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Another DAM Podcast interview with Tracy Guza on Digital Asset Management

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Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • What are the biggest challenges for dealing with creative assets in a DAM system?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM Professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?


Henrik de Gyor: [0:02] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Tracy Guza. Tracy,
how are you?
Tracy Guza: [0:11] I’m very good. How are you?
Henrik: [0:12] Good. Tracy, how are you involved with Digital Asset
Tracy: [0:16] Currently I work at Corbis. Corbis Images is a stock photo and
various other creative types of format company, and I am part of a small internal
team in editorial photography that creates custom content for a client of ours. I
manage their Digital Asset Management system.
Henrik: [0:41] What are the biggest challenges for dealing with creative assets
in a Digital Asset Management system?
Tracy: [0:45] Well, currently my challenges are somewhat different than previously.
I have worked in Digital Asset Management for some time at a variety
of advertising agencies. I’m pretty used to creative users and how they search.
One of the things I’ve found, over the years, is that the way that a library or
information professional might consider keywording items is not necessarily
the way that an art director or a designer would search for the items. [1:20] It’s
really helpful, as in any case, to do some kind of user analysis to figure out and
to know your clientele, to figure out how your user base is searching for things.
And how to intuitively keyword things and create a vocabulary that’s tailored to
the users, more so than a 100 percent kosher library science management thesaurus
or vocabulary. While structure is lovely and consistency is great and one
of the reasons that a vocabulary is important, that vocabulary can be flexible
and it can be tailored to your users.
[1:57] One of the other huge issues that comes up a lot in creative agencies
is the licensing and rights associated with different creative assets. Whether
they’re images, video clips or audio clips. Usually, especially with stock images,
when an image is purchased, it is purchased for a particular usage if it’s a rights
managed image. That usage can be very specific. It can be something as specific
as, “We’re buying this image once, for three months, for 10 publications in
North America, with a print run up to a million.”
[2:34] If that is not communicated jointly, with the asset, in a way that users can
see and notice, there can be some legal ramifications and infringement can
occur. One of the things that’s important is to look at whatever DAM system is
being used and figure out how you can best flag images or assets that have particular
restrictions. Is there a way to create permissions only for certain users?
[3:04] Is there a way to create an HTML popup that wants people that, “Hey, this
image has some particular restrictions to it. If you’re not using it for X, Y and Z,
you shouldn’t be using it.” Because generally, the users, especially in a creative
agency, aren’t legal professionals. Nor do they have regular access to legal
professionals. But they can get a company in a lot of trouble by using things that
they’re not supposed to use.
[3:35] Often times, especially in the stock industry, the fees for infringing on use
or using something that you haven’t licensed properly, are much higher than
the costs for just licensing the image properly and using it correctly. That’s a
big thing.
Henrik: [3:52] So rights management and permissions management, as far
as licensing and permissions for the use of any asset. That’s a very key thing
to reduce liability as much as possible, as far as appropriate use of assets.
Great point.
Tracy: [4:07] Yes. And what can be challenging is not only educating the users
that licensing restrictions exist. But also helping them, by using the system to
the best of your ability to make it easy for them to discover what the rights are
that are associated with the asset. It shouldn’t be hidden in 64 metadata fields.
It should be easy for them to find out.
Henrik: [4:30] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Tracy: [4:34] It’s interesting. The way that I got into this, originally, was working
at a particular advertising agency. I was doing a lot of project management and
production kinds of things. I was very familiar with the clients and with the workflow
in creative services. So I was asked to do, as a consultant, a freelance project
to organize all of the client assets at the agency. At that time, the workflow
was changing. [5:04] It was right when you were able to buy like four terabytes of
storage really cheap. Suddenly, everybody could use super huge, high-resolution
[5:24] So we had literally file cabinets full of CDs. This is how crazy it was.
Where those images were the high-resolution images that corresponded to the
low-resolution images on the server. No one [laughs] had any way to match anything
up or find anything.
[5:42] So the company purchased a very basic DAM product, and I was asked
to actually put everything in there for the first time. It changed our workflow. It
changed how people needed to use things. I realized at the time, this was about
six or seven years ago, how much I still needed to know.
[6:03] I created a vocabulary on the fly and realized that I needed to know a lot
more about metadata and tried to figure out ways to customize the search fields
and so forth so that we could get a prompt when an image license was about
to expire and stuff like that. I was a little over my head, so what I did was I went
back to library [laughs] school.
[6:27] I got an MLIS , and I found that that program really helped to fill out for me
all of my questions about different kinds of technology, backend database programming
stuff as well as the very basics of SRS [?] vocabulary development and
a lot about metadata. So my advice is not only to network, which is a wonderful
thing, but also to figure out what kind of additional education you may need.
[6:57] There’s something to be said for being in an organization and realizing
that maybe you have the aptitude to organize their assets. There’s another thing
to be said for making sure that you actually can back that up a little bit with
some tangible courses, workshops, or whatever form they take. It really helped
me to formalize the way that I think about how I work on DAM now.
[7:24] That’s my advice, and it seems to be a very much growing field as the
amount of digital assets grows. Certainly companies finally realize the value in
retrieval and the cost effectiveness of allowing people self-service access to
DAM systems. There’s more and more of a need for DAM professionals.
Henrik: [7:43] Very true. Did you want to share your blog with the audience
as well?
Tracy: [7:48] Oh, I would love to. It’s modlibrarian.posterous.com
Henrik: [7:55] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics log
onto Another DAM Podcast is available on Audioboom,
Blubrry, iTunes and the Tech Podcast Network. Thanks again.

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Author: Henrik de Gyor

Consultant. Podcaster. Writer.

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