How to make a Polaroid from any digital image

Even though Polaroid instant camera and film packs are no longer being made by the Polaroid Corporation, you can get that same look on your digital photos with Once upon a time you had to manually create these things in Adobe Photoshop or GIMP. Not any more.

Basically, Rollip takes your image and does some behind-the-scenes magic, and creates a new image that’s been Polaroid-ed.

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Now, the site is pretty basic, yet offers some very sophisticated image manipulation under the hood. Very cool.

To find out more about the application, I went to the source.  Maurice Sikkink,’s Lead Developer, was kind enough to take a few questions from me about the service and the company:

Q) Can you tell me a bit about the development team?
The whole Rollip team consts of me and one freelancer (who helps with promoting the site) and some contractors to do the decoration designs. So i’ve done most of the things available on the site myself, including the development and design of the website.

Q) Why Polaroid? Can we expect Kodak 110, Holga or Disc next 😉 ?
I came up with the idea after browsing through some old family polaroids, and thought it would be really cool if people could have the same effect but for new digital photographs, to enliven them up a little.

Then after launching the initial concept, I saw a girl on the subway carrying a bag which had a big polaroid on it and some text annotated at the bottom; that’s how i got to offering people the extra to put some text and decorations on their Polaroids.

So more effect will be added, and yes Kodak 110 is something i’d love to offer (I did a first try with, but it’s not there yet).

Q) Can you talk a bit about the technology (hardware / software) behind Rollip?
Rollip is completely built on Ruby (on rails). The website front itself is built using Rails, while the backend image processing is done with RMagick (ImageMagick for Ruby). Basically a lot of different steps are taken to get to the end result, from changing channel curves to adding a soft-focus.

Q) Hosting photos can be an expensive proposition, can you talk a bit about your business model?
At the moment it’s just ad-supported, but there is one cool way to monetize the site i’d like to try; i’d love to offer the possibility for people to order a pack of 10 printed Polaroids from the digital ones they’ve created on the site, and they will resemble the real things as closely as possible. Sort of a way to bring ‘Polaroid’ back to life if you like.

This will take some time to set-up (it’s not an easy thing to do for sure, in terms of setting up the machinery), but it’s definitely something i’d love to offer. So for this to happen the site has to become much bigger in terms of visitors, and then i can look for an investor who might like to try this out.

Q) Can you talk a bit about your product offering? How many photos can I ‘Polaroid-ize’?
Currently there is no limit on the amount of photos you can Polaroidize, and i can’t see the need for putting a limit on it. One thing i’d like to do is offer the possibility to edit text/crop the photo more easily after and before the Polaroid has been generated,but it’s still a webapp, so we can’t be as flexible as a desktop app in that area though.

Also i’d like to offer a two weekly newsletter with cool stuff about Polaroids or vintage photos, something like Photojojo but more on the vintage side of things. The first newsletter is expected to appear in a few weeks time.

Q) If I use Rollip, will I retain all rights, well all the rights that I have in my home country, to the image or is the new image owned by Rollip?
The user will retain all rights, I don’t seen any real advantage of Rollip owning the copyright on the image.
Ok, so it’s a pretty cool little web app, and I can see using it to quickly generate a Polaroid, rather than futzing around in Photoshop.

Ok, so it’s a pretty cool little web app, and I can see using it to quickly generate a Polaroid, and not futzing around in Photoshop.

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