DeFina doubles up Panasonic duties
Head of Security & Digital Imaging takes over at Broadcast & TV, as well
By Michael Grotticelli -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/25/2001 7:00:00 PM
In a time of intense competition with a broadcast industry not eager to spend money, Frank DeFina has been named president of Panasonic's Broadcast & Television Systems Co. He has been put in charge of all sales for the company's wide range of broadcast, professional video and presentation products and systems. It's a challenge he takes very seriously.
"The business has certainly changed and very dramatically," he said in his first interview since officially being named. "Everyone is so impatient." He laughs."It's all about creating content and asset management," he continues. "Acquiring high-quality images, feeding them into a server that's easily accessed from a desktop and then quickly preparing for air. Instant access to thousands of archived segments. The transition to digital has changed all the rules and leveled the field. The manufacturers that have multiple core technologies will have the advantage."
Taking over for Warren Allgyer (who left the company unexpectedly in December), DeFina is no stranger to the professional video industry. He has been with Panasonic for 19 years, serving in numerous management positions. For two years, he has been president of Panasonic Security & Digital Imaging Co., a division that focuses on the sale of Panasonic's industrial cameras and CCTV products. DeFina will continue in this role, in addition to heading Broadcast.
How does he plan to cope with two very different market segments? "There are some definite similarities in technology, although they are applied quite differently. The exciting thing is to cross-pollinate technology from one group to an application in another. A prime example would be Super Dynamic II low-light camera technology from the CCTV side applied to broadcast and production. Conversely, digital technology from the broadcast product lends itself quite nicely to the emerging network-based CCTV market."
DeFina said of the broadcast market, "It represents a significant portion of our overall business.While I'm optimistic about the long-term prospects of the business, I think we'll see some slowdown this year. The sudden economic downturn took many people by surprise. Everyone expected faster adoption of HDTV and geared their organization to supply and service this market. HDTV will definitely happen, and we'll be ready."
To this end, on April 1, Panasonic plans a major reorganization of its product divisions, to better allocate its markets, sales resources and personnel, both in the U.S. and overseas.
"The reorganization is designed to streamline decision-making, enhance our ability to support customers and address the needs of an evolving market from a product-development perspective," DeFina explained. "We'll leverage the strengths of the entire organization while increasing our focus on growth areas of the business."
The real challenge for DeFina, as with most companies in today's softening market, is to look beyond the traditional customer base to generate new revenue. That's exactly what he intends to do. "We ask ourselves this question daily. We've got a number of core technologies that can be leveraged to address customer needs. At this year's NAB, you'll see some of these technologies manifested in products that are quite unique."
At the NAB convention next month, Panasonic will officially introduce its AJ-HDC24A. Priced about $65,000, the multi-frame-rate, 720-line progressive-scan, digital high-definition camera is designed expressly for commercials, music videos, documentaries and TV episodics.
It can record at a low frame rate of 3 frames per second, incremental by one frame per second up to 33 f/s (including 24 f/s), and can also shoot at 60 f/s. This multi-frame switchability allows broadcast sports producers to alter the recorded speed of the action; the camera can be "overcranked" for slow-motion replays or "undercranked" to create a specific effect for episodic TV production.
At the end of the day, DeFina said, the biggest challenge at Panasonic is to keep the company competitive in today's price-sensitive, feature-intensive environment. "We've got to move fast," he said. "In the future, there will be two kinds of manufacturers: the quick and the dead."
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