Name: Satoshi Kanemura
Company: FOR-A Corp. of America
Making Moves: Kanemura recently joined FOR-A after many years at Sony.
AVN: What attracted you to FOR-A at this stage in your career?
SATOSHI KANEMURA: I very much agree with and respect their fundamental philosophy, which is included in the company name. Translated from Japanese, FOR-A means “grow the business together.” FOR-A prioritizes listening to customers to understand their pain points and to create a solution together that supports and enhances the customers’ business, which in turn leads to FOR-A’s growth. They continue to create very unique gear, which is indispensable as part of a total system, such as 4K, 8K, 12G, 25G, IP. These innovations can’t be produced without understanding the total customer workflow. I’ve learned a lot of their future directions: migration toward IP, Cloud, AI, which is what customers really want but are challenged by now. I want to bring that ingenuity and enthusiasm to their marketing and overall communications in the Americas throughout my channel as well.
AVN: You were involved in many milestone moments while with Sony. What experiences will help you most as you begin your leadership of FOR-A Americas?
SK: When I look back on my career, I believe there were many experiences and highlights that will serve me well in my new position with FOR-A Americas. When I was with Sony, we collaborated closely with filmmakers James Cameron and George Lucas to develop next generation digital cinematography solutions for Avatar and Star Wars films. And I worked to spearhead Sony’s efforts into xR virtual reality production, immersive education solutions, and AI-based edge computing. During all of those initiatives, we worked very closely with the end-user, developing and maintaining ongoing relationships with them. That will be the foundation of everything I do at FOR-A. We will work closely with our customers to develop products that solve their challenges and allow them to push their creativity even further.
AVN: Can you describe FOR-A’s vision for the future?
SK: FOR-A’s future direction is all about the migration toward IP, Cloud, and AI-based comprehensive solutions. Even currently, our gear manages the full spectrum of IP, including every standard from NDI to Dante AV to SMPTE 2110.
The design of our latest technology reflects the view that there will be a continued hybrid mix of 12G-SDI and IP workflows in live production. Production equipment that provides both 12G and SMPTE 2110 capability will be well suited to handle the format flexibility and bandwidth required to carry multiple 4K signals from many locations from acquisition to delivery. Live streaming technology that’s well poised for this year and beyond must be able to handle many formats, provide unprecedented bandwidth, and require little to no training.
We’ve partnered with leading companies such as: ODYSSEY (developers of the Insight video server); ClassX (content creation and graphics playout technology); Variant Systems Group (sports replay and live event production); Media Links (IP media gateways); and Fujitsu (real-time video encoders.) We’re working with all of our partners to create the most integrated, cloud-based production system available to broadcasters and AV producers throughout the world, while maintaining our commitment to all of our current customers. All the future products will have migration path toward IP and Cloud AI.
AVN: Have the events of the past year prompted FOR-A to speed or alter its remote production product development?
SK: Remote production will not disappear when social distancing and other COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. All of our integrated systems are IP-ready and very easy to deploy for streaming. We offer flexible remote production options. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in interest in the “web panel” workflow option in our HVS switcher series in the past year due to production restrictions caused by COVID-19. All our HVS series switchers have optional browser-based GUI’s. There is no significant difference when configuring an HVS switcher for remote production instead of an established studio control room or mobile production unit. Any browser-based GUI is configured separately from the physical panel. Multiple operators—one local and two remote—can use the switcher simultaneously, so the production is not reliant on a single internet connection during a live event. Also, we are planning to support control and monitor protocol in the industry, to enhance remote capabilities.
AVN: What’s an important but less discussed point regarding the future of AV production?
SK: Above all, AV producers need to partner with a company that will stay with them through the process and beyond. When transitioning to a video-over-IP infrastructure for example, there are multiple, incompatible standards. They should keep in mind that the capital cost of installing IP audio/video production and distribution system can be more costly than traditional SDI. Computer IP-based systems require software upgrades that must be continually tested. IP systems are more susceptible to computer hacking and therefore the use of firewalls and software upgrades to patch the software must become part of the normal maintenance mindset. To be successful with IP, engineers need a solid understanding of both audio and video, as well as computer networking. At FOR-A, we are extremely proud of our 24/7 customer support.
AVN: Are there areas where you want to increase FOR-A's market presence?
SK: In the Americas, I am most interested in expanding our presence within production companies, corporate AV, and schools. We’ve been so focused on our engineering and our current customers that we haven’t looked to the long term. And to me the area or market that’s missing which we can serve very well are schools—for the same reason we’re so popular with houses of worship: Easy to use, capabilities of more expensive competitive systems, and close customer support. Also, throughout my experiences in creative community, I personally want to introduce FOR-A’s cutting-edge technology into the creative community, such as the xR and VR domain, including virtual production.
In terms of customer engagement, we’d like to focus on DX (digital transformation) as well, not only in improving our web site, but also with further enhancement of online training, seminars and promotion.