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Kodak to stop making cellulose acetate for film

Kodak Camera Lens

Eastman Kodak Co, the photography icon that invented the hand-held camera and helped bring the world the first pictures from the moon, is exiting the camera business. (Reuters)

Could film soon join vinyl and VCR tapes in the dustbin of technologies come and gone?

Eastman Kodak Co. says it's ending in-house production of cellulose acetate next week -- an important component of camera film -- and cutting 61 jobs.

The move is clearly a sign of the changing times, as the once-powerful company wrestles with bankruptcy and seeks to exit some of the areas it is most associated with in the eyes of the public. But rest assured, shutterbugs, Kodak is not ending production of film entirely -- far from it, said Kodak spokesman Christopher Veronda.

'We will continue to make film.'

- Kodak spokesman Christopher Verdona

“We have years worth of inventory that we have built up and we are looking at options for external supply beyond that,” Kodak spokesman Christopher Veronda told FoxNews.com.

It’s hard to predict precisely how long that inventory will last, but the company has stockpiled many "wide rolls" of film base, each more than a mile long and over 5 feet in width. The plastic-like material is coated with image-capture emulsions and then cut down to familiar sizes such as 35-mm before being packaged and sent to stores.

And that process will go on, despite the changes at the factory.

We will continue to make film,” Veronda said, noting that Kodak will make billions of feet of film this year.

The company continues to make polyester film base he added, and has cut acetate to account for the declining demand for film, in order to “maintain it as a profitable business and sustain its life.” It’s simple economics: With the explosion of digital cameras, and now smartphones that replace those cameras, far fewer people are buying film.

“The vast majority of  film produced today is for motion picture purposes,” Veronda said.

Kodak filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification notice with the state Labor Department earlier this month, according to Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle, indicating it would be laying off 61 workers by the end of August.

We continue to make a wide variety of consumer and professional camera films,” he told FoxNews.com.