How Does Film ACTUALLY Work? (It's MAGIC) [Photos and Development] - Smarter Every Day 258

How Does Film ACTUALLY Work? (It's MAGIC)  [Photos and Development] - Smarter Every Day 258

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(birds chirping) (box crinkling) (camera slicking) (birds chirping) (camera Shutter Click) - When I first loaded portra 400 35 millimeter film into an SLR camera for the first time I aimed the camera and I took the photo. I felt something. There's something different about film. It feels different.

Like it's not just the shutter click with a digital SLR you can just take as many photos as you want. And you don't really think about it. But when you take a film photo, I don't know how to explain it, you gotta do it for yourself. You stop, you know, you have 36 rounds and you just take the shot, pull the trigger and you get the perfect shot.

And you're rewarded when you see your photos, because you know you were in the moment more because you cared more about the photo. In today's throw away digital photography world this is a breath of fresh air. That special feeling of taking a film photo is the number one reason that film is making a comeback. And it is, if you didn't know that, 35 millimeter film is coming back in a big way. Today we're going to explore all this. We're going to learn about the chemistry, the science behind how this works and the people that are working to preserve this art.

So not only is the feel of taking photos different with film, the feel of the photos themselves are different. Look at these photos that I took. I don't know how to describe it, but there's something about the feeling of these photos that's deeper and more meaningful to me, even film photos that I didn't take, they feel more authentic and real. There's a certain nostalgic feeling I get when I look at these photos. Even though these things were taken in the last 12 months, it feels like a distant memory that was collected.

And it's right there in front of me and I'm in the moment. The way film captures the light is a warmth. There's a beating heart to the photos and no amount of digital manipulation or Instagram filters can recreate that feeling that film just gives you straight out of the camera. So I guess what I'm saying is film feels like magic, but not only does it have that emotional magic to it, there's a mechanical, scientific magic to it as well. You're taking photons from a scene in front of you. You're capturing them in a clever arrangement of chemicals on a physical object.

You're hiding it in a dark box and you're holding it there until you can do some more chemical magic to make that photo be revealed at a later time. It is an amazing process. And today what I'd like to do is look at how film development works.

If you take a single strip, a 35 millimeter black and white film, and you look at it edge wise like this, you'll see that it's made up of several different layers. This part down here is the actual film made from cellulose triacetate. This layer here is the magic layer. This is called the emulsion. It's a mixture of gelatin and light sensitive silver halide crystals, literally little granular rock crystals mixed together in suspension in that gelatin. There's an anti-static layer on the back and an anti scratch layer on the front and antihalation layer behind the emulsion.

Basically this layer absorbs all the light. Once it passes through the emulsion, it makes it so it doesn't bounce back up. When the silver halide crystals are exposed to light, they undergo a change and a latent image is formed on the crystals. If you think about what's going on, when you take a picture, you are exposing silver halide crystals to light.

When you release the shutter, you have a latent image on the film and it advances over here into the box and it hides it in the dark so that you have this latent image next to all these unexposed silver halide crystals. So the trick is how do I take that latent image and turn it into a permanent image? I want to lock it in. To do this we have to go through, what's called the development process.

This is how that process works. Let's take a picture of this flower. By exposing our film to light that latent image is formed on the flower within the silver halide crystals. The first thing we need to do is to turn this latent image into a permanent image. We do this with a chemical called developer. When the film comes in contact with the developer, the silver halide that's been exposed to light turns into actual silver metal, which is opaque.

So now we have actual metallic silver crystals, and we have the unexposed silver halide crystals that was on the film to begin with. After rinsing the film in a stop bath, the film is put into another chemical known as the fixer, which washes away any remaining silver halide from the film that hasn't been exposed yet, you're then left with a negative of the image you took in the silver metal suspended in gelatin. A negative means that the white colors are black and the black colors are white. The light is inverted.

So this is an actual black and white photo than I took. This is the positive image. But if I were to flip the photo negative, you can see that it actually corresponds with the photo film negative. To me, it sounded a little crazy that a film negative could have little particles of silver in it, but check this out. Let's put this thing under the microscope here. And if you remember the large photo, let's zoom in on my son in the back of that trailer there, and let's look at his face.

Okay, check that out. I picked this photo because their faces are so small on the back of that trailer there. But if we move up in magnification and we readjust here, you can see that the image is made of a lot of little bitty grains.

We zoom in even farther, focus. You can see that these little dots on this black and white photo let's, let's get the focus ride. Those are actual grains of silver. Isn't that insane? A black and white photograph is made from a bunch of little specks of silver metal and you can see it right there. Like in fact, if we zoom back out slowly, you can see that these things take shape and you can start to see his face again.

This is so crazy to me. So like a photo is literally made up of grains of silver. That's where the term grain comes from for a photo.

Like literally little grains that make up the picture. The more sensitive the film, the larger those grains will be. So like an ISO 800 film will have larger grains than an ISO 100 film. So now we know how black and white film photography works, but the color process, particularly the C41 color process is a little bit different. There are multiple layers to the film and special chemicals called dye couplers which are activated with the silver.

The silver is then washed away by the bleach and fix process and you're left with only the dyes, giving you a color negative photograph. A lot of photographers develop their film in a little tank like this. They just put the chemicals in for the right amount of time and temperature and all kinds of stuff. But I'm going to be honest with you I was a little bit intimidated by this process and I didn't want to mess it up.

I wanted to find a professional lab that uses a method called the dip and dunk method that handles like multiple film roles at once. And I was super excited to find out that one of the most well-respected labs in the industry is right here in Alabama. They're known as Indie Film Lab.

You send them the film, they will develop the film using a really cool old machine that they kept running from the nineties, right? They will then scan and digitize that film with an old scanner that they've paired up with new file saving technologies so that you can have a digital copy of your film photo and share it whoever and however you want. Anyway, it's amazing. Indie is a cool small business and photographers from all over the world send their film here. And I'm excited today to share with you the film development process. So let's go make the really awesome folks at Indie Film Lab. (knocking) Hello.

- Hi. - Is Josh in here? - He is. You can come in.

- Can I come in? - Yeah. - As soon as you walk into Indie Film Lab, it is clear that this is a really awesome place to work. Everyone here is an artist of sorts and they're unified in their love of film photography. This is Josh. He's the founder of Indie Film Lab.

So I have a question. Josh, if I have a roll of film, this is C, C41. - Right. - How does the film come out of this roll, my 35 millimeter camera. I'm seeing this right here. - Yep, yep.

- So I'm assuming this is along the way somewhere. How do we get this into that, into digital pictures on my, my computer at home. You show me? - It's all magic man.

See like you put it in this hand, and then it just disappears and then just shows up. - Dude that was really good. (laughing) You actually got me. - I got you. This room is kind of our, you know, like film in and film out room. The mailman and UPS, FedEx comes right through this door.

Aaron will check it in, twin check it. She's basically like tagging each roll of film with a specific number. And the twin check is the same number on two different stickers.

So she'll label the film as one and she'll label an order form as one so that we know when that client has that twin check, that that film goes with that order. So it's a pretty cool method to do. And then she'll load them in these racks that we made on a CNC machine.

And then they go back to Thomas and go into the processing. Alright, it starts with processing. Alright, the chemicals. This roll of film will come out of this can and into chemistry, but that's where these, our processing team comes in. - Alright, it's Hannah right? - Yep, Hannah and Thomas.

- Thomas, awesome. Nice to meet you guys again. - So Thomas and Hannah can walk you through the exact process, through this dark room, but everything has to be light tight in the dark. So we're not going to show you in the light, but we can go through and show you with the light on how it all works. - Okay so I've seen these on, on the internet. So this is a revolving door.

- Yeah, I'm gonna show you another magic trick, you ready? - Okay yeah. (laughing) What is this poster? Who's the poster? - That's Thomas. - Oh, that's awesome.

- That's shot on four by five film like ah, I can't even, how many years ago was that? - Six years ago. - Look at the hair, there's a big difference. And it's so like you can't, well it's dark in here, but it is the sharpest, one of the sharpest photos ever taken ever.

It's insane. Inside this, this whole room here is so dark you can't even see your hand in front of your face. It has to be, you're inside of a camera at this point. - Okay so for the purposes of this discussion, we're not going to use my actual film. We're going to use dummy film. What does that mean? - This is just expired film.

It's from 15 years ago and I'm not going to use it really. It's more test rolls for cameras and stuff. So what I'm going to do is I'll actually grab the stuff that I need to crack this open so that we can see how it works.

- Okay, yeah. Am I following you? - You're more than welcome to. - Okay yeah, I'll follow you. Okay, cool.

Alright. Oh, wow, okay, here we go. Alright we're rotating around, oh there are light in here. - Yeah, yeah, we've got them on for right now.

For right now we've got them on. - If the lights come on, when the film is in here, we ruin everything. So is there a safety on the light switch or something? - Yes. Right here, all we've done is put a little bracket over it. That's it.

So you actually have to consciously make a decision to turn the lights on. - Gotcha, okay. - So this is what it looks like. - I can see, I do see some really faint stars.

- Yeah, yeah, yeah, we put up our Zodiac signs, you know, it's cool. 'Cause we're like that. - So did you do that just so you could have? - A reference point. - A reference, okay yeah. I'm going to, my camera is not going to pick this up at all. Can you turn it back on please? - Yep.

- Uh oh. - Whoops, sorry. So is this a way for you to reference where you're at in the room? - Yeah, so like that's one wall and then that's another wall, that kind of stuff. But we also will use, once you get used to the darkness, everything else starts taking over.

So the smell, the sound of it bouncing off of the machine. So you start feeling out like where everything is. - Like an echo location kind of thing. - Yeah. - Okay. - You become sort of a bat back here.

- That's awesome. - Yeah. - So what are we doing with the film here? - So what we're going to do is, so Hannah got me a 35 millimeter rack. So when it's back here. - Can I just say that was really cool the way that happened. (laughing) - So when we bring film back here, it hangs on here by this clip.

We'll pull it off like that. And then with this special tool is pretty much a bottle opener for film, 35 millimeter. We'll take it with the non nipple side, crack it open, toss in the trash, push it out and then we'll snip this part. And then. - Can we go ahead and do it?

- Yeah. - Can we snip it? - Yeah. - Go ahead and like get all the way. Get your bat utility, Batman utility belt on. So, so the whole goal here is you have your tools indexed to your body because everything's in the dark and you don't. - Right.

- Okay. - I can feel where everything is. So once this is out like this, we'll snip off the leader. So it's flat like that.

And then we'll take the 35 millimeter, your weight. - You're doing this in the dark. - All in the dark. - Okay. - And we'll take it, clip it like so. - Is that heavy, yes it is heavy.

- It's got some weight to it. Then we'll cut off this other end. - Okay. - Like so. Toss it in the trash. - Is the, is the trash can always there? - Trash can is always there next to us.

So we can, we know like just a range of where it's going. Once you get into a rhythm, everything just kind of falls into place. So once it's hanging, we'll take the rack down and then put it into these teeth. The film is hanging.

We'll have multiple racks here and then we'll start the machine. (machine whirring) So this first tank is developer and the second tank is bleach, then a wash station, and then fixer, fixer, wash, and then a final rinse. So now the machine is getting it prepped and ready. So it's going to hit these two sensors and it's going to tell the machine that there's a rack here. And then once another three minutes and 15 seconds happens, then it'll lift this up and then go into this first, into development.

The way the machine knows that there's a rack also, besides the sensors, there's these flags. If it says it's got seven it knows, because it's hit these little sensors right up here, that are, right. - Makes sense. - And depending on how many flags are on there, denotes how many rolls there are. And the net tells the machine how much to replenish per rack. - Oh I get, I get it.

So what, you're playing a chemistry quantity game. - Right. - So basically this is a chemical process. So there's a chemical reaction that happens. So on the left side of the chemical equation, we have a certain amount of chemistry in the VAT and this, these proximity sensors right here.

Well, how do I, how do I show? - Probably the best is right there. - Yeah, so these proximity sensors right here, count of like physically, hey, this is where some film is. And when it sees that, that tells you how quickly you're burning your chemicals. - Right. - Yeah, and so you and Hannah, you guys are the experts at understanding how much chemistry needs to be replenished based on that, or does the machine do that? - The machine does all of that. That way the chemistry always stays on point.

The thing that we have to adjust is how much actually gets pumped in, because sometimes you can put too much into it. And with the pump systems that we have they're bellows systems so we can adjust them based on milliliters. - Got it. - And so we just kind of fine tune that to make sure it's not putting too much developer, too much bleach. 'Cause then you'll over-process.

- So what am I doing now? I'm picking the film up. - And now it's going to go into, into developer first. - I have to say like how mechanical this is, is like a really pleasing thing. (machine whirring) Try not to get my hands cut here.

Yep yep. (machine whirring) What are you doing there Hannah? - I'm putting on a nitrogen extension that gets pumped in. - So nitrogen gets pumped into the developer because what happens with developer if it gets oxidized, then it becomes depleted. It's not as potent anymore. - We're we're moving to the. - To the water. - To the water.

So this is a rinse. - This is a rinse cycle. - It's very satisfying isn't it? - Yep.

- We're going to take just a second and figure out this cam mechanism. So I got to figure it out. Hold on. So the whole rails come up. So this thing comes up and then it, how is it indexing? There's some way that it is indexing.

Okay, I gotta look at it here. (machine buzzing) Oh, the slots are offset. Okay, so as, so as this goes down, it moves it over. Am I right? - Correct. - Alright so, so as it goes down, because the, the sawtooth is offset, it's like a Paul and ratchet and it only moves one way.

- Correct. - Right. - So if you'll watch, like the next time it picks up, you'll see this arm shift forward as it comes up. (machine whirring) - Okay, so it's moving over. And then it's coming down and then as it gets here, it's going to move, after it drops it it's going to move backwards.

(machine whirring) Then it moves back. So where did these machines come from? 'Cause this is old tech. - Denmark. - Denmark? - Yeah, they're made in Denmark.

That's like their, their origin. - So you got on a plane and you went to Denmark and you got them. - No. I went to eBay and then no, well actually I did. I found these on eBay because they're really hard to find. These are like the Rolls Royce of these types of machines. So I found them on eBay, called the guy, he only had two and he's like I have more stuff that I can sell you but other labs already kind of claimed it.

So these can be yours. And they're very, very expensive. And we had him fly here.

He had a truck, he drove from, he was in Oregon, but he's originally from Denmark. He's like my great grandad start, helped start this company. I know all about these machines. And then he passed away.

But before he passed away, I had to be a detective and I scoured the internet for and called every lab I possibly could and was like who works in Refrema? I found a guy named Bob, really cool, dude. He flew here and he moved these machines from across the street to here. And he knew everything about 'em and he told us everything about, so if I have any problems, I text Bob, hey man, we've got a fuse out. What I do? Here's the fuse.

Find them on wherever Amazon and you get 'em here. - This is a lot of chemistry here. So what am I looking at? - This is all color chemistry. - Okay. - And then this is the black and white chemistry that we have as well.

And each one has its own parts. So developer has three parts. Bleach has two parts, fix has one part. - So, so what is this? - This is bleach. - Bleach, okay. It's interesting the bleach is dark.

What is this? - Party A of bleach. - Okay. - And part of bleach. - Okay, got it. What do we have here? - All three of those are for developer, for color development. - Are these modern chemicals like, like Kodak is still manufacturing these? - Still manufacturing these.

- Okay so, so we're gonna exit the room. Cut the lights off. - Wait about 15 minutes 'cause fluorescent lights take 15 minutes to cool down.

- What? Really? - Yep. - Wait 15 minutes and then you can process this film. - Just because of the fluorescent lights. We also have night vision goggles.

- What? - Yeah. - Shut up, you got night vision? Can I follow you. - They're from Toys R Us. - Are they really? (laughing) - Yeah. - No way, I'm going with Hannah to find the night vision.

Night vision goggles, what are you doing? You literally have night vision goggles? - Yeah, they're pretty neat. - Do you use 'em? - Yeah. So since there's so much is going on back there, we'll use the night vision goggles so we can see somewhat.

We can only see out of one eye, but it's still helpful. And just turn on so I can only out of this eye. - Hannah I'm not going to lie this is freaking awesome. So there's something about your nose ring and the night vision goggles that just completes this.

- It's a little steam punk isn't it? - Oh wait, so you've got, you've cut out the eye over here. - Well I don't know if we cut it out, but we just can't see out of that one. - Okay.

- So this is the only eye that. - Can we go try it out? - Yeah. - Thomas on that thing. Alright here we go. (grunts) Okay.

Can I actually see it? - Yeah, sure. - Here, there's that. Okay. Do you mind helping me? - Go ahead, here. So. - Oh, you put it on first. Okay.

- I'll bring it around the back. Sorry if that hurts. - Yeah we're good. - Flick it on. - Oh it's legit night vision. Oh, it's very tight though like.

- Is there a way to zoom in and out? - Nope. - Dude you look so cool? (laughing) - Are you being sarcastic? What's, what's flopping on my head? - Nothing. - Nothing. Okay, I'm just silly. Can we turn the lights out? - Sure. - Okay, so what would you use this for? - To be able to see. (laughing) - Okay, I deserve that.

Okay so now that we've developed our film by stepping it all the way through the process here and now we're going to dry out. - We take it into the dryer. - We're going to take it to the dryer. - Take it to the dryer.

- Alright, so it's time, it's time to go dry our film. - Yeah. - That doesn't get old. - That lets people know that there's film. - Why is it a Batman symbol? Why wouldn't it be? (laughing) - It's dark back here.

- You kinda already let me know that you're into Batman. - Oh yeah. - You have a tattoo? - Yeah. - Heck yeah dude. That's awesome, that's awesome. My brother liked Batman too.

So what is this right here? - So this is just the dryer that's on the outside of the other side of the dark room. So all the chemicals in the machine is on the other side. And so it goes through developer, bleach, fix, all that. And then after it exits this last bath, which is a stabilizer, it comes through the dryer to this side. And then there are these wheels that move the dry or move the rack through the dryer.

And it's in here for about 30 minutes. And then once it's done drying, it makes this really loud beeping sound. And then you reach in and pull it out. - Is there heat in there, like air circulating? - You can stick your hand in, it's nice and warm. - Oh yeah, it's dryer too right? Okay, so what do we do with it at this point? - And then from here, I'll put these backs back, we hang it right here. And then so if this was a full rack I would go through.

I would un-clip all other racks and toss them in the right weight bin. So this is all of our 35 clips and these are for 120. So one of these stickers will go on the roll. And then one of them will go on an order form that hangs on some of the trees that are over here.

- Okay. - Different trees are for different scanners. So this is where our, we have two different, have we talked about the scanners yet? - No, we have not. - Okay, so we have two different scanners.

We have a Noritsu scanner and a Frontier scanner. And when the client checks in their roll of film, they can decide which one they would like for their rolls to be scanned on. - And but, this is like putting it in the queue, a physical queue for the scanners.

- And then the scanners will come pick out which, which rolls they'll scan. And then they'll go back and they'll scan them. - This is our scan room.

I feel like I'm on Cribs. Welcome to where the magic happens. So we have Sarah. - Is he like this all the time, - Yeah.

- Is that good or bad? - It's a good thing. - Okay. (laughing) - So this is a Noritsu scanner.

Made by the company Noritsu. These machines were really an extension to the scan and print method back in the nineties. So back in the nineties, if you shot film, anyone that shot film, you would send it to a lab. They would scan it and immediately go right to print. There is no, no one messed with digital files in the nineties. You know, Photoshop came out in 93, 94, I think it was.

So no one really did that. And especially not at home. Not like today, everyone does it right. My kids can do it on the phone right? 2001 came around, 2002.

What happened? Digital cameras started coming out. - So this became obsolete? - Not yet. It became, it, the scanning to print started to kind of go away because people had digital cameras that could take your picture and it'd go right to their computer. If you, if you remember 2001, 2002, I got like, I got my first like laptop right. And it was real slow.

And it was, but as that kind of progressed, I would say like '03, '04, '05, we really got a handle on like how digital technology works and files like digital files and stuff. And cameras were getting pretty daggum good. That's when this started kind of going away a little bit, right? So labs were throwing equipment away.

We don't need this stuff, selling off stuff. We don't need this. Digital is here and it's here to stay right? What we have done as a film lab today is we have hacked the system. We have taken away the print part of it as the main, as the main product from a scan.

Now it's high end digital files. So what these machines are really good at is converting the analog to digital. The color accuracy, the sharpness, the tones, the range.

- So Sarah is actually actively scanning, right? - Yes. - Okay. So what are we, what are we doing here? - So this is 35 millimeter film. And we are just going to scan it as a large file.

- So you're putting that whole strip in the Noritsu. - Yes. (machine whirring) - So people that shoot film are just drooling right now right? Because this is a big deal.

- And then it'll pop up here for color corrections. - Got it. And we'll blur out people's images here because you guys don't show people's copyrights stuff. - Well this is actually Rod's, so he gave permission yeah.

- Alright, sweet. So we can show what's going on. - Yes. So because of the green and pink colors, they kind of fight with each other in the scanner.

So we have to make some color changes to these. - Wait, so there's, you're actively, you're helping it. - Yes, yeah. So we can correct just to make sure that it's like true to life, even balanced colors. Sometimes that like, for instance if the scanner sees lots of pink in this image, it'll make the image more green to kind of compensate so. - Oh, so this scanner is making decisions right now as it's scanning this film.

Oh, look at that. Just coming straight out there. So when people send film to the lab, there is a human that will see it. And you I'm assuming you don't share this with anyone. - Absolutely. It's completely confidential.

You know, we all signed something when we joined the team not to share anything. - So one of our artists, Ryan Meerhen, he's a really good friend of ours was saying how he, I mean, he's like an amazing artist. And he's like it's really strange to me that you guys see all of my artwork literally days before I see any of it. - So Sarah, do you feel like there's some, that's a lot of responsibility here. - It is for sure. - Okay.

- But it's kind of like an honor also to be the first one to see someone's images for the first time. - Right. - It's really cool. - Okay Rod, what are you doing, man? - Right now I'm collecting untouched photos.

Tut them in their folder and I send them off to the clients through email. - So you're using Lightroom to export everything. - Yes, sir. - And so right now you're sending out files that are, have no correction on them. - Yes sir. - So what, what do you shoot with? - I shoot with film? - Yes sir.

- I shoot with a Canon AE, one. And that was my, it was a gift to me and I never know how to use it. So I started working here and I know how to use it now. - Yeah.

- I'm kind a proud of myself. - Yeah. - Talk to Josh. - That stuff over there.

Those photos that you took on the tennis court that was with your Canon? - That was my first actually real shoot with the Canon. - Really? - Yeah. So with the film I actually love it because now I do not have to really edit it at all. I just take it off and post, it's great.

I don't have the feels to it. - So one thing I want to note here, Rod was sending uncorrected photos back to the clients. But when you send your film in via the website, which is, they have a lot of options you can choose from. Many professional photographers choose to work directly with Indie to apply certain customized corrections to each photo. - In the film world there's two types of scanners.

There's a Noritsu which is like early two thousands technology. And then we have nineties technology, which is the Fuji Frontier SP 3000. That's what this is.

- And this thing looks crazy old. - Oh yeah, this is old. Windows software, like NT. - Like NT or something. - Yeah it's like XP or NT or something like that, yeah.

- Okay. - What, what's different between these and the other ones is everything is included in this big, this whole machine here, the computers in the back, everything's all hooked up in this one big tabletop situation. Whereas the Noritsu was literally on a different table and it connected through a computer. This is all one unit.

And these are tanks. We dropped one of these and it's completely fine. These things are insane. They're like, I promise you, you won't find a sturdier machine than this. They built this really well.

- What is so good about the Frontier processor? Like why would I do this over the Noritsu? - So one thing that this thing does really, really well is it has amazing colors. - I've got a question over here. So, so, what's your name? - I'm Maddie. - So Maddie what are you doing here? - Okay, so I'm working on an order right now. - Oh, you're, you can actually see it. - Yes.

- So you're actually previewing the film. - Yes. You line it up, hit enter. - What? - This is what it looks like before.

And then I only just tweak the colors a little bit. - This feels like tuning an engine by hand. It feels like a really old process.

- It's a dinosaur, but he's good. - Anna right? - Anna, yes. - And so a lot of wedding photographers you're processing those types of photos.

- Yes, yes. A lot of wedding photographers do like the Frontier look. I mean, Fujifilm shooters, Kodak shooters. It doesn't matter. They just, I guess they, I don't know. I feel like they, the light and airy look, looks great on the Frontier for what they're trying to achieve and the greens and the blues and everything is so beautiful.

- That's awesome. Thank you very much. - Yeah, you're welcome.

- So if the colors of a photograph contribute to the feels and the colors are determined by the chemistry, how does the lab know if they're doing it right? Josh showed me this email, which was a really big deal. It's from Fuji saying they had some of the best colors last quarter of all the labs they tested. How on earth do you test colors? Turns out film manufacturers create what's called control strips and then a lab can process them and then send them back to the manufacturer to be tested. Look at all this data that can be quantified from those test strips. This is fascinating because to me color feels very subjective, but the process is actually very technical and you're able to quantify it. - Jenny, over here, Jenny from the block is taking all the film once it's scanned and once it's, everything is done with it and the client already has the order we hold it for just a minute.

In case there has to be a re-scan or something else done to it. And then she sleeves it into a protective coating sleeving, and she'll pack it in a box and she will ship it right out to the client. - How many, how many rolls are you processing every day Jenny? - Too many to count.

- Is it really? - Yeah. - So this is legit. This film is going to a specific person, in this case in Chicago, and this case Ohio, this case Denver.

So this is, you know, it's, it's made to work in the US mostly, but you also provide services all over the world. - Yes. - That's incredible. That's awesome. So while I've been on the tour, Indie's been developing my roll of film.

So let's go catch up with it. I don't remember what's on here. So what are you doing? - So right here, that's clip marks from the weights.

- Yep. So the Noritsu doesn't like that very much. Just dust cloth, make sure there's no dust on it. - Oh wow, you're being far more aggressive with that than I anticipated. - So we'll put it in.

- I kid you not, I'm sitting here watching Garrett scan files, I'm doing a review of this draft of the video. And then all of a sudden, boom, I get the email. This is my favorite thing about scans when they come from Indie.

It says scan day is the best day. And I can see from this cover photo that this is from when I went to New Orleans. So every time I get my scans back, it is a very, very different feeling because you've spent so much time literally taking a photo with film. And when you take that shot, you're like, man, did it work? And this is the moment when you get to tell, if it worked. It's hard to describe how emotionally invested you are.

This is Jackson Square in New Orleans, and we get to go through my pictures. You could tell I was fighting with light a little bit. So motion blur stuff, you don't really.

Oh, that's good. See, I forgot about the guy playing his trumpet in Jackson Square and now I remember it. Film has a special feel to it. Like the colors are all there.

It kind of puts you there in a really weird way, man. There's something about film. - So much of our life has been digitized. And so much of our life has been this like ease of use. Like let's make everything easy and everything easy.

And I think that's why records are coming back. The physical-ness of it. And I think film is coming back.

- I think there's something that's so tangible about the process of film photography. And there's something about taking it from this abstract concept of light hitting silver emulsion, whatever, and then holding yourself and developing it and then being able to see it in the roll and then taking it back to get scanned. And it's all very, it's a hands-on process. The images, I don't want to say they need more than being able to have them immediately because I mean, photos hold memories regardless of like, if they're film or digital, but being able to take it step by step with your own hands, it's a really special process.

- So what exactly is it about film that I love so much? To be honest, I don't really know. Some people say it's the randomness and the silver halide crystals that make the image just irregular enough that it's pleasing to the eye. And to be honest, there might be something to that because when you contrast it with a photo taken from a digital camera, I can just tell. One thing I do know though, if you'll take the time out of your busy digital life and seek out an old film camera and give it a shot, there's a really good chance you'll fall in love. This episode of smarter everyday is sponsored by Kiwi Co.

Kiwi co is an amazing subscription service that'll send kits to your house that your kids can use to explore and learn about science and engineering and all different kinds of things. We love Kiwi Co at our house and I would love for you to try it with your kids. You can get one by going to, that gives you 50% off your first kit on the first month. Highly recommended at the Sandlin house. This is my son putting together the latest Kiwi Co kit that he did.

There's all different kinds of kits you can choose from. There's doodle crates. There's tinker crates, there's koala crates, depending on the age and interest of your child. One of the things I love about Kiwi Co is there's this moment in every kit that they're putting together where something lights up or something flies off and it's from a device that they created with their own hands.

And what you'll notice is that light up moment is also accompanied with a light up moment in their own eyes. There's this moment of I did it. I made this, mommy and daddy didn't help me. I did this and it's, it's fantastic. Like that is special and it's sacred. I mean, something about that moment when a kid can envision themselves as the maker, as the engineer, that's what's so precious to my family about Kiwi Co.

And I feel like that same moment can happen in your family. In this particular case, he was learning about optics. So you can see that there's a little ghost image here, and you can see how that was created. I think it's fantastic. Kiwi Co's subscriptions are shipping to 40 countries.

So if you want to check this out, go to Again, that's 50% off the first box for the first month. Thank you so much for supporting the sponsor. Wen you do that it supports Smarter Every Day.

And I am grateful for that. I'm also grateful for Indie Film Lab's ability to let us come in and check stuff out. It was amazing. I love 35 millimeter photography.

I know you will too. Go get a cheap camera on eBay and pull it out and frame a shot like this road right here, and just take that photo and know that it's going to be amazing when you get to see it. It's just all the feels are baked in. That's the thing with 35 millimeter. It's awesome. So thank you so much for watching this video.

I'm Destin. You're getting Smarter Every Day. Have a good one. Bye. (gentle music)

2021-06-14 22:37

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