IMAGICA introduces a developed online showcase, FOYER
We interviewed two staff members closely involved in FOYER’s development, Shingo Yoshida (Sales) and Daiki Hachisuka (Systems Engineer).
For starters, tell us about how the project began.
Yoshida：A few years ago, we held a booth at TIFFCOM (a multi-content market, Japan Content Showcase). There we saw the importance in connecting the content holders and the buyers in order to bring high-quality Japanese contents to foreign markets. But that wasn’t easy. If the two could interconnect in a better setting, it would be a great opportunity for IMAGICA. Not to mention that it would help the market of Japanese contents greatly. That is how it all began.
Hachisuka：We thought about IMAGICA’s future encoding businesses and how contents file operations were now performed online. We were still searching for ways to develop new businesses for localization and file-based contents businesses in foreign markets. We began to crystallize our ideas, and that is how the project took shape.
Did you think about expanding into the foreign market from the get go?
Yoshida：We’d never done something like that before so we first thought about it as a service for domestic content holder businesses. However, the foreign market has always been there as a potential possibility.
Hachisuka：You just can’t ignore the size of the foreign market. It’s also important to distribute Japanese animation and other great contents out to the rest of the world.
How did you decide on the name, and what does it mean?
Hachisuka：I actually named it [laughs]. If the theater is where people see the end product, our work is one step before that. So, I named it after the foyer, where you lounge around before you enter the theater. And it’s read with a French accent.
Yoshida：The name also signifies the initial process of movie production before the general audience see the final product. In which case, the initial process, were we are provided content.
What were the first steps you took in developing FOYER?
Yoshida： For starters, we looked at things from both the content holder’s and the buyer’s perspectives and came up with a basic structure for marketing. Marketing was a tedious process.
Hachisuka：It was just the three of us at first—Yoshida, me, and another member [laughs].
What would you say made the process tedious?
Yoshida:There were similar services like FOYER for films, but it can only go so far without exposure. You have to bring the service to national and international exhibitions as well as trade fairs. People who are searching for contents want to browse Japanese contents all at once, but there was nothing like it. And we thought, let us be the one to provide that kind of a service.
Hachisuka: Developers tend to see things one way. When content holders develop, it only serves to highlight their contents, and when distributors develop, it is solely focused on distribution. Neither of them is user-friendly. IMAGICA understands the needs of both of the content holders and the buyers. We are confident that we can find a middle ground and develop a user-friendly system for all to utilize.
What are some difficulties you experienced?
Hachisuka：We held focus meetings with content holders to assess the necessary requirements. We asked detailed questions about their requirements like whether buyers can be selected from registration or what to do about the security problems in the distribution ranges. But each content holder have different regulations. It was a struggle to find the middle ground.
Yoshida: One content holder wanted one thing, and other content holder wanted the other thing. It made it difficult for IMAGICA to make a compromising and balanced decision.
Hachisuka:At first, we distributed the contents in a secured online system to ensure safety. But when we would speak with the clients, they wanted to see if they can download the content [smiles bitterly].
Yoshida: Yeah [laughs]. If you think about the security, you’d expect it to be just for previewing to find a match. However, we’d receive requests for the ability to exchange materials online. There were multiple requests that goes as far as completing the full transaction (buying and selling matched contents) within FOYER.
Hachisuka: After many attempts, we were able to make everyone happy; which was what mattered the most, security.
Yoshida: Some clients were using services that they were unsatisfied with before FOYER, but they seem to be satisfied with our service. It is also their trust in IMAGICA’s service. It must be our longstanding reputation. Some clients who are currently using other products are willing to try our products. I believe IMAGICA’s reputation in the movie industry is helping FOYER.
How is it going so far?
Hachisuka: I was surprised that the management teams within the content holders seemed interested. Both the parties in the field were interested in bringing their contents to a larger market. I was also surprised by how quickly they decided to introduce our product to their businesses.
Yoshida: We hear this often but most of our clients are interested in Southeast Asian markets, and that interest is mutual. We see a great potential there. We built IMAGICA South East Asia in February 2014, so we have great access to their market information as well.
Hachisuka: I think we’ll need a couple of months before we actually see how our service is doing.
If we can figure out a pattern in what the buyers are looking for, we can speed up the registration of matching contents. In a few months, we should be able to display that information. We’ve made it easier for the content holders to use our services, and if we can clarify the benefits the clients get from signing up for the system, I think we can further expand our services.
Yoshida: FOYER’s contents are all up to the standards of IMAGICA which does ensure our reliability. It includes independent productions, locally produced high-quality contents, and educational videos at excellent Japanese standards.
You can’t find that anywhere else.
Tell us your vision for the future.
Hachisuka: I think we are successful in our businesses including within the foreign market. I often hear people say that FOYER is not something they’d expect from IMAGICA. We’ve been staying true to IMAGICA’s standards. To have people give positive feedback, has allowed our service to develop a new market. I just love my work.
Yoshida: I think we are successful, but that doesn’t mean I’m satisfied. We are going in the right direction, and there is a lot of demand for services like ours. We don’t really know where exactly we are going with this or how it will evolve, so that’s our challenge now.
Hachisuka: We are trying to create an IMDB (internet movie database) of contents. When people want information on movies, they get what they need by looking at an IMDB. I want to assure the content holders that as long as they upload their work on FOYER, the world will be able to see it. The goal is to have FOYER become a “de-facto” standard that grows on its own after we’ve opened the doors.
Yoshida: I believe FOYER is connected to other IMAGICA businesses like editing, encoding/transcoding, and packaging. Our clients can be anyone with contents. FOYER can handle any business for your content needs. You can even use it for contents management in your company. We are aiming to make a multi-purpose online tool that will automatically market your contents. IMAGICA’s clients trust us to go beyond their expectation. I want to make that a reality for FOYER as well.
There are many others involved in FOYER’s development and marketing. They all said that it was great to be a part of FOYER project. There were smiles on their faces when looking at FOYER’s fliers. Our online showcase service, FOYER, has just opened doors to the world market for the distribution of high-quality Japanese movie contents.