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Another DAM Podcast interview with Jennifer Sellar on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM Podcast interview with Jennifer Sellar

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 Jennifer Sellar. Jennifer, how are you?

Jennifer Sellar:  [0:10] I’m good, thanks.

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

Jennifer:  [0:14] I am the Senior Digital Image Archivist at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. I’ve been here almost nine years. I started out working in more traditional archives. I’m working with photography and film collections. I have an MLIS. And then, a job opened up, when I moved to New York at MoMA. They were looking for someone to organize the workflow and the digital images they were taking in the imaging studio.

[0:43] When I came in, they were originally working with the Excel Spreadsheet, some basic metadata that they were adding in, while they were shooting images. My job was initially to organize the studio, and get all of their workflow, so that it was set up, so that they weren’t using [laughs] spreadsheets. We’re able to track all their images. At the same time, the museum actually started the processing of getting a DAM System, and had chosen one using a committee through various people at the museum.

[1:13] Once that was established, I was the primary person to the front-end of the DAM at the museum. I work with all of the different departments, working with their workflow, and getting their materials into the DAM. Then, I work with a committee and various people through the museum, primarily in IT, so that the DAM is running on a daily basis.

Henrik:  [1:36] Jennifer, how does a modern art museum use Digital Asset Management?

Jennifer:  [1:41] We use it as a workflow for all of our images. Actually now, not just imaging materials, but all sort of multimedia materials in the museum. We started out, as I’ve said, in the imaging studio, because the imaging studio’s responsible for taking all the images of the artwork. Those are used for publications, retail or anything at the museum. We would use it for the website.

[2:11] Once we got that established, we started using it for all imaging. It’s been slowly growing, retail, graphics, the conservation department. All of their images are also in there and fully searchable. Everyone at the museum has some sort of access. Most users have a basic access to be able to download a JPEG from the [DAM] system.

[2:36] We actually have our rights management outsourced to two companies. One is Scala, which is in Italy, the other one is Art Resources, which is based in New York. They oversee our Rights Management, but that flows through my department and through me. They are able to use the DAM System, to be able to find what we have for their researchers. It allows them to do research, where we don’t have to do it on our end, and then they’re responsible for overseeing the rights, and getting the images out to other people.

[3:07] We also use it as a workflow to get our images to our main museum database, TMS, which is used throughout the museum world. That also allows the website to be able to get images as well. We are now recently using another new system in the museum called “The Digital Repository for Museum Collections” which we call DRMC, which is basically a system archive and preserve any original digital artwork in the museum. They actually are providing access copies of those works that are available in the DAM for users. If a curator wants to watch one of those, they’re able to watch those in our DAM System.

[3:45] We, primarily, pull a lot of our data from the TMS System automatically. We put that in place. The TMS System has rights in regards to the artwork and uses in any of those documentation.

[3:57] That’s pulled into the Asset Management System. Our resources in Scala will be able to see what the images are, if they have any issues. Again, we’re providing the image. If a person is using that, they would actually go to the artists’ estate or the artist themselves, and then get their additional permission. It’s fairly complicated.

[4:18] We’ve actually looked into some additional rights system, because you’ll hear from a lot of people with DAM Systems. One DAM doesn’t usually fit everything perfectly. Rights seems to be a big issue. We have some basic rights information, but obviously, as you get into things like video, which we just started pulling in, rights gets much more complicated than with just one artist. It becomes very complicated.

[4:45] We’re looking at different ways of putting that in through using a documentation that would be attached with the asset, versus it necessarily being searchable directly as a field in the DAM. That’s one thing when you’re working in a museum, especially in modern museums. Somewhere like The Met, someone that’s dealing with stuff that’s out of copyright, it’s a little bit easier, but we have to be very concern about how our permissions are set.

[5:08] A lot of times, people don’t realize all the rights involved, when you’re working with people. They want to go ahead and use the image [laughs] , if they have full access to it or are able to download it very easily without going through a process of someone with checks and balances. A lot of that is set through permissions.

[5:26] Primarily, there are very few people in the museum who have full access to be able to download. Those people tend to be people who are working in departments who would understand rights, so publications obviously, they understand that they can’t just take an image and automatically use it.

Henrik:  [5:42] Jennifer, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with DAM?

Jennifer:  [5:45] For us, and this is a challenge, no matter where you are, people are producing so much content at this point. I’ve been in the studio. We’ve seen the number of growth images we do. It’s massive, the amount that we do now, compared to what we did eight years ago. Again, same thing with video and audio in the museum. Every department is producing more and more materials, honestly with less people.

[6:13] It’s very difficult to get people to buy into being able to put, to give us the information or materials in a way that will actually work in the Asset Management System. Also, a lot of times, the people we work with don’t necessarily even have the ability to do it. In the studio, we have great resources. We have Photoshop. We have Bridge.

[6:34] We have all of these ways to put in metadata, and set up metadata to automatically go into materials. There are a lot of people working in the museum who can’t even open a TIF image [laughs] on their machines. A lot of times, they’ll look at a disc from an outside photographer, and they won’t be able to even to do anything with them.

[6:53] A big goal for us is to try to figure out a good space, where those people can view enough information and have workflows that they can get that material to us in a way that it works in the DAM. It’s finding that sweet spot between that, which always very difficult.

[7:10] We have the luxury of being able to implement our DAM fairly slowly. We’ve been able to go to departments and realize when they’re ready and when they’re not [laughs] , because if not, if people just throw you materials, it doesn’t work very well with the DAM, because while you can put them in there, they’re not usable if they don’t have their correct data or organization with them. I would say that’s probably the biggest challenge for us.

[7:32] It’s being able to handle all the materials that are coming in with the amount of people working. We’ve had a lot of success. Because of that issue, we’ve been really successful of being able to integrate any systems that were available already, which I talked a little bit about TMS. We are able to pull a lot of data from that database, because it’s really rich.

[7:56] There are people who are working with that full‑time, who really know the art, the artists and all that information. It makes sense. We can do that with artwork. We have an object ID that’s unique. We’re able to pull all that information about the artwork automatically in every day. Also, we’ve been able to do a workflow, where we’ve been able to automate pulling and approving the materials.

[8:19] As we go along each step, we’ve been able to automate more and more. A curator has to proof an image, and it goes automatically to the database into the website, without them having to do a lot of work. That’s been a great success. Also, just putting the materials into the DAM System has allowed us to see overlaps in different departments, because departments tend to not necessarily always speak to each other.

[8:43] There were some departments who are taking similar images of each other, so that they could actually realize that they didn’t need to rehire a photographer to shoot something, since we already had it. They’re able also to understand a little bit more at the front end that rights are important. There used to be a lot of handshake agreements [laughs].

[9:02] They realize now if they’re going to pay an outside photographer for images that it would be great, if we can get the rights for those, and get people to sign off releases. It’s helped the museum realize that kind of thing that will help in the long run for these assets to be used more than once.

Henrik:  [9:21] Jennifer, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Jennifer:  [9:25] For people who are trying to go into the industry, I would say there is more and more course work raised on DAMs, but there is so much out there, if you are already working, so I wouldn’t go a more traditional library field. There are things, like the DAM meetups in New York, which are great. It’s really amazing. You can meet people. You can learn about the industry. It’s a great place for contacts, any meetups.

[9:46] I was going to the other day, there’s a meetup for that, if you need to learn about scripting, if you need to learn about taxonomy. Those are amazing groups, and they’re great resources. Now, there’s so much more material on the Web.

[9:59] I was looking at film and video. It’s not my strong suit and background, NYU has a film archiving program. They put all their syllabus online now. You can see all the course material. A lot of times, there’s links. Sometimes, there’s lectures.

[10:18] It’s really amazing from when I went to library school 15 years ago, what is out there and free. There is so many more ways to network than there were 10 years ago even. Just use every kind of person that you can go out there.

[10:32] I would also recommend getting internships. We always have interns. I’ve gotten a couple of interns actually from the DAM meet up for people who are interested. Some people were like adult returning students, and not necessarily who would have originally started out in that background. If you’re in a city or anywhere, there’s Asset Management Systems in every field. It’s a growing industry.

[10:51] For people who already work in Asset Management, for us the largest success for us is to look through the museum and see we don’t have a large staff. That’s very common, especially in non‑profits and museums. We’ve been able to collaborate and use other departments to get a lot of things done. That’s what I look at. That’s been successful here for us.

Henrik:  [11:14] Thanks, Jennifer.

Jennifer:  [11:15] Thanks.

Henrik:  [11:16] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to anotherdamblog.com. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at AnotherDAMblog@Gmail.com. For this and 150 other podcast episodes, including transcripts of every interview, go to anotherdampodcast.com. Thanks again.


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NYC DAM Meetup on Digital Asset Management and Museums

On April 23, NYC DAM Meetup organized a panel discussion on Digital Asset Management and Museums with the following panelists:

  • Jennifer Sellar, Senior Digital Image Archivist at The Museum of Modern Art
  • Julie Shean, Technical Architect at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Susan Wamsley, Digital Asset Manager at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
  • Chad Beer, NYC DAM Meetup Organizer, Founder and Moderator

In case you missed this NYC DAM Meetup in person, here is a link to download the full audio recording (Duration 1:08:00. File Size 94 MB): http://goo.gl/hTiR00

On a side note, this was our 50th NYC DAM Meetup.

Due to new commitments, this was the last NYC DAM Meetup with Chad Beer, Michael Hollitscher and Henrik de Gyor together as co-organizers.

Some new organizers for NYC DAM Meetup will be announced shortly and NYC DAM Meetup will continue.


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Another DAM podcast interview with Douglas Hegley on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM podcast interview with Douglas Hegley on Digital Asset Management

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:  [0:00] This is Another DAM podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Douglas Hegley. Douglas, how are you?

Douglas Hegley:  [0:10] I’m good, thank you.

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

Douglas:  [0:14] Currently, I sit at the executive leadership level in a major fine art museum in the Twin Cities. I would be the ultimate decision maker. The Digital Asset Management systems would be operated underneath my responsibility.

Henrik:  [0:27] Douglas, how does a fine art museum use Digital Asset Management?

Douglas:  [0:31] What’s interesting, I think, what might be a misnomer for some people, the Digital Asset Management in an art museum is actually a business driver like it is in any business. Art museums have art objects. Those objects themselves have data records for them, and those are kept in a different system.

[0:47] But we do need a Digital Asset Management system for keeping photographs of those objects, and often there will be many of those. Various angles, raking lights. Sometimes x‑ray, other spectrometer those kinds of things, as well as images of people and parties and the history of the institution. It goes on and on and on.

[1:06] I would say at this point that museums are still sticking mostly with still images in terms of Digital Asset Management. We haven’t fully embraced media asset management. We’re producing videos and that production is accelerating. I don’t think we’ve really faced some of the struggles we’re going to have, similar to the ones we had with digital photography 5 or 10 years ago.

Henrik:  [1:27] What are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset Management?

Douglas:  [1:31] There are many. One of the biggest challenges for us as an industry is that our metadata models are not mature. There are many different standards for the way that you would record what is in that picture. The built‑in metadata is easy enough ‑‑ date and file sizes and everything else.

[1:53] For us, since it’s often object centered photography so we’ve taken that three‑dimensional sculpture, we’ve taken it to the photo studio, lighting it, shooting it.

[2:02] How do you attach that asset to the record that’s in a different system that describes that object? We struggle with moving data back and forth, mirroring data, coming up with better methods of attaching the digital assets themselves to all of the other kinds of content that we have about an art object.

[2:22] Then, I think for us, being non‑profits, being small, being very tight funding models, affording a fancy Digital Asset Management system is a bit of a struggle. Then the first foray into digital photography that museums took beginning about 10 years ago, we had a tendency to over buy. We would be sold very fancy Digital Asset Management systems that could do lots and lots of wonderful things.

[2:48] None of which we ever took advantage of.

[2:49] We kept paying the fee every year, and throwing the assets in, and struggling with metadata models. Not really making much progress. The success is that when I worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art the photo studio went digital. Within about a year, they had amassed an enormous closetful of CDs.

[3:09] How do we go back and find those images that we shot a year ago? If there’s a success that’s clear it’s in the capacity to locate, download, relocate, reshoot when necessary the assets that are actually needed. It’s not a manual process anymore. We can have multiple users log into a system, find the image you’re looking for.

Henrik:  [3:25] You can more rapidly search, find, use, reuse, repurpose.

Douglas:  [3:30] I think that was a clear business win. I also think it’s aged a little bit. That win really took place…at the Met it probably took place about 2003, 2004. I’m currently at the MIA. They had a system that’s about the same age. The systems are, in essence, aging because they’re becoming full of assets, and because the metadata model, as I mentioned before, is really not mature or specific enough.

[3:54] Really not mature or specific enough. We have issues with overflow of result set. People go in and they search on something like “Rembrandt.” They’ll get thousands of returns. Many of which are place‑holder records. They are old black and white study photographs. It’s not clear which one I’m supposed to use for my marketing campaign.

[4:15] I go and start asking my friends. Now we’ve blown it out of the water. The reason they have an asset management system is so that anybody, even with a cursory knowledge of what they’re looking for, should be able to come in and get what they need.

Henrik:  [4:28] True. Let’s use that example of searching for Rembrandt and you get documents and records, and then maybe some photos of the Rembrandts that you may have. Can’t you filter down to, say, “paintings of” from the thousand records for the sake of argument?

Douglas:  [4:41] Again, when you over buy a system of course that functionality is there. Users need a lot of training to understand how to use it.

Henrik:  [4:49] Add that information in all fairness.

Douglas:  [4:50] Right, exactly. The only keyword on the photograph is Rembrandt. I should say the photograph on maybe 700 photographs. There isn’t a really good mature metadata model. Now, maybe the photographers remember because they know that only Charles would be shooting the master image. He shot those paintings about in 2007.

Henrik:  [5:12] At high resolution blah, blah, blah with the proper lighting.

Douglas:  [5:14] They can go in the system and they can say, “I only need things shot by Charles. I want them 2007. I want them only the TIFFs.” They can get that for you.

Henrik:  [5:22] To your point, you can search for the TIFF, or you can search for the file type, meaning, “I don’t want a .doc of Rembrandt’s about the insurance record, or the transfer record, or the purchase record or whatever. I want the TIFF or the raw file or the JPEG or whatever.”

Douglas:  [5:39] Although, to be clear, we’re not currently in the DAMs that we have storing any .docs. They could, I suppose. We’re not doing that.

Henrik:  [5:45] Or PDF, for that matter?

Douglas:  [5:46] There may be a few PDFs. That’s not really the core business case right now. The core use is still images, high res, primarily objects. Secondarily, events, people, activities of a museum being recorded.

[6:02] We also have an archive dating back 130 years, but it’s a physical archive. A few of those things get digitized now and then because there’s some need for them in a publication or something, so some of those things in there. Right now, it’s mostly just still image.

Henrik:  [6:19] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals, and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Douglas:  [6:23] It’s a really good question. First of all, I don’t consider myself the world’s expert on answering this question. I would say that in the museum arena, which is the arena I know best, museums are in need of people to come into our world and help us adapt best practices, help understand how businesses are running in this way.

[6:48] One of the core differences, in a way, is that we’re all looking at Digital Asset Management systems as if they are at their core set up to be persistent electronic archives. We’re not a for‑profit vendor who is creating products for which there are seasons and catalogues and websites to be made, and campaigns to be run, advertising, marketing, press, everything else, and then a year later it’s all new products. It doesn’t matter what happens to the photos of the shoes from last year.

[7:18] For us, every time we take a photo, there are a number of things. First of all, I’d say it’s a fine work of art. You’ve moved it from its safe storage space into a photo studio. Any time you move something that old and that fragile, you’re damaging it. Maybe it’s not obvious, but you have micro‑fractures, or you’re exposing it to different atmospheric conditions, or different lighting conditions, whatever it may be. You’re actually not doing good by the artwork.

[7:46] I don’t mean to belabor that point, because people are very professional and very careful. Accidents almost never happen, but it’s still a fact that it’s a risk. If we’re going to do this, we’re going to move this work of art into a studio, light it, shoot it, let’s do it at the absolute most professional, highest resolution that we can.

[8:07] Let’s get as many angles. Let’s get as many types of spectral photographs that we can manage right now so that we put that wonderful and rare and unique object back into its secure storage space and don’t touch it again for years.

[8:20] What we’re doing is we’re capturing these incredible photographs, but we’re amateur in then what we do next. We have a very professional production process, followed by a very amateur archival metadata process.

Henrik:  [8:36] Does the workflow fall off? Is that your point?

Douglas:  [8:39] Workflow falls off a little bit. The folks who are doing it are probably the photographers themselves, and/or relatively junior people, probably not a strong metadata library background. I don’t mean to single anyone out. There are certainly people there who are skilled. If any of them were to leave their positions, it’d be hard to replace them.

[8:58] It’s specialist knowledge. Even with that specialist knowledge, what’s missing then is some real world experience of having run this kind of system, where it’s a really rapid fire production environment.

Henrik:  [9:10] You’re embedding the information, to your point. That may be missing because most photographers don’t like adding metadata to their files. There’s a lot of value to finding it again if they add a lot more than just the word Rembrandt, to your point earlier.

Douglas:  [9:24] You’re right. There’s been talk here at the Henry Stewart DAM New York about having workflows that would capture data that would then automatically become metadata. That’s terrific. There you get subject and photographer assigned, and all these other kinds of things that can happen automatically.

[9:41] In the use cases that we’re seeing, though, whether it’s internal. In the internal, you would have content creators, writers, editors, people working with the press, marketing, whatever it may be. They don’t think in those more academic, scholarly ways. They want the hero image of “Lucretia” by Rembrandt, and they want to be able to get it right now because they’re on the phone with someone who wants to do a story.

[10:03] We need keywording in a very…

Henrik:  [10:07] Consistent way?

Douglas:  [10:08] It’s consistent, but it’s also natural language. We have keywording that says things like in the acrylic on canvas.

Henrik:  [10:18] Which you probably have a few.

Douglas:  [10:19] Yeah. Oil on canvas, oil on copper, terracotta, these kinds of things, which are very important and they are the fact.

Henrik:  [10:26] Yes, the medium.

Douglas:  [10:27] When your press agent is on the phone with a reporter from the New York Times, they don’t go to the system and type in terracotta.

[10:34] They are on the phone, they’re talking, they’re trying to type to try to type things like clay, pot, Africa, bead work and you do desperately trying to find the image, like, “I am trying to find it for you right now, Mr. such and such.”

[10:47] Because we don’t have that piece in there, it makes the system of much less use to them. So instead what they’re doing is emailing somebody, like a photographer, their friend, saying, “What do you have that pot for Africa with the beads?” They’re like, “Oh yeah, sure” and so two people get involved in the work when it really should just be one.

Henrik:  [11:03] It is really tied to, in part, institutional knowledge.

Douglas:  [11:06] Here is what I want, because I am not a Digital Asset Management worker, expert, it is not my training, but if you had an organization that was constantly feeding stories to the press. So whatever that may be, there must be folks out there who do sports photography, something like that.

[11:28] They got to be uploading those things quickly, they got to be tagging them with the kinds of words that sportswriters are going to use, like “World Series Game 3″ and you better have it or no one is going to use your images.

[11:36] We don’t have that discipline, is a weird word for it because it is kind of lightweight, but it’s so absolutely necessary to make the asset findable across a much broader swath of people.

[11:49] If I were to tie it back to some of the strategies that we’ve been talking about in the art museum world anyways that we have been in an industry that for 150 years has been in the kind of, if you build it, they will come mode.

[12:04] We’re great, we’re fancy, everyone should come. If you’re not coming, there’s something wrong with you.

[12:10] This was the old model, the old elite model in having an art museum. What you’re seeing art museums do in the last, I don’t know, 10 years, maybe a little bit more and say, “No, no, no, no. Look, this is important. Art education being gutted in this country, creative thinking gutted, innovation gutted.”

[12:27] You can’t get this kind of stuff in school anymore. You should come to a museum. That makes museums need to be more engaging, more embracing of different points of view.

[12:38] Instead of saying to someone, “Welcome to the museum, you must be very proud to be here,” we have to say, “Welcome to the museum, we are really glad you are here. How can we help you have an experience that you will never forget?”

Henrik:  [12:49] To your point, even with DAM, it needs to be more accessible. Once they are more accessible, then people can obain it. Hypothetically in the virtual museum sense, I’ve worked with some that are doing that piecemeal. That’s the future challenge, I assume, with some.

Douglas:  [13:07] That’s the tactical implementation of a philosophical point. Let’s say our PR marketing hire a couple of young social media folks. They want to throw together a Tumblr site or a Pinterest or Instagram. They want to grab some photos from the collection.

[13:23] They go into the system and start saying like, “Give me an exciting photo that shows women having fun.” The system doesn’t have anything like that in there. It has like Matisse “Bathers,” but that is not what a 28‑year‑old social media manager is looking for.

[13:38] I know we’re a little bit, I’m beating the horse to death here, a little bit, but it is a metadata model is less about this sort of deep scholarly academic information and more about, “Hey, guys, what exactly do we have here?”

Henrik:  [13:49] That could be controlled but that could be a taxonomy, because of those events, to your point earlier, happened regularly in the kinds of activities that happen in the museum, because there’s only so many things that will happen in a museum.

Douglas:  [laughs] [14:00] There is a lot of things that will happen in the museum.

Henrik:  [14:01] That are permissible in a museum.

[14:02] [laughter]

Henrik:  [14:05] If it’s a fundraiser, or…

Douglas:  [14:08] It is funny, we’re beholden to our own approach when I worked at the Metropolitan. There were years when there were almost 20,000 events on the event calendar in 365 days.

[14:18] Now I am at a smaller regional museum, but the number of events still is in the thousands for year. Now that’s counting things like tours and school groups coming in, but each of these things happen and we are slaves to our own success in this way. We do not want to stop doing all of that.

[14:36] It is a little overwhelming, there’s photography of all a lot of it that nobody can find and that is the whole point of having a DAM in the first place.

Henrik:  [14:44] Thank you, Douglas.

Douglas:  [14:45] Thank you.

Henrik:  [14:46] For more on Digital Asset Management, log on to anotherdamblog.com. 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 Megan McGovern

Another DAM podcast interview with Megan McGovern| Listen

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • How does the world’s largest glass museum use Digital Asset Management?
  • 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 Megan McGovern.
Megan, how are you?
Megan McGovern: [0:09] I am very well, and yourself?
Henrik: [0:10] Good. Megan, how are you involved with Digital Asset
Management?
Megan: [0:14] At the museum where I work, I am the system administrator for
our Digital Asset Management system. I set up templates and make all of the
configurations, and I was also involved in the purchasing, just not as a final
decision maker, but someone whose input was regarded. [0:29] I am also the
vendor liaison with our Digital Asset Management system. Past that, I am responsible
for assisting making policies regarding Digital Asset Management
practices what images are added to our system, what images might be weeded
out, retention schedules, things of that nature. I train all of the users on using
our system.
[0:49] Outside of my day-to-day work, I am the co-chair of the special interest
group for Digital Asset Management at MCN, which is the Museum Computer
Network. I’ve also spoken on panels in the MCN Conference, as well as the
AAM, which is the American Association of Museums Conference.
Henrik: [1:07] How does the world’s largest glass museum use Digital Asset
Management?
Megan: [1:11] We use Digital Asset Management all the time. It’s a very image
and video-centric world now, and we really saw the need, earlier in the 2000s,
to have a centralized location for our digital images. Silos are inefficient, so we
used Digital Asset Management as kind of our image library where, at a central
location, people, if they have a project, a lecture, a publication, an exhibition, or
just for reference, they can go to our system, search, and bring up the images
they need for their particular use. [1:40] We also have a direct feed between our
Digital Asset Management system and our website. Pictures that we store in our
system based on certain criteria, if they meet certain metadata values, they get
pushed out to the website and display to the whole world. It’s really a backbone
of our website along with our information and our various content management
systems with their databases.
[2:01] It’s really an important part of what we do, and we’re unique among museums
in that our asset management system doesn’t just have pictures of glass
objects as a glass museum, but we also have an extensive library, different
libraries on materials, design drawings, batch notebooks for recipes for making
glass, things like that.
[2:19] Then we also use our Digital Asset Management system for programs and
events photography. The VIPs visit, some millions visit our portraits of staff or
other people who come to lecture here, so we use it quite extensively.
Henrik: [2:33] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Megan: [2:37] Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned working with Digital
Asset Management is, the field is really as much about people management and
change management as it is about asset management. Working with people to
set up preferences for the system and customizations. [2:53] Working change
managements, if you’re actually installing a new Digital Asset Management
system or one hasn’t existed before, getting input, having people trained and
feeling comfortable and feeling like they have a voice in how the system is
run, so that they’ll actually use it and the project will be a success. I think that’s
almost as important as knowing about metadata and download and technical
specifications for images.
[3:16] I also found that my library and information science background was very
helpful, knowing about the history of cataloging and the whys and wherefores,
how libraries set up information management in the era before computers. It
helps to see how information might be structured even for things that might
generally be considered unstructured information, like candid photos of children
making glass, things of that nature.
[3:39] That being said, I’ve also found that some IT knowledge is very useful,
especially, just a small background. Even a basic knowledge of SQL is sometimes
very useful in understanding how the back end of the Digital Asset
Management system, the database, works and operates.
[3:53] Past that, I would just say flexibility is key. The Digital Asset Management
system market, it seems to be always in flux and technology, as we all know, is
ever progressing and evolving. Being able to be flexible and change as times
change and the environment changes seems to be the key to success, at least in
my experience.
Henrik: [4:13] Great advice. Thanks, Megan.
Megan: [4:15] You’re very welcome.
Henrik: [4:17] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, log
onto AnotherDAMblog.com. Another DAM Podcast is available on Audioboo,
iTunes and the Tech Podcast Network. 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 Matt Shanley

Click to listen to Another DAM podcast interview with Matt Shanley

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • Why does a museum use Digital Asset Management?
  • What were the drivers for getting a DAM?
  • What advice would you like to give to 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’m speaking with Matt Shanley. Matt,
how are you?
Matt Shanley: [0:09] Very well, and yourself?
Henrik: [0:10] Good. Matt, how are you involved with Digital Asset
Management?
Matt: [0:14] I am the Digital Asset Manager for the Photography Department of
the American Museum of Natural History. They brought me on in 2006 to develop
a photography workflow that would stand savvy. [0:30] Basically, what they
were doing at the time is just taking everything they shot, burning it to a CD or
DVD, and putting it into a binder, and keeping an Excel spreadsheet of what
CDs were where. As you might imagine, that quickly became unmanageable.
[0:44] So when they hired me in 2006, it was a priority for them to have me redesign
their workflow and then research what hardware and software we would
need to get a Digital Asset Management system that was going to be usable
and scalable to the amount of assets that we would eventually accumulate.
[1:06] We decided to go with an Apple Xserve with a 10.5 TB X RAID, and we
decided to use Extensis Portfolio as our DAM. That has a MySQL back end with
a portfolio governing the front end.
[1:25] We started cataloging from 2006 on and then I redesigned the workflow
of the photographers to use Lightroom. It was embedding copyright metadata
on import.
[1:39] We came up with a standardized file naming and folder naming protocols
that were DAM savvy. Basically just formalized the workflow, because the photographers
were pretty much just doing their own thing and there was no real
organization to it. Had to standardize what they were doing in the workflow that
they used.
[2:05] From the time it left the camera and went onto the computer, data preservation
protocols were put in place so that things would get backed up onto
the server, so that if their local hard drive ever crashed, they would at least have
unretouched backups of everything, etc., etc.
[2:23] Then, I have to, when they finish a job, they move it to an area on the
server that I know that they’re done with that job. Then I move it over into the
portfolio sys, catalog it in portfolio. That’s how we do it.
Henrik: [2:43] Why does a museum use Digital Asset Management?
Matt: [2:45] I would say that while we are a museum photography department
we are actually a division of the communications department. We do all of the
press photography, anything that goes out to the press, advertising, marketing,
all of that stuff. We document all of the educational events that happen here.
We documents all of the development events that happen here. [3:12] What
we don’t do is we don’t, for the most part, photograph the collections for the
purposes of cataloging the specimens and artifacts that we have. That’s up to
the scientific department themselves. What museums would probably use it for
would be actually like a collections resource, management. But that is not what
this department does.
Henrik: [3:35] What were the drivers for getting a DAM?
Matt: [3:39] The bottleneck that was happening where it was just taking too
long for photo requests to be fulfilled. Once we got up over a couple hundred
thousand images, that system of burning stuff to CD and DVD became unwieldy.
It was just taking too long. Anything that wasn’t done recently it would
take someone doing much research and going through DVDs and the Excel
spreadsheet. [4:13] There was no controlled vocabulary as far as search and
keywords and stuff like that. It was just a mess. It made it very, very hard to
find things. We needed a centralized storage system that was well organized.
Keywords needed to be standardized with a controlled vocabulary. Once we did
that, it turned image requests from taking days to minutes. It was a huge efficiency
boost for us.
Henrik: [4:45] I bet. Are any of these requests you get paid requests?
Matt: [4:49] Yes. Our business development department and our museum
library both deal with requests coming in mostly from education book publishers.
We do get some of what I would call commercial requests, but it’s mostly in
the educational realm. [5:04] I don’t know how much they’re actually charging for
this stuff, but we’ll get a call. “Do you have a picture of an Apatosaurus thigh or
something like that, a thigh bone?” We’ll look through the collections and see
what we have. We’ve been shooting a mix of digital and film since around 1998.
I think by 2000 or 2002 we were shooting exclusively digital. Considering that
the museum has been here since about 1875 or so, the bulk of our collections
are shot on film.
[5:44] When we went digital the museum library did not have the manpower or
the technical expertise to handle and archive our photos, which is what, back in
the film days, we did. We always turned everything over to the library and they
would put them into the photo archive. When we went digital there was nothing
they could do with the stuff and we did what everybody did, just burn everything
to CD and DVD and store it that way. It was really the only economically
feasible solution at the time.
[6:23] But, like I said, once we got up over a couple hundred thousand assets
it was not working. Sometime in 2007 this new DAM system went online. I’ve
cataloged approximately 328,000 assets. At any given moment there’s about
100,000 assets that I haven’t gotten to yet.
[6:53] That legacy system, we had all of those CDs and DVDs copied onto the
server over a period of time and tried to clean it up as much as we could with
the limited manpower that we have available to be spending time doing that.
That’s somewhere around 210,000 assets in the legacy system.
[7:17] It’s never going to get smaller. We keep everything. So, pushing a million
assets total in no time. We have to make sure that are hardware and software
stay scalable to handling those kind of numbers.
Henrik: [7:33] Wow. Great. What advice would you like to give to DAM professionals
and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Matt: [7:39] I sort of tripped and fell into it. My background is photography.
It was my photography background that got me hired into this photography
department. Photography, digitally driven photography or organization, Digital
Asset Management is a necessity just like having an IT guy to keep your computers
working is a necessity. [8:09] I would say Higher Education is definitely the
way to go. I had to learn it from scratch, kind of on the job, on the fly. There’s
definitely a market for it out there. Anybody who deals with digital content has
to keep it organized because if you can’ find it then it’s like not having it.
[8:38] I think it’s a growing field. As more digital content is created better solutions,
on a larger scale, are going to become available. I think, even if you get
an education in it now, people who work in this field are going to have to get
reeducated in it multiple times over the course of their career. I think the technology
is going to keep changing at a rate that if you want to stay competitive
you’re going to have to keep up with it.
Henrik: [9:06] Never stop learning.
Matt: [9:07] Yeah.
Henrik: [9:08] Good point. Great. Thanks, Matt.
Matt: [9:11] Thank you. I enjoyed talking to you.
Henrik: [9:14] Me too. For more on Digital Asset Management log onto
AnotherDAMblog.com. Thanks again.


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Another DAM podcast interview with Leala Abbott

Click to listen to Another DAM podcast interview with Leala Abbott

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • Do you do documentation and process?
  • Do you like particular standards?
  • You write a blog which recently you have written some posts which have been quite popular. Tell us more about this.
  • Is it fair to say that Digital Asset Management is not a temporary task?
  • Where can we find your blog?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM Professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?

Henrik de Gyor: [0:01] This is Another DAM Podca st about Digital Asset
Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today, I’m here with Leala Abbott. Leala,
how are you?
Leala Abbott: [0:09] Hello. How are you?
Henrik: [0:11] Good. How are you involved with Digital Asset Management, Leala?
Leala: [0:15] I am the Senior Digital Content Analyst for the Metropolitan
Museum of Art. In other circles, it’s known as Digital Asset Manager. It’s basically
the same role. It just has more of an information science bent because I
love metadata. I like working with metadata schemas and information architecture
and the documentation of standards, along with usability for Digital Asset
Management systems or other information retrieval systems. I do branch out
from time to time and strategy for Digital Asset Management, big picture stuff.
Educate people on what Digital Asset Management is, as a practice, and to understand
that it’s not just an application. That’s really my educational charge.
Henrik: [1:07] Do you do documentation and process as well?
Leala: [1:11] Yeah, I do. Because of my information science bent, I’m really into
metadata schemas and the cataloging of the assets and what taxonomies that
we leverage. I like to write that stuff all up so other people can read it. Imagine
that. Somebody can just pick up that document, and pick up right where they
left off. I like to provide guidance for people that are the future Digital Asset
Managers in that particular organization or institution, guides for the catalogers.
I’ve written many librarians’ manuals.
Henrik: [1:46] Do you like particular standards?
Leala: [1:48] I do. I’m a big fan of Dublin Core. I don’t know how you
couldn’t be.
Henrik: [laughs] [1:54] True.
Leala: [1:57] Because it really is very much in line with my pragmatic approach
to Digital Asset Management.
Henrik: [2:02] Excellent. Leala, you write a blog in which recently you’ve written
some posts about DAM, which have been quite popular. Tell me a little more
about that.
Leala: [2:11] I’m excited about that. I’m glad they’re popular. My last two postings
have been, “What kinda ‘Who’ do you need to make DAM work?” I go
into descriptions of the types of roles that are necessary to do Digital Asset
Management properly. I think a lot of times, people think, “We’re just going to
buy this wonderful application, and it’s going to fix the fact that we’re drowning
in all of this digital information.” [2:38] There’s very little understanding out there
that it’s not just an application, it’s a process. It’s a business need, and there is
technology to help with that business need, but you also have to have the right
staffing. I think because it’s very cross disciplinary in the practice of DAM, it
brings together professions that weren’t normally at the same table before.
[3:00] Business analysts and creatives, production managers, librarians and information
science people in rights and usage experts. You have your programmers
and developers, and all these people do have to actually work closely together.
[3:16] I think that that’s something very new. There are a lot of professional stylers
out there, so I think that breaking those down and having to come together
on a project was a really new thing for a lot of organizations.
Henrik: [3:29] That sounds like there is a lot of collaboration involved. Is it fair to
say that Digital Asset Management is not a temporary task?
Leala: [3:34] I believe that it is not a temporary task. I think that it takes, depending
on the size of the organization, one to two years in terms of having
the experts that you need onboard. Consultants, integrators, to get the project
rolling, and the process rolling. [3:52] Again, depending on the size and what
you are really ingesting. Once you have most of the process nailed out, you can
have other staffing involved, and take over where the experts left off.
Henrik: [4:03] As long as you have accountability and governance, is that
fair to say?
Leala: [4:07] Yep. As long as you have your standards that can be used as a
guide, and as long as you continue to revisit your processes. I think it’s really
important that your staff have a professional development chart. That should
be part of their role. [4:24] To make sure that they’re continually educating themselves
on the process and the DAM landscape. That way they stay current.
Henrik: [4:31] Leala, where can we find your blog?
Leala: [4:33] It’s actually my name, I’ve tried to keep it simple. That’s my approach,
and it’s lealaabbott.com. That’s L-E-A-L-A-A-B-B-O-T-T dot com.
Henrik: [4:46] Excellent. What advice would you have to share with other DAM
professional, or even people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Leala: [4:54] Particularly when I look at resumes, I like to see that people that
worked in different types of organizations. From big ones to small ones, to
cultural heritage organizations to for profit organizations. [5:09] I find people
that have more multidimensional experiences bring a lot more new ideas,
fresh ideas, innovative and more creative solutions to problems than someone
who’s just been in the same place or organization or field of work the length of
their career.
Henrik: [5:33] Makes sense. Thank you, Leala.
Leala: [5:35] Yeah.
Henrik: [5:37] For more on Digital Asset Management, you can log onto
AnotherDAMblog.com. Thanks again.

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