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The Labcaf

The non-toxic method of the Labcaf allows filmmakers to set up in spaces that do not have sophisticated ventilation systems (like an artist studio). Instant coffee and washing soda are the basis for one formula, which until now has been used by a small group of enthused still photographers. The Labcaf offers a model for moving larger quantities of motion picture film (i.e. hundreds of feet) through non-toxic processing baths. Our research includes a working prototype for processing film (with inspiring results!) and feasible alternatives to reinvigorate analog filmmaking.

 

Spiral Prototype

Our spiral reel prototype has arrived!

Here at the Labcaf we have been busy designing an apparatus that will allow us to process large quantities of motion picture film (16mm and 35mm) in an artisanal film lab.

Sculptor Kevin Teixeira joined our team in Fall 2019 with a knack for kinetic sculpture and a fascination with the mechanics of analog cinema, but no experience working with film. Our first step was to get the tools of the trade into his hands: Morse G3 tanks, Jobo reels, the Lomo spiral tanks, split reels, gang synchronizers, cores, rewinds, cameras, and, of course, film.

Over the Fall we met regularly with Kevin, brainstorming ideas, looking at film equipment, and critiquing his designs based on our experiences hand-processing. Finally, we settled on a stackable spiral based on the Soviet Lomo tank. Kevin designed a spiral to hold 110′ of film – large enough to hold an entire daylight spool of 16mm.

Now our first prototype has been manufactured and arrived in the mail: a beautiful aluminum spiral with black powder coating.

Kevin is working on a plexiglass cover for the spiral, and interchangeable cores for 16mm and 35mm film. Once these are built we are all eager to test our spiral with a 100′ load of 35mm film.

Next up: a loading device to help ensure quick and successful loading of the spiral, and a system to stack multiple spirals for simultaneous processing.