Kodak CEO in Mumbai to promote film and growth of print business

Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke is in Mumbai as part of a high profile cinema weekend to talk about restoring films and the future of cinematography along with Hollywood director Christopher Nolan, artist Tacita Dean, founder of the Film Heritage Foundation Shivendra Singh Dungarpur and other leaders of India’s film and cinematography industry in a roundtable discussion. This is part of the Reframing the Future of Film 4 set of events which will be hosted at multiple venues across the city.

30 Mar 2018 | By PrintWeek India

Kodak CEO, Jeff Clarke spoke exclusively to PrintWeek India at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai and said, "The global enthusiasm for film continues to thrive, especially here in India." He added, "Mumbai is one of the centres of the motion picture industry, and Kodak looks forward to growing our presence here and seeing more projects shot on film."

Other than revving up for the Future of Film, Clarke looked pleased with the full-year and Q4 2017 earnings, posting USD 94m in net earnings for the year, even though the revenue is down 7% to USD1.5bn from USD1.64bn in 2016.

Clarke mentioned, "In 2017, we experienced headwinds in our PSD (Print Systems Division) business, associated with macroeconomic conditions with the price of aluminium, overall slowdowns in the commercial print industry and competitive pricing pressures. We were also impacted by a decline in our industrial film business."

He said the company had taken "decisive actions” to address these factors, including a worldwide plate price increase of 4% to 9% announced in September. This is the one reason, plates sales have witnessed "a seven-year high".

He was delighted with the progress of key product lines, including the Kodak Flexcel NX plates line in the Flexographic Packaging Division (FPD). This, he said, continues to do well, with volume for the product line growing by 17% year-on-year. The Kodak Sonora Process Free plates line, meanwhile, grew by 21% year-on-year.

Clarke said the packaging business is "well-positioned for continued double-digit growth in both revenue and EBITDA for 2018".

He added profitability was achieved in the Enterprise Inkjet Systems Division (EISD) and delivered 13% Prosper annuity growth.

Clarke spoke at length about Kodak's new Sonora X plates. "This will ensure nearly every offset printer can now benefit from process-free platemaking."

According to Clarke, the new plates have been specifically developed to remove many of the performance barriers to process-free adoption. He stated, "Sonora X process-free plates offer longer run lengths, faster imaging and more robust handling capabilities than other process-free plates."

Clarke: "The Nexfinity boasts of lower running costs, higher speed and higher imaging quality"

He estimates up to 80% of the offset print market will now be able to go process free.

The new plates are targeted at large commercial sheetfed printers, heatset and coldset web printers, offset packaging printers, and printers running UV and low-energy UV inks. In addition, the new Sonora X-N process-free plate extends the technology to medium and large newspaper printers.

Clarke also spoke about the Nexfinity, the most versatile sheetfed digital press on the market – the next evolution of the NexPress platform.

The Nexfinity boasts of "lower running costs, higher speed and higher imaging quality." According to Clarke, "It is targeted at high-volume printers that focus on direct mail, marketing collateral, short-run publishing, short-run labels and tags, retail signage and POS."

Using Kodak’s dynamic imaging technology, it increases the density of information to be imaged by four times compared with the NexPress, offering 1,200dpi and 256 exposure levels to increase detail in highlight and shadow areas. Its dynamic imaging technology automatically optimises images in real time using computational screening algorithms.

According to PrintWeek India's assessment of the press, "The five-colour Nexfinity is designed to compete with Xerox’s iGen 5, HP’s Indigo 7 Series and 12000, and inkjet engines like the Canon Océ VarioPrint i300."

Kodak claims that the Nexfinity's range of application capabilities is its broadest yet, and when launched it will be able to be integrated into a wide variety of workflow and finishing setups. It can run at speeds from 83 to 152ppm and comes with a 48in (1.2m) longsheet option as standard.

The PrintWeek India team rounded off the interview with Clarke about the eternal battle between pixels and grains. Clarke said, "I think there’s an analog renaissance happening. There’s some digital fatigue. Things like the vinyl revolution, what’s happening with film-makers and their major motion pictures, new Super 8 products, as well as the Maker movement around the world — I think we’re on the tip of a real comeback for these things."

Jeff Clarke rounded off, "The fact is that there are a series of film artists, big names like Spielberg, Tarantino, Nolan, Abrams — who only want to shoot with film. There’s certain actors who have said they prefer to be shot in film: Daniel Craig, Tom Cruise, Tina Fey. They do not want to be shot on digital or on video, because they see the difference in the medium — it’s warmer, the medium is analog like we are as human beings."

Therein lies a huge message for the naysayers of traditional print.

Sonora plates - at a glance

Kodak rolled out Sonora XP and Sonora News Plates in 2012

The Sonora X and X-N plates will become available worldwide in the second quarter of 2018

New Sonora X plates build on Kodak's existing process-free technology

Kodak estimates up to 80% of the offset print market will now be able to go process free

Sonora X plates can run up to 400,000 impressions with heatset or commercial coldset web presses

Sonora X plates can run up to 200,000 impressions on sheetfed presses

Sonora X plates can print two to six times longer than Sonora XP plates, depending on application

Sonora plates play an important role and have reduced water consumption by more than 30% and eliminated all chemicals

Kodak forecasts the trend to process free plates will grow and anticipates 30% of the company’s plate volume will be process-free by 2019

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