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A Conversation with Eisuke Tsuyuzaki

28 Jan, 2011 By: Staff Reports

Eisuke Tsuyuzaki

Just after this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where Panasonic had one of the grandest 3D displays of any consumer electronics manufacturer, Eisuke Tsuyuzaki sat down with Home Media Magazine editors for a brief discussion of 3D and its role in the future of home entertainment.

HM: Why 3D for the home, and why now?

Tsuyuzaki: 3D in the cinema has come of age. It has moved beyond the “spear in your eye” phase and is now being used to create a sense of depth and spectacle that’s motivated by the story, not working in opposition to it. So it’s natural that Panasonic would try to bring that great sense of spectacle, that ability to feel you’re a part of the action rather than a step removed from it, into the home. It’s what we do in consumer electronics. Beyond 3D in the cinema and its natural extension into the home, the applications for television programming are immense and promising. And, of course, anyone with a teenager at home knows that 3D gaming is a huge opportunity.

HM: Will 3D be the “killer app” that makes Blu-ray Disc universal?

Tsuyuzaki: Our research tells us that Blu-ray, with its 1080p resolution, already is perceived by consumers as the best way to view any pre-recorded content in the home. The format is amazingly robust and has become the gateway to an entire world of entertainment not otherwise available. Panasonic’s stance is that 3D enhances the value and viability of Blu-ray and ushers in a whole new area of possibility and broadens the definition of in-home entertainment. It is truly the icing on an already delicious cake.

HM: First with Blu-ray and now with 3D, Panasonic truly has been on the forefront, both in promoting the technology and in forming partnerships with the Hollywood content community. Is this a strategic decision, and if so, why?

Tsuyuzaki: Our role at Panasonic is not simply one of selling products, but of evangelizing the technologies in which we so deeply believe. By doing so, we can lead the industry to best practices, seed the market with great content, and help grow existing and build new businesses. Through the hard work of our dedicated team, Panasonic has pioneered the development of key Blu-ray and Full HD 3D standards. In fact, we recently received an Emmy Award for our contributions to Blu-ray Disc technology. Not only did we help complete the formats, but our work also put us in a leadership position and into an even closer partnership with the Hollywood community. We worked collaboratively with the studios to promote Blu-ray and 3D, and to create opportunities to move the businesses forward. You could ask, are we also helping our competition by taking such an active lead? Sure. But in doing so, we’re helping the entire industry. The consumer can decide which company’s products truly deliver on the vision of a connected TV, 3D TV and Blu-ray. And we at Panasonic know we’re up to the challenge.

HM: You are considered by many in the home entertainment community to be the CE industry’s “point man” with Hollywood. How do you see yourself, and what you have done over the past few years?

Tsuyuzaki: I love movies and have always been attracted to the creative side of the entertainment business. While certainly not an entertainment content creator myself, I’ve been fortunate to have been a facilitator. Over the years I’ve worked at melding the interests of the consumer electronics and entertainment industries because, frankly, we both need each other’s success to succeed. I was lucky enough to be an integral part of the team that worked to perfect the BD standard and in doing so helped the studios create what I believe are some of the technically best Blu-ray releases. For example, when I was head of the Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory, our team was instrumental in developing the H.264 advanced video compression standard for Blu-ray. That group also was key in creating the Blu-ray BonusView, or picture-in-picture feature, and then the much-lauded BD Live feature. BD Live has dramatically expanded the appeal of Blu-ray and insured it a long life. It combines the best aspects of physical media — extraordinary picture resolution and a wealth of additional content — with the limitless creative and new business opportunities that come via an Internet connection.

While we were deep in the development of 3D technology, I remember introducing our Full HD 3D concept to James Cameron and his enthusiastic reaction. There were a lot of Panasonic products used by him in the production of Avatar. That relationship has certainly continued to work out well for all parties, I believe. To help grow the 3D business, Panasonic has invested in 3D content creation through our partnership with DirecTV and their N3D Powered by Panasonic 3D channel, the 24/7 3D entertainment and sports channel. And we’ve recently partnered with Verizon to perfect the streaming of full 1080p resolution 3D content via their FiOS fiber optic television service.

In everything we do, we believe that Panasonic and Hollywood have many areas of mutual interest. I believe we must do our part to help maximize the value of these close relationships.

HM: If you had to grade yourself, what do you see as your biggest professional accomplishments over the past couple of years, both as they pertain to Panasonic and to the CE world in general?

Tsuyuzaki: That’s a tough question! We work very hard, but there’s always more to do. To paraphrase a top auto industry executive, we aim for perfection because if we don’t we’ll only achieve mediocrity. Looking back, I’m impressed with what Panasonic has achieved and am happy to have played my small part. We made digital flat-panel TVs not only affordable, but with phenomenal picture and sound quality as well. Our work, with our industry partners, has ensured that Blu-ray disc production and creation would be of only the highest standard. And I’m proud of the work our industry has done in perfecting Blu-ray and in conveying its benefits to consumers.

Finally, the hard work of everyone involved in introducing 3D to the consumer is now starting to pay off, in increased consumer awareness, exploding plasma TV sales and an understanding by the public that 3D can really create a whole new kind of visual excitement in the home.

HM: Look ahead at our business in one year, three years, five years. Where are we headed?

Tsuyuzaki: Despite the naysayers, 3D will absolutely continue to grow. You will see a dramatic ramp-up in 3DTV content, which will turn 3D into a “must-have” feature for consumers. 3D will be embedded in a wide range of devices, from TVs to smartphones, and the cost of making your own 3D content will decline.

I’ll also venture a few other predictions. We’ll be watching content on a wide range of devices, starting a program on Blu-ray in the living room and finishing it up on a smartphone or tablet while sitting on the train to work.

Most consumers will actually connect their Internet-connectable TVs to the Internet. Manufacturers will offer a wide range of differentiated Internet-based services, continuing the expansion of the Internet into more aspects of our lives. And we’ll wonder how we ever got along using a TV that wasn’t online.

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