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Another DAM Podcast interview with Kevin Gepford on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM Podcast interview with Kevin Gepford on Digital Asset Management

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:  [0:02] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I am Henrik de Gyor. Today I am speaking with Kevin Gepford. Kevin, how are you?

Kevin Gepford:  [0:10] I’m fine. How are you?

Henrik:  [0:12] Great. Kevin, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Kevin:  [0:16] I work for Comedy Central at their in‑house Brand Creative department. We create all the advertising, the billboards, the video promos, graphics for digital platforms such as iTunes, Xbox, and Hulu.

[0:30] Specifically, I work on the print side of things. I’ve got hands‑on involvement with our photo re‑touching. We also do the mechanical production and the final delivery of the files to their destination. I work in a team of brilliant right‑brain creatives, but I’m more of a left‑brain sort of person.

[0:48] I got interested in DAM originally as a self‑defense against the distractions of non‑core tasks. I’m talking about requests like digging up logos for someone, cracking open old archives just to print out an ad from last year, or hunting for a specific image among all the assets that we had that were scattered across the universe of portable hard drives, servers, optical media, and the like.

[1:15] The DAM that emerged from this is something that’s been a resource for the whole company for about 10 years, and it’s grown and evolved. Later, as time went by, it led to my involvement with content management. The volume and scope of our work had expanded tremendously, but our approval process didn’t grow along with it. It had become sheer chaos. It was in dire need of order and coherence, and I decided that this was an opportunity for me to make a bigger difference.

Henrik:  [1:46] Why does a television channel, focused on comedy programming, use Digital Asset Management?

Kevin:  [1:53] We use asset management to support our promotional efforts here. Just to be clear, I want you to know that this is not a function of our long‑form programming. We are part of Brand Creative, and our primary partner is the Marketing team. Everything that we do is focused on promotion and marketing, and the graphics that go into that production.

[2:17] I want to talk about the two prongs of asset management here at Comedy Central. The first one is DAM. These would be our libraries of static assets used across our advertising and promotional campaigns. The second is content management. We developed a system here to manage our internal work‑in‑progress. This could be the review and the approval of all of our creative output.

Henrik:  [2:42] What are the biggest challenges and successes that you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Kevin:  [2:45] For the first prong, Digital Asset Management, we started building our asset libraries about 10 year ago, as I said. All of our logos, our images, artwork, and including a PDF archive of all of our print work. That’s been updated over time ‑‑ not only the assets, but the back‑end ‑‑ but it still performs its original mission, for the most part.

[3:07] As far as challenges are concerned, I would say the first challenge was getting it off the ground. We obviously needed corporate resources so we could invest in the system, and then operate it on an ongoing basis.

[3:19] After that, it took a lot of work to prepare the assets. That’s the first step for any system that’s going from nothing to something. You’ve got to organize, you need to upload, and you need to keyword all the assets.

[3:32] After that, we had the ongoing challenge of keeping it up to date. The main issue for us, as I imagine it is for a lot of people, is that we don’t have a dedicated staff, so we do it in our down‑time. Even though we ourselves are dedicated to it, there’s often a lag between when an asset gets created and when it goes up to the library.

[3:51] For instance, if we do an entire ad campaign, the last thing we do before we archive it ‑‑ all the resource files, we make PDFs and put them in our asset library. So there’s a lag, depending on the scope of the campaign and how long it’s taking.

[4:08] After that, I would say probably the biggest challenge is just getting everybody on‑board. This took training, this took patience. People have been used to coming to my team directly, and just asking us for anything. Once we got this up and running, we would remind them to check the asset library first.

[4:27] Sometimes the thing they wanted wasn’t there, or it hadn’t been keyworded, or it just didn’t exist. Part of the training process was that we would fix the problem, upload the asset, and then make them go back and look again.

[4:40] This really went a long way to building good habits. Nowadays, people will come to me and say, “I already searched the library, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for.” And that’s really music to my ears.

[4:53] As far as successes are concerned, there’s a funny little story. A little while back, I was talking to my assistant, and I asked him, “Does anybody even use this system that we’ve put all our work into? I mean, why do we even bother?”

[5:05] He answered my question with a question. He asked me, “When is the last time that anyone came and asked you for a logo? The system is just working.”

“That’s when I knew [DAM] had become an essential resource for Comedy Central.”

[5:13] Almost prophetically, the system went down a few days later. Within about 30 minutes, I’d heard from about a half‑dozen people. That’s when I knew it had become an essential resource for Comedy Central.

[5:27] The second prong of asset management that I wanted to talk about is content management. I really enjoy talking about this, because it really is such an interesting project, and it’s made a profound difference in how we work.

[5:39] I think it really shows a path forward for our field as we imagine our future, and try to be more creative about how to make it dance.

[5:46] Our content management system is kind of like asset management on steroids. It’s active, it’s alive, and this has become a centerpiece where anyone can instantly see everything that we are doing, in real time, by visiting the site.

[6:00] Our content management system is a tool that we use, basically, to manage our work‑in‑progress. It has a longer name that nobody uses ‑‑ we call it the Creative Review and Approval System. It is, from the standpoint of most of our users, a Web based application.

[6:18] It lives in the cloud, and it’s used to coordinate the efforts of all of our design teams. The graphic designers, the Web designers, the animators ‑‑ they upload their work for review and approval. Then they can also get comments and updates from their team members.

[6:37] A great example of our workflow prior to this would be how we made Web banner ads. This is going back maybe four years. The team for building Web banner ads would be ‑‑ a developer on one end, the marketing department on the other, and in between you would have project managers, designers, and one or two or more creative directors.

[6:57] The number of individually posted files of updates and the number of emails about them, just to get one ad approved, was insane. All the comments were buried in enormous email‑chains. There was no way to really visually track an ad’s progress, and when the first ad was finally approved after 20 rounds, we had two dozen more to go. There was almost no way to really compare the ads to ensure consistency.

[7:26] What we built was a content management system to fix the process. Over time, we expanded and re‑built it so it would service not only the Web banner ads, but it would also serve the entire Brand Creative department, and it would be able to handle video clips, Web banner ads, and basically any kind of static asset.

[7:50] Now, all from one place, our users can do a number of common tasks. They can upload files, update it with new versions, they can email their team members, they can view and leave comments. Their managers can review, approve, and reject things. They can create lightboxes they can share with anybody.

[8:07] Then they can take anything that’s in the system and pretty much share with anybody else with just a couple of clicks. For the last piece, you could see the entire campaigns with just a click, it’s an automagic slideshow, for anyone that wants to review the entire campaign, or for any normal user who wants to just take a look and see what other departments are doing. The magic part, though, is when a campaign is archived, it becomes a searchable library of our completed work.

[8:38] So… challenges, you asked.

[8:41] Well, once again, it wasn’t easy to get resources for our initial investment. It took a lot of persuasion that what we envisioned would be a better product than anything we could get on the market. But then we got some seed money, and we were able to show proof of concept, and then grow it from there.

[8:59] A surprising challenge was simply getting the teams to work together and be open to sharing their ideas with each other. They really all liked living in their happy little silos. I got feedback from a couple of people that really were worried that their projects, which were so important to them, would just be sort of lost in all the other projects of other people that were working on the same campaign. From my perspective, that’s kind of the point. No man is an island, anymore. You are playing in a bigger sandbox.

Henrik:  [9:31] True.

Kevin:  [9:31] The other part of the challenge, for me, was just patience. It took more than a weekend to build this and I would say that it was the fruit of many months of development and testing, and we’re still getting comments and feedback. I got some comments just this week that we intend to work on to improve the functionality of our lightboxes. It’s a work‑in‑progress.

[9:55] Now, as far as successes are concerned, I would say that it’s pretty obvious. Everybody is just collaborating like we never have before. We’re talking to each other, we know who is working on the other projects, and we have quick ways of communicating with them, to get a visual overview of what we and other people are working on. So it really has, just by its design and by its very nature, helped collaboration.

[10:20] User engagement with the system is just phenomenal. My co‑workers and colleagues care enough to give feedback all the time, and it’s not all positive. Sometimes they come in and they just demand better features, or they have a great idea to make an improvement. Their engagement is just wonderful, and I appreciate it so much. Any kind of feedback is a sign that they care, rather than just accepting the status quo. That’s why we started this whole thing to begin with.

[10:52] Another success ‑‑ and this one totally surprised me ‑‑ our most popular feature turned out to be lightboxes. These have just revolutionized the way that we give presentations. There’s no more poking around in the middle of a meeting to find assets on a server somewhere. It just puts everything in a streamlined slideshow that you can navigate with the arrow key on your keyboard.

[11:16] This was a feature, I know and am glad to say, that nobody asked for, and nobody even imagined something like this could be possible. And yet, there it is, and they love it.

[11:29] The last thing, and this always gives me a chuckle. We kept the old system on standby. Just in case, you know? It slowly and gradually fell into disuse, and finally, when the old thing crashed, nobody even noticed for several days.

Henrik:  [11:46] [laughs]

Kevin:  [11:47] What does that tell you?

Henrik:  [11:48] Time to make it extinct.

Kevin:  [11:50] Yeah.

Henrik:  [11:52] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Kevin:  [11:57] I am kind of a contrarian by nature, but I really think that formal education, maybe formal training, is not necessary to enter this field. It’s wide open for anybody who wants to make a difference. I really bet that if you took a survey of influential people in the field, very few have actually gone to school for it. What you need is a desire to make a difference ‑‑ a passion for it. It also helps if you get a lucky break and you have the right contacts.

[12:26] Lastly, I think anyone wanting to become a DAM professional needs determination and patience for the long journey.

Henrik:  [12:34] Great points. Thanks, Kevin.

Kevin:  [12:36] It’s a pleasure.

Henrik:  [12:38] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, log on toAnotherDAMblog.com.

Another DAM Podcast is available on AudioBoom and iTunes.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at AnotherDAMblog@Gmail.com.

[12:54] Thanks again.

Note: Kevin Gepford is one of the speakers at the Henry Stewart DAM Conference in New York City in May 2015.

 


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Another DAM podcast interview with Rob Schuman on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM podcast interview with Rob Schuman on Digital Asset Management

Full Transcript:
Henrik de Gyor: [0:01] This is Another DAM podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor.
Today, I’m speaking with Rob Schuman.
Rob, how are you?

Rob Schuman: [0:10] Great.

Henrik: [0:11] Rob, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Rob: [0:14] Well, I got involved about 12 years ago, which was early for Digital Asset Management. Right now, I’m a general consultant. I help people organize, choose vendors, and help them implement the big change management that comes along with any DAM system. Also, advise people on technical issues of how to set up a DAM system that works well for everyone.

[0:39] Back when I was at Sesame Workshop, which was then called Children’s Television Workshop, the Sesame Street producers asked me if there was any way they could view their library without having to go up to the library and pull cassettes and cue up cassettes and all of that. The executive producers had a problem that they were reusing the same clips over and over and over again because those were the ones that people knew in their heads, while clips that were just as good were sitting in the library idle because no one wanted to take the time to go and find them.

[1:13] We said we’d do what we could, and about a year later, we developed one of the first DAM systems for video and television. It was very early in the DAM marketplace, and we believed it was the first or one of the first video Digital Asset Management systems. It was completely homegrown. We had any number of metadata fields and attached them to both proxy video and broadcast-quality video.

[1:41] We also were one of the first to include DAM as part of their workflow. It made producing the show so much easier, got them to do segments, have the segments approved by the producer, then get them right down into the edit room to complete them. I worked for Merck, the drug manufacturing company, and right now, I’m at the New York City Ballet. I call myself “content agnostic” because ultimately every company has their content professionals.

[2:11] They don’t need me to produce content for them. They need me to organize that content and make sure everybody has access to it and make sure that their workflows are automated. They don’t really need another person on content. Really, assets are assets, whether they’re talking about drugs, dance, or Sesame Street. I laugh that I worked for Sesame Street and Dow Jones, and the work is basically the same.

Henrik: [2:45] Organizing information?

Rob: [2:46] Yup, and making sure they can find it.

Henrik: [2:49] Yeah, very key. How does an organization focused on ballet use Digital Asset Management?

Rob: [2:56] Unlike music where there’s a score, dance is really a visual medium. Back in the mid 1980s, somebody had the idea of taking a VHS camcorder and sticking it up on the front of the balcony and taping the ballets. That stayed on VHS for a very long time, updated a little bit when camcorders became digital. They have a library of about 2, 500 or more performances.

[3:26] They have some rehearsals. It’s all on VHS tape. They got a grant from a government group called “Saving America’s Treasures” to try to rescue these. The New York City Ballet has this school so that the students could study choreographers like Balanchine or Jerome Robbins. What they’ve done is built their own Digital Asset Management in just stations.

[3:53] Right now, the theater has been redone with high-definition control room and high-definition cameras. All of the ballets or most of them are recorded as files, which we then add a whole lot of metadata to and put into their asset management system for anyone to find. You can look by choreographer by, of course, the date, and the musical piece.

[4:20] You can look at, “Let’s see all the variations of ‘The Nutcracker'” or “Let’s compare this choreographer’s version to that choreographer’s version.” They’re just starting to get to the launch of this. They want to put a computer and monitor in every dance studio that they’ve got. They have, I think, nine of them, including the ones from the school, so that they can work with the students and show them exactly how it’s done. Video is the only way to capture a live performance, and that’s what they do.

Henrik: [4:50] That’s great. Rob, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Rob: [4:57] The biggest challenge is the one that almost everybody faces. People think it’s choosing a DAM system or the technology you use or the metadata schema that you use, but really, it’s making sure that your customers are happy that there’s an acceptance of workflow changes. I’ve worked at places with both.

[5:18] At Sesame Street, we never really launched the DAM system, because by the time it came for the date to launch it, everybody had it. People saw it in beta and said, “I need this. I don’t care that it’s not ready. I don’t care, I’ll report bugs, but I want to use this.” That was a big success.

[5:37] At a big company like Merck, management came down and said, “We’re going to use this Digital Asset Management system,” and there was so much resistance. People were just tossing assets in there. There was a lot of metadata management that had to go followed up and a lot of wasted time, effort and energy that if you start with getting the folks enthusiastic, and if you get as close to their current workflows as possible and come in with the attitude that this is not something that management is demanding.

[6:12] This is something that will make your work easier and make you more productive. One example of that, again going back to Sesame Street, one day a woman came into my office in tears because she realized that the DAM system would be down over the weekend for some maintenance. She needed to get something done by Monday or her boss was going to be very angry with her, and she was just so afraid of that.

[6:39] I told her I would talk to her boss and smooth things out, but we still needed to maintain the system. But later, it occurred to me that that’s exactly how a successful DAM should be working. You should be upset if you can’t use it or if the system goes down, because it’s so critical to your work.

[6:58] Some more successfully than others tried to get across that being enthusiastic about the DAM and getting people on your side early in the game is the most important thing. The usual challenge, which is getting people on board and making sure that everything works, technology is changing so rapidly. One of the biggest challenges in DAM right now is the user interfaces.

[7:28] A lot of the systems that I’ve seen are really great on the back end, but forget that there are people on the front end who really need to be coaxed along, just throwing up a series of fields for them to fill in this form. It doesn’t help unless there’s a counteraction of, well, instead of having to write this on paper, or I can find stuff later if I put metadata on it now. Of course, there’s always the ‘metadata policeman’ who has to go in and look at everything going into the system.

Henrik: [8:01] We’re all familiar with those [laughs] , since we do those tasks regularly or we have in the past.

Rob: [8:08] One thing I did at Merck was I put a sign on my cubicle there that said, I thought “DAM” was too violent a word, even though we all like using it. I said this was “Marketing Operations Management,” and I thought “MOM”. Let’s call it the “MOM” system.

Henrik: [8:28] Rob, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Rob: [8:33] Basically, the only real advice I can give is to go for it. It’s a young and growing area of computer and personal information and marketing information. I’d say study what you can. Ask questions. Learn about metadata. Learn from others. Go to the DAM meet-up to meet people and find out what they’re doing. Then, if you can, get the exposure to a DAM system.

[9:04] You don’t really need to go back to school for a full library degree to understand basic metadata. There’s a need for entry-level people to actually be the ‘metadata policemen’ and enter things into the DAM system. Generally, the person who is in charge of it doesn’t really have the time, particularly for the large systems, to go over what’s going in, to be the ‘metadata police’, so to speak, and make sure that the DAM system is loaded with all of the proper information.

[9:35] I used to advise television people, “Just go and get the exposure to it and show that you’re interested. Volunteer to do some stuff. Sure enough, when they need somebody, they’re going to turn to you, or somebody else is going to need somebody, they’re going to turn to you and get you started at a career.”

Henrik: [9:54] Well, thanks Rob.

Rob: [9:55] Rob: You’re welcome.

Henrik: [9:56] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to anotherdamblog.com. Another DAM Podcast.com is available on AudioBoom and iTunes.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at AnotherDAMblog@Gmail.com. Thanks again.


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Another DAM podcast interview with Miles Rohan

Another DAM podcast interview with Miles Rohan | Listen


Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • How does a global organization use Digital Asset Management?
  • What are the biggest challenges and successes you have seen with DAM?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM Professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor: [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I am Henrik de Gyor. Today I am speaking with Miles Rohan.
Miles, how are you?
Miles Rohan: [0:10] I am well, Henrik. Thank you for having me.
Henrik: [0:12] Miles, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Miles: [0:15] : I am Director of Digital Asset Management at Nickelodeon, specifically
for non-broadcast assets. I generally say things that do not move. We
do not deal with video assets. That is a whole separate can of worms.
Henrik: [0:29] How does a global organization use Digital Asset Management?
Miles: [0:32] The need for Digital Asset Management at Nickelodeon grew out
of a need to securely distribute digital assets to licensing partners, marketing
partners, as well as internally, to various departments around the world. It grew
out of that. Essentially they are organized by different properties or brands.
Different people can access them.
Henrik: [0:58] Miles, what are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital
Asset Management?
Miles: [1:02] One of the biggest challenges was user adoption. In the early days,
at least, there was a real reluctance to using it. People like having assets on the
desktop or on their server. But over the years we have overcome that. [1:14] I
think, also, security has always been a challenge. We have a lot of different use
cases for a very robust security, a very nimble security, so those are certainly
challenges.
[1:26] As far as successes, well, it was a challenge. I think user adoption was also
a success, because we went from printing physical guides and mailing them
around the world to ceasing, essentially, printing and no longer shipping guides
around the world. Everything was purely digital. I think getting people into a
mindset of sharing assets because they can be securely shared, has also been
a success.
Henrik: [1:52] Great. What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals
and people aspiring to be DAM professionals?
Miles: [1:57] I think it is important to realize that, I think, DAM is really around us
at all times now, whereas 10 years ago that may not have been the case. Now, I
think DAM is…if you are on iTunes or Netflix or Amazon, these are all examples
of DAM that I think aspiring people should be paying attention to, the because
in a lot of cases, they are doing DAM well. [2:23] I think those types of systems
will certainly influence non-consumer-facing, internal only DAM. I tell everyone,
and then I am also, obviously, metadata is key in consistency and controlled
vocabularies. Never underestimate the text view.
Henrik: [2:42] Thanks, Miles.
Miles: [2:44] Thank you.
Henrik: [2:45] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, logon to AnotherDAMblog.com. Another DAM Podcast is available on Audioboo and iTunes. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at AnotherDAMblog@gmail.com. Thanks again.

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