The History of Hitomi

The History of Hitomi Broadcast

Time to say good-bye to the clapper boards

Hitomi, like many fruitful enterprises, emerged from identifying a need in the market, in this case the need for a reliable and accurate system for video and audio line-up and identification for broadcast links. Such technology is crucial for outside broadcasts, even more so when coupled with today’s remote production requirements.

Originating from storied skunkworks at BBC R&D, a reliable mechanism for synchronisation existed only as an idea with a detailed specification, looking for a manufacturer.

The company that was Vistek Electronics Limited took up manufacturing challenge, which eventually gave birth to Vistek “Valid”, a test signal generator and counterpart reader that together comprised a device that provided a background test-pattern, user selectable captions, black timing flash and other tools for video signals, plus audio tones output from a selected audio option.

Valid proved to be popular but two people at the time, one of whom had been central to developing Valid, had bigger ideas. Those two are today Hitomi Directors - James Robinson and Russell Johnson - who jointly devised what proved to be a highly tantalising new product.

Having cleared the way in terms of technology and IP rights, the pair were invited to Media City in Manchester where, to their surprise, was gathered a room full of engineering professionals and sound specialists from various parts of the BBC to hear their ideas.

“We were still a bit wet behind the ears and had no idea that we were about to receive not just an enthusiastic reaction to our ideas and specifications, but a raft of highly useful feedback about our proposed new and, we believed, better product.”

- Russell Johnson, Co-Founder of Hitomi

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MatchBox is born

Having taken on board all they had learned from that single meeting and further discussions with prospective customers, the design of what is today the acclaimed Matchbox range is a direct descendant of the detailed notes taken at that very meeting.

Sales started very soon thereafter with household names amongst the first to take advantage of this new solution to an old problem.

This was confirmation that there was a not just “a market”, but a robust one for Matchbox. It also confirmed in the minds of Russell and James that Matchbox must be every bit as good as they thought it was for such respected brands to enthusiastically support what was in effect a two-man start-up.

The new design specification for Matchbox was approximately 10x more accurate than its predecessor and had numerous additional inbuilt capabilities, in both the number of tools and their demonstrable usefulness.