Hologram Film Types


There are multiple mastering films, mastering types, production films and production types that are or have been used in the creation of holograms. The most common is Silver Halide, this is the format chosen by artists because it is (or was but that's a long story) most affordable, created by an outside vendor (rather then deeding to be made by the holographer), and exposes well to the red spectrum for HeNe lasers which have always been the least costly (and least dangerous as generally lower power) and therefor most accessible to the greatest number of holographers.

Each film has different ways of being 'coated' and exposed. It is not possible really to say that a particular film is going to create images that are 'less deep', if the hologram is recorded it will be on a molecular level the same depth as the model it was created from (unless it is a stereogram but that's another kettle of fish (or I suppose table of light in this case! ;-). Silver Halide is (or was) available in both flexible film and coated glass plates. Glass plates are far more expensive (especially given the waste factors in setup) but far more stable. Further, flexible film is much more complicated to expose as generally it requires the custom build of a film-drive unit - so it is used far more by companies then individuals, as the companies can afford the replication devices which usually also include scanning lasers and other costly elements. Because holograms work best when completely flat, glass plate holograms are considered the standard for highest quality recording, flexible film (even if laminated to glass or acrylic) has a tendency to warp or bend and is more likely to degrade over time.

So flexible film can be replicated much more cost effectively, as glass plates are individually setup and exposed to the master hologram. Thus glass plate holograms are most always more expensive and are considered a higher quality product, though of course there are stellar flexible film holograms and horrible glass plate holograms that have been made. So, the film type/quality does not have any direct reflection on the image or exposure quality and thus value is driven by numerous factors not only the film type - and mainly these days collectability (if the artist was known, if it was a limited edition or appeared in any special shows etc.).

Polaroid founder Edwin Land (inventor of the first self developing camera, known as the Land Camera and holder of more then 500 patents!) hired Dr. Steven Benton in 1961, who went on to invent the White Light Viewable “Rainbow” hologram in 1968. In the early 1980's,Polaroid and DuPont pretty much simultaneously developed a holographic film called Photo Polymer. This film if produced correctly has much greater archival stability (much less prone to degradation due to environmental changes such as moisture). Moreover, photopolymer is much less costly than standard photo film and easier to convert in volume. But, photoplymer is extremely complicated to make and expose, thus Polaroid at the time took the position not to sell film but only expose their own holograms. I one of the first and longest term contracted outside agents for Polaroid, from their inception in early 1980’s to when they closed their doors due to the parent company bankruptcy. Their film remains in my opinion the best ever created in terms of final hologram appearance, extremely great holograms at very affordable prices. Polaroid had both in-house imagery and worked as a sub-contractor for companies who desired their own images (sometimes using outsideholographers as well).

I currently represent De La Rue Corporation for Graphics Use Imaged Photo Polymer Holograms. De La Rue recently purchased the DuPont Holographics Lab which has the world's only viable (IMHO) photopolymer film now, but it is only for small images - we currently have them on children's Speedo Swim Goggles you can find in Target and Costco and online, sharks, dolphins, hearts, eyes etc.