QWD ECN-2 kit backstory
by Christopher Osborne.
We talk to QWD about their ECN-2 kit, and tell the backstory
I spoke to Jeremy Saltry of ًَََQWD on a Saturday. The folk at QWD are packaging 35mm Kodak Vision 3 motion picture film into 35mm cartridges. But much more significantly they are manufacturing a 1 litre ECN-2 kit so that movie film can be processed in the correct chemistry. And the really clever part is that this product can be shipped without transport restrictions!
Jeremy was in an office in a converted warehouse in Philadelphia. I could see the painted brick walls and large previous century windows in the background. We started off talking about the quirky name. “QWD – Quiet, we’re dreaming. It just came to me one day driving through Idaho. It is kind of an anti-company idea. We want to push boundaries”.
The QWD chemistry is the result of two years of research in a basement lab. Jeremy started reading everything that he could find on the ECN-2 process. “People were perpetuating bad information all over the internet”, he explains. He came across “PE” in forums like Photrio. “PE” or Photo Engineer was a retired Kodak chemist who helped him work through the ingredients of the ECN-2 process. Harmful chemicals were replaced and the result is that QWD have developed an environmentally friendly powder based kit can be shipped worldwide without transport restrictions.
There is nothing new about shooting stills on 35mm movie film. In Jeremy’s case he started using 35mm stills when scouting locations. He wanted to show prospective producers and directors what a scene might look like using the materials that they were used to. He started shooting on Nikon F5’s and F6’s and was processing Vision 3 film in C-41 chemistry. The colours just weren’t coming out right.
Jeremy is passionate about this project. He explains that in the world of still photography if large images were required, then photographers would shoot on either medium or even large format. But in the movie world, 35mm film was blown up to huge proportions on the screen. So films like Kodak’s Vision 3 have a far finer grain structure than their still professional equivalents Portra and Ektar. One lab estimates the resolution of a 35mm frame of Vision 3 50D to be the same as a 120 frame of Portra.
QWD product is on its fifth iteration. Attention has been paid to the packaging and instructions. “We wanted to give the product a reassuring voice”, explains Jeremy.
At the moment, the QWD team are focussed on scaling up the supply chain and on establishing a worldwide distribution network for both their film and their chemistry. The challenges are typical of those one would expect for new products that are gaining traction in the marketplace. Relationships are being forged, and the production and distribution of their product is becoming a truly global affair. The days of hand packing product are over, and these days third party contractors are cutting and packing film and mixing product.
The world of analogue photography’s resurgence has brought about many interesting developments. And QWD is certainly right up there. Who could have foreseen a world where ECN-2 chemistry had become easier to supply and ship than C-41 chemistry?
Update: The SilvergrainClassics team have been shooting Kodak Vision 3 on Super 8. We developed some of it using the QWD ECN-2 kit and we will share the results shortly.
All images courtesy QWD © QWD 2021.
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