This week, For-A America announced the appointment of industry veteran Satoshi Kanemura as president of the company, effective April 1. Kanemura joins For-A America from Sony Electronics, where he was vice president of professional products and solutions. Ken Truong, former For-A America president, is now the company’s chief technology officer.
During his 35-year career at Sony, Kanemura was instrumental in the development of several, new business initiatives, including the world's first 1080/60P live production system, 4K/8K and cloud-based production solutions, as well as Sony’s deep expansion into digital cinematography. While at Sony, he collaborated with director George Lucas on the first fully digital feature series, “Star Wars: Episode II & III” and with director James Cameron on the fully 3D digital feature series, “Avatar” and “Avatar 2 & 3.”
Kanemura was also head of Sony’s Digital Motion Picture Center, which served as a focal point for the Hollywood community looking for hands-on experience with new technologies. He also led Sony’s U.S. efforts into xR virtual reality production, immersive education solutions and AI-based edge computing technology.
In his new role with For-A America, Kanemura will spearhead the company’s growth into new and existing markets, such as remote and live event production, distance learning and worship applications.
The company’s product line supports 4K and 8K, 12G-SDI, HDR and video-over-IP workflows. For-A recently deployed a single link 12G infrastructure built around its equipment at the New World Symphony in Miami, and its range of digital switchers has provided the flexibility needed by small and large live event producers across the U.S. to pivot to alternative programming during the past year’s COVID-19 restrictions. For-A has also been providing Japanese television broadcasters’ 8K technology for the past two years and will be doing so for the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Summer Games in July and August. For-A has been awarded three Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards.
TV Tech Editor in Chief Tom Butts recently spoke with Kanemura about his plans for the company.
TV Tech: What attracted you to For-A at this stage in your career?
Satoshi Kanemura: For-A is well known throughout not only the broadcast industry, but also in a wide variety of production markets with products and solutions made by their unique technology. 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.
TVT: What kind of skills do you think are needed for leading For-A now?
SK: Communication. We have a tremendous team in the U.S. and around the world. And For-A has had great communication internally and with its customers. But what we need to take that one step further is to increase its depth and also the same level of communication with a wider audience.
In that sense, we should also broadcast more what we can do and what we can offer to the market, in order to let customers know what we offer that’s truly unique, as our competitors have been. For-A has everything necessary to become a powerhouse in the Americas.
TVT: Media technology production is moving away from hardware and more towards software and the cloud. Is For-A well positioned for this trend?
SK: As mentioned previously, our future direction is to migrate 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. We’re also 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 a migration path toward IP and cloud AI.
TVT: Have the events of the past year prompted For-A to make any changes in its direction, vis-a-via the rapid move towards remote production? And if so, what are your plans at For-A to increase its business in this area?
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 “soft panel” workflow option in our HVS switcher series in the past year due to production restrictions caused by COVID-19. All HVS series switchers have optional browser-based GUI’s.
There is no significant difference between configuring an HVS switcher for remote production and 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.
TVT: What areas in media production in the United Stated do you want For-A America to focus on right now?
SK: I am most interested in expanding our presence within production companies, corporate A/V 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 the 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.
TVT: How important are in-person trade shows and other live industry events to For-A?
SK: They have been very important to our success. For-A has participated at NAB, IBC, Interbee, SMPTE, InfoComm, SET and SVG events for many years. We look forward to seeing all of our friends in the industry and showing off our new technology when it’s safe to do so.
At the same time, we would like to focus on DX (digital transformation) as well, not only in improving our website, but also with further enhancement of online training, seminars and promotion.
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Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.