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Michael LaVoie

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About Michael LaVoie

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  • Occupation
    Cinematographer
  • Location
    New York

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  1. If you're an outsider, the entertainment business is designed to make you quit. That applies to everyone. Also, keep in mind that Hollywood isn't greenlighting anything financially risky. But they acquire and distribute risky films all the time. The Oscars, Sundance, etc. These are actually reasons for studios to buy certain independent films where there is more diversity in front of and behind the camera. Moonlight, an Oscar winner of 2017 only pulled in 22million domestically on a 2M budget. Which for an indie is great. but for a best picture Oscar winner is pretty low by comparison to other winners. Dallas Buyers Club did $28M domestically on a 5M budget. Even for the top winning diversity films, they are usually box office bombs but studios buy them anyway for the awards.
  2. Most movies are co-financed and produced by various companies. This is for a number of reasons. Actors may own a production company and prefer a share of the profits over a salary, etc. So they join as a producing entity. But typically within this consortium there's one central developing company or production company that is the real reason the movie is being made. It's their film and they may choose to make that apparent in the credits. This is why there's a slideshow of logos in front of every movie. Nobody goes all in on financing their movie cause 99% of them lose money. It's not ego really. It's just making sure people know which of those companies actually made the film.
  3. I will consider Kinefinity a viable brand when AbelCine takes on their product line for sale or rent.
  4. Same. Way back in the day I'd actually color correct for a Rec709 consumer box TV set with factory settings and always had better results from that than any flat screen or computer monitor. Now I have an HP Dreamcolor Display calibrated with an X-rite puck and although it usually performs, there are always issues with getting true black. I use a waveform but it's those highlights and shadows where you want to know how dark is too dark. A war of attrition given how little people seem to care about true black at all these days. When calibrating or when finishing a grade I would often put a clip up online on an unpublished page and then visit a local bestbuys or Microcenter. Then I'd go through various brands of laptop PC's tablets, Macs etc. Whatever devices they had online and check out how the clip looked on a variety of screens and conditions. Just to see an overall benchmark. Calibrating only to industry specs leads to issues like that Game of Thrones finale battle scene that nobody could see because it was graded for a perfectly calibrated screen watched in a pitch black room with perfect internet speed. Best to plan for people watching stuff on phones and computers with wildly different results.
  5. I hope that after they filmed that shot of a single woman waist up, they also filmed a dance number with multiple subjects on frame together side by side head to toe. Otherwise that entire effort was killing a fly with a bazooka. You could do that shot with one crew member on a stage a quarter that size. Not sure anyone is safe in that pic anyway in spite of the PPE. Given the recent experiment we saw in Japan...
  6. This company builds systems that would definitely run unreal 5 with no trouble. https://www.pugetsystems.com/ I may talk to those guys end of summer to see about getting something custom built. Gotta save up.
  7. Yeah but the money for a topshelf graphics card or entire mocap system is nothing compared to what it would cost to shoot it live. I took a look at a complete package from Iclone and it was under $30k. Not too bad. Matt Workman took an interesting approach to capture and is using an HTC Vive. Which is cool cause at least you can play games on it. I haven't upgraded my post system in about 10 years so I'm probably gonna go all in on something that can do this. The time to learn it well enough to work proficiently is probably 3 years at a minimum. By then the processing power and software abilities and cost to build worlds, characters etc will probably come down in price and take less and less time. I see this whole effort as getting exponentially cheaper and faster for everyone and soon it will be a much more common mode of commercial and narrative production. I have several feature scripts for indies that cost too much to get a greenlight as a live action film nowadays anyway but they'd make great animated films. It's definitely worth looking into. The virtual camera unit system is awesome. Where you can use a tablet as a camera and handhold shots. I love that feature. I like Blender for now cause as you said it runs on older hardware and while I'm learning, it's perfect. Plenty of tutorials and the interfaces are similar anyway.
  8. Funny, I've been thinking the exact same thing. Blender or Unreal, Faceware tech, Rokoku suits and using lyrebird A.I. to change voices in post. Never seen this done on a small scale character driven indie film. That might be interesting. I'm starting with a small webseries in Blender. Finishing up the scripts now and learning the software. A feature film in Unreal or Blender might be tough for one person to manage. Have you asked anyone about the timeline of creating and rendering photorealistic characters and worlds for narrative production? I'm very curious about how long that might take. Also, the overall cost of buying objects and sets from those marketplaces vs scanning 2D photos of locations and making virtual sets out of them. I've seen people doing this in Blender. I can imagine the cost would add up. 110 scenes and 300 shots? That could become expensive if you have to buy all the assets in each shot. If you have to make it all from scratch it might take forever.
  9. The new Sony XPeria 1 ii Pro actually has an HDMI in to use the phone as a monitor. Though it would big as an EVF. It also supports live broadcasting through 5G. Sadly, this is not available in the US at the moment. Hopefully soon. It may turn out to be a Japan only product.
  10. Non-luck related career advancement is impossible. Someone somewhere is greenlighting you as the film or TV shows cinematographer and they have to say yes. Luck is just another word for timing. So you have to meet that individual, first, then they have to like you and or your work. Both out of your hands in most cases. Even if you go the producing route and literally create your own opportunity. You still have to pitch investors. Sit down with bankers and convince them of your vision and ability to make it happen. So even in that case they have to say yes. The only way out of luck is to be independently wealthy. Which many successful Hollywood players are. Take Megan Ellison. Annapurna is basically a hobby project. It continually loses money despite producing amazing films with A-list stars. Some people are just too big to fail though. When your father is Larry Ellison, you're not terribly worried about the bottom line.
  11. Correction: "Don't buy Apple, Nike or Levi".... products. But their stock? Uhm, yeah. Go for it. In the meantime, whether you're a narrative or commercial DP, the best thing you can do is team up with really talented writer/directors who have a strong vision and whose work, whether commercial or narrative will get noticed. Then you have to hope that as they move up, they take you with them. Cause that's how you typically climb. On the strength of the work and the relationships. However, the odds of this are so low. You have to find that person and click with them and then stars must align to make your projects viable and possible. All out of your control. Seriously, if I knew then what I know now, I'd say back off the cinematography thing entirely. haha. Learn how to produce. If you can create your own opportunities you can shoot whatever you want once you raise the money. Not that raising money isn't hard. It's very difficult but once you do, it gets slightly easier each time. Provided you make consistent returns to your investors or banks. Whichever are backing you.
  12. Drive-ins won't work in cities like NY. Rooftop Cinema Club which, one would think could manage this easier than most is still closed for Covid 19 till further notice. I've seen many movies at Rooftop Films. Looks like they may be gone soon as well.
  13. As someone who's been trying for a while to crack the code of working streaming revenue into a business plan, I can safely say that the obfuscation is by design and 100% intentional on the part of the major streaming platforms. None of them want filmmakers to know who is watching their films, how many people are watching or how much money your content is making them on their platform. If you knew, you could negotiate terms with an informed agenda. There are some attorneys out there who have some knowledge of the deals being struck and they've seen checks go out to filmmakers for contingent compensation packages but the length of contracts and exclusivity of the contracts determines the ROI and since that is so variable across properties, it's gonna be anybody's guess when you're pitching. Not a huge concern for the platforms like Amazon because their own original programming can cost a bundle and it doesn't matter if a single person watches. They literally burn money and it means nothing. But for anyone working outside and bringing them content, it helps to know what your content is worth when you're pitching financiers who are backing you. And right now that's the part of the equation that is deliberately kept as confusing and murky as possible. Cause the sad truth is, Netflix and Amazon, Hulu and the rest don't want their customers watching your content. They prefer if everyone watches their own.
  14. I would think a pandemic would fall under a force majeur clause like any other disaster. But yeah. This doesn't bode well.
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