When Vaio was part of Sony, we released the VAIO Duo11, a tablet with a pen and touch screen. This product was aimed at businesspeople, but it was also hugely popular among artists.
When we parted ways with Sony and became VAIO Corporation, we needed to think about what kind of company we wanted VAIO Corporation to be. We noticed that more and more people now considered devices such as smartphones and tablets to be enough, so we decided to create unique products for artists who wanted a tablet that could do the same things as a computer.
At first we were not completely sure why our tablets were so popular among artists, so we started by asking artists for their honest feedback.
We interviewed manga artists and illustrators, and some members of our development team also produce manga and illustrations so we asked them to try the Z Canvas. I believe that we owe the success of this product to the feedback we received from various content creators.
The artists wanted an infinite range of things, and the feedback differed from one artist to another.
When we questioned them further, we realized that if we wanted to make a product that would appeal to all of them, it was not enough to take their feedback at face value. We needed to look deeper and find out the reason behind that feedback so that we could find out what they were really asking for. As a result, we discovered that the most important thing for the artists was being able to work without interruptions. We realized that they wanted us to create an environment where they could focus on their work without dealing with interruptions caused by errors unique to digital production.
The artists particularly liked the freestyle stand, which allows users to place the tablet at their desired angle when working.
At first we were going to create several fixed angle patterns and investigated which angles are easiest to work at. But everyone's answer was different. When we changed the design so that the angle could be changed freely, we discovered that an individual user may change the angle many times while working on an illustration, depending on the direction they are scrolling or drawing in. This made us realize that an important part of a smooth creation process is being able to change the angle while drawing without even thinking about it.
We also realized that misoperations during pen drawing are a major source of stress when producing digital art. It is difficult to resolve this issue with hardware alone, so we felt that working together with a software creator would be not just significant but essential. In addition to paying great attention to the pinch-in and pinch-out functions - a significant merit of CLIP STUDIO PAINT - we also considered it important to prevent misoperations by including a button to stop all actions except those of the intuitive, multipurpose pen.
There are various other mechanisms to prevent misoperations and enable more comfortable drawing, such as settings that can be configured freely without a keyboard.
The first deciding factor was the fact that CLIP STUDIO PAINT is trusted by a wide range of artists from professionals to amateurs.
Another factor was how quickly CLIP STUDIO PAINT could be adapted to suit the hardware. It was the first software to support pen pressure and had excellent specs such as pinch-in and pinch-out touch functions, high resolution and 64-bit processing. We felt that this software would be a good match for the performance of the VAIO tablet. CLIP STUDIO PAINT also played an important part in later improvement measures.
We had also noticed that when we placed a joint ad with CLIP STUDIO PAINT on Pixiv, a site for posting illustrations, our traffic increased by several times. This showed how familiar our target audience was with CLIP STUDIO PAINT.
The VAIO Z Canvas is set so that users can select a free trial version of CLIP STUDIO PAINT PRO or purchase the software. The purchase rate of CLIP STUDIO PAINT PRO is several times higher than that of other applications, which indicates that many people are buying CLIP STUDIO PAINT so that they can use it on the VAIO tablet.
We hope that the combination of CLIP STUDIO PAINT and VAIO will allow artists to create even higher-quality works than before and provide them with an environment that allows them to create works in a wider variety of places.
We will also need to keep up with the upcoming versions of CLIP STUDIO PAINT that will have animation features in addition to illustration and manga ones. Animators have needs of their own, so we will need to work on many things to meet those needs. I'd like for us to tackle the hardware issues and software issues together so that we can give animators exactly what they need and give them a smooth transition to digital animation.
We aim to continue creating environments that help artists with their work, from supporting students to lending equipment to professionals.
We are also considering an artist support program that will provide artists with total support from start to finish. For example, we will hold competitions to allow artists to express themselves and improve the quality of their work.
We also receive a lot of requests from overseas. In addition to meeting the needs of Japanese artists one step at a time, we eventually plan to expand our support to artists in the US, Germany, the UK, France and other countries all over the world.
In May 2015, VAIO opened a facility called VAIOcafe for a limited time in Roppongi Hills, where events such as product exhibitions, live events and talk shows were held. The turnout was far above the usual number of visitors to the exhibition space, with people of all ages visiting from around Japan.