How To: Make Polaroid Film

Joel Johnson and Bill Barol have blogged here before about The Impossible Project, a group of Dutch Polaroid enthusiasts who bought an old Polaroid factory and recreated the company's instant film manufacturing process. General consensus: It's an impressive undertaking, but also kind of unnecessary and expensive.

Today, we're going to focus on the impressive part, with this video showing the manufacturing process that creates Impossible Project instant film. It's 5 minutes long, but the joy you'll get from watching it rivals those old Sesame Street crayon manufacturing videos, so it's totally worth it. Conclusion: The Impossible Project may not be necessary, but it sure is a lot of fun to watch.

Video Link

Via Gizmodo, with a tip of the hat to Gideon VanRiette.


  1. Cool, but not cooler than Sesame Street crayon factory tour. Not even the same league.


    1. Wordless.
    2. Magical.
    3. People.

  2. the MISTER ROGERS crayon video is far superior to S. STREET.

    McFeely 4 president!

  3. Um, Ok, Boingboing, I love you and all, but given all the goofy bougie “design” crap (some of which I love) that regularly gets showcased here, is necessity really an evaluating criterion? IP is the only source for a medium (integral Polaroid film) that a lot of people still use. Personally, I’m more into peelaparts (love ya, Fuji!) but I like the integral, too. It’s no more unnecessary than crayons. After all, doesn’t everybody just draw on his/her ipad nowadays?

    1. Heh, was thinking something similar:

      “3D printed ugly alligator clips?! That’s fantabulous! Can you somehow incorporate circuit boards in there?”
      “Producing, at great personal cost, film to allow the continuation of a camera format? Eh, it’s not exactly IMPORTANT, is it? But at least it looks cool…”

  4. Off topic, but I find it interesting that American versions of Canadian documentaries (like How Its Made or occasionally Nature of Things) leave the narration content intact, but change the narrator. Is there a reason for this?

    “David Suzuki, who’s that guy? — I know, let’s get Mark Hamill.”

    1. Americans like either a strong, clear British accent or a completely non-regional one. Otherwise we’re just snickering at the eh’s and aboots and we can’t focus on the subject.

      True story.

    2. I’ve heard several different narrators on How It’s Made, including at least one Canadian one (while watching tv in Canada). This narrator is the guy who was on it originally in the US, and for a while he was replaced by someone else – and I was sorely disappointed. The other guy sucked and this guy is pretty great. They’ve brought him back so obviously I wasn’t the only one who felt that way :)

      But anyway I agree with those saying this isn’t as good as the crayon video. This isn’t even a particularly interesting How It’s Made segment (though as an amateur photography I am interested in the process, it wasn’t particularly fascinating like a lot of the random stuff on the show is).

  5. I’m all for cool DIY “Maker”-ish hoohah, but if your “how to make X” process includes the step “buy an X-making factory,” you may have somewhat missed the larger point of the exercise.

    1. How about if half the chemicals in the old Polaroids are then outlawed by the Kyoto Treaty thus making you have to develop entirely new chemical balances to do the same thing? That’s why they haven’t had color film for two years. All they essentially got was the tools to make the assembly go faster, there’s still a ton of Make in reinventing Polaroid.

  6. I could give a toss about Kodachrome, but I really miss the widespread availability of Polaroid. It was large format (minus tilt-shit capabilities) for the everyman, and unless you’re using one of their slide printers, every print is unique. One of the best fine art photographic mediums– glad these guys are keeping it going (I prefer the peel-aparts too, but it is all expensive as hell)

  7. Those sample shots looked like crap. I mean they’re all brown with no variety in colour. As a Lomo owner, I’ve kinda always hated Polaroids – which is odd.

    I wonder if the narration change has more to do with talent contracts. In other words, the voice talent might not be a part of the right guild for air in America, is asking too much or whatnot.

    1. Oddly enough it’s because they spent the entire time talking about color film but only showed the making of and examples from the monochrome film. Real color film has three different colors in the three different chambers where the chemicals go, each one squeezing onto it’s own layer. If you want to see color film shots there are some here:

  8. “Unnecessary”…oh, because you can just use your IPhone or whatever digital device. And an app to make it look like a Polaroid. Because the real thing is no good, but the simulacrum is great! And that way you don’t have to deal with messy things like chance. As for replacing the narrator’s voice, they do the same thing in Ireland, even for shows like Mythbusters. The cast is the same, but the narration is done by an Irish person.

  9. I reused the batteries from used Polaroid film packs for my Sinclair TV80. You just needed to peel of some of the insulation to match the contacts. Great stuff!

  10. “General consensus: It’s an impressive undertaking, but also kind of unnecessary and expensive.”

    I believe this is exactly what the Catholic Church told the Pope about painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Well, that and they went on at length about how the scaffolding was going to get in the way of vespers.

    Seriously, can’t this be said of any kind of art if it’s not your bag? I consider the IP necessary and well worth the cost of the shots I get. If it was truly unnecessary we’d be talking about them like we do gaslight or torches instead of in the present tense.

  11. I loved my old SX-70 i bought at a camera shop about 10 years ago. it was an antique then but i still liked it. the pictures were fun. i am glad someone is making Polaroid film again.

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