Dear Kickstarter backers and others,
We have some news and want to share with you this outline of the status of the various parts of the project.
The slow fulfillment of packs as rewards to Kickstarter supporters in general order of pledge has continued. The current amount is 25% fulfilled, which is significant.
Sales of a small amount of film online have made possible a steady effort. It has been tedious and expensive, but there is no alternative way to fund steady operations, and it is giving the team some actual commercial experience that presumably would be needed for a continued product.
The project still has the same cash shortfall that has prevented the paying of some bills and delaying needed purchases of materials, and there are end of year bills such as liability insurance (huge dollars) that will have to be paid.
Direct sales have been small, though sales in smaller amounts will help tell us if there is a real marketplace. Little batches of New55 PN have been up on the shop and sold out several times. This shows that some people are willing to buy and use New55 PN at its present stage and price to support the project and for their own purposes. This might be a good sign.
Field reports show that reliability has improved dramatically and that users have become more comfortable with the peel and fix part of the process. As expected, there has been a lot of learning, some failures, and many exchanges online as we dust off and attempt to repair our old 545 holders. The problem of bad 545 holders remains so we are going to put an extra effort into insisting that users know how to take apart, clean and reassemble the holder. We want to overcome these startup failures in the future by offering fully checked out 545 film holders, but for now it remains a problem.
Supporters have started sending us some very beautiful photographs made with New55 PN. These are still few, as it is early, and not organized in any one place yet but a sampling can be seen on facebook or instagram. This is encouraging.
The team has been producing a series of how-to videos that should improve the overall success rates.
The latest receiver sheet coating exercise did not entirely fail and a small amount of good receiver sheet was made - enough for perhaps another 1000 packs. But hand coating has and must continue. The steady supply of receiver sheet remains a very annoying, expensive and distracting problem and the time and cost of all of it has put the project at risk.
The hand coated receiver sheets are works of art and produce rich full tones and good blacks now. A sort of silver lining, if there is one.
The negative stock we have is problematic. One batch was fine, another one has a tendency to fog chemically that can produce reversal in mid tones. The lead times for new negatives, and the cost, has us concerned about smooth production schedules. We are currently scrambling for new negative stock that does not have the tendency toward chemical fog. This problem might be mitigated by a reformulation of the reagent but lead times for reagents have been very long, to date. Bottom line: We need film to make the product, and the three film manufacturers that today make suitable film for New55 PN all have various problems associated with delivering a working product at a time and price that makes sense.
A fix for the mottled effect we sometimes see has been found and will be implemented. The addition of rails that space the receiver sheet from the negative involves further development effort, and we may print raised rails using expanding ink such as used in certain business cards. If that does not work we will apply strips of 0.0015” thick tape preferably by machine but possibly by hand if necessary. Expensive and time consuming, but an important product improvement that we feel must be implemented.
20X24 Studio has supplied the first tranche of bespoke pods at a specific transfer price. This is a milestone. Scheduled runs are planned and we hope all that goes smoothly.
The assembly stations for New55 work perfectly. There are two in use and one more planned. These are the so-called dark chambers that allow lights-out assembly of film like it is in daylight. Great.
The team is changing somewhat with one key person moving on to another job and being replaced by another skilled person also with photographic experience. Congratulations and thank-you on a successful stint and best of luck as we evolve. Occasional staff changes are normal and expected.
The assembly team consists of three full time and two part time people. The industrial production rate is about 100-200 packs per day and increasing. This can increase even more if we can get the supply chain to move more smoothly, which is critical to keeping the assembly team busy and productive. Once again, the slow supply of materials has affected this and is slowing everything down.
Every day is frantically busy with full time, part time and also volunteer staff working many hours making the product, and some vendors starting to produce and ship better parts to a cost and a schedule. Users have told us that watching the project evolve, and new people using the product for the first time is "serious fun". While there is still no guarantee that operations can continue as they are today, we can certainly say we have put in place the industrial capacity to make the New55 PN (and other, such as 1SHOT) film products. That is what we said we’d do. That’s good, but we need to be able to keep going.
As always, we thank you for your continued support.