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.

Apple IIe Monitor ///


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.

Published by Brad Grier geek.hack