Vendor Spotlight: FOR-A

FOR-A was founded in Tokyo in October 1971, to develop video processing devices. The name FOR-A is a deliberate echo of the Japanese expression Han’ei, which can be roughly translated as “prosperity with partners/customers”.

That is reflected in the nature of the company. It was founded by Keizo Kiyohara, and today the president is his son, Katsuaki Kiyohara, showing remarkable stability over more than five decades. The business, of course, is still independent.

The very first product was the VTG-32, a video timer, and by 1981 it was seen as a technology leader in timebase correctors, which gave it the impetus to develop business units around the world. Since then, it has developed Digital Video Effects (DVE) systems, frame rate converters and powerful video signal processors.

By the 1990s, FOR-A was a pioneering developer of character generators. The VWS-100 was chosen for all production use at the 1998 major sporting event in Nagano, Japan.

The characteristic of the business throughout its history has been that it has built very effective devices for video signal manipulation and processing. Even today, the bulk of the product line is in discrete devices, although a new, software-configurable device was introduced at NAB 2022.

Fabio Varolo, Sales Manager Europe at FOR-A.

Fabio Varolo, Sales Manager Europe at FOR-A.

But within the business, its staff are encouraged to find solutions for customers, rather than just sell products. We are expected to find collaborations and work on larger projects to help our users solve their challenges.

The company also has structured partnerships with other businesses to ensure it delivers what is expected. The early success in character generators, for example, is today sustained through an alliance with ClassX, an IT company that develops high performance graphics content management. FOR-A also has a partnership with Brainstorm for a virtual studio solution, with tight synchronisation between live elements and virtual graphics generated by The Unreal Engine.

Today the company looks to the future, with support for compressed and uncompressed IP connectivity. At the same time, it recognises that broadcast and production companies have existing infrastructure investments that cannot economically be written off. Producing cutting edge products that fit seamlessly into legacy environments is also vital. While FOR-A was a pioneer developer of products in 4k and Ultra HD, for example, to meet the needs of equally pioneering users, it produced devices that connect over 12G-SDI and quad 3G-SDI, allowing users to migrate steadily, responding to their market needs.

Finally, the nature of the video market is changing rapidly, with new markets in events and commerce, medicine, education, and security. Video is now the common language on billboards and signage, computers, and telephones.

FOR-A’s corporate philosophy is stated as “progressing hand-in-hand with our customers/partners”. As our customers change and the challenges grow in serving them with high quality and reliable products at the right price points, so the company continues to work hard to meet our customers’ expectation and go beyond.

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