School Day Picture
An inquisitive Kid;
an inquiring genius;
a boy's memories!
A man's dream!
The Inventor: Cecil Williams
ASMP, SCPPA, PPA, Getty Contributor
South Carolina Archival Association
National Archival Association
Professional Photographer, Author of 4 books, publisher, artist,
Director of Historic Preservation, CU
Inventor of three products
A school day picture of me at six years old inspired my interest in photography. Three years later, nine years old, I launched a career with a Kodak Baby Brownie that continues even today. Hopefully, a treasured image may remind you the importance of saving precious memories of yesterday. Now, at 80 years old, I don't want a present-day picture of my ugly mug to scare you away.
But, I do want you to know how passionate I am about photography and history! Please read on as I share a short story about how I came about inventing FilmToaster.
In 1996, faced with massive tasks of preserving a collection of an estimated half million film negatives, I began scanning with flatbed scanners. After nearly 15 years of scanning–along the way, wearing out 7 flatbeds and two dedicated film scanners–I barely made a dent in my collection. "There must be a better way of doing this," I recall saying.
In 2010, I began experimenting with various ways of digitizing film using conventional methods. The camera-scanning concepts convinced me the best method, but no equipment was available for a wide array of formats. After five years and six prototypes fashioned from cardboard, balsa and metal, I perfected a system that would accomplish the task. I named it FilmToaster; a very simple and passive platform "black box," enabling digitization of large volumes of films with extremely high resolution. In 2015, at the urging of others, I began manufacturing FilmToaster selecting a high quality engineering firm on the "reservation" in North America.
Many photographers are consummate gadgeteers...and I am no different. Coming from over 60 years experience in photography, FilmToaster was not my first invention. From 1999 through 2004, I explored several creative technological solutions and designed two products for video and photography. One of my inventions, the ShoulderCam, helped launch era of what is now, camera support systems for DSLRs and video cameras. Another invention, Evolution Viewfinder (below, left; ad in a national magazine) was first viewfinder accessory that enabled eye-level viewing from a video camera's flip-out LCD. Without proper funding, it was a complete flop; but need I mention who began incorporating this concept into their cameras eight months later! More! At height of 1970s energy crisis, I invented the Environdome, a dual layer plexiglass dome, that when triggered by an electrical circuit, clouded over to prevent sunlight from entering an opening. Executives at Sear's Chicago headquarters, interviewed me but we wrangled over disclosure red tape ...leaving someone else to patent concept right under my nose. I've written four books, several of which have garnered awards and adopted by educational systems. Besides authoring books, I have designed and published the first-volume of over one-hundred books for authors. As a college student, I pursued and obtained a degree in art, and the same time, freelanced for major publications.
Today, my primary interests still continue with a passion for preserving historically significant images of events on film that depict second half of the 20th century. Many in my collection images are featured on Getty Images where I sell to a world-wide clientele.
In reality, each FilmToaster is a prototype, not mass produced units which I could have made less expensive having them manufactured 'across the big pond.' I custom make and test each FilmToaster from a location I call the "reservation." To honor a pledge of transparency, Later, on this same page, I will reveal a complete list of costs associated with parts and manufacturing of FilmToaster. Stop by again real soon!
For photographers who once photographed with film and many others associated with industry, medical universities, and libraries, a long standing challenge has been finding a speedy and competent method for scanning large volumes of photographic film.
The development of FilmToaster came about because the creator was challenged to find a solution to preserving tens of thousands of historically significant film images created over a 60-year photography career. The inventor of the FilmToaster, and two other photo-video accessories, is a professional photographer and Director of Historical Preservation at a small southern-based university.
From a one man shop, over a six year period, FilmToaster platform emerged from six prototypes; each worked, but perfection demanded continued development.
The world's first multi-format film platform!
Internationally Debuted - PhotoPlus Expo - New York
October 21-24, 2015
Hopefully, you might visit FilmToaster during the 2018 PPA Expo held January in Nashville.
Product names are protective property of companies mentioned for reference only.
Color Perfect - Plug-in for color negative scans
Books & Material Sources