Michael Goi’s Vision For The ASC

Cannes Film Festival

M. Goi, ASC

After three years of service as the first vice president of the American Society of Cinematographers, Michael Goi, ASC, is moving up.

The ASC’s Board of Governors, a body elected by the members of the ASC, had the task of filling the open position when Daryn Okada, ASC, stepped down from the role.  Okada, along with the board’s 15 other members, felt Goi was a natural choice.  Having worked closely with Okada during the past three years, Goi was familiar with the direction the ASC was moving towards. 

“There was a discussion amongst the board as to who should take over the reigns of the organization.  I was already familiar with how the organization was run,” said Goi.  “At this point in time, what is important for me and my fellow officers is to pursue and push through initiatives and policies.”

Goi is looking forward to continuing the ASC’s outreach to young filmmakers and students, as well as providing seminars and social activities where members can network with each other.

“We continue to do outreach to students and young filmmakers because that’s an important part of who we are,” said Goi.   I’ve been working with Martha Winterhalter, the ASC’s head of publishing, to make the website feel more interactive and to have things that are of interest for young cinematographers and students.  Also, I’m looking to up the number of special seminars that we do, such as lighting seminars with ASC’s cinematographers.”

In addition to educational programs for ASC members, Goi will be working on providing exposure to the Camera Assessment Series. 

The ASC spent five years in developing the Assessment series, and an additional six months collaborating with the Producers Guild of America to get the project off the ground.  In January 2009, the ASC shot tests of the seven most prominent digital video cameras: the Arri D21, the Panasonic HPX3700, the Panavision Genesis, the Red One, the Sony F23 ISP, the Sony F35 ISP, and the Thompson Viper.  Additionally, the Arri 435 film camera was used for a film clip comparison.    There were ten different set-ups that each camera shot to test their handling of light, color, shadow, saturation, and the many other qualities measured in a recorded image.  

“We shot all these cameras with the participation of all the manufacturers,” said Goi.  “We put them through a standard post production workflow straight out to a digital cinema package and a 35 millimeter film out, so it went through an entire chain that motion pictures normally go through.  The intention was to let people see what the capabilities and strengths of these individual cameras are.”

The Camera Assessment Series had its debut at the Producers Guild of America’s “Produced By Conference” on June 7th.   A more in-depth presentation was recently shown at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater for members of the ASC.  Goi feels that the Assessment series will be a great asset for anyone looking to understand  the digital versus film argument.

“It’s going to have huge repercussions in the industry,” said Goi.  “Film is still the bench mark of what we look at and what we’re used to seeing.  It was really illuminating both for the people who attended the conference and also for the manufacturers.  For many of them, this was the first time that they had been actively involved in seeing their cameras go through production and seeing the results taken straight through the post production workflow.”

Goi’s next step with the ASC will be making the details from the Camera Assessment Series available to a wide audience, and working with manufacturers in providing effective training material. 

“There is going to be a manual published with the data that was accumulated from the shoot,” said Goi.  “There’s a lot of information in terms of the amount of time the individual cameras took in set-up and post production and all the technical data as far as what F stops were used and what foot candles the sets were lit in.  All that material is being put together.  The Camera Assessment Program is also going to be shown in other venues. The Local 600 Cinematographer’s Guild,  ASC members and associate members in New York City,  several studios and studio heads have requested to see the material.  It’ll have an active life, but, this process is like the first volley.  Technologies are changing so rapidly, so doing camera assessment tests like this is going to be an ongoing thing.”

“The ASC is always interested in working as closely with the manufactures as they would like us to,” said Goi.  “Lori McCreary made a point at the producers conference saying most of these digital cameras started out in the video world.  The video world originated as ENG cameras for news and programs like that.  The manufactures recognizes that there is a future in digital cameras being used for motion picture work.  Consulting the cinematographers who use these cameras is essential.  They need to know what it is that a cinematographer needs on that camera to be able to do his or her job.” 

While Goi does want to the ASC to educate people on new technologies, he also wants to ease people’s fear and alarm over advancements they don’t understand.

“Somebody asked me if this is a unique period of time due to changes in digital technology.  I would have to say no, it’s absolutely not, because the entire history of motion pictures industry is a history of evolution and change.  In the late 1920s we had the introduction of sound, then two strip and three strip color, then wide screen processes in the 1950s, and then hand held camera use in the 1960s so there’s always been constant technological change in this industry.  This is just another one.”

In addition to the Camera Assessment Series, the ASC has formed a committee along with members of the Art Directors Guild and the Visual Effects Society to develop a standardized definition of previsualization.  The results of this collaboration will continue to inform members and allow everyone to advance in a consistent, uniformed manner.

“For a year now, the ASC has been meeting with the ADG and the VES to figure out what the definitions of previs and postvis and their variations are,” said Goi.  “What we’re finding is that it doesn’t actually work the way people think: that a movie is previsualized on a computer by somebody and everybody just plugs in their piece of it and it just comes out exactly like the image.  It’s much more of an organic workflow where you previsualize something, and as the production goes on, the contribution of everybody in the mix, including cinematographers, production designers, art directors, wardrobe people, and the director alters and shifts that vision.  This collaboration has developed a really sensible set of guidelines and approaches.  The results of this partnership are just rolling out now.”

Although Goi is fully invested in the programs he’ll be promoting as ASC president, he still has time to pursue his career as a cinematographer due to the ASC’s board structure.

“The thing about the ASC and the way we’ve structured the officers is there is a president and then there’s first, second and third vice president,” said Goi.  “There are certain decisions that have to be done in a very timely manner.  If the head officer is not there, the second in line has to take charge in making the decisions and moving those projects forward.  We do that because we are cinematographers.  We all take on the jobs when they come along.  I have three tremendous vice presidents backing me up.  Richard Crudo, ASC, Owen Roizman, ASC, and Victor J. Kemper, ASC, have all been past presidents of the ASC.  I have the dream team backing me up.”

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