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Early Investment in Video Production Pays Off for Japanese Accounting Firm During Pandemic

Robust accounting practices and high–level video communications are concepts not often used in the same sentence. Yet for the TKC National Federation, one of the largest accounting groups in Japan, mastery of these two principles equals a recipe for success. And this has never been truer than during the global pandemic of 2020.

Recognizing the potential use of video early on, the firm, with approximately 11,400 tax accountants and certified public accountants, was able to maintain delivery of timely information to customers and employees while the entire country was in the midst of turmoil caused by the pandemic.

Adoption of a video communications initiative, rather advanced for the time, strongly reflects the core beliefs of Masaharu Iizuka, Chairman Emeritus of TKC Corporation headquartered in Utsunomiya City, who places a high value on effective communication and providing critical information quickly.

The adoption and implementation of live video production techniques has served to achieve the vision laid out by Mr. Iizuka

“We had started working with video since around 1998, back when we were still on the ISDN network, and had acknowledged the effectiveness of video from early on”, says Naoki Kanamori, General Manager of IT Investment Planning Department, System Engineering Center at the TKC Tochigi Headquarters. “Since its launch, we have actively promoted the use of visual materials such as tables and graphs and the use of color.”

TriCaster® adopted to promote in–house video production

TKC, which had been disseminating information through video for more than a decade, installed the NewTek TriCaster® 40 in 2014 to enhance its service by converting distributed videos into MP4 files.

“Introducing a full–scale video production system was a difficult decision for us amateurs, so to speak, but with an eye on the future, we thought we would need the know–how to produce our own videos. Today, that decision has proven to be the right one,” said Mr. Kanamori.

Mr. Kanamori and other self–proclaimed ‘amateurs of video production’ advanced the manual operation. “We narrowed down the functions and buttons used to the minimum necessary and made various efforts to create a video within the limited operations,” he stated.

After using the TriCaster 40 successfully for five years, the equipment was upgraded in 2019 to NewTek’s latest model portable video production system, the TriCaster TC1. The company is now disseminating information by video to its members at a rate of more than one production a day when busy.

“The initial investment wasn’t exactly cheap, but we couldn’t keep up the current pace of information dissemination if we had to rent equipment and call in our technical staff each time we needed to make a video. The coronavirus disaster requires a great deal of important information transmission for small and medium-sized enterprises, which comprise both our members and customers. We are able to meet these needs thanks to the fact that we had started working on video content production on our own from early on,” continued Mr. Kanamori.

Content production for full–scale training videos at Iidabashi Studio

There is currently one TriCaster TC1 at the headquarters in Utsunomiya and two at the Iidabashi Studio in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

“Basically, we shoot and record seminars held in the training room, edit them, and provide them on demand. In some cases, we transmit live video feeds directly to monitors in other venues,” said Mr. Kanamori.

The training room is equipped with two ceiling–mounted cameras, which can be switched at any time. As a rule, the cameras are not operated manually, but rather have the pan–tilt–zoom (PTZ) positions set up in advance. Each of the presets is selected with a single touch from the control unit.

The video contents are simple, consisting of a shot of the lecturer taken from fixed cameras, and training material displayed on PC screens captured via NDI®. NDI is a free–to–use protocol that allows video, audio, and metadata signals to travel across a standard network in real time. The PC screen contents are usually displayed prominently with the lecturer shots incorporated on the side or transitioned in with a wipe.

Additionally, the sub control room adjacent to the training room has a small studio attached to it, equipped with green backdrop for chroma key video compositing, and provides the ability to produce simple training materials.

“It’s been about six years since the introduction of the previous model, and we’ve been able to train one to two staff members from each department to use the TriCaster. At Iidabashi Studio itself, we have more than ten people who can operate it,” according to Mr. Kanamori.

It has been more than a year since the latest all–in–one model, the TriCaster TC1, was introduced. “(Having seen the control surface,) I was a bit intimidated at first, but only six or seven keys are actually used,” continued Mr. Kanamori. “Each operator in charge uses a slightly different set of keys, so we each have the preferred key arrangement saved in memory.”

The other TriCaster TC1 system at Iidabashi Studio has been designated as the portable system and is available for use when recording at locations other than the training room.

Deliver commentary by top instructors to 10,000 people nationwide

The training videos provided by TKC National Federation have been extremely popular with its members.

“More than 10,000 members are able to attend lectures by top–class experts,” said Mr. Kanamori. “Many of our members are actively using this service to receive timely information on recent changes to the law and institutional amendments in an easy–to–understand manner through video.”

A member who uses the service, Mr. Yusuke Baba, a tax accountant at Baba Yoshio Office, had this to say, “I am grateful that I can watch the videos on demand anytime and as many times as I want. It is also possible to print out the materials used in the videos, and the video format itself makes them easy to understand.”

TKC National Federation advocates lifelong training for tax accountants to maintain and improve their professional competence and to enhance the overall effectiveness of their accounting offices. The fact that these on–demand training hours also count toward the 54 hours of training per year stipulated in the federation rules no doubt contributes to the increased use of the program.

“As Japan strives to overcome the COVID–19 disaster as a nation, having an infrastructure to quickly deliver information to our members, who in turn are instrumental in bolstering the small and medium-sized enterprises, has been extremely significant. Once again, I think it was a good idea to have introduced TriCaster from an early stage,” added Mr. Kanamori.

“Many people think that we are doing very advanced work, but in reality, as mentioned earlier, only six or seven keys are used during operation,” said Mr. Kanamori. “We are supported in part by the functionality of the TriCaster, but if people realize that we can produce video at this level, perhaps more and more companies would start utilizing video as we do.”

TKC Corporation

  • Headquartered in Utsunomiya City, Japan

TKC National Federation

  • Professional trade association of certified tax accountants
  • Voluntary membership
  • Started by TKC Corporation

Basic Philosophy & Business Objectives

  • Self–interest is in the realization of others’ interest
  • Realization of justice in taxation
  • Perfect fulfillment of tax accountant duty
  • Support for sustenance and development of small and medium–sized businesses
  • Reinforcing the management base of TKC member firms
  • Thorough utilization of the TKC system
  • Mutual enlightenment, aid, and friendship among members
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