John George discusses Digital Asset Management
Here are the questions asked:
- How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
- How does a cruise line company use Digital Asset Management?
- What were the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset Management?
- 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 Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with John George.
How are you?
John George: [0:09] I’m really good. Thanks.
Henrik: [0:11] John, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
John: [0:13] Guess I’m right in the heart of it. I spend my days working between
business and the users and IT to keep our program running efficiently. [0:25]
Making sure that images, I work mostly with photographs that are used for
marketing, make sure those are easy to use and clearly labeled with the information
about usage. That they’re up to date and nothing that’s expired is available.
Managing the user base to make sure that they all have permissions to the right
images, the images they’re supposed to have access to.
Henrik: [0:48] How does a cruise line company use Digital Asset Management?
John: [0:52] Well, as I mentioned, it’s all marketing photographs, so 25,000
images of beautiful people in beautiful places. Then a few cruise ships, as well.
It’s used by the graphic design department. I actually sit in the graphic design
department, so I’m sitting with a good deal of the users. [1:06] The PR department
has access, other people in marketing. Then, some of the outside vendors
also have access to all these images, and they’re used for the website and for
any number of print materials, direct mail pieces, catalogs.
[1:22] On board ships, we have images of shore excursions that people, the staff
on the ship actually share with the passengers to try to entice them to jump on,
or jump off the ship [laughs] at the right spot and go enjoy the culture of the
country that they’re visiting there.
Henrik: [1:40] So they’re shared internally with the groups that need
to see them.
John: [1:43] That’s correct.
Henrik: [1:44] Excellent.
John: [1:45] Different groups have access to different groups of images, so
that’s one of the fun challenges of the whole thing. We separate the images,
basically, by folders. Then we have permissions to each of those folders, so the
PR department has kind of their own little folder that only they have access to.
Then the marketing department has access to a whole other slew of images that
are more about lifestyle and branding for the company.
Henrik: [2:13] What are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset
John: [2:18] I’ll start with successes. I’ve been at the company for just over a
year now. When I came in, we were migrating to a new software system. We
were on kind of a homegrown asset management system. We’ve moved to
MediaBin last year. MediaBin’s been through about five owners. I think it was
Virage, Interwoven and then Autonomy, and now it’s an HP company. Service is
improving with HP. [2:48] They’ve been into the project of migrating for at least
a year when I came on board, though. There was a lot of challenges that we had
had with the metadata and getting that migrated, set up correctly, and getting
the images moved over.
[3:04] Understanding how to get some of the tasks, like the downloading tasks,
and the ways that this system translates the images. You can put in a PSD file,
and then you can download it as a TIFF. But you have to set up the tasks in specific
ways so that that gets done correctly, or you lose information.
John: [3:26] For instance, I downloaded a PSD as a TIFF the other day and the
ship that’s in the middle of the picture is missing, which is the white spot there.
I found out that was due to the way it was uploaded. That PSD files have to be
uploaded with a certain kind of something has to be enabled. Maximum compatibility
has to be enabled, so it’s a little tiny checkbox about 3 menus deep
when you’re in Photoshop. If it isn’t enabled, then you can’t convert it to a TIFF
[3:57] Now, I’ve got about 3,000 PSDs that I need to check and see if they have
maximum compatibility or not. That’s going to be fun. That’s going to be one of
[4:07] But really, going back to what the success was, it was really just getting
MediaBin running and making it user friendly, making it easy for people to
search for things, to filter things, and making search as intuitive as possible.
That’s been a lot of fun.
[4:22] The challenges, I kind of think of it as three parts of educating people.
One of them, part of that is just the technical aspects of the program, because
MediaBin’s kind of quirky, like there’s a two stage download. You hit the download
button and it actually sends it to another server. Then you have to download
it again onto your hard drive, which isn’t totally uncommon. But users don’t
pick that up right away. You have to walk them through and teach them those
kinds of things.
[4:49] Also, we use Internet Explorer 8 at our company, system wide, and that
happens to be one that has the most bugs with MediaBin. So people are always
having problems with the different bands not showing up. I have to go in and
teach them, you’ve just got to log out and log back in. Simple things, but still,
it’s one of the kind of day-to-day challenges of working with MediaBin and
being a Digital Asset Manager.
[5:15] Then, search strategies, because in this day and age, everybody really
expects every search to work as smoothly and quickly as Google does. That’s
not the case. Somebody was looking for panoramas, big wide pictures, and they
use the word “vista” to search for it.
[5:31] If you have a big search synonym library that would work OK. But one the
challenges we have there, is that we have a whole class of ship called “Vista
class.” [laughs] If somebody is looking for “vist” as “vista”, it’s going to return all
the Vista class ships, and not pretty landscape shots. That gets frustrating with
people, and you have to show them some of the ways around it and how the
keywords are going to work best for them.
[5:56] It’s a pretty small database. We have about 250, and it’s probably growing
to 300 or so now. So it’s not unwieldy to try teach people how to use the
keywords and what keywords work best in that situation. Then I guess, the third
biggest challenge, and it’s really a growing challenge, is just the legal aspects of
all the images, and how we’re allowed to use them. Because we’ve got models
in the pictures and we have photographers’ rights. Those things all affect how
and where we can use images.
John: [6:33] We have some images that we can use worldwide, some images we
can only use in North America, some we can use only in print and some online.
Online now takes a new meaning, because they want to control how they’re
used in social media, not just on our website or in ads. That world keeps evolving,
and you have to keep up with some of the changes within that, and then be
able to share those changes effectively with the users so that they are using the
Henrik: [7:04] A lot of challenges.
John: [7:05] Yeah. It keeps things fun.
Henrik: [7:08] Definitely. What else would you like to share with DAM professionals
and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
John: [7:14] My main advice would be to be creative, be flexible, and be aggressive.
I never expected to be working for a cruise ship company as a Digital Asset
Manager. I went to school to do this kind of work. Librarianship is in my blood.
My mom was a children’s librarian and my sister’s a children’s librarian, both in
Wallawalla, Washington. [7:34] I’m more on to the digital side, of course. I’ve
always been more to work in academia, or with special collections in a public
library, something more humanities based resources than marketing. But this
has been a great opportunity. I finished school just as I was offered this job, so
it’s been a great first step and a great amount of experience.
[7:56] But I had to take the flexibility and say, “OK. I have to work in a corporate
environment instead of the nonprofit world, because I’m going to be doing exactly
what I want to be doing.” But then on that, this is stuff I’m sure everyone’s
heard 100 times once you’re in the company, you still have to find your duty to
justify your place.
[8:17] People don’t understand how librarianship fits into managing a photo
database and why you need to understand what the value is of having a good
metadata schema so that you can find the cities on the states and the countries
that pictures are taken in. That just is all second nature. People think it
Henrik: [laughs] [8:39]
John: [laughs] The users all think, “Why can’t we just do that?” because
[laughs] [8:40] there’s a lot of background information that has to happen. These
aren’t just the people typing in keywords. It’s the business side who want
those things to just happen by magic. [8:58] You should teach them not only is
your job tougher than they think, but they can benefit by using Digital Asset
Management, at least the theories, to work for their day-to-day challenges.
Whether it’s managing, where they store their documents, or if they have their
own assets, images, videos, or audio files, what have you, that they need to be
more ordered with than they are, and make them easier to find.
Henrik: [9:29] Thanks, John.
John: [9:31] Yeah. I appreciated the opportunity.
Henrik: [9:33] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, log
on to AnotherDAMblog.com. Another DAM Podcast is available on Audioboom
and iTunes. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me
at AnotherDAMblog@gmail.com. Thanks again.
- Another DAM podcast interview with Steven Brier
- What does a Digital Asset Manager need to know? (anotherdamblog.com)