Is a file format for WHOM?



Ikutaro KAKEHASHI(Photo of 2018)
I believe that great technology gives many creators dream and hope. However, whenever new camera system is released, I wonder the new format/codec is made for whom. Not meaning that I accuse those new formats, but meaning whether makers think about the environment to be used, the market condition, and the collaboration with other makers. How much do they think about their users? Honestly, it’s questionable.

In April 1st, 2017, tragic news surprised the world. It was that Ikutaro Kakehashi, a founder of Roland, which is a Japanese worldwide manufacturer of electronic musical instruments such as a synthesizer, passed away. He is a pioneer in the sound and visual industry, and a great man, leaving a powerful influence to the popular music in a half century. Personally, he is one of people that I respect for, and it is true that he played a major role in development and popularization of electronic musical instruments. Died at 87. What a bad joke on the April Fool’s Day.

Looking back to my past, I had an interview with him at his house located in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka prefecture in Japan in September 2008. In order not to put a strain on his body, his secretary requested me that the interview time was about an hour and half. The main topic was how he thought about the movies at this era; however, once I told him I was a Rock fan for a long time, he shared the episodes of his relationship with tons of global Rock stars, and showed me some commemorative goods. Our conversation was so exciting that we spent 4 or 5 hours, eventually.

As to Mr. Kakehashi, he was known as the father of MIDI (Musical Instruments Digital Interface), which is a worldwide technical standard for sending digital data of electronic musical instruments. As the one, all musicians and sound engineers recognize, MIDI was standardized in 1981, and the protocol to connect with electronic musical instruments both in hardware and software. Beyond manufacturers and countries, MIDI allows all musicians to use any electronic musical instruments with no barriers. By this remarkable exploit and his contribution to development of the music industry, he got a Technical Grammy Award at the 55th Grammy Award in 2013. It’s the first Japanese to get the award as an individual. Less technical trouble, how much did MIDI promote music culture? The philosophy might be included to the standardization of it. It can be helped that there are tons of different movie formats in the movie industry since technology improves rapidly. But in this broadened movie production market, the movie format should be the one, everyone could use without hesitation. The idea came up to my mind when I think about Mr. Kakehashi’s exploits.

At the time of the interview with him in 2008, there was the story:
“Nowadays, we buy a bottle of mineral water and drink it. But, the price of water is more expensive than the gasoline’s. Nobody knew that a kind of era, drinking expensive water than gasoline, came. Movie is the same. Without notice, an era that all can make a movie normally, has been already coming.”

After 4 years from then, in 2012, some DP in Hollywood said that, 2012 was the anniversary year about a relationship between movies and the Internet according to statistics. The reason why was that the amount of the movies and photos uploaded on the Internet in only 2012 was over than the amounts of movies and photos during the past to 2011. It indicates that the era moved to visual communication from communicating with letters. In this age, what format is needed? What does the most promoting thing to encourage movie culture? It should be the time to think about it again.

As I respect for Mr. Kakehashi’s exploits, I pray that his soul may rest in peace.