After launching a Kickstarter in 2018, Hamish Gill’s pixl-latr was brought to life. A low-cost product aimed at anybody who uses a film camera, the pixl-latr is designed to make it easier for photographers to digitally copy photographic film with a digital camera. Find out more below!
1. What is the innovation behind the pixl-latr?
pixl-latr was designed to be a low-cost solution that would aid in the process of digitisation of photographic film. Film photography (as with vinyl) has seen a big resurgence in popularity in recent years, but technology has moved on. Back in the heydays of film, it was digitised with commercial and domestic scanners, but most of the manufacturers of this kit stopped making them in the early 2000s as digital photography took the lead. The result of this is that the process of digitisation has shifted toward people using digital cameras. The process of digitisation with a digital camera comes with a few hurdles, one of them being how the film is held in place for a photo to be taken of it.
pixl-latr solves this issue for the 3 major formats of film: 35mm, 120 and 5x4 large format. It holds the film flat in place against a diffuser which diffuses a backlight. It also masks off the light to make digitising the image easier and the results better quality.
2. What does this mean for Worcestershire?
Whilst some of our manufacturing is handled outside of Worcester in Tipton in the West Midlands, one of the parts is manufactured in Blackpole. It was always our plan to make the whole product in the UK, so having the whole supply chain within 20 miles of our offices is very satisfying. We have also taken on an apprentice who will continue to work with us when he finishes his training.
3. What is the positive impact?
There are a lot of areas of film photography that are getting more and more expensive. The cameras, film, and processing have all crept up in price in recent years. Yet the audience is getting younger and younger. My goal for pixl-latr was to produce a product that was readily available and at a price point that would be affordable for most people.
The next closest competitor is twice the price for a product that doesn’t do as much as the pixl-latr, and the prices of similar products go up from there. pixl-latr is an entry-level product, but it works very well and will provide a great place to start for many people when getting into the world of film photography and digitising at home.
4. What knowledge has been gained from this?
Prior to this project, I had no experience of bringing anything to market, never mind manufacturing something. So, to say I have learned a lot would be an understatement. Everything from how to launch and run a Kickstarter campaign (we raised £66,933) through to working with product designers, learning about tooling, injection moulding, how to manage such a project, and finally shipping thousands of products to practically every corner of the planet. It's been quite the experience!
5. What does the word “innovation” mean to you?
In honesty, I don't really know any more. I understand the dictionary definition, but it doesn't quite capture the breadth and depth of my experiences over the last couple of years. It means everything from headaches and stress to moments of having a real sense of achievement.
At one end of the spectrum, there is self-doubt, and the other there are customers saying, “It’s nice to buy a simple product that just works” (as one said to me on Twitter today). Comments like that bring enormous relief and satisfaction. By all these measures - and many more - the dictionary definition of the word alone seems hackneyed at best. The practical reality of innovation is a lot more interesting and exciting than the word could ever capture.
6. How can I find out more?
You can find out more about pixl-latr on our website: pixl-latr.com or my Twitter: @HamishGill
WINN brings innovators together, acting as a catalyst to create connections and collaborations across the diverse business landscape of Worcestershire.
Our belief is that great things can happen when people get together.
WINN is a Worcestershire Innovation Programme formed by Worcestershire County Council and the Worcestershire LEP