Mipcom: Sony Chief Kazuo Hirai on PlayStation VR, ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’

Leo Barraclough
Variety

CANNES, France – In his keynote speech Monday at the Mipcom TV conference in Cannes, Kazuo Hirai, president and CEO of Sony Corporation, underscored the importance of linking technology with creativity to drive growth at the company. He used the examples of Sony’s investments in virtual reality, including the recently launched PlayStation VR headset, and Ang Lee’s groundbreaking movie “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.”

“Sony is well positioned to set trends in virtual reality,” he said. “First with PlayStation VR, we were able to provide an entirely new gaming experience. Also, we have paid close attention to audience reaction to early VR exposure, and intend to respond with a variety of content beyond gaming.” He referred to Sony Pictures’ development of VR “experiences” to tie in with its movies, like “Ghostbusters,” “The Walk” and “Goosebumps.”

“The perspective of my 32 years in this business tells me that there is no limit to what is possible if you stay tuned to the sensibilities and the interests of the consumers, and you understand where they’re going. As an entertainment company, we know that audiences ultimately determine how successful you have been in connecting with them. And as a technology company and innovation enterprise, we are proving that new technologies are vital to enhancing those entertainment experiences.”

Hirai said that the Japanese concept of “kando,” the ability to stimulate an emotional response in people, lies at the heart of what Sony seeks to achieve in all its efforts.

“It is my conviction that emotional involvement is at the very essence of what Sony intends to bring to the marketplace. Kando happens when we fully realize the potential at the intersection of technology and storytelling, innovation and creativity, art and engineering,” he said.

“When the creativity of the entertainment community works in concert with the ingenuity of technologists and engineers, there are quite simply no limits.”

He referred to the premiere last week at the New York Film Festival of Sony’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.” Lee shot the movie in 4K resolution and in 3D at 120 frames-per-second, the first film of its kind to be produced at the accelerated speed. “[It is] an unprecedented format that took full advantage of Sony’s top-of-the-line cinema cameras. Mr. Lee said that with this new style of production, he is experimenting in a new visual language for emotional storytelling, and that is what I call kando.”

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