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View Full Version : Hollywood's new reality amid special effects boom


Adso
05-17-2006, 08:45 PM
Very interesting article in the Wall Street Journal regarding the costs to make an effects driven movie these days. The WSJ article requires a login, so here's a link to the story in the money section at AOL (http://money.aol.com/news/articles/_a/hollywoods-new-reality-amid-special/n20060512083609990001?cid=1212).


Spurred by box-office success, studios are lavishing unprecedented time and money on whiz-bang effects. Their enthusiasm is creating a new dynamic in moviemaking in which technology is replacing on-screen talent as the biggest source of budget inflation. This summer's films, which are packed with digital extravaganzas, are helping set a new benchmark: the $200 million movie.

Given Michael Bay's recent purchase of Digital Domain, maybe effects house ownership is one way Directors see of keeping their costs down?

BrandonD
05-17-2006, 08:49 PM
"We used to get flack for being nerds," says Colin. "Now we're nerds with Ferraris and Bentleys."


Bawhahahahahahaha!

No wait....

Bawhhwhawewehhahahahahehwewhahhaa...pee my pants laughing...hahahaha.

ntmonkey
05-18-2006, 12:08 AM
I don't have a ferrari and bently...I'm a nerd. Where's my bag of cash? :cry:

-Lu

SheepFactory
05-18-2006, 12:32 AM
Hey Colin what are the specs of your $300.000 workstation man? :eek:

Flog
05-18-2006, 12:49 AM
Wow sounds like an industry that is also killing itself. How the price is going up instead of down with the advance in technology is beyond me.

I think they have hit the pinnacle of how real something can look in CG.

What gets me is they waste all this money and less and less people are actually going to the movies.

They are going to outprice themselves out of business, but that leaves more room for the little guys.

Hollywood movie making is going to implode on itself with these prices rising.

BrandonD
05-18-2006, 12:56 AM
Awww...I can't stop laughing at this. It's completely made me miss the entire article and just focus on those CG rockstar guys...bawhahahaha!

Flog
05-18-2006, 12:58 AM
I'm still trying to price a 300,000 dollar workstation. I really want to see the specs.

BrandonD
05-18-2006, 01:29 AM
It's probably one of those high-end 2k film playback machines ;)

leuey
05-18-2006, 03:14 AM
I'm kind of shaking my head here. Besides not being able to grasp Mission Impossible mentioned in the same sentence as ET and Jurassic Park, wtf is with the 'Ferraris and Bentleys', the $300,000 workstations and another $300,000K a year in IT for a small shop? Strause brother's, I suggest you ask to review the articles you're mentioned in so you don't come out looking like ......(edited out..it was a little harsh) - sorry, but that's the impression.


-Greg

talos72
05-18-2006, 03:50 AM
First thing the Strausses need is a good hardware guy to hook them up. Honestly, it does not take millions to start a very small shop...I don't know about the delux screening room though! They must have a grip of money to burn through.

richcz3
05-18-2006, 06:02 AM
From the title Hollywood's new reality...

Is it really sustainable? and for How long?

I would venture to say that pressure from competing mediums and deminishing returns from 100+ mil a pop movies will force studios to seek alternatives to big FX films.

Bonedaddy
05-18-2006, 06:07 AM
First thing the Strausses need is a good hardware guy to hook them up.


Second thing they need is a bunch of random people on cgtalk telling them how to run their shop. :cool:

Seriously, no offense meant to any of you, but Hydaulx is a very successful shop, and only getting more so. If they have a $300k machine, they probably needed it for something. Decked out infernos run that much, I think. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, at least.

stevopolis
05-18-2006, 08:00 AM
A lot of the article sounds like exaggeration. 300,000 workstation. They must be referencing an old article describing costs of highend SGIs. Sure makes the industry sound glamorous though, although we all know the reality of it. Most small vfx studios go belly up as soon as a project goes bust...

ManuelM
05-18-2006, 08:29 AM
i wouldn't pay too much attention about what the article is saying... those reporters have no clue what they're writing about. maybe they've been explained on how much an inferno costs, but the article creates the impression, that colin might have a 300.000 $ pc under his desk.

journalists are also good in turning your own words into something that has a completely different flavour. let's say you're being interviewed and you say

Some people might think what we're doing is nerd-stuff. but we didn't listen to others and worked our way up. last year i fulfilled my dream and bought a ferrari.

it could turn out like in the article...

We used to get flack for being nerds," says Colin. "Now we're nerds with Ferraris and Bentleys."

I remember a thread where colin described the beginnings of his and his brothers career. It was really inspirational for me and gave me lot's of motivation to work much harder. So I'm happy for them, that they get a piece of nowadays' monster budgets for themselves and their artists.

why should only tom cruise be able to drive a fast car and not the people who work hard to make him look cool???

rebo
05-18-2006, 08:36 AM
Second thing they need is a bunch of random people on cgtalk telling them how to run their shop.

Seriously, no offense meant to any of you, but Hydaulx is a very successful shop, and only getting more so. If they have a $300k machine, they probably needed it for something. Decked out infernos run that much, I think. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, at least.


Agreed, most of the people posting dont really understand how business works.

That kind of money doesnt actually go that far when you consider all expenditure. Futhermore just because they are using $300,000 worth of tech doesnt mean that its all bought and paid for. Its not like you phone up dell and say "oh make me a $300,000 machine, my cheques in the post".

BrandonD
05-18-2006, 04:24 PM
Regardless, they come across as rather arrogant and that is something in CG land that really has little merit. Here's a word of advice to all of you CG folks out there - rich, poor, successful, failing: "Never forget where you came from." We all sucked at this at one time or another. This community is too small and what we do is too much of a luxury for people to act so self-important. Seriously, it's not like we're curing cancer here. We're making a living creating pretty pictures, and for most of us that's damned fun and something we're passionate about. But to act like it's something bigger than that and to parade around like you're hotsh!t, that's just lame.

Oh and if you run a successful studio AND you brag about luxury cars, you need to wake the hell up and recognize the people who've sweat and bled for you to get to that point. Your success may have come at a price for others.

Humility is a REQUIREMENT in this industry - for everyone.

playmesumch00ns
05-18-2006, 04:36 PM
Removed a slightly offensive comment

mental
05-18-2006, 04:37 PM
Hey Colin what are the specs of your $300.000 workstation man? :eek:

Doesn't Hydraulix own a few Inferno suites?

That might explain the 30k.

mech7
05-18-2006, 04:52 PM
It's a 1 billion gigahurz.. every millionaire geek needs one...

But I think they probably mean server rack or render farm or something

I'm still trying to price a 300,000 dollar workstation. I really want to see the specs.

BrandonD
05-18-2006, 05:48 PM
I'm pretty sure it's an Inferno.....for 2k playback. :rolleyes:

jeremybirn
05-18-2006, 06:05 PM
The article seemed to miss 2 key points:

It's the total number of VFX artists working in the industry that has increased greatly in recent years, not the amount they are each paid. Individual VFX cost less than they did in the past, and top VFX artist are not really getting paid any better than they were in the 1990's. The extra budgets are being spent mostly on employing more people, adding a much bigger quantity of effects and doing things that weren't possible before.

Studios are spending more on VFX because audiences are not going to the theater for an average, $50-80 million dollar film. If a film isn't a huge "event," most people wait to rent the video. To be profitable, it's almost as if there's no middle ground: a film either has to be cheap enough to profit even if most people only watch it on video, or a big blockbuster event that actually gets people out to the theaters.

-jeremy

Kai01W
05-18-2006, 06:16 PM
Funny how some people seem to think all the work in this biz is now done on cheap PCs.
One of the compositors from hydraulx on this very forum said they do most of their stuff on inferno + burn renderfarm. Believe me, you hit the 300k mark very fast with this.
30k Monitors? Check the prices on Sony 30" HD CRT Control monitors and you'll see this is a very realistic number. 300k is not that much over the top in the finishing / grading world either.

-k

BrandonD
05-18-2006, 06:19 PM
Oh actually this puts the whole Ferrari and Bentley comment in a whole new light! Need more HD monitors for a project? Sell one of your cars ;)

CENOBITE
05-18-2006, 06:54 PM
$2mil film...? Meh, I'm still waiting for the $200 million videogame. ;)

Bonedaddy
05-18-2006, 06:57 PM
Regardless, they come across as rather arrogant and that is something in CG land that really has little merit.


DD had the whole 'bad boy' thing going for years before Hydraulx came on the scene. There's always going to be some studio ruffling feathers. Best thing is to just not get riled up about it. Bitterness and sour grapes don't have much merit in CG land either, but it doesn't mean that they're not out there in spades. :)

Relax. It's a factually suspect article. One of many. :)

BrandonD
05-18-2006, 07:05 PM
Oh, they're not the only ones that come across to me as self-important and rather arrogant. There are artists all over the community that act this way. It just frustrates me to read this kind of stuff or see that kind of behavior. Then again, I'm living a skewed perspective. I just came back from a year in a war zone, hunting down bad guys, helping people, rebuilding schools and making a difference in oppressed people's lives daily. Forgive me if I now have zero tollerance for BS behavior in this industry.

emeyers
05-18-2006, 07:24 PM
Oh, they're not the only ones that come across to me as self-important and rather arrogant. There are artists all over the community that act this way. It just frustrates me to read this kind of stuff or see that kind of behavior. Then again, I'm living a skewed perspective. I just came back from a year in a war zone, hunting down bad guys, helping people, rebuilding schools and making a difference in oppressed people's lives daily. Forgive me if I now have zero tollerance for BS behavior in this industry.

Ah, the artist's ego. I'm not really suprised. Humility is something that is very important to me, and you obviously, and the great artists who possess that trait I really look up to. But you need not look farther than these very internet forums to spot some of the attention whoring, self-absorbed artists who feel their work is larger than life. I really wish humility were a requirement in this industry, like you say, but even some of the most notable artists around this community have a serious lack of it

BrandonD
05-18-2006, 07:27 PM
Maybe you have to be from San Rafael to feel that way? ;)

I grew up on Lucas Valley Rd.

emeyers
05-18-2006, 07:37 PM
Haha, small world. Perhaps its true then, when you grow up in the shadow of skywalker ranch :D

charleyc
05-18-2006, 07:48 PM
While I am not part of Hollywood's VFX scene, I think public opinion of it can go a long way in related areas of the field. One thing about this article that seemed to rub me the wrong way is the impression given to some average Joe that knows nothing of the VFX industry. It makes it out like they (VFX artists) are greedily ripping off Hollywood. That a film MUST have this in order to make it these days and those nerds that now view themselves as artists are rinding around in Ferrari's and Bentley's spending hundreds of thousands on computers, driving up the costs of films, and all for what? To me that is not a very good impression of this industry, even if it is true in some cases. First off, it is up to the studio/director/producer/whoever else to decide if they are going to spend the money for VFX and how much they want to add. Also, everyone I know that works on feature films, works their butts off for a paycheck, same as anyone else. I for one, as a freelancer trying to feed his family, don't want public opinion of my job being that it is wastefully extravagant, in need of severe cost re-evaluation. Whether or not these guys (the Strauss brothers) intended to come across this way, or if it was the intent of the article writer, I think this article could be a bit misleading.

beaker
05-18-2006, 08:08 PM
What gets me is they waste all this money and less and less people are actually going to the movies.

They are going to outprice themselves out of business, but that leaves more room for the little guys.

Hollywood movie making is going to implode on itself with these prices rising.Hollywood is still making more money then ever before, people are just buying more dvd's instead of going to the theater. Just look at the countless 100 million dollars in dvd sales in 1 month they are getting these days that they never got from videotape. They just use that whole bellyaching about the theaters as an excuse so they can use it for political lobbying for the MPAA.

So if you make 250 million in the theater and 150 million in dvd sales, your actually making more then when you previously made 400 million in the theater because the additional costs in putting movies in a theater rather then printing it on dvd.

richcz3
05-18-2006, 08:47 PM
Right. There was a very interesting panel discussion at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Studios make approx 10-15% of their income from "Theatrical Release" of movies.
It depends on the studio and their distribution model but a significant part of many studios is in DVD release and other channels. Three months and reducing almost every quarter.

Expect the Day of release simulatneously in theaters and pay per view then "HD on demand" to further lessen the theatrical release. The wireless market is booming like no ones business right now. TV and Studios are building up for it.

Of course. theatres are really in the hurt on all of this, but the model simply is simply too expensive for the consumer.

emeyers
05-18-2006, 09:30 PM
Right. There was a very interesting panel discussion at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Studios make approx 10-15% of their income from "Theatrical Release" of movies.
It depends on the studio and their distribution model but a significant part of many studios is in DVD release and other channels. Three months and reducing almost every quarter.

Expect the Day of release simulatneously in theaters and pay per view then "HD on demand" to further lessen the theatrical release. The wireless market is booming like no ones business right now. TV and Studios are building up for it.

Of course. theatres are really in the hurt on all of this, but the model simply is simply too expensive for the consumer.

Something I don't understand is why theaters don't just cut their prices. The prices seem to have risen, I used to be able to see a movie for $7.50, and now the regular show prices are up to $9.50 and $10 on weekends. Can a $6 or $7 movie ticket really not cover the cost of running a theater and licensing the films? I mean it seems like Century would be smart enough to test the market in a few areas by cutting their ticket prices down by a few bucks and see if that entices more movie-goers. Perhaps I am just ignorant on the subject, could anyone who has firsthand experience in the theater industry shed some light on this?

beaker
05-18-2006, 09:52 PM
Something I don't understand is why theaters don't just cut their prices. The prices seem to have risen, I used to be able to see a movie for $7.50, and now the regular show prices are up to $9.50 and $10 on weekends.Theater owners make very little from the film. Depending the theater it is between 10-30% of the movie's pull for the first 6 weeks and then rises after that.

Flog
05-18-2006, 09:58 PM
It's not them making the prices, they mainly make their money on concessions, not tickets. The movie industry sets the price of hte tickets, not the theatres, of course they have a hand in it due to agreements and contracts but most of the price gouging falls in the hands of Hollywood.

They keep raising prices of movie making so think to compensate they have to raise the price at the ticket booth. In turn that turns people away from the movies cause it is too expensive.

They then keep making flops at the box office over and over again, but less people are going so they raise the price again and again.

They are starting to run a dumb business.

Make a movie for 200 million dollars - well we have to raise the prices to make sure we make our money back

Consumer looks at it and says "Dude, 10 bucks for a movie for us and the kids? No way, I'll wait till it comes out on DVD"

Consumers are less likely to invest their money. To risky and maybe not even get a good return as of late.

What they should do is lower the prices, and make their money back in BULK. Lower the price between 4-7 dollars and draw 3xs more people.

The lower the price to get a family in the movie, the more families and folks will go.

BULK sales.

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/adjusted.htm

Notice that the original Star Wars unadjusted still made 460,000,000 and we are talking domestic and when prices were like 1 dollar. More people went to the movies back then because it was affordable.

BULK baby. Lower the price and they will come. Now a days as the prices go up you have to budget just to go to a movie with your family. If the price went down you would encourage people to be more passive and just go to the movies like the good ol days.

Oh and get this, they don't blame the rising price of tickets for people not going to movies, they blame piracy. I don't know about you, but how many families of 4 are huddled around a TV watching a screener? On top of that, those that get screeners online, also have been documented to spend more money buying DVDs than the average person.

Technology should be making these movies cheaper, but seem to only make them more expensive. So much for technology.

leuey
05-18-2006, 10:26 PM
Well, my point was that they came across as arrogant dumbasses - not that they necessarily are arrogant dumbasses. That's why I suggested they ask to review an article before it gets printed. Also, I don't think anybody is disputing the cost of an inferno - the article made it seem as though they claimed to have personal workstations costing 300K (hence the coming across as 'dumbasses' part)

The author DID put "Mission Impossible" as one of the groundbreaking SFX movies along w/ JP and ET - 'nuff said.

Isn't 'Jackdeth(?)' (the skull avatar) one of those guys? I don't post much around here anymore but he used to post helpful bits in the maya rendering forum - he seemed pretty normal.

The lack of humility bit (not necessarily in this case) is right on though. And what's with the 'Revenge of the Nerds' crap?, that's so old. You'd think that nobody on cgtalk has ever gotten laid.

-Greg

malducin
05-18-2006, 11:47 PM
BULK baby. Lower the price and they will come.

That won't happen until the studios lower or adjust the percentage they take from the tickets to a more reasonable structure. Now films make most of their theatrical money in the first 2 weeks, films tend to fizzle out more quickly nowadays. In the old days, even moderately successful films could have a run of weeks which would allow it to make a profit. Now by the time a theatre starts getting a good percentage of the ticket prices, the film is mostly out of the theatres with little attendance.

vindraven
05-19-2006, 12:19 AM
I definatly agree with the need for the humility thing that everyone is talking about. Seen plenty of "rockstars" and it's easy to see thier path for the future.

Over time, this industry will purge the egos.............

d

BrandonD
05-19-2006, 12:43 AM
This really is an industry that very much judges you by your quality of work, but not that alone. Your reliability on projects as well as how well you get along with people in a team and contribute can be almost as important. Sometimes confidence can be misconstrued as arrogance and I think most of us will tend to give a really talented production artist the benefit of the doubt in this case.

But if you think you're hot stuff and you fluant it, guess what? You're a dork. Unfortunately it's all too easy for people surrounded by folks who stroke their egos in hopes of working vicariously through them to get a bit high on themselves...hell, it's Hollywood, right?

talos72
05-19-2006, 04:23 AM
I think the piracy issue is probably a small (if not negligible) part of the problem, and I would hardly consider piracy as a major hit to the bottom line. As mentioned, those who really want to see a film so badly will either gather up their posse on a friday and fork up the $10 or wait for Netflix. Theater attendance is down for a combination of reasons, one of which is definitly a lack of quality original content being released by big studios (and I don't mean Sony Classics or Miramax stuff). Some of the best films that usually go under the radar are either relatively low budget indie fair (though even the word "indie" is suspect nowadays) or some foreign films. Hell, some of the best stuff I have seen in recent years have actually been documentaries-- no FX work there!

Beyond the $10 price of a ticket, the audience are subjected to soft drink and car commercials for half an hour before the film....exactly the crap you want to avoid by turning off your tv and hitting the theaters.

Nevertheless, the FX boom is a fading fad I assure you and that's what makes it a boom as all booms end sometime. Good artists with talent and skill will weather the market fluctuations, generally. Those who are truly passionate about the creative process and have the chops may stick around for a long time. In a possible scenario, when the old studio system has faded and studio management types have left their desks, artists may still be producing and distributing their own stuff online...no thanks to studio execs.

beaker
05-19-2006, 05:42 AM
Nevertheless, the FX boom is a fading fad I assure you and that's what makes it a boom as all booms end sometime. Good artists with talent and skill will weather the market fluctuations, generally. Those who are truly passionate about the creative process and have the chops may stick around for a long time. In a possible scenario, when the old studio system has faded and studio management types have left their desks, artists may still be producing and distributing their own stuff online...no thanks to studio execs.When is this boom supposed to fade? It's been slowly booming since the beginning of the film industry 70+ years ago. It is going to magically fade after all these years? I don't think so.

The smallest independent movies have fx in it these days, even if they are simple boom mic paintouts.

RobertoOrtiz
05-19-2006, 05:55 AM
I definatly agree with the need for the humility thing that everyone is talking about. Seen plenty of "rockstars" and it's easy to see thier path for the future.

Over time, this industry will purge the egos.............

d

It already happened once.
Back when the stock market crashed in 2000 the cg world had a HUGE pratfall.


-R

beaker
05-19-2006, 06:39 AM
Over time, this industry will purge the egos.............Right, and pigs might fly.....

Bonedaddy
05-19-2006, 07:07 AM
I'm a little bemused by a lot of the predictions/soothsaying in this thread. Stuff along the lines of "fx are a fad," "there's no room for egos," etc. Historically speaking, that's not true. Effects have only been on the rise since the 1970s, in a fairly cyclical pattern of ups and downs, with a general upward growth. Most of the crashes were due to technology shifts, rather than changes in the types of movies being made. And as for egos having no place in the industry, it's a nice thought, and in an ideal world, perhaps it would be true, but... facing facts, almost everyone in this industry has massive self-image problems. Many egomaniacs are very successful, and many ruin themselves.

The industry is not going to change overnight. It never has. It'll balloon up and down, but until some massive societal change takes place (which probably would not happen overnight either), it'll probably remain pretty much the same as it always has. Best thing to do is to just take things with a grain of salt and not get too worked up over the way things are.

charleyc
05-19-2006, 07:08 AM
Right, and pigs might fly.....

Hey, with the right amount of money and a willing studio...

beaker
05-19-2006, 09:40 AM
And as for egos having no place in the industry, it's a nice thought, and in an ideal world, perhaps it would be true, but... facing facts, almost everyone in this industry has massive self-image problems. Many egomaniacs are very successful, and many ruin themselves.It doesn't even have to do with our industry. There are egotistical people in every single run of business and every run of life. Look at the history of the world and you will find hundreds of examples including world leaders, scientists, philosophers, writers, etc.... It is just one of the many facets to being human.

Simon
05-19-2006, 10:16 AM
It doesn't even have to do with our industry. There are egotistical people in every single run of business and every run of life. Look at the history of the world and you will find hundreds of examples including world leaders, scientists, philosophers, writers, etc.... It is just one of the many facets to being human.

Totally agreed.

I avoid having any sort of ego... Although I am known for my inhumanity.

pearson
05-19-2006, 11:18 AM
Because of this thread I went back and read the "Meet the Artists" Q&A with Colin. A couple of quotes caught my eye:

On CGTalk:
"Very few people that vocalize here seem to have any clue about how this industry really works. I think the fan boys and the assholes scared the "ones that know" away. I don't see any way of fixing that. People always act like jerks on the internet because they think they are safe hidding behind some fake name, so many professionals don't bother any more."

On ego vs. self confidence:
"This is all about the fine art of balance. Having an ego isn't bad, and when dealing with tough clients or people working for you, you need it to be able to exert a show of force and confidence. The trick is knowing that you aren't always the smartest person, and even dumb people can have great ideas. You also need to know that sometimes you have to lose a battle to win a war."

He's always come across very well, in my experience, and the bashing earlier in the thread is completely unwarranted, imho.

Ed Bittner
05-19-2006, 11:58 AM
This thread cracks me up. Keep goin' guys, and we won't have any proffesionals coming in to give REAL WORLD advice.
The fact that Hydralux hasn't chimed in to this slam-fest shows class to me.
E.

BrandonD
05-19-2006, 04:26 PM
And as for egos having no place in the industry, it's a nice thought, and in an ideal world, perhaps it would be true, but... facing facts, almost everyone in this industry has massive self-image problems. Many egomaniacs are very successful, and many ruin themselves.



Call me an idealist then.

Bonedaddy
05-19-2006, 05:23 PM
It doesn't even have to do with our industry. There are egotistical people in every single run of business and every run of life. Look at the history of the world and you will find hundreds of examples including world leaders, scientists, philosophers, writers, etc.... It is just one of the many facets to being human.

Very true. I can't help but think it's a bit exacerbated by our industry, as a lot of energy goes towards building up people and companies as "names." Being such a "name" is bound to wreak havoc with your self-perception. I mean, that happens to a certain extent in every industry, but I don't think it's quite as nakedly commodified as it is with film... except for in politics. ;)

talos72
05-19-2006, 06:20 PM
When is this boom supposed to fade? It's been slowly booming since the beginning of the film industry 70+ years ago. It is going to magically fade after all these years? I don't think so.

The smallest independent movies have fx in it these days, even if they are simple boom mic paintouts.

How long will studios attempt to churn out films pushing $300 million with diminishing returns? And that's how long the FX boom will last. I never said FX work will disappear. Far from it, as you said, there are FX/CG work in all sorts of formats: indies, videos, games, etc. There will probably be work out there, but I just don't see the market being dominated by big budget, major studio fair in the long run and to that end these seem to be the fairs the original article associates the FX boom to.

That said, this is an open forum. If the so-called "fanboys" want to chime in with their opinions along with people who work in the industry I think that is a good thing. What some people seem to imply is if you are a fanboy you know nothing about the industry while only pros' opinions really matter. The so-called fanboys are ultimately major contributors to the game and film industry: mainly through their pocket book. So in many ways they should be able to express their opinions especially here. CGTalk is a rare place where people who rarely would have a chance to exchange ideas and discuss matters get to do so on this forum...egos aside.

No one can predict the future, and if we make a statement about the future of the industry it is just that "a statement" or observation. Everyone here could be wrong at some point.

soulburn3d
05-19-2006, 06:23 PM
Call me an idealist then.

You can put me in that category too. Making movies is a team effort. We should all be working together, not stepping on each other's faces to reach the top of the pile where expensive cars await :)

- Neil

amygdalae
05-19-2006, 06:42 PM
'fx are a fad'
'profits are fading'

blah blah. Arm chair MBAs out there with the hot business advice!

I agree that originality seems pretty lost in the movie business right now.
Everything is a sequel or a remake of a novel, comic book, tv show, theme park ride, toy, etc.
No one wants to risk originality when things are so expensive. They want a sure bet.
It's not different from video games right now. Games are becoming more expensive so publishers are pushing for sequel after sequel after sequel. Quake 4, Doom 3, Unreal 2024.

That said, take a look at the box office numbers for the top 10 films of last year:

7 big FX films, 1 CG anim, 1 film with a fair amount of fx (Smith), 1 romantic comedy

* Top 10 films with revenues:

1. Star Wars III: the Revenge of the Sith US$848 million

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire US$808 million

3. War of the Worlds US$591 million

4. Madagascar US$533 million

5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory US$472 million

6. Mr and Mrs Smith US$468 million

7. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe US$428

8. King Kong US$388

9. Batman Begins US$371 million

10. Hitch US$367 million


Funny that, it looks like people still like vfx in films!

I think a problem and a blessing with CG and digital technology in general is that it is more affordable at the lower level. In the 70s there were no cheap optical tables or quad printers or motion control systems you could buy or download to do your own effects at home. Now you can download maya, run it on a decent PC or mac, do some stuff. I think that makes alot of people sort of arrogant about fx like, Oh CG is crap, I can do that on my PC. At the higher levels, it's still very difficult and the credit is more due to the TDs and animators than the software at that point. But I think that accesibility to the basic tools makes people a little bit flippant and over-critical.

Look at the Muppets, their fricken eyes dont even move 90% of the time!
Still enjoyable.
People are just alot more bitchy about CG, it seems like.

Anyway, got off on a tangent.
'New digital technology' does not mean cheaper. Everything is more expensive now.
Why arent people complaining about actors being paid 20-25 million dollars?
Visual Effects are difficult to pull off well, and they are a very low profit business at the higher end. Some people are able to run a boutique doing a combination of film work and commercial work with a small crew and make pretty good money (hence the bentleys and ferraris - whatever). Most of us are driving a crappy old car, spending alot of money on rent and working stupid hours at a big place trying to do something amazing.

I dont think things automatically get cheaper over time, this isnt home PC building, it's still art. The expense is the people, not the machinery. Take a place like DD and lay everybody off and what have you got? A crusty old building, alot of computers, and a bunch of proprietary software that no one knows what to do with. People do not get cheaper, software & hardware does, but cost of living does not and the expectations from the public increase exponentially with every movie. You have to keep ahead of that by doing more ambitious projects with more R&D, more TDs, etc.

I dont know, I dont think things are really all that bad.
I'm confused why people, especially young people interested in working in this field are so excited about talking down the industry and how it's all going down the tubes and we're doomed, etc. Lighten up.

pearson
05-19-2006, 07:17 PM
If the so-called "fanboys" want to chime in with their opinions along with people who work in the industry I think that is a good thing. What some people seem to imply is if you are a fanboy you know nothing about the industry while only pros' opinions really matter.
I think this thread is a perfect example of how we don't want CGTalk to be. Early on it was mocking a guy who's been a good member of the community, and who's been far more successful in this industry than (probably) any of us (although definitions of success may vary).

This thread has been needlessly antagonistic, and I think it's largely due to ignorance of what is involved in setting up and running an FX shop. If this thread had been handled better, we'd probably have Jackdeth in here explaining why it costs so much to do business in Hollywood.

Really, we need to show a little respect or we risk driving off those who have years of experience to share.

BrandonD
05-19-2006, 08:22 PM
Yeah, this is such a slam fest. Give me a break. I'm still laughing at those comments though.

vindraven
05-20-2006, 08:50 PM
This thread cracks me up. Keep goin' guys, and we won't have any proffesionals coming in to give REAL WORLD advice.
The fact that Hydralux hasn't chimed in to this slam-fest shows class to me.
E.

Hydrualix does killer work and should be applauded for what they have done and for being successful in the industry. The fact remains that if any head of a vfx shop spouted a "we're the sh*t" vibe out to the press, most of us would have the same reaction.

Slam fest?? Hardly.

I do wish jackdeath would chime in.......

d

surlymonkey
05-21-2006, 12:34 AM
Hey guys,
He might not chime in because he's more than busy. But, I will throw my $.02 to clarify for the curious.
Some statements in the article were written more in a 'matter of fact tone' than the 'tongue and cheek' nature that they were intended. Also, Hydraulx is not a start-up company with a bunch of young artist. This is an older and more experienced group than you might think. And, no, $300,000 is not a lot for machine and service. Not to give away numbers, but we have millions of dollars worth of gear. All necessary for larger film and commercial projects. A $300,000 price tag for machinery isn't that bad at all. That's all.

c



Hydrualix does killer work and should be applauded for what they have done and for being successful in the industry. The fact remains that if any head of a vfx shop spouted a "we're the sh*t" vibe out to the press, most of us would have the same reaction.

Slam fest?? Hardly.

I do wish jackdeath would chime in.......

d

richcz3
05-21-2006, 03:44 AM
There was a mention of the crash of 2000 by Roberto. I personaly got to know some of the people that were affected in the inevitable sinking of some seemingly well-to-do Lightwave FX houses. Station-X, Netter Digital and Foundation Imaging to name a few. All had their stake in the TV and Movie markets and each found themselves in dire straits just before and after 2000.

Station-X was part of a group that departed Digital Domain. One particular soul, who shall remain nameless was an outspoken personality. Maybe he had the more grandiose ability for the extreme verbose and ego strokage (witnessed this twice myself). Very high on his skills and spendy abilities. I've heard my share stories from within and outside the company. <Can anyone verify the inmates have taken over the prison buttons or T-shirts> possible SIGGRAPH 2000 or 2001

If there's a lesson, it's that fortunes can change in a heartbeat. Small 2-3 man boutiques can and did snare allot of their commercial work. Competition is around the corner and sad to say there appears to be few loyalties with well healed clients where costs are concerned.

There is absolutley nothing wrong with self assuredness, but some people tend to take note of what appears to be accentuated "ego". Think Shades of "John Romero" of ID. When things go south, all those memorable quotes take on a life of their own.

beaker
05-21-2006, 04:13 AM
How long will studios attempt to churn out films pushing $200-300 million with diminishing returns?Thats the thing, they aren't diminishing returns. 2-3 a year fail but another 2-3 make double or triple their budgets: Kong, Spiderman, Narnia. The 4th Harry Potter cost 310 million and made 900 back. Kong cost over 200 and made back 500.

Films pushing 300 million is nothing new. Titanic, Batman & Robin and a few others 10 years ago cost 250 million each.

jubba
05-21-2006, 03:16 PM
The 4th Harry Potter cost 310 million and made 900

Goblet of Fire's production budget was more like US$150 million. Prints and distribution would bring it up to the US$200 million mark.

If there was another hundred mil floating around I'd like to know where it went, because it certainly didn't come to us VFX guys and the state of the canteen at Leavesden Studios suggests it didn't go there either ;-)

j

beaker
05-21-2006, 10:07 PM
Goblet of Fire's production budget was more like US$150 million. Prints and distribution would bring it up to the US$200 million mark.The 308 million budget was reported in cinefex and many other trade magazines even though boxofficemojo has it listed as 150.

I found this though which might explain it:

A Note on Budget
Budget estimates as high as $308 million have been floating around the internet for a while. They seem to trace back to an interview with Mike Newell published in the Daily Mail (or Daily Mirror?) in the UK in 2004. While it's hard to be sure whether Newell was accurately quoted, it is possible that the $300 million includes promotion of the movie. A production budget of approximately $150 million has been indicated by the studio, and is the number we use.

jubba
05-21-2006, 11:58 PM
The 308 million budget was reported in cinefex and many other trade magazines even though boxofficemojo has it listed as 150.

I found this though which might explain it:

A Note on Budget
Budget estimates as high as $308 million have been floating around the internet for a while. They seem to trace back to an interview with Mike Newell published in the Daily Mail (or Daily Mirror?) in the UK in 2004. While it's hard to be sure whether Newell was accurately quoted, it is possible that the $300 million includes promotion of the movie. A production budget of approximately $150 million has been indicated by the studio, and is the number we use.

Well I wouldn't take any budget info coming out of the Mail or the Mirror seriously. Regarding Cinefex, maybe Don was out of the office that day?:)

All I can say is that anyone who has ever spent any time under the steel sky of Leavesden (where all the Potter movies are shot) would be highly amused by the idea that they were on a $300 million production! You have never seen a less glamorous place in your entire life, unless perhaps you've worked at Bray studios (which really is grim).

j

Flog
05-22-2006, 04:32 PM
It's still ridiculous how much it costs to make a US based movie. A lot of waste and I think someone is pocketing it on the side dishonestly.

In no way should a movie cost more than 100 Million dollars let alone a QUARTER of a BILLION dollars?

Japan and China can almost make the same quality of movie for 20 million or less.

I was watching Kung Fu Hustle the other day and watching the Matrix:Reloaded. There is a similiar scene and well Kung Fu Hustle actually looked less fake and had a better fight sequence.

20 million budget vs 100 million. For 100 millon couldn't Matrix, especially that fight scene have looked a little better? Looked fake on so many levels. I'd like to see Stephen Chow with 100 million to work with.

And don't say cost of living, Japan is making similiar movies and their cost of living is higher than the US.

http://image.muzi.com/pfm_image/202862540018271.jpg

http://www.wu-jing.org/News/images/2003/2003_4_Matrix_Reloaded_04_scol.jpg

Bonedaddy
05-22-2006, 04:50 PM
It's still ridiculous how much it costs to make a US based movie. A lot of waste and I think someone is pocketing it on the side dishonestly.

In no way should a movie cost more than 100 Million dollars let alone a QUARTER of a BILLION dollars?

Japan and China can almost make the same quality of movie for 20 million or less.

I was watching Kung Fu Hustle the other day and watching the Matrix:Reloaded. There is a similiar scene and well Kung Fu Hustle actually looked less fake and had a better fight sequence.

20 million budget vs 100 million. For 100 millon couldn't Matrix, especially that fight scene have looked a little better? Looked fake on so many levels. I'd like to see Stephen Chow with 100 million to work with.

And don't say cost of living, Japan is making similiar movies and their cost of living is higher than the US.
http://www.wu-jing.org/News/images/2003/2003_4_Matrix_Reloaded_04_scol.jpg

Japan, at least, pays its VFX artists half as much and makes them work twice as much. A friend who worked on FF:AC was hospitalized three times during the making of it, due to exhaustion.

But hey, if you want things over here to shift towards that, just so someone can make cheaper movies, go ahead and start the revolution, buddy. :)

Flog
05-22-2006, 04:56 PM
True, but 100 million dollars vs 20 Million. I think a movie could be made without slave labor somewhere in the middle at the 50 million dollar range. There needs to be a balance. Hollywood is imploding itself.

That way you pay your artists the right amount, etc.
Hey by the way do you know the budget of Final Fantasy Advent Child?

hellgatemedia
05-22-2006, 05:45 PM
A phenomenal movie can and has been made for 30 million, that rivals some films shot for 100 million or more. I don't expect anyone to be driven to exhaustion, or to work at sub standard rates, but I've seen it been done, over and over again.
There was a time when 150 million was a lot of money, and for that kind of money,
I would want and expect a certain "wow factor" that I simply don't ever get by these overpriced action vehicles today.

Bonedaddy
05-22-2006, 06:45 PM
True, but 100 million dollars vs 20 Million. I think a movie could be made without slave labor somewhere in the middle at the 50 million dollar range. There needs to be a balance. Hollywood is imploding itself.

For the last time -- beaker, I, and several others have been screaming this at the top of our lungs for awhile now -- HOLLYWOOD IS NOT IMPLODING. Go read "The Gross" (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312253915/sr=8-3/qid=1148319350/ref=pd_bbs_3/002-2024865-4492000?%5Fencoding=UTF8) by Peter Bart. Do some hard studying on the actual costs of movies and where all that goes. Nobody is going to take you seriously unless you're well educated on the subject.

The real cost of movies is in hiring an army of people to do work for you. And not just anybody -- really skilled professionals, who cost more than minimum wage. There's a number of factors accelerating the release dates of movies, and shortening the production schedule, so you compensate for it with higher-tech equipment and by hiring more people to do more work in a shorter time. Such is the price of being competitive in the main market.

The classic triangle is good, fast, cheap, chose two -- they choose good and fast. Other choose fast and cheap. A select few indie movies choose good and cheap, but it's difficult. Guarantors and bond companies want movies to be finished within certain timeframes, so they can start collecting on their investments. You have all sorts of penalties if productions start going over certain timeframes, and it can be more than enough to shut down an entire movie. Very severe penalties. That's why most movies have to be done very quickly, and because they're very fast, they're very expensive. Only a select few indie movies go for the "good, cheap, and slow" route of moviemaking. It's doable, but not exactly mainstream.

jubba
05-22-2006, 08:14 PM
It's still ridiculous how much it costs to make a US based movie. A lot of waste and I think someone is pocketing it on the side dishonestly.

In no way should a movie cost more than 100 Million dollars let alone a QUARTER of a BILLION dollars?
http://www.wu-jing.org/News/images/2003/2003_4_Matrix_Reloaded_04_scol.jpg

Well almost certainly there is graft going on, but that's true in pretty much any large enterprise and I don't think HK film making is any stranger to this sort of thing - you only have to read some of the histories of the making of Enter the Dragon to know that.

EDIT: Looking back at the earlier post I notice that Flog was referring to Matrix Reloaded, which actually cost around US$150 million (and then some). Reloaded and Revolutions famously overran massively on VFX costs - the people at the top in the studio were "moved on" after that and now all of us who work on Warners' shows get to feel the pinch that little bit more :)

Having said all that, I think the paragraph below still stands - END OF EDIT

I'm intrigued as to your definition of US based; the Matrix was produced in Sydney, Australia using an Aussie crew. A large chunk of the VFX was posted there (Animal Logic, D-Film) with the remainder being carried out in California. Comparisons with a show like Kung Fu Hustle only work with regards to the fight sequences - Matrix had huge sets, a full scale gimbal-mounted practical Huey, increadible practical stunt work, complex prosthetics/animatronics, extensive miniatures as well as some really awesome fully CGI sequences (fetus fields etc) . The movie actually came in at US$80 million, which seems like a bargain these days! Of that probably a maximum of US$25 million went on VFX (which would include the costs of shooting all elements and miniatures)- the rest was eaten by production costs (including whatever got paid to Keanu, probably US$8 million or so). The same movie would have cost closer to US$100 million had it been shot in the United States at that time (1998).

Interestingly the most expensive movie ever made is still Cleopatra which cost US$42 million in 1962, the equivalent of well over US$300 million today. It tanked.

j

richcz3
05-22-2006, 09:28 PM
I think what allot of people are overlooking here is the number of places the money goes. 15 years ago there wasn't the structure that goes into the assets that sell a movie today. You're not watching 150-250 Million on screen. The money is spread out accross operations beyond what gets on the screen. Marketing alone chews an enormous amount. Ever read about great movies that fail? Yes of course you have, and you'll note that ineffective marketing dollars unfortunately cost more. even a great 20 million dollar movie will fail in returns if it doesn't have the marketing muscle to match. (the current mindset)

Look and read the "entire" Frontline link "The Monster that Ate Hollywood" (http://www.newshour.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/hollywood/)
This gives a real solid accounting on why theres more than one root to the problem. Why Hollywood budgets have grown the way they have.
Plenty of good intereviews and insight from industry players.

Read, learn, and be informed. :thumbsup:

jubba
05-22-2006, 09:29 PM
According to BoxOfficeMojo.com Kung Fu Hustle's production costs were approximately US$20 million, no marketing costs are listed, but they'd probably be in the region of at least US$10 million for the US release alone (2500 exhibition prints cost a lot of money), same again for the international release. Total worldwide gross was just a hair under US$101 million - roughly speaking a profit of US$60 million, around 1.5 times the total spend.

Matrix Reloaded's declared production costs were US$150 million with marketing of US$50 million. It's total worldwide gross was US$738 million - a profit margin of $538 million, approximately 2.4 times the total spend.

I'm sure Kung Fu Hustle has shifted a fair number of DVDs, but Reloaded was the centrepiece of a massive franchise that probably generated well over two billion dollars of revenue in the first 18 months. Worldwide TV sales alone of the movie would almost certainly have raised several hundred million dollars and will continue to do so for a long time to come.

The point I'm making is that a big event movie like the Matrix and its sequels can't really be compared to films like Kung Fu Hustle. It's a completely different business, the only thing that they have in common with eachother is that the initial product is a sequence of frames on a reel of film.

It's also worth remembering that there are plenty of sub-50 million dollar films being made in the US and indeed the rest of the world. United 93, for example, cost a mere US$15 million and has made it's money back (including marketing spend) in three weeks from its US release alone.

j

beaker
05-22-2006, 11:35 PM
I was watching Kung Fu Hustle the other day and watching the Matrix:Reloaded. There is a similiar scene and well Kung Fu Hustle actually looked less fake and had a better fight sequence.

20 million budget vs 100 million. For 100 millon couldn't Matrix, especially that fight scene have looked a little better? Looked fake on so many levels. I'd like to see Stephen Chow with 100 million to work with.I don't think you understand how movies are made and how the whole trickle down effect works in hollywood vs the rest of the world. When I say hollywood, I mean any top end vfx company in the LA, SF, London, Australia, NZ, etc... because they all cost exactly the same for this type of work whether it is in LA or BFE.

The US and other governments spend billions on R&D at universities who then sell/license those technologies years later to companies who make stuff into inexpensive consumer products.

It works the same way in vfx. The big companies spend huge amounts of money on R&D, design, etc... to make a movie, those artists/programmers write papers at siggraph and articles in magazines. They give away algorithms, shaders, etc... from production. Software companies and other artists write scripts, shaders, etc.. based on those techniques into stuff like Maya, Lightwave, 3dsmax, XSI, etc... which allows artists to do similar effects without requiring specialized programming. Also people from the original company go work at smaller companies and teach everyone else how those effects are done.

All the hard work is done for the little vfx companies and directors who just copy the techniques, sequences and style originally pioneered by the people on the first film. There is a huge difference between someone who comes up with those amazing shots and someone who simply copies and makes slight changes and applys them to a movie 4-6 years later.

Flog
05-22-2006, 11:59 PM
The problem however is, alot of the technology they are using now has already been R&Ded out the wazoo. The price of movies as technology has already advanced should have made these movies cheaper, not more expensive.

That is the rule with technology, when it first comes out it is expensive, as it stays on the market longer it gets cheaper. The price of movies should be going down, not up.

I know a little about movie making but I know even more about technology. Prices go down, not up. Remember that.

So why is it going toward a higher inflation?

Oh and by the way, why was Robert Rodriguez able to make Sin City for 40 million instead of 100?

A lot has to do with people, who are not really important in making a movie, a ton of fat, overpriced people here and there, inefficiency, etc. who should not have to be a part of the moviemaking process. Trim the fat.

beaker
05-23-2006, 12:10 AM
The problem however is, alot of the technology they are using now has already been R&Ded out the wazoo. The price of movies as technology has already advanced should have made these movies cheaper, not more expensive.But they are always pioneering new stuff. Thats the point. They are also adding more and more effects to the movies. The first Matrix has 1/10th the effects of the sequels.

Oh and by the way, why was Robert Rodriguez able to make Sin City for 40 million instead of 100?First, because RR shoots really cheap. He only does 1-2 takes for everything so shooting is substantially cheaper and everything is on a big Green Screen Stage without expensive real sets and without locations. Location shooting and sets are very expensive to make. Also he knows exactly what he wants. Sin City looks awesome but there is nothing new or mind bending in there. Pulling a greenscreen key and adding 3d sets that are b&w is not very hard to do.

A lot has to do with people, who are not really important in making a movie, a ton of fat, overpriced people here and there, inefficiency, etc. who should not have to be a part of the moviemaking process. Trim the fat.Then why does it cost exactly the same to make a big vfx movie in London, Australia or New Zealand? Blaming LA/Hollywood for this is BS.

Bonedaddy
05-23-2006, 12:10 AM
The problem however is, alot of the technology they are using now has already been R&Ded out the wazoo. The price of movies as technology has already advanced should have made these movies cheaper, not more expensive.

That is the rule with technology, when it first comes out it is expensive, as it stays on the market longer it gets cheaper. The price of movies should be going down, not up.

I know a little about movie making but I know even more about technology. Prices go down, not up. Remember that.

So why is it going toward a higher inflation?

Oh and by the way, why was Robert Rodriguez able to make Sin City for 40 million instead of 100?

A lot has to do with people, who are not really important in making a movie, a ton of fat, overpriced people here and there, inefficiency, etc. who should not have to be a part of the moviemaking process. Trim the fat.


Because as tech becomes cheaper, studios demand more of it. People are asking small sized companies to pull off LotR-style army sequences on a regular basis now, as well as a hundred other things. It's not dirt cheap because there's so much of it.

Rodriguez made Sin City for 40 mil by having the actors work for next to nothing, doing the production non-union (can be read: cheap labor), having elaborate, to-the-letter storyboards so the fx shots had a precise idea of what to shoot for, and doing it non-photoreal, so you didn't have such a high bar to reach for. Rodriguez is an exception. Not the rule.

There was a thread about the budget of the Spongebob Squarepants movie awhile back, do a search for it. People started citing Rodriguez left and right. Some good info in there.

Flog
05-23-2006, 12:21 AM
LOL, I was in that thread too somewhere.

I still don't think movies should cost as much as they do. Someone , somewhere is pocketing it.

The thing I worry about as the price goes up, and the loss goes up as well, they will start taking less chances on new kinds of movies, so we'll see a ton more remakes and less and less truly original works.

And when the price gets high, they start wanting to save money, and pocket more for the big boys, so then they will start outsourcing you folks more and more on the world market.

Another thing is, ticket prices will go up and continue to increase (they believe this is the answer,when they should lower it and attract more people) and soon no one will be going to the movies. Theatres will close down and what will I do on a Friday night with friends?

Bonedaddy
05-23-2006, 12:42 AM
I still don't think movies should cost as much as they do. Someone , somewhere is pocketing it.

If only it were that simple. On some skeezier productions, which rely on tax loopholes (e.g. Uwe Boll movies), that may be the case. But for most movies, especially the really expensive ones, if someone was doing that, the movie's financiers would sue the living crap out of the production.


The thing I worry about as the price goes up, and the loss goes up as well, they will start taking less chances on new kinds of movies, so we'll see a ton more remakes and less and less truly original works.
We're already there. Been there for like 20 years now.



Another thing is, ticket prices will go up and continue to increase (they believe this is the answer,when they should lower it and attract more people) and soon no one will be going to the movies. Theatres will close down and what will I do on a Friday night with friends?

Go outside? :D
You have to understand that box office revenue is something like 10-15% of the total revenue. Even if theaters become a boutique rarity (which, barring a massive financial depression, is somewhat unlikely -- movies are as big as they have ever been), so many people have been moving to DVDs and home theaters that they could probably lose the theater sales and keep going without too much of a hiccup.

beaker
05-23-2006, 02:19 AM
I still don't think movies should cost as much as they do. Someone , somewhere is pocketing it.When your learning to sculpt and paint or do anything in art, you quickly learn that there is no such thing as a finished piece of art. You simply stop when it is "good enough". That is the reason why hollywood movies cost so much. The point where they stop is much later then lower budget movies. Directors, producers and studio have the luxury keep on changing things in the hopes of it being a good product and therefore make the studio lots of money. As in many business, you have to spend big to make big. It's much easier for a rich person to make more money then it is a poor person.

If you have worked with any art directors, there are two types, the ones that know what they want and the ones that feel things out as they go. This is why directors like RR, Tarintino, Clint Eastwood, Joss Whedon, Paul Haggis, and many others can still shoot movies in LA and they all cost in the 10-40 million. They have a more defined idea of what the movie is going to look like going into it. Other directors feel stuff out and constantly change things because they don't know want they want till they see it.

If Hong Kong directors had this type of money, they would do the same exact thing. People always blame hollywood for crap and spending too much money, but the same exactly thing happens all over the world when you give anyone an excess amount of money for a project.

Flog
05-23-2006, 04:00 AM
can you imagine if you did give 100 million dollar budget to a Japanese or Chinese director and let them have at it? omg

beaker
05-23-2006, 07:53 AM
can you imagine if you did give 100 million dollar budget to a Japanese or Chinese director and let them have at it? omgYea, I can imagine because it has already happend a dozen+ times (John Woo, Ronny Yu, Ang Lee, etc... ). Pretty much the same track record as any hollywood movie, 50:50 they are good or bad.

This thought process of giving an Asian or any nationality lots of money and they will make an amazing movie is just ludicrous. You should realize that there are dozens of directors doing 100 million dollar movies that aren't american and they all equally make bad as well as good movies.

Flog
05-23-2006, 04:00 PM
Ghibli or Disney.

One uses 100 million to make a movie and the other 20 million. Both make beautiful peices, but lets fund these guys who make great movies and give them free reign on 100 Million and see what happens

When they give these Hong Kong Directors US money they still have to pay the high paid actors, go through all the red tape and bereuracracy, all the guilds and labor unions, etc.

I remember a DVD excerpt from Jackie Chan off of Rush Hour. He was amazed at the cost of US movies. He was laughing and saying he could have made 5 chinese movies off the price of one scene.

But I give you that, I did notice the differance watching that DVD. Bret RAtner found a spot he wanted to film in China, but then he had to build a big set and change the whole sight to make it look better. So yeah I see where some of the money goes. They are artists running amok at times.

ONe thing though that I do know for sure, the more something costs the more shortcuts will be made. Because when the 100 million dollar movie costs 200 Million, they will start to find ways to cut corners. Those on top are always going to make the same pay, but they will cut corners on those at the bottom, and since a union doesn't allow them a few freedoms to cut prices, they just go to another country and do it. First thing big companies do is outsource. I work for a large company like that and their first resolve is to outsource and run entire processes with less people.

That's really all I'm concerned about plus the rise of ticketprices.

jubba
05-23-2006, 08:41 PM
Ghibli or Disney.

One uses 100 million to make a movie and the other 20 million. Both make beautiful peices, but lets fund these guys who make great movies and give them free reign on 100 Million and see what happens



ONe thing though that I do know for sure, the more something costs the more shortcuts will be made. Because when the 100 million dollar movie costs 200 Million, they will start to find ways to cut corners. Those on top are always going to make the same pay, but they will cut corners on those at the bottom, and since a union doesn't allow them a few freedoms to cut prices, they just go to another country and do it. First thing big companies do is outsource. I work for a large company like that and their first resolve is to outsource and run entire processes with less people.

You need to clarify your thinking - on the one hand you are advocating shooting overseas with unregulated labour so that the max can be squeezed out of the budget and on the other you are bemoaning the outsourcing/offshoring of jobs in your own industry. Which do you want? Or is it OK for us "artists out of control" to lose our jobs to cheap overseas labour?

Flog
05-23-2006, 08:57 PM
Actually I think there should be a medium. I'm just saying that there are ways to make great, quality movies without the extra expenditures and waste.

Trim the fat so to speak and make it run more efficiently. If a country like Japan can make a movie like Final Fantasy Advent Child for 25 Million, then a US company should be able to accomplish the same feat with 75 million, not 150 million.

If Robert Rodriguez can make a film for 40 Million in the same country as opposed to spending 100 million(had he gone through the normal route).

In other words there are ways to cut the fat and should be done.
Technology should have made a shift in making movies a lot cheaper to make, even a special FX heavy movie.

The problem is the cost will continue to rise and then of course if you know corporate companies there is a knee jerk reaction and then you (the nicely paid artist) will be out of work for the (nicely paid artist in another country) to be able to spend the same 100 Million but go further.

Here is the thinking
Corporate guy " It took us 100 Million to make this movie. I want to make part 2 but need to keep it at 100 million, but you know what? We can't, this price tag will 200 Million, so how do I keep it at 100 million? OUTSOURCE" And there goes your job.

If they learn to cut the fat now instead of allowing the high prices to continue you will still have a job. But as the prices go higher and the dollar does not go as far, the first knee jerk reaction is to find cheaper labor when they never had to do it all, all they had to do was manage their money properly.

Corporation after corporation have done this. Instead of running lean and in shape, they just squandered money or threw money at something, until the money started to run out but the expenses where still there. To compensate for the loss and to still be able to function at the same level, people started being OUTSOURCED, that means YOU!!

Tech companies for example still needed tech support for customers, but the price was rising and the profit was not as high. They still needed 800 techs, but 1 million dollars could not get that many techs at the same price last year. So to find those 800 techs, they cut the US ones and hired ones from India.

Same will happen in the movie industry. The will still have the same 100 million dollar budget, but because of industry loss and inflation that 100 million will not go as far domestically. So in order to get that 100 million dollar budget from this year to work next year, they will have to start cutting prices to make it go further and you know who goes first (labor forces).

The top movies are making 150 mil-450 mill at the box office, but imagine if the prices keep growing, do you really think they can operate at a 400 Million dollar movie, especially with the reducing amount of people actually going to the movies?

There comes a point when your operating costs are going to start cutting into their profit making. The margin of operations vs income is starting to close. Imagine if they continue on their current inflation rate, and the movie takes 400 million to make. How many movies make that much money at the box office?

I just think they need to find a balance instead of just throwing money at something. Cut the things they don't need, stop overspending on things that should not take as much, start running more efficiently so they can keep the concentration on other things, namely great effects by great artists, instead of shipping your job off, when they feel the need to get that knee jerk reaction to rising costs.

Bonedaddy
05-23-2006, 09:11 PM
My reply: WHAT fat? Point out the fat to me.

Effects companies close at a staggeringly fast rate. The Matrix movies, some of the highest budgeted films in recent history, left a swath of dead companies in their wake. Centropolis, Manex, ESC -- these were not small, insignificant companies. The history of this industry is littered with people who pledged to do things faster, cheaper, or more efficiently, but died out quickly, often due to not understanding what they were getting into.

The reasons that good movies get made cheaply is that people are willing to work themselves to death -- either taking little money because it's for the greater good, or because there's no other choice. While people should be into what they do, and if it's a good movie, willing to really work hard on it, they should not be REQUIRED to do so. People really believed in Sin City, FF: AC, and Kung Fu Hustle. Should they believe that strongly in Fantastic Four, Aeon Flux, the next Uwe Boll movie, just to keep the budget down?

Flog
05-23-2006, 09:26 PM
Your right, but CG FX are not the only thing in a movie. There are overpaid actors, executives, lawyers, etc. People not even involved with the movie taking a cut. Dont' tell me they have to pay all that red tape and bureaucracy.

Your telling me you think the movie industry runs efficiently? Like a well oiled machine?

I bet the next thing you think is it costs the Government 25,000 dollars for a hammer, or a guy needs to get paid 50,000 a year to clear a 10 mile track of the border of Canada and US? Or it takes 10,000 dollars to make 1,000 copies of a letterhead.(Old 20/20 special report)

You remember the knee jerk reaction to Katrina where they spent Millions for 3 ocean cruise vessels to be empty and stay in the port? But in retrospect it would have been cheaper to fill the boats up with people and send them on a cruise for 6 months.

http://risingfromruin.msnbc.com/2005/12/pricey_rates_fo.html Do you think it should cost 175,000 dollars to house a family of 4 for 6 months? That's a house you could have bought that family. How many families even live off 50,000 a year let alone 175,000 a year (that's big balling)

Now apply this to Hollywood moviemaking. Don't tell me they are working efficiently and effectively.

There needs to be a balance before the cost of movies is 400million and the box office is 200 million.

Just remember those who can be outsourced go first.

Hollywood needs local cameraman, hairstlyists, makeup artists, actors, etc. but they can outsource CG jobs and those will be the first to be outsourced.

If you like the way they are functioning and like the rising cost of movies at astronomical rates that's your perogative.

I personally enjoy how ticket prices are going up to 10-15 dollars, but the average family is not going to the movies anymore, and theatres will start closing in the near future.
If you don't think so, why don't you poll how often people go to movies now as opposed to 5 years ago.

Bonedaddy
05-23-2006, 09:37 PM
The problem is, I think, that you are operating off of a vague feeling of corruption in the system, with little experience or evidence of it. I say "point out the fat" and you bring up Hurricane Katrina?

The problems you are referring to are far more complicated and more deeply entrenched than I think you realize. Yes, on principle, there are lots of people getting paid and getting credits than perhaps there should be. In reality, they all perform tasks that are necessary. It's not cheap to make a movie, even an indie one. You need financiers. Financiers want guarantees. Guarantees mean lawyers. Lawyers mean safeguards. Safeguards means playing it by the book. Playing it by the book means a lot of overhead. The whole process of making a movie is a logistical and bureaucratic nightmare, but it didn't just evolve by itself, for no reason.

There are more efficient ways of doing things. But saying that all productions should switch to them is, following off your analogy, like saying the government should suddenly become efficient overnight. It's not going to happen, at least while things are working. And they are working, despite box office statistics. There will be a change sometime in the future, and we are moving towards that, but it's going to be very, very gradual, barring some large-scale financial calamity.

slaughters
05-23-2006, 09:41 PM
Ghibli or Disney.

One uses 100 million to make a movie and the other 20 million. ....I once read a Thread here on CGTalk by someone who was complaining how much Studio Ghibli sticks it to the individual artist, hugely long hours and cr@p for pay. Even worse than what goes on here. It kind of reminded me of the horror stories you hear from the PC game artists.

I don't know if the guy was just blowing smoke or not, but if true, that could be where the difference in budgets is coming from.

jubba
05-23-2006, 09:50 PM
Your right, but CG FX are not the only thing in a movie. There are overpaid actors, executives, lawyers, etc. People not even involved with the movie taking a cut. Dont' tell me they have to pay all that red tape and bureaucracy.

Your telling me you think the movie industry runs efficiently? Like a well oiled machine?

have you ever actually set foot in a movie studio or been on a sound stage shooting a 12 hour day six days a week? Have you any idea what work actually goes into even a low budget or no budget film? Let's get down to basics - have you ever made a film, of any length in any format and had it released into a market where people have paid for the privilege of seeing your work? In fact do you really have any idea at all what you are talkikng about?

Flog
05-24-2006, 12:02 AM
Double Ghiblis production to double the normal cost and how do you think the artists would feel then. Instead of the 20 million give it the 40 million. I think if you doubled the workers or doubled the pay that would help alot, but you would still be far under what a Hollywood production would be.

have you ever actually set foot in a movie studio or been on a sound stage shooting a 12 hour day six days a week? Have you any idea what work actually goes into even a low budget or no budget film? Let's get down to basics - have you ever made a film, of any length in any format and had it released into a market where people have paid for the privilege of seeing your work? In fact do you really have any idea at all what you are talkikng about?

Yup, there are plenty of studios around here, and I love the indie film industry (maybe not the fluff, but I am around and currently working on my own indie film) It is a lot of work, but even I can work more efficiently and have to manage my assets a lot better.

Are you telling me Hollywood does not overpay their actors and buerocrats, lawyers and people who have nothing to do with the film? Are you telling us they run like a well oiled machine? Are you telling us they do not waste one single red cent?

Being involved with Indie films myself I know the value of how far money can go and I also know about the waste that can go if you do not manage it correctly. Management of assets is key and Hollywood is not known for managing those assets.

They should take a lesson from Indie filmmaking, or low budget films and combine it with high budget and bring the cost of making a movie down.

Why is everyone so content that Hollywood spends 150-200 million dollars on 1 movie? The more a movie costs the less they risk, so new idea movies and your ideas are less likely to hit the screen. The more they spend the higher ticket prices go up!!

shameless plug "Legend of Kalimar" and "Superhero Showdown" coming soon to an ipod near you.

Dont' go crying when there are less movies, your job is outsourced, and the price of going to the theatre is 15-20 bucks a ticket.

Rick May
05-24-2006, 12:59 AM
I think I heard somewhere that the average Hollywood film is $35-40 million. That doesn't sound very unreasonable.

If someone wants to come along and blow $300 million, let them do it. If you or someone else can do it for $5 million. Then more power to ya.

Sure, a lot of people put their hands out to get a piece of the pie. And there is overspending. I just don't think there is anyone that can do anything about it. The only thing that would change their operations is if low budget films starting making the same returns as the big budget films.

That probably wont happen.

Njen
05-24-2006, 03:31 AM
Are you telling me Hollywood does not overpay their actors and buerocrats, lawyers and people who have nothing to do with the film? Are you telling us they run like a well oiled machine? Are you telling us they do not waste one single red cent?

Firstly, tell me how Hollywood is overpaying people who have nothing to do with the film? What does that even mean?

Secondly, everything in life is negotiable. It's well known that certain actors puts bums on seats more than others, so if if actor A can negotiate price B, then more power to him. If the price was too high, the studio would simply say no. Studios have their own bean counters that decide if paying price B would give them a nice return. Its their money, they can do what ever they want with it.

Thirdly, are you telling me that Hollywood does not underpay other actors, and crew? Where someone is overpaid, chances are, a few more are underpaid.

hellgatemedia
05-24-2006, 04:24 AM
First off, I can say with first hand experience that in fact the movie industry is EVOLVING.
It's not a positive change in my opinion, but here's the deal.
I was in management for a movie rental chain which is essentially going out of business.
In the next five years, there will not be many video rental stores left, and the ones that will be left will in some way work in connection with an internet service like Netlifx.
The truest enemy of the movie industry is not cost today, but piracy.
For 20 bucks a month, someone can get an unlimited flow of DVDS to to their home through a Netflix type service, and burn 100's of movies that they never have to see in the theatres, or purchase, or spend more than a low monthly fee to rent.
Once we get past the piracy issue, the DVD market has bottomed out, and the theatre market has bottomed out, yes there are movies that do well still, but over all, the box office does not perform as well as it used to. So not only do these studios have to juggle with all of the expenses of getting the movie made, they have to keep their fingers crossed that people will actually go and see it, because if the preview doesn't grab you, people are going to wait 4 months for it come out on DVD and burn it instead.
See Hollywood is taking a major gamble, they've already narrowed the window between theatre to DVD release, and films are starting to simeoultaneously be released in theatres and DVD at the same time. By the end of this year, people will have access to technology which will enable to them to have a viewing experience in their homes that rivals the viewing experience in theatres. Theatres are taking a more boutique approach, just look at the Muvico chain in the Southern U.S., which has a "premiere" floor, where you pay 16 dollars for valet parking, VIP seating, and access to not only concessions, but alcohol and food from a fancy restaraunt inside the theatre.
What does this all have to do with the movie costs you ask?
Well, it's only logical, that if a movie studio wants to make money, if they want to stop you from pirating their movie and making you come to the theatre they have to really sell you on their movie, and nothing sells a movie like special effects.
That being said, I would think the logical step to take would be to produce films that have these amazing effects, but otherwise have trimmed budgets. I'm not suggesting that we slave drive people, but I've seen some amazing films from overseas, films like Casshern, and Ong Bak, and Nightwatch, and a whole slew of stuff from Europa like Banlieu 13, and empire of the wolves. If you want to tell me that the secret to their success is ripping off the crew and VFX people, that you have to spend 80 million to treat your people right, than I guess that's the answer, but I also have a hard time beleiving that at 40 million, you can't walk away with a hell of a movie.
I understand that if you try to cut costs with VFX or crew, that you will get what you pay for, but is 40 million that little?

Flog
05-24-2006, 05:37 AM
That being said, I would think the logical step to take would be to produce films that have these amazing effects, but otherwise have trimmed budgets. I'm not suggesting that we slave drive people, but I've seen some amazing films from overseas, films like Casshern, and Ong Bak, and Nightwatch, and a whole slew of stuff from Europa like Banlieu 13, and empire of the wolves. If you want to tell me that the secret to their success is ripping off the crew and VFX people, that you have to spend 80 million to treat your people right, than I guess that's the answer, but I also have a hard time beleiving that at 40 million, you can't walk away with a hell of a movie.


Great example. Casshern, total cost around 6-9 Million ( 600 million yen ) in Japan, a country equivalent in cost of living to Hollywood.

Another movie with the same amount of VFX -Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Production Budget$70,000,000

Both came out around the same time. In fact I think Casshern beat it by a month or so.

Question is do you think Hollywood could make the same quality of film a Steamboy for 20 Million. Or for 6 million make a movie at equivalent quality to Casshern? If not, then why not?

Another example. Napoleon Dynamite -Production Budget$400,000 for the entire 90 minute movie.

The last 5 minute extra scene done by Hollywood - 250,000 more than half of what it cost the entire movie to be made.

Njen
05-24-2006, 06:31 AM
All this bickering about how much movies should cost. There are many examples of great films that have both high and low budgets.

But the bottom line goes like this:

If a studio can get away with paying a bare minimum wage and getting their staff to work way too many hours, chances are, that the budget will be low. If a studio wants to pay people a decent wage (or even a favourably preferred wage), then chances are, budgets will increase.

Do you want $100k a year and live comfortably for your VFX job? If you answer yes, then it's no surprise that you cannot make a great VFX heavy film for a low budget. Here's some simple numbers for ya to kick around purely for fun. Play with them all you want:

A studio has a VFX heavy film and hires an effects house to make it's VFX. The effects house says that the effects will take 1 year to complete. The effects house estimates that it needs roughly 100 artists and programmers. Let's assume for fun the average wage to be $80k a year. Wow, that's already $8m. We didn't even take into account development costs, profit margins, coordinator and management wages, and all sorts of other expenses. See where this is going? And that's just for the effects!!!

There is simply no way you can make high quality VFX heavy films on tiny budgets, and still expect to get your $80k a year, 45 hour a week paycheck.

pearson
05-24-2006, 08:55 AM
The truest enemy of the movie industry is not cost today, but piracy.
For 20 bucks a month, someone can get an unlimited flow of DVDS to to their home through a Netflix type service, and burn 100's of movies that they never have to see in the theatres, or purchase, or spend more than a low monthly fee to rent.I disagree. The real enemy of the movie industry is the fact that so few movies are worth watching more than once. Why buy the DVD when a rental mailed right to your door will do the trick? And why oh why would you go to the theater? There are cheaper ways to damage your hearing.

As for the accounting side of movies, something shady goes on there, though I have no idea what. But there have been numerous cases where somebody won a court case to get a share of the record breaking profits off some movie, and the movie somehow never made a dime.

And just an off-topic pet peeve: why do they use dollars to compare movie opening weekends? The dollar is changing in value, and the cost of tickets goes up, so the comparison isn't directly related. Better would be either tickets sold, or seats filled vs seats available (in case they open in limited release). :shrug:

jubba
05-24-2006, 11:04 AM
I disagree. The real enemy of the movie industry is the fact that so few movies are worth watching more than once. Why buy the DVD when a rental mailed right to your door will do the trick?

but you're still paying for the product, aren't you? Your rental dollars are just the same as ones from the box office :) Years ago I worked on a movie called Pitch Black which went on to make a reasonable profit on its initial spend (the show cost around $22 million, it did $39 million at the US box office and another $15 million internationally), however it went on to do really well on rental, home sales and TV, making much more than it did in cinemas - the theatrical release effectively served as an advert for the after sales.

As for the accounting side of movies, something shady goes on there, though I have no idea what. But there have been numerous cases where somebody won a court case to get a share of the record breaking profits off some movie, and the movie somehow never made a dime.

Like all businesses movies get taxed on their profits, so like all businesses the job of the corporate accountants is to minimise the declared profit and thus reduce the exposure to taxation. It also has to do with the way that the deals are done - by reducing the declared profit the studio can avoid coughing up loads to those who have "points on the net" as opposed to "points on the gross".

And just an off-topic pet peeve: why do they use dollars to compare movie opening weekends? The dollar is changing in value, and the cost of tickets goes up, so the comparison isn't directly related. Better would be either tickets sold, or seats filled vs seats available (in case they open in limited release). :shrug:

Hollywood (meaning the US-based film industry, not the place) uses dollars so we all have to use dollars. As far as Hollywood is concerned the dollar stays the same - it's everything else that changes! Throughout the 90s there has been a move to raise ticket prices as attendances fell - I do find it funny listening to people in the US bitching about their $8 tickets, come to London where it's more like $19 in the West End!

The reason why they don't use numbers of tickets sold or seats filled as the primary basis for comparison is that Hollywood is about the money! Who cares how many people saw it , if it made it's money that's all that matters :) Seriously though, one of the key indicators of a film's success or failure is the "screen average" - how much the movie made from each screen it was being shown on. If, like me, you are a keen box office watcher then this is often the best way of predicting which films will go on to "have legs" and play for a long time. For films in limited release screen average is the best indicator as to whether it will go on to do well in a wide release.

MasterZap
05-24-2006, 11:50 AM
There are cheaper ways to damage your hearing.


I wish that situation existed here in Sweden....

At least where I live, the quality of the Cinema experience has gone way down. I have better sound (and sometimes picture!) in my den at home, than at the theater.

It's sad we have this very fine classical style movie theater in town, but lately the sound there has just been a b y s m a l and sounding like it's almost mono, no sub, no surround.... horrid.

It's one of the main reasons my movie attendance is down; when I can get my rectal cavity shaken 10 times more by my sub at home, with no jerks around me... why go to the theater?

With HD around the corner, even the chance of the picture being better at the cinema goes away.... soon.

/Z

Flog
05-24-2006, 05:10 PM
but you're still paying for the product, aren't you? Your rental dollars are just the same as ones from the box office :) Years ago I worked on a movie called Pitch Black which went on to make a reasonable profit on its initial spend (the show cost around $22 million, it did $39 million at the US box office and another $15 million internationally), however it went on to do really well on rental, home sales and TV, making much more than it did in cinemas - the theatrical release effectively served as an advert for the after sales.

Cool, you worked on Pitch Black. I liked that movie. And there you have it, why did this movie cost 22 Million when I've seen similiar movies and the same quality, with the same FX, cost 75-80 Million?

The truest enemy of the movie industry is not cost today, but piracy.
For 20 bucks a month, someone can get an unlimited flow of DVDS to to their home through a Netflix type service, and burn 100's of movies that they never have to see in the theatres, or purchase, or spend more than a low monthly fee to rent.
Once we get past the piracy issue, the DVD market has bottomed out, and the theatre market has bottomed out, yes there are movies that do well still, but over all, the box office does not perform as well as it used to. So not only do these studios have to juggle with all of the expenses of getting the movie made, they have to keep their fingers crossed that people will actually go and see it, because if the preview doesn't grab you, people are going to wait 4 months for it come out on DVD and burn it instead.


Honestly I think this is a problem that they put to much focus on and want it to the be the end all be all to why they are losing money. For the most part your average movie going family is not going to have fast internet. 75% of Americans have internet, and 45% of that have broadband, now out of that group how many download movies illegally? It's not piracy killing hte movie going experience. You see going to movies is an experience, but people are no longer having the experience they once had.

The price of movie tickets is killing theatres. Lower the prices and they will come. High prices and low return is what most families are getting out of their movies. Only when a movie is guaranteed to have a high return will a family of 4 cough up the 8-19 dollars.

The other thing, if the movie pirates are anything like the music pirates. Those are the ones who on average spend more on movie and music than the average person. I forgot the statistic but I remember on music it was something like Average person spent : 2.75 a month on music Downloaders (pirates): Was about 9.00 a month on music. Truth be told those who take the time to search news groups just usually want it early and then buy it later. They probably spend more on buying movies than the average person.

I think piracy is a valid loss of money, but very fractional loss of money. It's not the main cause. I think an experiment should be run, lower the price of tickets for 1 month to half and lets see how many more people come.

Example: You can get millions of pornographic movies and pictures for free on the internet, but yet the business is still booming online. People still pay for it.

Bonedaddy
05-24-2006, 05:17 PM
Cool, you worked on Pitch Black. I liked that movie. And there you have it, why did this movie cost 22 Million when I've seen similiar movies and the same quality, with the same FX, cost 75-80 Million?


Cause it had basically one set, a no-name cast (Vin Diesel was unknown at the time), and only one recurring CG character (that I can recall, at least), which was consistently underlit? You can't compare that to Sky Captain, where every single thing is digital.

Flog
05-24-2006, 05:26 PM
That is the thing though, there are similiar movies to this one, same quality, same amount of CG all costing way more than 22 Million dollars, half your normal movies with no CG cost 30 Million dollars.

True you cannot compare it to Sky Captain (75,000,0000) and all digital, but then again you can compare Sky Captain to Casshern an all digital movie in the same vein (6,000,000).

Although I have to admit Sky Captain did a pretty good job on things. It spent it's 75,000,000 well and had some big name actors and actresses. On this movie I think they did a good job on their budget. Sky Captain is an example itself, why did this movie cost 75 million and not 200 Million? Considering the big name actors and the whole CG backgrounds?

Even at it's price of 75 million, it still shows you the whole 150-200 milliion is not needed to get a good looking movie.

Bonedaddy
05-24-2006, 05:35 PM
Although I have to admit Sky Captain did a pretty good job on things. It spent it's 75,000,000 well and had some big name actors and actresses. On this movie I think they did a good job on their budget. Sky Captain is an example itself, why did this movie cost 75 million and not 200 Million? Considering the big name actors and the whole CG backgrounds?

Because they hired fresh-out-of-school students to do most of the core work, then hired established VFX companies to do the rest of the work halfway through production -- when they realized that they couldn't get everything done themselves -- and suckered the other VFX companies into thinking it'd be a light job, when it turned out they'd have to basically start from scratch. They shafted almost every VFX company who worked on it. EVERYONE I know who worked on Sky Captain got worked to the bone, and hated it. That movie was a 911 show in the worst way.

I am willing to bet Casshern was not much different, workwise. Everyone I know who has worked at Japanese CG companies has had less than glowing things to say about the work environment.

playmesumch00ns
05-24-2006, 05:59 PM
Although I have to admit Sky Captain did a pretty good job on things. It spent it's 75,000,000 well and had some big name actors and actresses. On this movie I think they did a good job on their budget. Sky Captain is an example itself, why did this movie cost 75 million and not 200 Million? Considering the big name actors and the whole CG backgrounds?

Even at it's price of 75 million, it still shows you the whole 150-200 milliion is not needed to get a good looking movie.

Personally I thought Sky Captain looked a bit iffy most of the time and was only saved by the very stylised look. If they'd spent $200 million, and had an extra year I think it would have looked a whole lot better.

The movie still would have stunk tho :)

Flog
05-24-2006, 06:22 PM
Because they hired fresh-out-of-school students to do most of the core work, then hired established VFX companies to do the rest of the work halfway through production -- when they realized that they couldn't get everything done themselves -- and suckered the other VFX companies into thinking it'd be a light job, when it turned out they'd have to basically start from scratch. They shafted almost every VFX company who worked on it. EVERYONE I know who worked on Sky Captain got worked to the bone, and hated it. That movie was a 911 show in the worst way.

I am willing to bet Casshern was not much different, workwise. Everyone I know who has worked at Japanese CG companies has had less than glowing things to say about the work environment.

I understand work environment, but really at the end of the day I simply think there needs to be a balance and better management. Everyone can be open to better management of resources. Put the money where it belongs and do not be frivolous on things not required.

I know people who live off of 30,000 a year better than folks who live off of 50,000 a year because they know how to budget.

I live better now off of a reduced income than I did when I was making more money because of budget. When I an my wife made between 60-70 thousand a year we did not have anything to show for it, I mean we lived fine and had plenty to spend on junk and eating out and such. Then we went down to a reduction of 50,000 a year. Now we have alot to show for it, a nice 2 story house, all the technology I want including my pride and joy 50 inch plasma TV. The thing is the reason we have more to show for it, is we budget better and do not waste as much (we still waste a lot).

I just think there should be a medium. I think VFX artists should get paid more. I think actors and executives should get less. I think some of the folks who really don't need to be involved with the film should be cut out of the film. Just learn to balance their money before they start getting in the 400 million dollar a movie mark and you see less of your fun VFX movies.

Njen
05-25-2006, 02:22 AM
I understand work environment, but really at the end of the day I simply think there needs to be a balance and better management. Everyone can be open to better management of resources. Put the money where it belongs and do not be frivolous on things not required.

This is a very airy fairy comment and is guilty of sounding very much like classic 'management-speak', and I really hate 'management-speak'. Are you able to give actual evidence of this? It's easy to say things like "Manage better!" and "Do not be frivolous on things not required!" without giving real world examples. How do you think it can be managed better, in real world terms? What are these mysterious frivolous things you are speaking about?

I know people who live off of 30,000 a year better than folks who live off of 50,000 a year because they know how to budget.

And I know people who live off of 50,000 a year better than folks who live off of 30,000 a year because they know how to budget. What's your point? Or do you really think that everyone who earns more are unable to save. I earn more with each project that I work on, and am able to save more.

I live better now off of a reduced income than I did when I was making more money because of budget.

This says more about your inability to budget with a higher income than anything else.

Bonedaddy
05-25-2006, 02:35 AM
I understand work environment, but really at the end of the day I simply think there needs to be a balance and better management. Everyone can be open to better management of resources. Put the money where it belongs and do not be frivolous on things not required.

I know people who live off of 30,000 a year better than folks who live off of 50,000 a year because they know how to budget.

I live better now off of a reduced income than I did when I was making more money because of budget. When I an my wife made between 60-70 thousand a year we did not have anything to show for it, I mean we lived fine and had plenty to spend on junk and eating out and such. Then we went down to a reduction of 50,000 a year. Now we have alot to show for it, a nice 2 story house, all the technology I want including my pride and joy 50 inch plasma TV. The thing is the reason we have more to show for it, is we budget better and do not waste as much (we still waste a lot).

I just think there should be a medium. I think VFX artists should get paid more. I think actors and executives should get less. I think some of the folks who really don't need to be involved with the film should be cut out of the film. Just learn to balance their money before they start getting in the 400 million dollar a movie mark and you see less of your fun VFX movies.

I agree that some stuff could probably be budgeted better, or at least more realistically. But the fact of the matter is that people aren't TRYING to make inflated budgets. They're trying their damndest NOT to. Nobody wants an overbudget production. That's what I'm trying to say. People cut the fat when they can. The feature film industry, contrary to popular belief, is not staffed primarily by lunatics and idiots. If there was a cheaper way of doing it, believe you me, they'd do it. Many have tried, and very few have been successful.

I feel like you're not listening to me when I point out that a lot of your examples were poorly-run from a work standpoint. I mean, you talk about getting better management, but the truth is, working people for less pay than the market value, and longer hours than other places? That's not good management. It's not a matter of working smarter -- we're working as smart as we can!

Flog
05-25-2006, 06:15 AM
I did use one example of a movie. Napoleon Dynamite, why did it cost an Indie Filmaker 400,000 to make the entire 90 minute movie but 250,000 just to add that last scene? Why did it cost that much to film once it got to Hollywoods hands?

I think though because technology is getting cheaper you will see more films come out of it eventually. As things move away from the theatres and more to online entertainment you'll have a whole new breed of filmmakers making fun movies.

I think whatever our opinions are or whatever we feel go into production, we are definately in an interesting time to see where the future of moviemaking will go.



Lucas: Big pics are doomed





BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. Leave it to "Star Wars" creator George Lucas to pronounce the death of the Hollywood blockbuster.

"The market forces that exist today make it unrealistic to spend $200 million on a movie," said Lucas, a near-billionaire from his feverishly franchised outer-space epics. "Those movies can't make their money back anymore. Look at what happened with 'King Kong.'" The portly Lucas, whose "Star Wars" sequel was nominated for the Oscar in makeup, was clearly in Yoda mode at Saturday's Weinstein Co. party Harvey Weinstein's first Oscar bash since he abandoned Miramax to Disney last year. "I think it's great that the major Oscar nominations have gone to independent films," Lucas told me, adding that it's no accident that the "small movies" outclassed the spectaculars in this year's Academy Awards. "Is that good for the business? No it's bad for the business. But moviemaking isn't about business. It's about art!"

Was that a smirk? "In the future, almost everything that gets shown in theaters will be indie movies," Lucas declared. "I predict that by 2025 the average movie will cost only $15 million."

You heard it here first.

And if the business of Hollywood is in the midst of painful downsizing, so are the parties.

For his traditional post-Oscar splash at Morton's, Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter trimmed the guest list make that amputated it by 500 people.

Meanwhile, in the wee hours yesterday, it was business as usual in the garden of the Chateau Marmont. While Sienna Miller flirted up a storm with five guys at her table, the prohibitive favorite for Best Actor, "Capote" star Philip Seymour Hoffman, sat with pals until nearly 3 a.m., eschewing his red-carpet beauty sleep. Oscars? What Oscars? And it says something that the brightest bauble on the Oscar social scene this weekend very well might have been an &shy;empty-eyed flibbertigibbet I have sworn never to recognize (though it was impossible to avoid this person as she repeatedly stepped on her floor-length, strapless Diane von Furstenberg dress in the muddy grass at Barry Diller and von Furstenberg's mogul-infested picnic lunch, ruining the dress and threatening wardrobe malfunction). Other scenes from the Saturday picnic:




HEre is one more interesting article
http://entertainment.excite.com/celebgossip/pgsixceleb/id/05_18_2006_3.html

Njen
05-25-2006, 06:51 AM
I did use one example of a movie. Napoleon Dynamite, why did it cost an Indie Filmaker 400,000 to make the entire 90 minute movie but 250,000 just to add that last scene? Why did it cost that much to film once it got to Hollywoods hands?

Well obviously you knew also that Jon Heder was paid a total of $1000 for being the main star of the film.

The film took 22 days to shoot. Which means he got paid around $333 a week. Is this the future you envision? The movie grossed over $40,000,000 in the United States, by the way.

Anyway, I thought the focus of this discussion was effects films. Napoleon Dynamite had none, which is why it cost so cheap.

thatoneguy
05-25-2006, 07:13 AM
When there is no money in a project, you can get by without anything. You can beg, steal, cheat, cry and joke your way through your budget. You can guerilla shoot without permits. You can ask people to bring their own equipment. People will work for free. People will bring their own food. Everybody is in it together to struggle against the budget of free because they are doing it for the project.

As soon as it becomes a "for profit" enterprise. People want to be payed for their time. People aren't willing to loan you equipment for free.

The reason Napoleon Dynamite's costs skyrocketed was because everybody wanted to be payed what they deserved for that amount of work. It's not because they were greedy, it's because the rules change. If the director and producers are getting payed, it's only logical that the people under them don't volunteer their time so that the producers can make more money. In fact I would argue it should be the other way aroud, and that's the way I run my shows. Crew gets payed, no matter what. Investors get payed, no matter what. Shooting expenditures get payed, no matter what. If there is anything left over producers/directors get payed.

jubba
05-25-2006, 07:44 AM
Cause it had basically one set, a no-name cast (Vin Diesel was unknown at the time),

I think we had three sets :) Keith David was about the only moderately well known actor in the show.


and only one recurring CG character (that I can recall, at least), which was consistently underlit? You can't compare that to Sky Captain, where every single thing is digital.

Pitch Black was essentially an expensive indie film which then got a wide release - costs were kept down by shooting in Oz in cheap studio space (Village Roadshow Studios outside of Surfers' Paradise) with a non-union crew. All the VFX were done in the UK with the exception of the miniatures which were mainly done in California (some in Oz and a little bit in the UK). Everyone worked cheap because there wasn't much else going on at the time!

Sky Captain was meant to be a relatviely cheap movie. I visited the facility that they'd built to do the the show in Van Nuys right when they started out - the intention was to do everything internally using mainly macs. I think if they were setting that up today they'd probably have pulled it off. In the end they got caught out by the movie's release schedule and had to farm a lot of stuff out to shops like ILM etc who charged full price to turn the work around quickly - that's where it all started getting expensive. That, perhaps is the big difference between a show like Pitch Black and Sky Captain: Sky Captain was locked into a release date, as they ran out of time they had to pay more and more to get the work done quickly. Pitch Black had no scheduled release date when we were working on it (it's a very long story but it has to do with studio mergers and a tedious legal tussle between Universal and USA Studios). In fact the film sat on the shelf for a whole year after we'd finished it in early 1999 - all this meant that the VFX houses were able to run very reduced crews over a long period to make the final changes to the movie which otherwise would have cost considerably more if they'd been done with lots of guys in a short time.

I think it was Bonedaddy who said earlier that the Hollywood triangle is good, cheap, fast: pick two!



j

jubba
05-25-2006, 07:51 AM
incidentally - Sky Captain, whilst having ended up costing quite a lot, is the model for a new kind of relatively low cost film making. It's arguable that Sin City would never have been greenlit without Sky Captain having gone first down the virtual greenscreen route. Expect to see a whole slew of this kind of film appearing over the next couple of years, starting with the 300.

The most expensive thing in any movie is the time it takes to do something - that equates to salaries. The greenscreen studio approach, shooting digitally on HD, means you can keep the shoot down to a few weeks rather than months - that's one of the primary reasons that Sin City came in on such a low budget. The big Studios like that.

amygdalae
05-25-2006, 09:26 AM
That is the thing though, there are similiar movies to this one, same quality, same amount of CG all costing way more than 22 Million dollars, half your normal movies with no CG cost 30 Million dollars.

True you cannot compare it to Sky Captain (75,000,0000) and all digital, but then again you can compare Sky Captain to Casshern an all digital movie in the same vein (6,000,000).

Although I have to admit Sky Captain did a pretty good job on things. It spent it's 75,000,000 well and had some big name actors and actresses. On this movie I think they did a good job on their budget. Sky Captain is an example itself, why did this movie cost 75 million and not 200 Million? Considering the big name actors and the whole CG backgrounds?

Even at it's price of 75 million, it still shows you the whole 150-200 milliion is not needed to get a good looking movie.

TROLL!

What do you care?
Seems like you're just a bored guy with alot of time to take different sides of your own debate.
Maybe this thread can just die, it's pretty pointless.

Ed Bittner
05-25-2006, 12:23 PM
"But moviemaking isn't about business. It's about art!"
Lucas declared.
That's why it's called "Show-Art" instead of "Show Business", right George?
(who will soon be releasing yet another ver. of the origional Star Wars trilogy).
E.

Flog
05-25-2006, 04:38 PM
TROLL!

What do you care?
Seems like you're just a bored guy with alot of time to take different sides of your own debate.
Maybe this thread can just die, it's pretty pointless.

Why do you even care, and why revert to name calling? You must even be more bored than me coming in here without any discussion and just to name call. Your pretty pointless if anything is pointless.

Most of the folks here are having a debate and discussing their opinion in a mature, non offensive way, and you come in here with your newb smell to stink up the place.

And I do care, as I do care alot about the movie industry. I do care alot about ticket prices. I do care alot about movie making itself and the art behind it. I really do care about being able to even go to a movie theatre and watch great movies with wonderful FX. However Hollywood has even noticed sinking sales and decrease in movie theatre visits. They compensate that by raising ticket prices, they have to make their money back somehow for the cost of the movie.

I'm for lowering some of those costs and taking management of them a little better, being fair to all those working on the film, and lowering ticket prices.

I do care a ton about the industry and I love making movies myself.

Well obviously you knew also that Jon Heder was paid a total of $1000 for being the main star of the film.

The film took 22 days to shoot. Which means he got paid around $333 a week. Is this the future you envision? The movie grossed over $40,000,000 in the United States, by the way.

Anyway, I thought the focus of this discussion was effects films. Napoleon Dynamite had none, which is why it cost so cheap.

LOL, you got me on that one. Not what I totally envision for the future. I'm for the high budgets. 75-100 Million, but definately not into the 200-300 Million dollar movies. I'm hoping to see a middle ground to budgets.

Honestly I think if you make such a big profit on a movie you should share the wealth in bonuses or something. I am hoping Jon Heder got a nice little bonus after the films box office and successful DVD sales came in.

On my film I have a small budget, I offer upfront pay but also in contract if there are any future profits I offer profit sharing at a percent of sales. I believe as a producer/director. If your successful everyone else should be successful. That's my belief and also my business model.

I also see sometimes with a limited budget, the films tend to have more heart. When you can't throw money at something you get really creative. I think that is why Star Wars, the older ones, actually are more heartfelt than the more modern ones (I like those too) but in the older ones you can see where they had to think on their toes. I think if you took a poll Yoda puppet is more memorable than Yoda CG (minus fight scene) . It's what they had to work with at the time, I think even now they should have used puppets, with background fights and such being CG, but that's just me and that is a debate for another day.

I'm not totally for a 50 Million a movie budget, I love the big budget blockblusters, 100 million is alot and a cringe but understandable at a certain point, but when they start getting into the 300-400 million mark that gets out of hand and that is where it is going. I just hope they are able to find a medium and balance things better before they do get out of control.

Jubba, thanks for your information on making the film. That was awesome to see what goes into a film like Pitch Black. Thanks for sharing your insight.

beaker
05-25-2006, 05:39 PM
Crash was shot all in LA with the union and moderatly big stars and done for only 8 million.

jubba
05-25-2006, 06:24 PM
Jubba, thanks for your information on making the film. That was awesome to see what goes into a film like Pitch Black. Thanks for sharing your insight.

my pleasure. Bit of a bonus when it turned out to be not half bad as a movie - shame the same couldn't be said about Chronicles of Riddick ; -)

hellgatemedia
05-25-2006, 07:48 PM
Not everyone in here is going to have a professional back ground, not all of us are going to have working knowledge of the film industry. Myself, my experience is more on the indie or "guerrila" side of things. And Flog, I'm not sure what if any experience he has.
But even with my small experience, and having actually worked on a professional set or two, I still can't exactly grasp the whole cost thing on some of these box office giants.
I think the incorrect thing to do is to snipe at Flog, I think you are misinterpreting curiousity and enthusiasm, and mistakenly believing he is trolling.
In one form or another, we are all professionals here, please lets be professinal, and not snipe at people who know less than you. If you feel that in some way Flog's postings and his questions violate some form of board ettiquette, at least make it clear to that person.

Jubba, thank you for your insight from working on the set of Pitch Black, that was a fun movie.

Flog
05-28-2006, 01:22 AM
Quote:
" Walt Disney (http://www.nytimes.com/redirect/marketwatch/redirect.ctx?MW=http://custom.marketwatch.com/custom/nyt-com/html-companyprofile.asp&symb=DIS) Studios is expecting a big summer with the release of the highly anticipated animated film "Cars" and the next installment in the popular "Pirates of the Caribbean" series.
But not all is well in movieland and changes are afoot. With a decline in DVD sales and the rising cost of making movies, Hollywood in general has been tightening its belt. And now Disney, as part of a long-term review, is contemplating layoffs, looking to rein in costs and rethinking the type of movies it wants to make at its live-action Disney Studios, according to people apprised of Disney's planning. "

>>LINK<< (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/27/business/media/27disney.html?ei=5090&en=04a6aa25557c9e62&ex=1306382400&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=print)


Just some news.

earlyworm
05-29-2006, 11:54 AM
I know it's hard to imagine how films can get so expensive, yet if you actually sat down and budgeted a movie you'd see that it does get expensive quite quickly.

As an exercise... (you don't have to do this, hopefully there'll be a point at the end)

Do a rough budget for my theorectical short film here (it's a boring, coming-of-age, drama), 9 minutes long, 5 locations (3 int, 2 ext), 4 main actors and 20 extras (for a party scene at the end), shooting over 3 days, post can take place over a 3-month period (you need to make that festival cut-off date). No VFX.

First budget it at full-price shooting on film. You're paying for everything here, equipment, crew, actors and all the locations you wanted. Include post time for edit, sound and image post. You should be able to get this post done in about 15 working days (it can be spread out over the full three months if you like).

Next budget it at the next extreme, paying for nothing. Is it possible? Yes, we can get drama students or friends to act in our film, your buddy knows a guy who has a PD-150 we can borrow, we can get together all our friends for the party scene (although less than half will likely show up). And you edit it together on your PC at home taking as long as you want. You might have to pay for some DV tapes, but the most you'll end up paying is less than $100.

Does the final product match your initial vision? Well it probably does, would it have looked better if you had shot it on Super35, had a professional sound mix done, and hired professional actors who fit and acted the part you hired them for...

I don't know if I have a point anymore after all that. Take a single seqeunce from any of the big effects shows last year and try and budget that sequence - using the same method as above, 'full-price' and then 'mates-rates'... Some good examples would be the Anakin/Obi-Won duel in SW3, Kong on top the ESB fighting the planes, the big alien attack at the intersection in War of the Worlds, the final battle in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardobe, a scene from Sin City perhaps or Batman Begins.

Do you think you could budget those scenes any cheaper than they turned out? And still get them out in time for the scheduled release date?

There is a lot of excess in the film industry, it's less to do with the process and more to do with the people involved in that process.

For most people it's hard to keep on-schedule and on-budget building a new home, yet most films tend to come in on-budget and on-schedule. What with all the tempermental, creatives types that work in the film business, that just seems odd.

beaker
05-29-2006, 03:36 PM
Just some news.

Quote:
" Walt Disney Studios is expecting a big summer with the release of the highly anticipated animated film "Cars" and the next installment in the popular "Pirates of the Caribbean" series.
But not all is well in movieland and changes are afoot. With a decline in DVD sales and the rising cost of making movies, Hollywood in general has been tightening its belt. And now Disney, as part of a long-term review, is contemplating layoffs, looking to rein in costs and rethinking the type of movies it wants to make at its live-action Disney Studios, according to people apprised of Disney's planning. "
>>LINK<<
Every company says this same exact thing every year for the last 50 years.

Als
05-29-2006, 06:11 PM
It is not enough to put money into the movie, it is important what you spend it on!
Audience wants to get entertained, but novelties wear off.
But they will always go back to the great STORY!


Als

beaker
05-29-2006, 06:40 PM
Audience wants to get entertained, but novelties wear off.
But they will always go back to the great STORY!I wish that was true in reality, but it isn't. People want to be entertained. Thats why the movies with the best stories make very little money and 100 million dollar crap movies make 500 million dollars.

Als
05-29-2006, 10:07 PM
Well,
this is why PIXAR made so much money!
And some other movie companies did not.
Also MATRIX made lots of money, but the sequels not as much.
It is not only a good story, but had to be well told.
Audience does value production money well spent, and it does
like to see blockbusters, and clearly lots of money spent in PR
is always paying off.

Al

Bonedaddy
05-29-2006, 10:24 PM
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang had a great story. Same with Thank You For Smoking. And Brick. Hell, even Serenity had a pretty good plot going. They all did terribly at the box office.

Tragically, story is not the sole indicator of a movie's success.

jubba
05-29-2006, 11:09 PM
Well,

Also MATRIX made lots of money, but the sequels not as much.

Al

The Matrix made about $460 million worldwide, Matrix Reloaded's global box office was around $740 million and Revolutions finished with approx $430 million. Dollar in dollar out the sequels were just as profitable as the first film - more so if you take into account the massive merchandising/DVD frenzy. What the sequels didn't do was live up to expectations; they didn't make as much money as the studio might have hoped that they would (though Reloaded had one of the biggest opening weekends in movie history) - this is what has perhaps lead to the misconception that somehow these films were flops at the box office. They most emphatically were not.

The VFX overspends on the Matrix sequels are quite a different story entirely - see earlier in this thread.

j

chalbers
05-30-2006, 07:39 AM
This situation kind of reminds me of Grant Boucher and Station X Studios.


Regardless, they come across as rather arrogant and that is something in CG land that really has little merit. Here's a word of advice to all of you CG folks out there - rich, poor, successful, failing: "Never forget where you came from." We all sucked at this at one time or another. This community is too small and what we do is too much of a luxury for people to act so self-important. Seriously, it's not like we're curing cancer here. We're making a living creating pretty pictures, and for most of us that's damned fun and something we're passionate about. But to act like it's something bigger than that and to parade around like you're hotsh!t, that's just lame.

Oh and if you run a successful studio AND you brag about luxury cars, you need to wake the hell up and recognize the people who've sweat and bled for you to get to that point. Your success may have come at a price for others.

Humility is a REQUIREMENT in this industry - for everyone.

Als
05-30-2006, 12:16 PM
Thanks for clearing that up - my bad.
But I do have to say that most of the people (including me) went to see the sequels because of the original story ;)
Ok, ok, ... maybe not. Maybe they just wanted to see more explosions, kung fu, and nice looking people in fast vehicles...
Well, I still think that good story can sell the film.
But film has to be entertaining as well (not boring).
And has to have a good subject which matters to the audience.
I will have to see above mentioned movies to realise why they flopped.

Ok, help me out, why movies make money?


Al



The Matrix made about $460 million worldwide, Matrix Reloaded's global box office was around $740 million and Revolutions finished with approx $430 million. Dollar in dollar out the sequels were just as profitable as the first film - more so if you take into account the massive merchandising/DVD frenzy. What the sequels didn't do was live up to expectations; they didn't make as much money as the studio might have hoped that they would (though Reloaded had one of the biggest opening weekends in movie history) - this is what has perhaps lead to the misconception that somehow these films were flops at the box office. They most emphatically were not.

The VFX overspends on the Matrix sequels are quite a different story entirely - see earlier in this thread.

j

jubba
05-30-2006, 05:37 PM
Ok, help me out, why movies make money?


Al

I think you answered your own question:

The simplistic answer in the case of the Matrix sequels would be that they made money because of the market penetration afforded by the success of the first movie (lots of people knew about the film and wanted more of the same) but they didn't make as much money as hoped because they were a bit boring and incoherent so word of mouth depressed the box office take. This was particularly noticeable with Revolutions.

However, they still made enough money that Warners were happy to back the Wachowskis to go and make V for Vendetta and Joel Silver's career as a producer continues unabated.

richcz3
05-30-2006, 06:40 PM
This situation kind of reminds me of Grant Boucher and Station X Studios.
Yeah - I remember the ol' "Bouchet" pronunciation of that last name in the heyday. Went to a few meetings where he was a guest speaker. (No comment). There is allot to be said about humility. People remember very well. When tides turn they tend to hand you yours in spades if you step on enough toes in the process. Admittedly there was allot of talent which carried a certain buzz around the group at StationX and a few other studios here in LA. Many have moved on to bigger and better things.

"There should be a Where are they now? here on CG Talk

jbradley
05-30-2006, 08:10 PM
I don't know if I have a point anymore after all that. Take a single seqeunce from any of the big effects shows last year and try and budget that sequence - using the same method as above, 'full-price' and then 'mates-rates'... Some good examples would be the Anakin/Obi-Won duel in SW3, Kong on top the ESB fighting the planes, the big alien attack at the intersection in War of the Worlds, the final battle in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardobe, a scene from Sin City perhaps or Batman Begins.

Do you think you could budget those scenes any cheaper than they turned out? And still get them out in time for the scheduled release date?

There is a lot of excess in the film industry, it's less to do with the process and more to do with the people involved in that process.



I've been following this thread a bit, more troll than anything - I had to bite after reading this. :)

"Within a Minute: The Making of Episode III" is probably the best example I can pick out where the process, literally, made it very clear why movies cost so much to make these days.

49 seconds of Scene 158:
70,441 man hours, 910 artists, 6 shots, and a total of 1185 frames

The amount of work put into the result of less than a minute in the film, and the number of people that had to touch this segment was ridiculous. It's almost a perfect example of excess and over-massaging of a visual effects sequence I've seen.

Although I essentially agree that it costs a lot of money to make these films, this just shouts "ineffectiveness" to me, in a grand scale.

Trying to guess the final cost of that singular sequence? At $150/hr. (good average?) : $10,566,150. If I went with typical fx studio hourly rates that number bumps up dramatically.

While it was a great segment and well put together, I do not believe the ends justify the means. That said, I think it's easy to see how a picture such as this can cost into the hundreds of millions.

Could I budget that scene for less? I don't know, but I certainly would hope so. :)

Just some food for thought.

cheers.

jewalker
05-30-2006, 08:34 PM
49 seconds of Scene 158:
70,441 man hours, 910 artists, 6 shots, and a total of 1185 frames
cheers.

I'm curious to know if this includes the crew required for filming the live action shots? 910 artists sounds like a large number, but it really isn't if you consider the whole sequence from beginning to end, from pre-vis to filming to vfx to editing to filmout. The question is was the cost worth it?

richcz3
05-30-2006, 10:48 PM
I think grouping Sin City amoungst King Kong, EP III, Batman Begins is done in error.
Robert Rodriguez's methodology is not about overkill in any part of production. He is allot more practical in his approach to film making. There aren't multiple layers of review and technical management. He's actively involved in as many aspects of production as possible keeping the costs of his productions down.

jbradley's mention of Lucas's "Within a Minute: The Making of Episode III" Illustrates how over the top a production can go.

I think the problem with big films is that the stakes are soo freakin high that there must be various check and cross check points which add redundency and kill efficiency. If not redundent than beurocratic process that waste time which ultimately require crushing/costly last minute work. Design .... or better put, film making by comittee accomplishes what?

surlymonkey
05-30-2006, 11:32 PM
910 artists...

that's just nuts. Wha... huh... Why? Did they use 910 etch-a-scetches? wow. ;)


c

dunkelzahn
05-31-2006, 04:33 PM
Rodriguez made Sin City for 40 mil...Rodriguez is an exception. Not the rule.



Robert Rodriguez made "El Mariachi" on astarting budget of $7000 so he probably knows how to stretch until budget beyond recognition :)

Cheers

Chris

jubba
05-31-2006, 09:06 PM
Robert Rodriguez made "El Mariachi" on astarting budget of $7000 so he probably knows how to stretch until budget beyond recognition :)

Cheers

Chris

the figure I originally heard was 3000 bucks, but really that only got him an offline cut on low band U-Matic videotape - this then got picked up by a distributer who did everything else to get the film ready for exhibition. You can bet that budget was multiplied several times just for the neg cut/grade/answer print/mix and dub alone.

Flog
05-31-2006, 09:15 PM
Rodriguez made Sin City for 40 mil...Rodriguez is an exception. Not the rule.


Why does he have to be the exception and not the rule? What approach does he use that is differant than others?

I remember when he made Sin City I noticed he had dropped out of the Director's Union? I wonder if not having to pay those dues and cutting out the beurucracy helped any?

What else did he use other than not paying actors 10-25 million a piece? I would just love to see the budget breakdown on this movie vs another movie of the same caliber.

BillSpradlin
05-31-2006, 09:27 PM
He dropped out of the directors guild because they wouldn't allow both him and Frank Miller to be billed as Directors of the movie. They only allow 1 director, so he said screw them and dropped out so he could have Miller as the other director.

Flog
05-31-2006, 09:51 PM
I was aware of that, but I wonder if that helped drop the price. I wonder had he not dropped out of the guild would the price of the movie had doubled?

Bonedaddy
05-31-2006, 10:20 PM
He had a blueprint for the movie dropped in his lap. He knew exactly how every shot had to be framed, how the dialogue that had to be delivered, what everything had to look like, and even had the creator on-set to consult with. That cuts down a LOT on the number of takes, revisions, and eliminates a ton of preproduction. Plus, it's digital, almost no sets, black and white, and the cg doesn't have to be photoreal. Furthermore, because of the reputation he has, I'm willing to be a lot of places did work at below their normal rate, because a) it's going to be a fast show, and b) it'll look good on their reel and allow them to get more work.

I was told today by a co-worker (unsure how true it is) that ILM actually took a bath on the Terminator 2 effects, almost to the tune of $2 million. They did it to work with Cameron, and made back their money on a subsequent Coke commercial that used the same melting effects, which helped put ILM on the map. Could be something along those lines.

The DGA isn't some monolithic, evil organization. It's a bunch of directors trying to protect their livelihood, banded together. Rodriguez was basically flicking off a bunch of his peers. I mean, it's totally understandable why he did it -- standard difference of opinion, and they were afraid changing the rules would open up a floodgate that would really negatively effect a lot of directors whose last names weren't Rodriguez. Be that as it may, just because he left the DGA doesn't mean it's an evil organization. It's really just a bunch of guys trying to do good by each other, for the most part.

beaker
06-01-2006, 04:01 AM
He dropped out of the directors guild because they wouldn't allow both him and Frank Miller to be billed as Directors of the movie. They only allow 1 director, so he said screw them and dropped out so he could have Miller as the other director.They allow two directors on a movie, they just don't allow someone that didn't actually direct the movie get the credit for it. Frank Miller didn't actually direct on set (though he was there), but Rodriguez considered that since all the shots were pulled exactly from the pages of the comic angles and everything, that he should also get the director credit.

It was pretty much a BS argument over semantics.

dunkelzahn
06-01-2006, 12:09 PM
I saw a Making Of of Sin City at the FMX in Stuttgart some time ago. Seems that they did a lot of shots with "old school" effects. they created a lot of the grimey snow backgrounds with baking soda, buit a ton of miniatures and created the killing of the Yellow Bastard with the help of butter milk (splashing of blood) and a pumpkin (smashed face). They did all those shots with a motion control camera and put CG and greenscreen layers on top of that.

It worked like a treat and although those tricks might not have cut the budget on a large scale it shows that you still can do "high quality" effects with "cheap" tricks.

Yours cheaply ;)

Chris

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