is profitable demand there will be film.”

Related: Kodak Turns Over Film Division to Its UK Pension Plan

April 29th, 2013

Kodak Turns Over Film Division to Its UK Pension Plan

Today Eastman Kodak Company announced the transfer of its Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses to the UK-based Kodak Pension Plan (KPP), its largest creditor. The deal includes Kodak’s Film Capture and Paper & Output Systems divisions, among others, and will see KPP take over responsibility for the operation of Kodak’s film business.

Kodak is giving the businesses over to KPP, the pension plan for its U.K. retirees, in order to settle $2.8 billion in claims KPP made against Kodak in bankruptcy proceedings. Kodak agreed to transfer the businesses to KPP for cash and non-cash consideration of $650 million. If the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and the UK Pensions Regulator approve the settlement, it will help pave the way for Kodak to emerge from Chapter 11. Kodak plans to focus on its Commercial Imaging business.

In a statement, Kodak Chairman and CEO Antonio M. Perez said the settlement helped Kodak clear “several key hurdles in our reorganization…. placing our Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses with a new owner that recognizes their value and is focused on their growth and success, and providing the remaining liquidity we require to emerge from Chapter 11.”

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, KPP plans to hire new executives to run the Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses so they can generate cash flow for the pension plan, rather than finding a buyer for the businesses.

“The businesses that we are acquiring will deliver long-term cash flows to support the plan’s obligations,” said KPP chairman Steven Ross in a statement. “The financial stability that KPP will provide for the Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses will be beneficial to those businesses’ employees, customers and partners.”

April 11th, 2013

New Movie Explores Life and Work of Tim Hetherington Through His Family and Friends

There’s a long moment of dread near the beginning of Sebastian Junger’s new film about the life and death of Tim Hetherington. A video camera pans around a car full of journalists covering the uprising in Libya in April 2011. Hetherington and Chris Hondros are among them. As the car sets off through war-ravaged streets, Hetherington can be overheard asking, “Which way is the front line from here?”

That scene foreshadows the tragic ending of the film. Hetherington and Hondros died that day in Misrata when the rebels they were with came under mortar attack. Junger unspools those final moments with a deliberate and dramatic recounting by other photographers who were at the scene.

The film–Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington–will have its broadcast premiere on April 18 on HBO, which funded the production. The film is both biography and homage, depicting Hetherington as an exceptional photographer and humanitarian, as well as as a warm, funny, generous man. It is also rich with insight about what really matters in photography, and more importantly, life, though the lessons came for Junger–and viewers–at a high cost.

A master story teller to start with, journalist and director Junger could not have had a more sympathetic subject.  He also had an unusually rich trove of material to work with: interviews–many of them quite raw emotionally– with so many people who were close to Hetherington, his remarkable photography archive, and plenty of existing video footage.

Much of that was behind-the-scenes footage from Restrepo, the Oscar-winning documentary about a platoon of American soldiers in Afghanistan that Junger and Hetherington made together. But Junger also had plenty of other footage to draw from, most notably that of Hetherington covering the war in Liberia during the 1990s. It was shot by James Brabazon, whom Hetherington worked with at the time.

Junger, an adventure writer and best-selling author of The Perfect Storm, is fascinated by the courage of men who risk their lives with adrenaline-infused feats of derring-do. And Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? is, on one level, a celebration of courage. War is risky. It’s dramatic, and it pulls in audiences. (And Junger explains in the film that he took Hetherington on to help shoot Restrepo partly because of the courage Hetherington had demonstrated in Liberia.)

But Junger is interested in courage in the service of  some higher purpose, and Hetherington certainly had that.  From the start of his career he was interested in the physical and psychological toll that war takes on individual people. Moreover, he always went in search of hope, not just suffering.

As photojournalist Chris Anderson and others interviewed in the film point out, Hetherington’s work was not primarily about war, but about human nature.

Hetherington says in one of the film’s clips that moral outrage motivated him but wasn’t a useful tool to get people to engage with the stories he told. “I think we need to build bridges to people,” he said. Within Junger’s film is a tutorial on how Hetherington went about it.

In one clip he says he doesn’t care about photography “per se;” for him it was a means to an end, which was to connect with people. That informed his approach, too.  Hetherington shot medium format in order to get the camera away from his face, so he could engage directly with his subjects. Those interviewed for the film–including his parents, colleagues, and friends–talk about Hetherington’s warmth and humor toward everyone he met.

And Junger shows it, with numerous clips of Hetherington interacting with all types kinds of subjects, from children to warriors.

Much of Hetherington’s work is about what happens to soldiers who fall under the spell of war. Restrepo, for instance, explores the bonding and self-sacrifice of soldiers in close quarters, trying to help one another survive. One of Hetherington’s central questions, Brabazon points out in the film, is: How do young men see themselves in war, and why? The question infused Hetherington’s work from Liberia to Afghanistan.

Junger’s film suggests that Hetherington ultimately fell under the spell of war himself, and that was his undoing. By various accounts, he was ready by 2010 to quit photographing in and around war. He’d had close calls in Afghanistan. He also feared ending up alone, without a wife and family, if he kept running off to cover stories in conflict zones.

But Hetherington was having difficulty flipping between the realities of his personal life and his work life. And Junger points out that winning the Oscar award for Restrepo was both intoxicating and alarming for Hetherington, presumably because it so strongly affirmed the career path he was trying to escape.

When Libya exploded, Hetherington saw photojournalists–his own band of brothers–running to cover the action. He couldn’t resist the urge to join them. His father, who is interviewed extensively in the film, warned him not to go. So did Chris Anderson, who says in the film that he told Hetherington:  “This is not your story right now.” And it wasn’t. The point of Hetherington’s work had never been to document fighting.

Junger’s new film portrays Hetherington as a a rare talent and inspiration, but in so doing it also raises despair, and an imprecation: If only Hetherington had glanced at Libya, and heeded the internal voice that was telling him it was time to leave conflict journalism behind…

Related:
Tim Hetherington Killed in Libya
Chris Hondros Dies in Libya

March 20th, 2013

National Geographic Celebrates 125 Years with Vintage-Photo Blog

national-geographic-found-tumblr

As part of the celebration of their 125th year, National Geographic recently launched a Tumblr blog that unearths “lost” photographs from the Yellow Monster’s image archive, which is said to include more the 10.5 million images.

Called “Found,” the vintage-photography blog was quietly introduced a couple of weeks ago, and has built an audience rather quickly. As of last week, Found had more than 13,000 followers, according to National Geographic Digital Creative Director Jody Sugrue. Several of the images have been “liked” or shared hundreds—even thousands—of times.

“The response has been incredible,” Sugrue told PDN. “It’s been overwhelming, and I think its encouraging us to tell more stories like this, in this way.” Through Tumblr, “we have access to a community that National Geographic doesn’t normally tap into, which we’re excited about,” Sugrue says. (more…)

December 18th, 2012

Ilford Fortifies B&W Film Business With Investment In Cassette Manufacturing

Harman technology, LTD, the company that owns Ilford Photo, has invested more than £350K (568,645 US Dollars) in creating its own 35mm film cassette manufacturing facility, the company announced today.

Maintaining a reliable supply of cassettes from external suppliers has been “problematic,” the company said in its announcement.

“This is just another example of our ongoing commitment to traditional monochrome photography,” Harman Managing Director Peter Elton said in a statement. “We are now able to manufacture our own cassettes and this gives us, and our customers, improved security for the future of film production.”

October 26th, 2012

PhotoPlus Expo 2012: Kodak Professional Film App Connects Photographers to Pro Film Resources

Here’s an interesting new app for your iPhone launched at PhotoPlus Expo by none other than Kodak. Called the Kodak Professional Film app and available now for free from the iTunes store, the app helps photographers locate where they can buy their favorite (remaining) Kodak films and where they can get them developed.

The app also offers tips on how best to shoot certain types of Kodak films. Some of the film stocks supported by the Kodak app include BW400CN, Ektar 100, Portra 160, T-Max 400, Tri-X 400 and others.

Sadly for film (and film grain) lovers, one of the films not included in the app is Kodak T-Max P3200, which was discontinued by the company earlier this month.

News of the new app also comes on the heels of a Kodak announcement in August that the company plans to sell off its film and photo paper business in an effort to pull itself out of bankruptcy.

Despite the tough times for Kodak’s film business, the company attempted to put a positive spin on the app and on Kodak pro film at the PhotoPlus show.

“We wanted to give photographers of all levels a resource, literally right at their fingertips, that helps them find film and recommendations about how to maximize each film’s performance,” Dennis Olbrich, Eastman Kodak’s general manager of Film, Paper & Output Systems said in a statement.

“In addition, this app also provides information where customers can find film development services, so that no matter where photographers are, they can find a lab that uses Kodak Chemicals and Paper to bring their photography to life.”

(more…)

September 14th, 2012

PDN Video Pick: Chasing The Light (With the New Nikon D600)

Wildlife photographer Florian Schulz, who we profiled in the August 2012 issue of PDN, was asked by Nikon to put the recently released D600 through its paces. Schulz was the first photographer to test the camera in the field. He and his brother, filmmaker Salomon Schulz, produced this short film, titled “Chasing the Light.”

NIKON – CHASING THE LIGHT from Florian Schulz on Vimeo.

Related: Photokina 2012: Nikon Debuts Smaller, 24.3MP Full-Frame D600 DSLR for Photo Enthusiasts

August 23rd, 2012

Kodak to Sell Off Film and Photo Paper Business (Update)

Eastman Kodak plans to sell off  its film and photographic paper businesses in an effort to emerge from bankruptcy, the Wall Street Journal reports. In an announcement on Thursday, Kodak chief executive officer Antonio Perez said the company is seeking buyers for its film and photo paper business and its digital image processing kiosks and scanners. The company plans to focus on inkjet printing, Perez said Thursday.  Among the businesses Kodak will keep, according to a statement on Kodak’s web site, are “Consumer inkjet, Entertaining Imaging, Commercial Film and Specialty Chemical businesses.” Kodak’s “commercial film” business refers to aerial photography, surveillance and other industrial and government uses.

Perez said the company wants to complete the sale by the first half of 2013, when the company hopes to emerge from bankruptcy. Kodak, once the leading manufacturer of film, sought bankruptcy protection in January 2012.

Perez declined to say how much Kodak hoped to net from the sales of its film, paper and other businesses. Also unclear: Who will buy these businesses.

When Kodak filed for bankruptcy, the company said it planned to raise money by selling off roughly 1,000 digital imaging patents. However Businessweek reports that those negotiations have dragged on.  The sale of its core business is a new effort to pay off debts and pull Kodak out of bankruptcy.

Professional photographer may find it bittersweet that Kodak’s U.S. professional film revenues rose 20 percent in 2011. However, as demand for consumer and motion picture film continued to decline worldwide, the company faced challenges taking advantage of economies of scale. Earlier this year, Scott DiSabato, who was Kodak’s U.S. marketing manager for professional film, told PDN that Kodak’s factories and distribution facilities “were built decades ago for a much bigger traditional photographic market.” DiSabato added at the time that though positive signs in the U.S. pro film market were promising,  “It’s going to be hard to ever justify the investment necessary to right-size this when [the overall film market] is declining.” DiSabato has since left Kodak.

For more, see our full news article on PDNOnline.

Related stories

PDNOnline: Kodak to Sell Film and Photo Paper Business

Kodak Files for Bankruptcy

The Future of Film 

 

June 8th, 2012

Everynone’s “Symmetry” Takes Top Prize at Vimeo Video Awards

Wil Hoffman (l.) and Julius Metoyer of Everynone accept the Grand Prize at last night's Vimeo Awards.

“Symmetry,” a visual tour de force of split screen juxtaposition, took the Grand Prize at last night’s Vimeo Video Awards in New York City. The short video was created by the directing collective Everynone, which includes Daniel Mercadante, Will Hoffman, and Julius Metoyer

In accepting the award, one of Symmetry’s creators described the on-the-fly, do-it-yourself aesthetic that was essential to making the prize-winning video.

“We often approached people on the street and asked that they do things that they might think are crazy (for the video),” Hoffman said. “I only hope that they see the work so they know how much they were a part of it.”

Symmetry, shown at the bottom of this story, also won the Lyrical Category in the Vimeo Awards. For winning the Grand Prize, the Everynone collective will receive $25,000 in addition to $5,000 for the Lyrical award.

“I hope Everynone is ready to be busy, because winning this award is going to change their lives,” said Eliot Rausch, who won the Vimeo Awards Grand Prize in 2010 for his movie, Last Minutes with Oden.

Rausch, who presented the Grand Prize to Everynone, said that he’s generated major video work from the attention he received after winning the 2012 Grand Prize award and is currently directing his first feature film.

Here’s a full breakdown of 2012 Vimeo Awards category winners with links to the videos:

1.    Action Sports: Dark Side of the Lens
2.    Advertising: K-Swiss Kenny Powers – MFCEO
3.    Animation: Umbra
4.    Captured: Sweatshoppe Video Painting Europe
5.    Documentary: Amar (All Great Achievements Require Time)
6.    Experimental: Prie Dieu
7.    Fashion: Skirt
8.    Lyrical: Symmetry
9.    Motion Graphics: A History of the Title Sequence
10.    Music Video: Manchester Orchestra: Simple Math
11.    Narrative: BLINKY™
12.    Series: Often Awesome The Series
13.    Remix: Rear Window Timelapse

Reggie Watts (l.) and Beardyman entertained the crowd at the Vimeo Awards with a live musical mashup.

Vimeo Awards judges included actor and director James Franco; Parks and Recreation star Aziz Ansari; 2012 Oscar Nominee Lucy Walker; Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood; Scott Pilgrim vs. the World director Edgar Wright; snowboarding star Travis Rice; Thierry Mugler and UNIQLO creative director Nicola Formichetti; Shelley Page of DreamWorks Animation; Barbara London of The Museum of Modern Art; advertising legend David Droga; and others.

Reggie Watts and Beardyman were the featured live performers at the awards, mashing up comedy, music, and spirited silliness.