【The first part】IMAGICA Group New Group Structure for Present & Future Challenges.

Relation among groups in the production services industry.

――Could you first tell us what kind of work you currently do, and if you are working with any of the attendees here from other departments at IMAGICA or group companies?

Koji Okada

Koji Okada

Koji Okada(IMAGICA Sales & Produce GroupⅠ, Sales & Produce Department, Movie Production Division, from now on called Okada)

My primary job is to promote movies and dramas, primarily Japanese films.
I also develop and scan negatives among other things with IMAGICA WEST Corp.


Sumihiro Mizuno

Sumihiro Mizuno

Sumihiro Mizuno(IMAGICA WEST Corp. Film Production Division, from now on called Mizuno)

We develop film related services and archiving services together with the IMAGICA Tokyo Imaging Center (in Gotanda). We always make proposal for customers promptly through sharing information using methods such as teleconferencing.
I am in charge of the processing of film production team. Mainly I develop processing of film and printing movie film services, restoration of films (including cultural properties) service, and creating digitally remastered versions.


Takeshi Tokumoto

Takeshi Tokumoto

Takeshi Tokumoto(IMAGICA WEST Corp. Digital Production Division, from now on called Tokumoto)

At IMAGICA WEST, we plan, produce, and direct video contents to increase direct transactions with clients. We have started creating VR contents in addition to the video productions.


Tsuguto Toma

Tsuguto Toma

Tsuguto Toma(IMAGICA LIVE Planning & Produce Dept., from now on called Toma)

I am a production manager of relay broadcasting for 17 clubs of the J3 League.
I also gather all match footage of the basketball B.League B1 and B2 games to create an archive with IMAGICA.
We also do relay broadcasting for B. League and regularly ask Mr. Mori from COSMO SPACE Co., Ltd. to work as the field VE (video engineer) where I am also present.


Yoshito Mori

Yoshito Mori

Yoshito Mori(COSMO SPACE Co.,Ltd. Technical division, from now on called Mori)

I quite often meet many members from IMAGICA LIVE. We get along great.
As Mr. Touma mentioned, I am the VE (video engineer). I handle the total system planning from relay broadcasting to studio shooting and operations. Usually, I work as the technical manager and director at film locations.


Yuta Onishi

Yuta Onishi

Yuta Onishi(IMAGICA Editing Group, Akasaka Production Department, TV Program Production Division, from now on called Onishi)

These days, when I go to live concert venues to switch multi-camera for recording or to give directions to the camera operators, I see and work with the staff from COSMO SPACE at the concert venue.
I’m an editor, but currently, I manage schedules of our editors at Akasaka Studio.


Atsushi Yoshida

Atsushi Yoshida

Atsushi Yoshida(IMAGICA Production Coordination Group, Shinagawa Production Department, TV Program Production Division, from now on called Yoshida)

I was movedfrom the Akasaka Production Department in April. I performed various tasks from editing to schedule management at Akasaka, so I hope to make use of my experience and do coordination work in Shinagawa.


Ryota Hamasaki

Ryota Hamasaki

Ryota Hamasaki(IMAGICA Imagewaorks,Inc. Produce team, Movie Production Division, from now on called Hamasaki)

My primary job is producing the promotion videos for companies and the advertisement for broadcast programs. Imageworks creates websites, games, and graphics and I sometimes produce them, too. I work with Mr. Yokoyama from the IMAGICA Media Production Division.


Yuji Yokoyama

Yuji Yokoyama

Yuji Yokoyama(IMAGICA Dubbing Localize Group, Production Department, Media Production Division, from now on called Yokoyama)

We heard Mr. Hamasaki was looking for a place to record narration and we offered one of our rooms. It used to be an MA room (audio suite) for recording commercial videos, located on the 2nd floor of the Tokyo Imaging Center (in Gotanda).
We renovated this room into a studio to recordvoice over. Besides recording voice over, our division also makes subtitles.


Ryoko Ishizawa

Ryoko Ishizawa

Ryoko Ishizawa(IMAGICA Sales & Produce Department, Media Production Division, from now on called Ishizawa)

Unlike Movie/TV Program Production Divisions, we mainly work on “complete packages” to redistribute video contents at the Media Production Division.
There are several markets, and I am primarily in charge of the video distribution market.
We convert formats of video contents into “complete packages” for distribution and transfer them as requested by clients.


Minoru Sakatani

Minoru Sakatani

Minoru Sakatani(IMAGICA Sales & Produce GroupⅡ, Sales & Produce Department, Movie Production Division, from now on called Sakatani)

I’ve been working as a technical producer for two years at ROBOT COMMUNICATIONS Inc. is a group company of Imagica Robot Holdings Inc.
I was initially asked to join to help with data management, but since there were opportunities for IMAGICA to obtain projects, I decided stayed onboard.
Now I work on coordinating projects collaborating with ROBOT and IMAGICA. We handle projects a little differently from the Sales Department as we try to utilize resources and organizational power.


――Could you tell us about challenges you are currently having, how you plan on solving them, and possibilities of collaboration with other departments or companies in addressing them?

Ishizawa
Up until now, IMAGICA has been quite competitive in the field of video production and films, and I think the entry barrier to the video production industry has been exceptionally high due to items such as special equipment. But in the video distribution market, with numerous encoding companies of all sizes, the entry barrier has become lower. That’s the biggest challenge we are facing. In a market like this, it helps that our long-standing clients know of IMAGICA’s quality. I realize every day that the reason why we can compete on quality rather than price is that of the history built by our seniors and everyone else at IMAGICA.

Sakatani
We’ve built trust. In an ever-changing video production industry, we never know what our clients will ask us to do next. I think it is IMAGICA’s strength to be able to say we can do whatever is needed. I think the ability to offer alternative plans and solutions when faced with demands we cannot meet is essential. It’s something that is required to do for us now. We can only build reliance and trust by offering alternative plans, and once established, the clients will keep coming back.

Yokoyama
I think we have widened our scope of work by creating a new voice over recording studio. Our expertise has expanded, and we can now take on narration compilations and post-recording with a large group of voice over actors.
In the past, we were not able to do voice over recordings for the entire stories with many voice-over actors. However, with the new post-recording studio, we are also able to hold meetings with everyone including group companies members from the planning stages and take on large scale projects. Until now, our work ends when we compile “complete packages” with the next phase creating video packages, but now we must incorporate distribution as well. We hope to distribute contents overseas and localize them to expand the market. We can localize by collaborating with the SDI Media from Robot Holdings Group. We are working with them directly to broaden our markets together.

Tokumoto
As everyone says, I think the entry barrier to the video production industry has become lower. As for video productions, our competitors are all production companies. And for VR productions, any individual or small company can develop them if they have computers. Relatively large companies are also beginning to make a full-scale entry into the market. We must come up with good contents in this heated market, and I think that is the new challenge for us. Things change quicker than we think in this industry. It feels as though things are changing twice as fast as we can process, including the market players
We must somehow leverage our strengths.

Hamasaki
There are various aspects of a production company, and with regards to video productions, the percentage of direct interaction with clients has become higher while interactions through agencies are now less than 20%. This means that there is more than 80% of projects are dealt directly with clients. In many cases, clients do not know much about video productions. Therefore, it is expected of us to cut down on production costs more than before. Our quotes are often compared to those of new production companies in competitive bidding. We find ourselves in challenging situations at times, but seeing it through the eyes of clients, such conditions are quite normal, so we should be less presumptuous. If we stick to our typical workflow, we would not be able to beat the competitive prices. We are trying to part with the old ways, come to terms with it, and find new methods.

Okada
Thankfully, many of the orders we received were from our network of connections until now. The challenge for us is how to make strategic decisions when we receive orders. We must consider scales and costs of projects among other things while maintaining good relationships with clients. For instance, we want to take on more projects made by prominent creators and young directors with potential even if the budget is low. However, the company wouldn’t want to take on any projects that bring loss, of course. And it’s easy to decline requests, but I’d like to consider ways to bring profits and build workflows by balancing qualities (client satisfaction) and costs.

Yoshida
Fortunately, each department of TV Program Production Division is closely related to respective TV stations and receives orders on a regular basis. However, I think some aspects related to the video production in the TV industry such as working hours and conditions need to be changed, as reported often by the media in recent years. This is not something we can change all by ourselves. The challenge for us is how to make changes together with our significant partners, TV stations. As things are different from field to field, I hope to find new ways of working for each field by visiting them. IMAGICA has various departments and group companies involved in all kinds of video productions. This made me realize once again that it is possible to make changes in the TV industry if we gather advice and wisdom from everyone.

Onishi
In order to make changes, staff of IMAGICA is now trying to figure out the best way to work through trial and error. We are in the process of making changes, but it isn’t easy. We don’t know how and what kind of methods there are, and it’s difficult, but we’d like to find a way somehow.

Mori
Our challenge is the same as everyone else’s – shortage of human resources and fostering of young staff. Every staff counts, so if someone leaves the company, we suffer directly from it. And when we are swamped with work, we end up outsourcing most of our work. This aspect needs to be improved. We are now trying to strengthen our training environment. We also think it would be important to upskill mid-level staff. Many of camera operators and sound operators who do relay broadcasting and filming tend to stay in the field and stick to what they do for a relatively long time. We should consider what could be done when they reach a certain age. We think it will be crucial to change the consciousness of those mid-level employees.

Toma
You’re right. They stay in the field because it’s interesting (laughs). For our relay broadcasting work, we ask productions from around the country for help as there are 17 clubs. So the biggest challenge is how to share information and level the qualities of work. We send our staff to each game and have them try various ways to equalize qualities, by sharing information in the field, for instance, but it’s difficult. We’re struggling to find a way every day.

Mizuno
As for film-related business, filming opportunities are on the decrease, so our challenge is how to develop new markets while maintaining our current equipment. Development of negative film is what our company was founded on, and we have overwhelming experiences in this field. We hope to develop new ways of expression by incorporating digital technologies and deliver the outcomes. I think it’s important how to present what we achieve, too.


The latter part:http://www.imagica.com/e/topics/the-latter-part/

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