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Another DAM Podcast interview with Fred Robertson on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM Podcast interview with Fred Robertson on Digital Asset Management

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:  [0:01] This Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Fred Robertson. Fred, how are you?

Fred Robertson:  [0:10] Good, thanks.

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

Fred:  [0:14] I’ve been involved with Digital Asset Management for about 10 years now. My current role as Digital Asset Manager is about two years old. My main role is to manage photography assets from the beginning of the creative process all the way through to disseminating them out to a global community of creatives. This means when a photo shoot is finished, a hard drive will come to me and I’ll transfer files onto one of our server volumes. Then art directors do their part making selections and preparing files for me then to move out to a color correction house for retouching and color correction.

[0:52] Then files come back to me when they’re complete so I can properly name them, tag them properly, and post the final assets into an image library that we maintain. I’m also in charge of managing the version control and file names where all the product groups and different models of products and series versions, which can get complicated. We really have to have a good system of naming in place.

[1:15] I also interact with the global partners so that whenever they need assets, and whenever new assets are posted, they’re constantly being updated about new activity and new imagery that’s available. Finally, managing the storage space on all of our working volumes. It’s a pretty involved role.

Henrik:  [1:34] Fred, how does a well known audio technology developer and product manufacturer use Digital Asset Management?

Fred:  [1:41] We use DAM in many different ways. Primarily, from an image standpoint, still photography is the main focus of our DAM work currently. We maintain this image library and storage system for all of our product assets, advertising, photography. We also use it as a creative workflow so that our creative can produce all the layout creative work that they need to by linking to those high res assets that have gone through that process that I explained earlier.

[2:10] Our creative group is able to produce layouts and different presentations without having to duplicate assets. It’s an all‑encompassing system where we have different volumes on our server for creative files, layouts, logos, raw photography, final color corrected imagery, even outtakes. It’s a highly managed system, but it also allows for more fluid workflow.

Henrik:  [2:34] What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Fred:  [2:38] I would say the challenges are many. First and foremost, just educating people about the system we have and giving users a degree of confidence in using it. A lot of folks tend to be a bit daunted by or confused by an interface. Some DAM interface is just not as user friendly as most people expect after going on the web and, say, using stock sites. I find that if you hold someone’s hand just the tiniest bit, it goes a long way to helping them become independent in their use of it.

[3:06] One of the bigger challenges is getting all to these stakeholders, internal clients, corporate interests, some legal concerns, and anyone that needs to access it how to be on the same page about how we’re coordinating management and organization of those assets. Those challenges are ongoing. We don’t really manage digital assets. The digital group seems to manage their own. The video group seems to manage those on their own as well. I’m helping in both of those areas, but it’s not under one umbrella, which makes it tricky. It gives us something, a goal to shoot for as well, which is to get everything in one place.

[3:44] Successes are just that we have a tool in place. It’s surprisingly still unique to see large companies using a DAM tool in ways other than just small internal groups using it. We’re trying to use it on a global marketing scale is ambitious, and it’s great that we can continue to improve upon it from there.

[4:04] It helps us coordinate product launches. Just having a Digital Asset Manager in house is a new role here. I think it’s made a big, big difference in productivity in the group.

Henrik:  [4:15] Fred, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Fred:  [4:20] I think, first and foremost, just having a clear and focused approach is most important, something that emphasizes the value in having a process in place that everyone needs to adhere to, but that you can as a Digital Asset Manager, you can help facilitate that process and really step in at every point along the way so that you can interact with many different groups of people who might not often interact with the group that I work in. I really enjoy being a greater part of the whole process so I can really answer questions at any point along the way.

[4:54] I think if you aspire to become a DAM professional…My background’s photography and I came at it from that perspective, as a person who was just immersed in having a visual education. The way I look at imagery is organizationally different than most folks that come at if from a library science perspective, which I often wish I had, but I also feel like I bring something unique to the process as sort of a self‑taught DAM professional in a way.

[5:26] I just think emerging yourself in imagery and processes can only help get you to that place where really allowing yourself a chance to view lots of imagery and think about ways in which that they’re organized and interact with photographers and artists, it can give you a much more rounded perspective.

Henrik:  [5:45] Well, thanks, Fred.

Fred:  [5:46] All right.

Henrik:  [5:46] For more on this, and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to For this podcast episode, as well as 150 other podcast episodes, including transcripts of every interview, go to

[6:01] If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at Thanks, again.

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Another DAM Podcast interview with Karl Jackson on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM Podcast interview with Karl Jackson 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 Karl Jackson.

Karl, how are you?

Karl Jackson:  [0:10] I’m really well. Thank you.

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

Karl:  [0:15] Since 1995, I’ve been the audio and video production lead for “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band here in Washington, DC. What the band does is it provides musical support to the White House, to the President of the United States and to the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

[0:32] In that capacity, we perform all manner of ceremonies in and around the Washington, DC area. In addition, we have a very active public concert schedule. We typically will play at least one public performance every week. As you can imagine, we have quite an archive of wonderful audio and video recordings.

[0:52] We’ve been in existence since 1798, and we’ve been making audio recordings at least since the late 1880s. When I took over the Marine Band as the audio and video production lead, one of my primary responsibilities was to be the steward, really, of all of those audio recordings and video recordings.

[1:13] That’s how I got involved with Digital Asset Management, was first taking care of all of those analog recordings, but then increasingly digitizing those recordings and dealing with born digital recordings. Making all of those recordings available to our musicians, our musical directors and increasingly to the general public.

Henrik:  [1:33] Karl, why does a military band use Digital Asset Management?

Karl:  [1:37] It was really the late 1990s when it became clear to us that we needed to have a process for dealing with an increasing quantity of digital files. These initially were digital audio files that resided on all manner of media, from Betamax tapes to Digital Audio Tapes to compact discs.

[1:59] We had all of this media that we wanted to have ready access to. We started thinking about how could we do that, and realized that our first task was to decide what was important and to catalog that in a way that was useful to us, and then to make that all available to our musicians and directors.

[2:20] We have quite a lot of historical recordings, and all of those recordings are actively used by our video editors and by our audio editors in order to create products for historical projects and for public performances, and increasingly for web products, both on our own websites as well as YouTube websites and things like that.

[2:42] Our musical directors use the DAM quite a bit for research purposes. They need to have very quick and ready access to previous concert recordings in order to put together future events, not only at the White House but also for our public performances.

[2:58] For example, the musical director may get a call from the White House tasking us with a performance for a specific diplomat that’s going to be visiting, and the social event might have some very specific requirements. The musical director needs to be able to tap into an archive of historical and current recordings to put together that program appropriately. Our musical directors use it quite a lot.

[3:23] Our musicians are using it quite a lot as well for research purposes. For a lot of our public performances, the musicians will use search tools to find performances that have been done in the past of pieces they want to do in the future, both in order to learn how they have been performed historically, but also to get ideas for how they might make those performances their own.

[3:48] We use the DAM system and processes across the organization.

Henrik:  [3:53] What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Karl:  [3:58] Initially, the first challenges that we faced were designing a system that fit who we were. What we wanted to be able to do was have a system that provided all of the information that we needed, but that wasn’t so cumbersome that it didn’t get used.

[4:13] That challenge we met by first talking deeply about who we are and how we work, and finding ways to describe our workflow and our organization using the tools of databases, schema, and finding ways to link. For example, some of our sheet music assets with some of our performances, and find ways to link those to audio recordings, so that we were able to build a web of data that’s really useful and usable rather than just having a bunch of miscellaneous metadata that might not at the end of the day be usable.

[4:56] That was the first challenge. We faced it very successfully by talking deeply about who we were, like I said. Another challenge that we’ve faced over the years as technology has progressed is finding a way to make all of that information available to our musicians in a way that they can easily use.

[5:17] Sometimes information can be overwhelming, and especially information in the kinds of quantities that we are collecting. But we needed a user experience that made it quite easy for anyone who used our systems to find what they needed in a really expeditious way.

[5:34] We did that by, again, just talking carefully with those audiences, building some use cases and figuring out what they really needed. In some cases, we were able to provide that. In other cases, we found alternative ways to find those solutions. User experience was a key aspect to getting a successful DAM system in place for us.

[5:58] Another challenge that we faced, and this is probably one that many, many DAM managers in government face, is the challenges that are implicit with implementing information systems projects around the government. There is sometimes very costly and time‑intensive systems to implement. That can be a challenge.

[6:20] The most successful way to face that challenge is through patience and perseverance. In my case, I did quite a lot of research into what the requirements were for government information systems, and I was able to figure out ways to get the job done in a way that wasn’t maybe as onerous as it could have been.

[6:38] Those are some of the challenges. We’ve been able to face those pretty successfully. We’ve got a great team, and so we’ve got a project that works quite well.

Henrik:  [6:47] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Karl:  [6:52] I’ll follow along with the team theme. Building a great team to implement a DAM is really, really key, because Digital Asset Management solutions by their very nature have a lot of different aspects to them. You have all of the specific subject matter, expertise that the content creators will have. You have specific subject matter expertise coming from the information systems side. You have expertise coming from the organizational and workflow side.

[7:24] You have to come at it from the perspective of building a great team first. I think that the processes and systems, and workflows will all come out of that. You have to start with the organization and the team, and the people that are involved first. That’s probably the thing that I’ve tried to keep people on is focus less on the technology, and more on the people that are using the technology.

[7:53] There are many, many DAM systems out there. Some are appropriate for some organizations more so than others. But at the end of the day, you need to find a system that works for your people and a set of processes that works for how they want to be working.

[8:07] Beyond that, for people who want to be involved in DAM, is just to start doing it. DAM is something that sounds very, possibly, official, and maybe even imposing, but it’s really something that all of us do all of the time.

[8:23] To be involved in DAM means just doing it increasingly well. If you manage an iTunes system for your home computer, that’s really doing DAM. If you’re interested in DAM, dig into ways of doing that even better.

[8:38] If you’re really interested, it’s crucial to get involved in the community. There are so many smart people, like yourself, out there doing DAM, and it’s crucial to be listening to what they’re saying and following what they’re talking about. Discovering new ideas and trying to bridge the gaps between areas of interest within DAM so that we can all keep getting better at it.

Henrik:  [9:02] Great point on making it people, process, technology, in that order. That’s a good point, to keep users on the forefront, that DAM is first of all about people. Thanks, Karl.

Karl:  [9:12] This has been fun. I love talking about this stuff. I sometimes feel like, coming at it from a content side, I don’t necessarily have all of the bells and whistles figured out. But I feel like some of this stuff is really important for organization, so I really enjoy it.

[9:26] I’ve got to say, I really have enjoyed your podcast.

Henrik:  [9:28] Thank you.

Karl:  [9:29] The folks you’re pulling in, it’s really neat to hear about some of the things that they’re doing. You had a gentleman on recently talking about his experiences with “Sesame Street.” That was pretty cool to hear some of the challenges that they faced. Thanks for doing that. That’s really neat.

Henrik:  [9:43] You’re welcome. Thanks again. I appreciate it, from yourself and anyone who contributes to this podcast series. There will be plenty more.

Karl:  [9:49] Great. I look forward to them.

Henrik: [9:51] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to Another DAM is available on AudioBoom and iTunes.

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

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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 Another DAM is available on AudioBoom and iTunes.

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

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Another DAM podcast interview with Emily Kolvitz on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM podcast interview with Emily Kolvitz on Digital Asset Management

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:  [0:02] This is Another DAM podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today, I’m speaking with Emily Klovitz. Emily, how are you?

Emily Klovitz:  [0:12] I’m doing great. How are you?

Henrik:  [0:13] Great. Emily, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Emily:  [0:18] I’m involved in Digital Asset Management as both student and practitioner. I’m finishing my MLIS at the University of Oklahoma, and also working full time in the field. I currently am a digital asset manager for JCPenney at the home office. I’ve also worked on digital projects outside of a formal DAM environment, in archives and also a museum.

[0:48] Recently, I have become very involved in the DAM education and DAM community. Part of that is a desire to contribute to the field. Another part of that is just me segueing into the next phase of my life.

Henrik:  [1:05] Emily, how does the national retail chain use Digital Asset Management?

Emily:  [1:10] My company uses Digital Asset Management for a variety of reasons ‑‑ works in progress, distribution, and also brand management. In my specific area, we use Digital Asset Management for works in progress, and also on final, finished photography for marketing assets. The DAM is fairly new, only a couple of years old, and it’s really only been hard‑launched since last November [2013].

[1:39] There’s a lot of building going on right now. Basically, it’s such a large organization, there’re actually multiple DAM environments. We are positioning ours as the enterprise DAM, but we still have a long road ahead of us. In terms of other DAM systems, there are that some that makes sense, in terms of what kind of content is kept and described, and also the perks of that specific system.

[2:07] Then, the different challenges of the type of content we’re talking about. As time has passed, the various DAM managers have crossed paths, and it’s been very rewarding to speak to these people, and find out what we have in common, and where we can help each other out.

[2:25] There have also been systems that didn’t really provide value for the organization and were duplications of content. I worked very hard to get rid of those systems. They’ve been shut down, and that’s because we have been lucky to have very strong senior leadership and buy‑in behind our DAM.

[2:43] What’s really interesting about my organization, or any large organization trying to wrangle their content, is just the sheer number of assets you’re actually talking about. Also, the number of DAM systems actually used by the organization, because many times it’s often multiple DAM systems.

Henrik:  [3:02] What are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset Management?

Emily:  [3:05] The biggest challenge to Digital Asset Management is change management. Everything else is a problem that can be solved logically. People are more tricky than that.

[3:16] The second biggest challenge is probably that DAM does not happen in a vacuum. There are more than likely other digital initiatives in your organization, and sometimes being able to see a bigger picture, even bigger than Digital Asset Management, can help an organization implement control over information chaos. This means information governance should be part of the Digital Asset Management strategy, or perhaps the DAM strategy is a facet of an overall digital strategy or information management strategy.

[3:53] It’s been very difficult for me to stay in my DAM bubble, so to speak, in the corporate world. As an information specialist, it is so glaringly obvious all the areas that could benefit from information governance. Yet there’s only one of you, and a DAM manager has many hats to wear. That’s what I feel are the biggest challenges to Digital Asset Management.

[4:20] Successes? I guess getting buy‑in feels really good. Growing your user adoption, that’s very rewarding. Any time you have even a slight increase in user adoption, that’s a big success, and you should take the time to celebrate it. Speaking of that, with your successes in Digital Asset Management, it’s OK to brag a little. It’s part of the advocating for your DAM, so usage reports and celebrating that kind of thing is good for DAM managers to do.

Henrik:  [4:57] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Emily:  [5:03] Read everything you can get your hands on and don’t get married to a system. There are many sources for education pertaining to Digital Asset Management. Many of them are community‑, vendor‑ or organization‑based, not necessarily subjected to the rigor of scholarly publication and peer review, which we talked about previously.

[5:26] It’s important to be skeptical, I think. Verify the facts for yourself. Inspect methodologies, and don’t get sucked into buying something because of someone putting the weight of authority behind it. I also think that you should trust your gut, because you can usually tell when information is info‑fluff, versus substantial information that adds to your understanding.

[5:54] The part about the DAM system, we’re usually the ones enacting the change and we’re not the ones who have to deal with it, because we’re starting the change. But you have to be cognizant of this may not be the best solution long term, and you can’t marry a system. It’s not about the technology. Digital Asset Management is so much more than that. You need to constantly be benchmarking your DAM, inspecting your practices, and getting better and better so you can grow as a digital asset manager.

Henrik:  [6:29] Great. Well thanks, Emily.

Emily:  [6:31] Thanks for having me.

Henrik:  [6:32] For more on Digital Asset Management topics, log on to Another DAM podcast is available on AudioBoo and iTunes. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at Thanks again.


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