In my biweekly blog series, I am highlighting some of the incredible people who work for the Audio Video Industry. In this post, we are profiling Guy Etgar. Here is a brief introduction.
Guy Etgar is the CEO of Insoundz — an audio technology company reinventing the way audio is captured and produced.
1. Describe your journey in the AV industry? How did it start?
In 2013 a friend introduced me to my future co-founders, Emil Winebrand and Tomer Goshen. They had just started working on a technological experiment, using data to produce audio, in a way that was never done before. The three of us sat at a cafe in Tel Aviv and discussed the potential use cases for what they were working on. The three of us are avid sport fans and we realized that understanding what professional players say during a sports game – whether NBA or NFL – could be of huge interest, not only for us, the fans, experiencing sports like never before, but also for sports data analysts, GMs and coaches. I was immediately hooked on this opportunity to create a change.
By 2017, we had nine registered patents for Emil’s discovery of AI-meets-signal audio processing. We also realized that sports was only a very small portion of what can be done, and that the pain points of audio production were mutual across all industries, from broadcast and XR, to healthcare and automotive. This caused a major shift in both our perspective and our product. Advancements in technology have optimized existing hardware solutions, but the audio industry has been desperate for innovation for the last 20 years. Many told us we couldn’t do it, so we became obsessed with proving them wrong.
Now in 2020, the aftermath of Covid-19 has only intensified our initial assumption of how crucial audio is — a realization that many of the industries we met along the way are now also coming to terms with. Whether it’s studio-like production in a non-professional setting, like in-home, or having a conference meeting and feeling fully immersed, and not exhausted after two online calls — we connect capturing with processing and get both sound, data and context, bringing forth solutions that hadn’t been possible before.
2. What are the challenges facing a new person who wants to join the industry?
First and foremost — and similar to many industries — staying curious, aware of blindspots, and having the ability to adapt to change, is what helps one stay relevant in the long run. Specifically, within our industry, a new person might be surprised by the gap between the vast options for creativity and imaginativeness the AV industry offers, and the operational processes, technical limitations and setbacks that often impact the day-to-day work, sometimes even holding a person back. For example, if you want to work in media production or create VR experiences, you will likely end up spending more time on set-ups and manual operations, connecting cables, or holding a boom mic for long hours, instead of mixing and experimenting with sound sources as you originally thought you would be doing.
In my opinion, now is a great time to join our industry as change is coming and it’s exhilarating to be part of such a change.
3. What are the positives of working in this industry?
This industry attracts the most creative and innovative people, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many of them as part of my daily work. With the rise of new tech platforms and tools, now there is an even greater opportunity to create more ideas, space for personalization and passion to generate content like never before. Not to mention the constant increase in demand for new, interesting and immersive content, which brings us to the culmination of impact by the AV industry. If I go back to my mass communication studies, as Marshal Mcluhan once said, “the medium is the message” — we’ve now reached a point where we can shape the way AV is produced for greater impact in the message. We have the power to reinvent the future of AV using capabilities that didn’t exist until now.
4. What in your opinion would you change in the industry? What are the negatives that are prevalent?
Still much depends on traditional beliefs and processes on how things are done across the industry. However, the availability of super smart technology platforms allows us to think differently and bring forward experiences deemed impossible until a few years ago.
Audio is still produced in traditional ways, which limits the full potential of sound and the types of immersive experiences viewers can have. For example, how exciting would it be to actually hear your date in a bar by silencing all background noise in real-time? Or watch a soccer match and be able to hear your favorite player speak during the game? The only way to do this now is by getting closer to the person or placing a neck mic around them. The AV industry still isn’t able to 3D-model audio the way we can with video, but we’re getting there. Still much depends on traditional beliefs and processes on how things are done across the industry.
Another pain point is the fact that extremely talented people are not leveraging their expertise. We still have talented audio professionals holding booms and resetting neck mics at every use! Another concern is the increasing amount of pollution from excessive need of batteries, cable and electricity. Again, this is all a result of not innovating audio for decades.
[RELATED] : If you have missed any of my previous interviews, please click here.
5. What is Insoundz and how is your company changing the industry?
Insoundz is the next step in the evolution of sound. Our patented technology uses AI and signal processing to capture and understand sound from everyone and everything, everywhere. Our technology platform, AudioMind™ is a fully-automated, AI-based tool that volumetrically captures and processes audio in real-time and broadcast quality. AudioMind provides sound separation, dereverberation, directionality and environmental sound reduction without the need for proximity to a microphone. Our patent-based engine reinvents sound capture and processing to create new experiences for TV, film, broadcast, immersive media, remote presence, and anywhere that sound plays a part. With the increase in audio sensors — 12 billion mems mics sold just this year — we’re ushering in a similar disruption for audio, just as we’ve seen data-driven video evolve over the few years. Through existing partnerships, our technology is already being used as the core audio engine by a world leading consumer tech giant, the largest professional broadcast network and top content creators.
6. If you were going to start over, what would you do differently?
I would have started in entrepreneurship much earlier. Before starting my previous company, I spent many years at big corporations. However, at my core, I have always been an entrepreneur and my greatest passion is creating new ways of disruption. It’s fascinating to see how an idea that was conceived in a cafe, park, garage or other unrelated place, can come to life and change the world in just a few years.
7. Describe a typical work day for you. What are your daily disciplines?
With five kids at home, my day starts early when I drop them off at school, then I head to our office in central Tel-Aviv. No two days look the same at Insoundz. My days consist of a mix of meetings, time spent with my amazing team members, conversations with partners and pushing our ideas forward. Balance in life is key to me, so it’s important that I finish the day relatively early and make it home with extra time to spend with my family. After we put the kids to bed, I dedicate time to winding down, either by reading a book or getting inspired by a podcast. I then continue working for a few more hours, ending the weekdays late but very satisfied. My weekends are dedicated to spending time with family, good friends and watersports, which helps me recharge and start each week fresh with new energy.
8. How do you stay relevant in this industry?
Don’t be afraid of change!. Embrace it. As a disruptive startup, it is essential for us to stay up-to-date and relevant in the industry to ensure we’re bringing our customers and partners the most innovative solutions. Once you understand the industry’s pain points, you can find the right partners who are passionate about trying new disruptive solutions. I encourage you to stay curious, relevant and in-touch with a variety of thinkers. I have learned about the industry’s real needs from talking to high-level executives as well as technicians that place microphones. Once you immerse yourself in learning, you then understand the value you bring to the table.
I believe that teamwork is essential to move this industry forward. By staying connected to my team and our mission, I’m able to demonstrate the power of oneness rather than being a sole leader of the pack. I believe that together we can accomplish much more than we can on our own.
To know much more, please connect on Linkedin.