Kodak Axes Acetate Film Base Production

Making Film at Kodak

It will probably come as no surprise to many that Kodak is planning to discontinue production of the acetate base, a primary component film, according to a WROC report published Tuesday.

Cellulose acetate, as it’s properly referred to, is the plastic base which¬†undergoes treatment to eventually become light sensitive.

The financially-troubled company will be halting operations at the plant responsible for the production of the acetate base after 100 years of production, leaving about 60 workers jobless.

Not surprisingly, the root cause of the discontinuation simply boils down to the fact that demand for film products have declined with the rise of digital photography. The manufacturing of acetate film base is very resource intensive. Machines are required to be kept on for long periods of time.

Kodak Film Pile

“When you have a machine running, you have to keep it running continuously. It starts with a liquid, that evaporates and you’re left with a plastic. You cannot start and stop the machine without totally removing all the material. Otherwise,it just turns into a big, gooey mess,” says Robert Shanebrook, a former Kodak employee.

According to a Kodak spokesman, the company plans to purchase acetate from other manufacturers upon the depletion of their supply, which is significant, according to the WROC report.

(via WROC via PopPhoto)

Image credit: My father making film at Kodak by Catskills Grrl and Will Films Ever Return? by williamcho

  • Adam Cross

    sad times, but it was bound to happen

  • Dan C

    This really is the beginning of the end of Kodak film. I suspect they’ve stockpiled enough to give the world a few more years of film (mainly motion picture stock) as the transition to digital becomes complete. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s inevitable.

  • stephenevansphoto

    Ilford still produces film. Really GOOD film.

  • tanelir423423423

    That’s totally true, but they don’t have substitutes for Portra or Ektrar.

  • Dan C

    Simpler B&W can probably stick around indefinitely, but reliable and consistent color is far too complex for limited production. B&W is also easily performed at home, unlike color which needs a network of labs and complicated chemistry. It’s not looking good.

  • Babalot Govoseye

    i haven’t tried yet home developing of color film but everyone i know say it’s easier than it seems. just a little bit more complicated and you have to keep the temperature of the water in a tight range. i will try it sooner or later.

  • joshmolina2

    Both those films use kodaks “Estar” base. Not acetate base.

  • joshmolina2

    Chill people. Kodak isnt the only producer of acetate base, and acetate base isnt even used in the majority of films these days. Polyester base is ussually the base for modern film emulsions. Kodak uses their own “Estar” base for most of their films.

  • Ralph Hightower

    But Ilford produces only B&W film. Their Delta 3200 is no match to Kodak’s TMAX 3200. Kodak has sharper contrast while Ilford’s is muted. I sandwiched Ilford Delta 3200 between two rolls of Kodak TMAX 3200 at the same venue, a night baseball game and the results are evident.

  • Gman

    Not true. C41 process colour is easier and quicker to develop than b&w at home. Less steps in colour development and both processes require temperature tolerances. I dev at home at least once a week for both processes.

  • ms

    just as long as tri-x stays around for a while please!

  • CoffeeGeeker

    That’s not true for 35mm camera film. Acetate is still the base used in most of Kodak’s films – specifically the B&W films. You’re talking about motion picture film. Estar is used only Kodak’s high end 35mm films like Ektar.

  • joshmolina2

    Actually, upon doing a bit of research i found this to be true but only for roll film. Sheet film uses Estar base.. which leads me to wonder if kodak has any plans to just switch over to using estar base in their roll films. Obviously im naive when it comes to the really technical aspect of this but one can only hope. Either way, if they had to, the years supply of base should give them time to sort out finding a new supplier if thats the only option. This isnt the end yet.

  • Roman

    If you want higher contrast from Delta, develop for next stop higher.
    800 ->1600; 3200->6400 etc

  • visualbassist

    acetate film is for cameras that have a mechanical film advance system (=almost all), beacuse it’s weaker, breaks/tears easily. PET films are for print film, that are abused more in a projector. if you’d put polyester film in your camera, and something went, it is very likely, that your camera’s mechanics would break before the film does.

  • Josh

    Color really isn’t that hard to do at home. It’s a little expensive, but the only issue is being able to keep your temperatures consistent.

  • Derek Smith

    Inevitable? They said the same about Vinyl records. The sterile nature of digital will bring people back. Just give it time.