Analog Film — Back from the Dead

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Film once seemed to be going extinct but is currently experiencing a revival. Here are three signs analog is back by popular demand.

1.  Some of the more experimental brands are adding new films and cameras. One of the biggest recent developments: This month Fujifilm is releasing a monochrome version of their popular instant color film for their Instax Mini cameras.

Fujifilm also plans to release a new square format instant camera (and the corresponding film) in spring 2017.

Likewise, Lomography is also working to release a new instant film camera, the Lomo’Instant Automat. Their Kickstarter ends tomorrow (10/5). They have over 5,000 supporters and are more than $750,000 over their $100,000 fundraising goal. This is the sixth time they’ve raised money for a new product this way.

And CineStill, motion picture film modified for C-41 processing, is raising money on Indiegogo to make medium and large format versions of CineStill 800T film.

2. New photographers are constantly discovering the joy of film photography. According to Google Trends, interest in film photography plunged from 2004 to 2007. But since 2007, the number of search queries has remained fairly steady.

Interest in film photography over time, according to Google Trends

This is not because older photographers are refusing to give up film. Instead, Millennial photographers who grew up in a completely digital era are picking up the medium for the first time. According to a survey conducted by Ilford, 60 percent of film users under 35 years old have been using film for less than five years.

About 84 percent of those surveyed taught themselves how to use film from books and the internet and 49 percent process their own photos in the darkroom.

And as local labs continue to close, some photographers are inventing new techniques for the sake of ease and accessibility. For example, many share recipes for cheaper developer alternatives, the most popular being coffee and vitamin C, nicknamed Caffenol.

 

3. Video film has also seen its own resurgence in popularity. Kodak is working to launch a new Super 8 camera.

And major productions are not immune to the trend. Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens is just one recent movie shot on film. This is unusual considering the franchise has used digital since Star Wars Episode II (2002). In an interview with Screenrant.com, J.J. Abrams said one of the reasons he chose film was to retain the look and feel of the trilogy.

Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke anticipates Episode VIII will also use Kodak film, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Due to Star Wars and other recent movies favoring film (Boyhood, Interstellar, Steve Jobs, and Suicide Squad, to name a few), Kodak is expecting to be profitable in 2016 for the first time in years.

And more are to come. Find movies made on Kodak film out this fall this fall here.

Bonus: Analog is also making a comeback outside of film. This podcast with David Sax, author of The Revenge of Analog, discusses how vinyl records, printed books, and Moleskine journals are surging in popularity. Sax says these are more than hipster trends. They reflect our efforts to have sensory experiences in the digital world.

Also an important influence is what he calls this “finishability.” While digital makes life faster and more efficient, humans continue to seek experiences with a clear starting and ending points. “It’s that contained experience and that’s something that we want a lot of the time,” Sax says. “We want limitation. We want our experiences to be contained. We don’t want everything. We don’t want life to be one endless all-you-can-eat buffet. We prefer to have limits.”

What draws you to film in an age where shooting digital is often easier ? Let me know in the comments.

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