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Film, Washi 'S' 120 film
The new packaging for Film Washi’s ‘S’ film in 120 (All pics: Lomig Perrotin)

Lomig Perrotin’s Film Washi is the smallest film factory in the world.

In his home-made film factory, Perrotin has created the world’s leading cottage-industry film brand in his garage in the Western French city of Saint-Nazaire.

Recently, as Kosmo Foto reported, Film Washi revamped its line-up of black-and-white films with new packaging. Now Perrotin exclusively tells Kosmo Foto about the recent  launch of the brand’s ‘S’ film in medium format.

“This film is originally made for the motion picture industry for the specific purpose of soundtrack recording. Basically the sound and music of the movie are converted into light signals that are flashed on the film through fast film recorder. After processing, this original “soundtrack film” is copied on the side of the motion picture print copy where it can be read by an optical sensor while the film is moving through the projector. The optical signal is then converted back into sounds. (More details on this process can be found here)

“So, this film is not supposed to go in a still camera, it is meant to be used in fast copying machine and exposed with always the same kind of light level and its exposure latitude is quite narrow, giving you high contrasts. The idea of this kind of film is to be high contrast and very fine-grained so the sound signals can be converted with the best possible quality.

“I like high-contrast films and through Film Washi I love to “hack” special films from their original purpose, so when I knew this particular film stock was still in production, I decided to give it a try. So after few tests to estimate its field sensitivity (50 ISO) I bought few kilometres of 35mm and converted it into 135/36-exposure cartridges under the name Film Washi “S” (obviously “S” for “sound”).

“People loved it, and it became one of my best sellers. The anti-halation layer of this film is coated between the film base and the sensitive layer, so it provide the highest possible definition. Basically, this is a “no grain” film!

“So, the next step would have to produce this film in 120 format. But as this is a motion picture film stock, it is produced only in motion picture film formats, and my production levels was not enough to buy a full master roll to convert in 120 format. But, after a few years of constantly ordering this film to the manufacturer, they finally spared me a small part of the production for this project. Small for them was big for me: it was enough to spool about 6,000 rolls of 120!

Technical illustration of Film Washi 'S'
The film was originally designed to capture sound for film soundtracks

“I jumped at the chance, because I really wanted to bring this film out in 120, that would be the first time such kind of sound recording film would be available in this format and I knew people wanted it.

“Once I get my pancakes of 61.5mm wiidth ‘S’ films, I started to spool it myself with recycled 120 backing paper and spools, through my homemade spoolers. That was good, but not fast enough, and I was bothered by selling this very high definition state of the art film in the same recycled packaging I used for my handcrafted films range. Don’t get me wrong, recycling is in the DNA of Film Washi, but in this case there was a paradox between the nature of the film and its presentation.

“So, after 1000 pieces done by myself, I finally found the opportunity to get my remaining film stock machine-spooled in a film factory, with brand new 120 backing paper, spools and there is even an “S” marked on the film edges!

“I love this “hacked” film and I am very happy to see what people do with it, my own sample I send you with this mail are nothing compared to what I can see on Facebook or Instagram, and I am very proud that Film Washi was able to bring this emulsion in 120 format.”

  • Film Washi’s film are stocked by retailers all over the world – find out more from the Film Washi site.

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