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Member's Voices

    Project Members' Voices

    Project Adviser

    Tsukasa Yoshimura

    For kids in Africa, football is really special. It's related to their hopes and dreams for the future. All the football-loving Sony employees got together and we asked ourselves: Is there anything we can do for these kids? That's how we ended up doing this project. It goes well beyond the boundaries of our ordinary business. We felt strongly that whatever Sony did, it had to be a project that made full use of Sony products and technology. We pushed on through a process of trying something, failing, and then trying something else. Seeing how thrilled the children were at the Public Viewings; seeing them practicing football so eagerly with Sony's original ball, that made us feel that some of them could become top-flight football players some day. That's what's inspiring all the team members to come together and work hard to make this project a success.

    Project Manager

    Yoshihiro Nakanishi

    We at Sony wanted to leverage our strength in imaging to communicate the joy of football-its ability to inspire dreams and excitement-to the children in Africa. That thought was the starting point of the Public Viewing in Africa. We used our experience at the trial run in 2009 as the basis for numerous improvements to the system. We needed to make sure it could cope with Africa-specific challenges like heavy rain and power outages. In the end the equipment was perfect. The images projected up onto the 200-inch screen and the fantastic sound produced by the special speakers are really amazing. Not just children, I reckon adults will also get pretty excited when they get the chance to see matches with their own national team.

    Viewing System Developers' Voices

    In Charge of Viewing System Organization

    Takahiro Shibayama

    • "Let's go Sony all the way"
      For this project I was in charge of putting together the system in equipment terms, and for getting together the custom components we needed. Because of our experience at trial run in 2009, my main focus this time around was to build a system entirely from Sony products. It wasn't easy: we had to make high-speed improvements to equipment which wasn't yet on the market, and to customize products so they could withstand local conditions-things like sudden heavy rainfall and power outages. In the end, thanks not just to employees who were participating directly but to the cooperation of many others who were not, we were able to make a system where almost all the equipment, from the projector to the speakers and the all-in-one producer switcher, was Sony.
    • Sony Staff Working Together
      This project really got Sony staff to work together. The starting point was their passion to communicate dreams and hope for the future to African kids via football. As the real thing came closer and closer, Sony staff-who were often working in areas outside their normal field of expertise-got ready for the big event by working together, discussing things, sharing their specialized knowledge and technological know-how. They say football is a sport that brings people together. I certainly think that's true. Even within Sony, it brought the employees closer to one another.
    • Not a Goal, But a Milestone
      As a company, Sony is all about communicating the pleasure of entertainment through images. The Public Viewing project fully leveraged our design know-how and our hardware: assets of which Sony is justifiably proud. This is a social contribution that's quintessentially Sony in nature. My personal view is that this project is not an end in itself, but just a milestone on a longer journey. After Public Viewing, the project will probably-no, it must-feed in to social contribution in some other form. Sony continues to produce even more sophisticated and incredible products. There all sorts of possibilities for how we could use these-bringing the pleasure of Public Viewings to even more children, or for something completely different. Either way, I want to use the success of this year's Public Viewing as a springboard for the future.

    In Charge of Projector Product Planning

    Takuya Numata

    • Small and Ultra-bright Projector
      The projector we are using for this project is the VPL-FW41. Going on sale in March 2009, it was designed for use in college lecture halls and company meeting rooms. Its characteristics are, firstly, a high level of luminance, meaning it can project very bright images, and secondly, the ability to project widescreen-format images (which were just coming into use at the time of its launch). The Public Viewings in Africa are held in squares and gyms. In places like that, with lots of people coming to watch games on the 200-inch screen, you need a good bright projector so that the image on the screen isn't too dark. We also wanted to project widescreen-format images. With those points in mind, the VPL-FW41 was perfect.
    • Developed to be No.1
      We planned the VPL-FW41 when TVs and projectors were starting to shift from the old 4:3 aspect ratio to the widescreen format. There was a market need to be served, so we had to develop it at extremely high speed. At Sony we always want to be No. 1, the best. That thought inspired us. I can remember the designers bouncing ideas off one another and working together as they went about building the projector. Anyway, thanks to their efforts, it had the highest luminance of any projector in this class when it went on sale. Streaming high-resolution images onto a 200-inch screen is an extraordinary thing in Cameroon and Ghana. In African provincial towns where the penetration rate for TVs is low and wide-screen TVs are almost impossible to find, the impact of the big bright images was even more powerful.
    • A Sense of Destiny
      I was directly involved in the project in Ghana. I've actually been making repeated trips to Africa since before I was married so Ghana was the ninth country I had visited there. As well as the experience of working as a volunteer, the fact that the projector I had helped design and bring to market was used made me feel a sense of destiny; that this project was "meant to be." The kids in Africa have a wonderful purity. Their innocence and bright, trusting eyes are extraordinary. I hope they will have their own dreams and hopes by seeing projects like this one can be implemented. And this Public Viewing will be a turning point for them to become a person who can contribute in various fields beyond football. I'd like that.

    In Charge of Projector Engineering

    Norihiro Matsuyama

    • Developed at Sony, Components and All
      When we started developing the VPL-FW41, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would be used out in the field in Africa. Even so, features like a high level of luminance, portability, and filters that lasted longer than competitor products-plus a degree of waterproofing-meant it could probably cope with hard use over there. The projector is going to play a really crucial role in the Public Viewing project. Another feature of this projector is that many of the components are Sony-made. One of our strengths is that we can source all the key components, starting with the LCD panel, from within the company. We took advantage of that strength to develop the VPL-FW41 projector to be No. 1.
    • Screening Room Becomes the "Africa Room"
      The team that designed the projector had to use a big screen to check up on the quality of the image. There's a big screening room in the Sony office for this purpose. Advance testing in this project was all carried out in that room. We tested all the equipment and all the connections for the Public Viewings, and later all the improvements to the speakers were made there too. As a result, for a while the room was nicknamed "the Africa room." Normally we're just projecting images there so there's no noise coming out. When other employees heard loud noises booming out of the place, they came in to see what on earth was going on.
    • A Parent Sending his Child into the World
      Sadly I won't be heading out to Africa this time. Nonetheless, I think there's something special since a product I designed is going to be part of the Public Viewing in Africa. I'm very confident in the product. I think it's a perfect match for this project. To be honest, I feel like a parent sending his child out into the world. In my heart I'm thinking: "Go out there and do a good job!"; "Don't you go breaking down!"

    In Charge of All-in-one Producer Switcher Engineering

    Shinichiro Yamashita

    • Shinichiro Yamashita
      The All-in-one Producer Switcher is more commonly known as an Anycast Station. It combines video-switcher, audio-mixer and source-monitor functions in a compact format. A revolutionary multifunction product, it brings together capabilities that had never been offered in a single package before. Launched in 2005, the Anycast Station is used widely for live events, musical performances, schools, companies and the live broadcasting of governmental meetings. As you can use this single unit to control and check the output of multiple monitors, the Anycast is perfect for an event like the Public Viewing in Africa where there's a long distance between different venues. It's also a big plus that the Anycast Station and Blu-ray Disc™ player come in a special waterproof and durable duralumin case, meaning you can operate it even when there's a certain amount of rain.
    • Smart Event Running
      It's easy to switch between real-time images and sound from cameras and mikes to the satellite broadcast of the match and project it onto the screen; but you can also do things like put in simple text. Our experience at last year's trial convinced us that high quality images and sound weren't enough; we also wanted to make the Public Viewing into a high-quality event. That's why we chose to use the Anycast Station. Since the Anycast has multiple functions, the operation manual is almost 300 pages long. Still, if you're the sort of person who likes gadgets, you quickly start figuring out all the things you can do with it as you use it, and it just gets more and more fun. I've heard plenty of the Sony staff going to Africa for the Public Viewings say "Oh, I want to operate the Anycast!"
    • Connecting People with People
      Perhaps it's just a coincidence, but recently the Anycast Station is being used at more and more football-related events. I can't go to Africa myself, but knowing that the Anycast I designed will be doing its thing in Cameroon and Ghana is enough of a thrill. The Anycast is a piece of equipment that connects machines to one another-cameras, mikes, and output devices like the projector and the speakers. It would be great if linking the different devices and delivering wonderful images and a fun event to people in Africa, also helped link and connect people in Africa to people in Japan.

    In Charge of Speaker System

    Shigeru Inoue

    • Custom Speaker System Based on a New Product
      The speakers we're using at the Public Viewings in Africa were originally developed for security purposes. In Japanese they are called "Oikora speakers," which means something like "Hey, you there!" speakers. They are placed out of doors together with a camera, and when it looks like someone is about to perpetrate some mischief, they shout out a warning. Basically they're designed to prevent crimes before they happen. It had been a long time since Sony Pro Audio had put out any business-use speakers, so it occurred to me we could probably adapt these, and we designed a special system for the Public Viewings. As the speakers' original purpose was to emit a warning in the human voice, they are perfectly suited for live broadcasts. We built an array that links four speakers vertically. This helps project the sound from the speakers making it more audible the further away you get. Again, since these speakers were originally designed to be placed outside for long periods, they're very resistant to sun, rain, wind and dust. In an African environment you need this sort of reliability, so I think these speakers are perfect for this project.
    • Beating a Tight Schedule
      In this project, the schedule being tight wasn't the only challenge we faced. The speakers were a product that hadn't yet reached the mass-production stage, so using them for the system wasn't easy. Firstly, getting our hands on 32 speakers was really tough. Secondly, since security speakers are AC24V-an unusual spec-we needed a transformer; then since we were linking the speakers up, we also needed a distributor. When we actually tried them, however, the earth of the distributor didn't work and there was a horrible noise. It was a mess. There were all sorts of problems, so we ended up having to disassemble all 32 speakers and customize them. Having to work on all 32 speakers was really tough-so bad in fact that the division chief had to pick up a screwdriver and go to work himself. There were so many speakers that even just checking to see if they worked was difficult. We finished the job by the skin of our teeth, just managing to solve all the issues on the last day before shipping! There were difficulties throughout the process, but everyone involved pitched in to help and, somehow or other, we came through.
    • Wanting to See the Smiling Faces
      People need dreams and hopes and fun in their lives. By creating audio-visual equipment and content that provide entertainment to the world, Sony has an important contribution to make there. I loved being part of this project. The smile of a child is always a beautiful thing to see. During the tournament, I will take part in the Public Viewings in Ghana, I'm going to try and make the time to play with the local kids and get to know them-that's what I want to do.

    Public Viewing equipment

    Public Viewing equipment
    street football world