CHEM 1110 Lecture 2: The chemistry of instant film – how it works?

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INTRODUCTIONinstant-university_yellow-border

In 2008, Polaroid closed their last factory manufacturing analog instant film. When people thought there was no film for Polaroid cameras anymore, a group of former Polaroid employee was willing to continue the business and save instant film from going outmoded. Yet, besides taking over the last surviving factory, they did not obtain any technology or recipe of producing instant film from Polaroid. They had to invent a brand new analog film by themselves.

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Stephen Herchen, The Impossible Project’s chemist

“Instant film is the world’s most chemically complex man-made thing. There’s nothing in the modern age which can do what it can do. It is an entire science and an entire art form unto itself.”
– Stephen Herchen, The Impossible Project’s chemist

When the film comes out and you are watching it develop, there are over hundreds of chemical reactions happening. In this lecture, you will learn how an instant film is developed in a chemistry approach. It is, in fact, a really dramatic process happening.

 

COMPOSITIONinstant-university_yellow-border

1. Silver bromide (AgBr) – sensitive to red, green or blue light
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2. Hydroquinone (C6H4OH2) – decorated dyes cyan, yellow, magenta, dark blue dye or dark room dye – each dye is paired up with a particular silver bromide

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(Credits: Durfo)


3. Potassium thiosulfate (K2O3S2) – developing agent
4. Potassium hydroxide (HKO) – developing dye
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PROCESSinstant-university_yellow-border

1. Light is capture by the camera lens and focus onto the film.

2. In the negative, there have to be something that can reach to that light and that chemical is called silver bromide (AgBr).

3. Moreover, in this negative, there are 3 dyes, each of those dyes is paired up with the particular silver bromide.

4. When the film is releasing, the rollers of camera squeeze the developing fluid inside the film.

5. The blue dye creates a darkroom environment. Those dyes come in contact with the developing fluid, in which they are able to migrate from the negative to the top of the film where they can be seen.

 

(Credits: Mercedes-Benz, PF Pictures, The Impossible Project)

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CHEM 1110 Lecture 1: The Impossible evolution

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Generation 1: First Flush (Since May 2009)

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Impossible | PX 680 Color Shade First Flush (Credits: The Impossible Project)

The Black and white edition was first released, later PX 70 FF. The latter one is Impossible’s first, experimental color film. It renders astonishing greenish and blueish pastel tones.

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[ Development time ]
Approximately 15-20 minutes

*Films under the production of phase 1 – PX 70 FF, PX100(FF), PX 680 FF & PX 600(FF) have been discontinued.

 

Generation 2: Push! (Since April 2010)

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Impossible | PX 70 Color Shade Push! (Credits: The Impossible Project)

PX 70 Push! is much improved experimental version and yet the color is easier to fade out. The relatively high sensitivity of light / temperature features a whole new color system. Unless the images get peeled, otherwise they shift to blue under the ongoing chemical reaction. In a hot environment, the film turns to red or turns to partial green in a cool one.

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[ Development time ]
Approximately 4-10 minutes

*PX 70 Push has been discontinued.

 

Generation 3: PX 70 08/11, PX 70 12/11 (Since August 2011)

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Impossible | PX 100 Silver Shade UV+ Film (The Impossible Project)

This batch of films are more stabilised in development, plus the sharper images have successfully aroused the interest of Polaroid users. This eliminates the possibility of undeveloped patch, uneven distribution of chemicals and out-of-tone image, having a satisfied result in imaging.

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[ Development time ]
Approximately 10 minutes for color film &
approximately 3 minutes for black and white film

*Films under the production of phase 3 –  PX 70 12/11, PX 100 UV+, PX 600 UV+ & PX 600 UV+ Grey have been discontinued.

 

Generation 4: Cool Film series (Since June 2012)

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Impossible | PX 600 Silver Shade Cool (Credits: The Impossible Project)

The Cool film shows an improved, stable performance which becomes the most popular product at that time! Basically, the film is no longer having undeveloped patch nor out-of-tone image. The film also boosts a high level of detail and sharpness even on dark edges.

The image of cool film reminds people of old Polaroid 600-type film. It was acclaimed as a return of Polaroid era.

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[ Development time ]
Around 8-10 minutes for color film &
2 minutes for black and white film

*Films under cool film line – PX 70 Cool, PX 100 Cool, PX 680 Cool & PX 600 Cool – have been discontinued.

 

Generation 5: Color Protection (Since September 2012)

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Impossible | PX 70 Color Protection (Credits: The Impossible Project)

Impossible innovates the color protection formula which enormously improves the opacification process. As claimed by the company, it does not demand for immediate shielding of the photos after shooting, which is a revolutionary product from Impossible.

Users are suggested to use the color protection film indoor or in suburb. At the beginning of development, it is still fine to expose under light and people can directly observe the process without having an overexposed image.

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[ Development time ]
Around 25-30 minutes for color film

*Films under phase 5 – PX 70 Color Protection, PX 680 Color Protection & PX 680 Gold Color Protection – have been discontinued.

 

Generation 6: First Generation (Since late 2013)

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Impossible | Color film for SX-70 (Credits: The Impossible Project)

With a new naming system and packaging, this series keeps everything that works from the previous line, and of course, adds some subtle refinements. This generation improves the sharpness and tones with light-favourable elements.

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[ Development time ]
Approximately 30-40 minutes

*Films under phase 6 – Color Film for SX-70, B&W Film for SX-70, Color Film for 600 & B&W Film for 600 – have been discontinued and replaced by generation 2.0.

 

Generation 7: Generation 2.0 (Since March 2015)

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Impossible | B&W 2.0 Film for 600 (Credits: The Impossible Project)

With the use of Generation 2.0 emulsion formula, it offers the most vibrant, mottle-free colours with totally saturated reds, blues, greens and yellows and natural skin tones of any Impossible film to date. At present, the generation 2.0 is only available for black and white film.

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[ Development time ]
Only 5 minutes for full development. The fastest film yet.

*Films under Generation 2.0 – B&W 2.0 Film for SX-70 & B&W 2.0 Film for 600 – are currently available.

 

Generation 8: Generation 3.0 (Since January 2016)

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Impossible | Color Film for 600, White Frame 3.0 (Credits: The Impossible Project)

A new generation for color film marks a significant improvement on Impossible’s current 600 color film formula.

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[ Development time ]
Photos develop in less than half the time.

*Films under Generation 3.0 – Color Film for 600 Cameras 3.0 beta – is now exclusively for Impossible Member to test before general release.