Dan Piro discusses Digital Asset Management
Henrik de Gyor: [0:00] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Dan Piro.
[0:08] Dan, how are you?
Dan Piro: [0:09] I’m good, how are you?
Henrik: [0:10] Great. Dan, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Dan: [0:13] I work for Turner Broadcasting. I am the Digital Asset Manager for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies, on‑air, creative services department.
Henrik: [0:23] Dan, how does a broadcast company use Digital Asset Management?
Dan: [0:29] When a company as big as ours, we’re talking about 10 national cable networks, implemented Digital Asset Management tool, you’re really dealing with an unfathomable amount of media that’s coming in and out. DAM is really the heart of our ability to get to that media.
[0:49] We use this system to manage all the media that’s coming in, it’s going out. We’re sharing it between each other throughout the workday. We have one enterprise system that everybody in the company uses, but we all have our own instances.
[1:04] In my case, I actually manage three different instances, one for each network. My role supports these different networks based on their different business needs. We setup each one uniquely for those networks.
[1:18] For example, TNT. They deal with mostly seasonal programming. You’ll have episodic shows, they have 10, 12 episode runs. They run 10 weeks in a row. Done. That show is going to go away for six months or a year until it comes back.
[1:33] Part of what we do is use our Digital Asset Management tools to, once that season’s over, push all that content offline. Bring it back online when we’re getting ready to lauch the next season. It really increases efficiencies across the board.
[1:48] Shortly before I started there and was in the interview process, I think we had about 10 original shows on TNT. Just in about two years it’s grown to about 25. We’re dealing with different kind of shows now too. Now we’re doing unscripted shows and a lot of big blockbuster shows.
[2:07] We had ‘The Last Ship,’ with Michael Bay. There’s all these big‑time people that are coming in to put stuff on our network which is great. At the same time, for my role, it’s like “OK, so we’re going to have 60 terabytes of footage from that show, and 40 from that show. Where’s all these stuff going to go?”
[2:25] That’s really where I come in. Making sure that all these raw materials have a place to go when they come in. Have a place to go when we’re done with them. Creating retention policies to determine how long certain things need to be around. Things we don’t need to keep forever. Some stuff we do need to keep forever.
[2:41] We have to make a long term storage solution for certain media that has to be around forever, that we’re always going to go back to.
[2:49] In terms of how we use it? We use it to create a central repository of massive amounts of media files. The benefits of it are that it creates wide access, where several people can use the same media at the same time. You can search for it, you can retrieve it. You have instant accessibility. You can view proxies of files that are not online.
[3:18] Years ago, you’d have to go pull a tape off a shelf, pop it in, fast forward to the part you are looking for, “Oh! That’s not what I need,” pop it out, put it back on the shelf, get the next one. Now, you are just looking at a screen. You’re never leaving your desk. Everything is right there in front of you.
[3:33] Metadata is absolutely key to finding anything. If you put something in your deep storage without applying metadata, you’re never going to find it again. Whether it be as basic as possible, it’s from this show, it’s from this season and it’s this type of asset. Be it shoot footage, a daily, an episode.
[3:52] Even that light level of metadata is good. When you have the option to go in and really tag it with key words and whatnot, it becomes more useful. At this point, the system is still new and we’re still growing, and I think we’re going to get to more of that in the future.
[4:10] In the very early stages, we’re more worried about making sure our new stuff is getting into this system. Then grow the abilities of it once everybody’s onboard and comfortable with it.
[4:22] I think the final aspect of it would be that there’s a safe and secure storage method where nobody’s taking a tape home, it’s disappearing in the background, they accidentally recorded over it. Everything is in one place and people have access to it, but it’s not going away. I would say those are some of the most important ways of how we use Digital Asset Management.
Henrik: [4:45] What are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset Management?
Dan: [4:49] The biggest challenge has to be putting in a new system and getting people to change their habits. It’s hard to convince people that there’s a better way than what they are already doing that works.
[4:59] The important thing as a media manager is to understand your business, how it works, and the role that DAM plays in it. It’s easy to come in and say, “I’m the Digital Asset Manager. This isn’t the way that things are supposed to work, and this is what we are going to do now.”
[5:14] You can come in with that approach, but you are going get some resistance, and have trouble getting people to work with you. The best thing that you can do when getting into a new situation, is to really empower your clients, include them in the decision making.
[5:29] If your company has gotten to the point that they need this system, they’re probably already pretty successful. You need to understand that success and know the scope of the project that you’re putting in so that you can work with these people and kind of allow them to do things the way that they like to do them, but still improve processes regularly.
[5:51] When you can recognize the history behind why things are done the way they are done and let people be a part of making this new system with you, that’s really the best way to get buy‑in from you clients. I would say that’s probably my biggest success with the network I’m supporting right now is really just being able to say that it was a team effort even though I might be managing the project myself.
Henrik: [6:18] What about would you like to share to DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Dan: [6:23] Whether you are a DAM professional or not, if you’re a producer, or editor, really anybody that’s looking to be in the media business, networking is probably the most important thing that you can do.
[6:34] One thing that I like to tell people is, you have all the skills in the world but they won’t get you a job. You can keep our job with one, but if you don’t have a network of people to go to, you will never get a job to apply those skills.
[6:46] The most important thing you can do these days is talk to other people that do what you. Compare notes, talk shop, go to conferences. Hopefully, you’ll be with a company that’s supportive enough to send you to them, because they can be costly if not.
[7:01] Just really see what your peers are doing. By seeing what they do, you’re going to be able to do your job better. If you’re an aspiring Digital Asset Management professional, get on LinkedIn, join discussions, ask questions. Just find other people that do what you do.
[7:15] A lot of times if you’re just approaching somebody and saying, “Hey, help me with this job,” they might not be so receptive. If you talk to people and talk to them about what they do, and why they make certain decisions, I think they’re going to be real open to discussing things with you.
[7:32] Later down the line, when you need them for that favor, you’re going to be in pretty good position because they’re going to say, “I remember this guy and he was really cool to talk to about DAM.” Or producing, or editing. Whatever it may be.
[7:44] LinkedIn is most powerful tool to anybody in my industry right now. It boggles my mind when I talk to people around the office. That are just, “I’m not on there yet,” or “I’ll get to it one of these days.”
[8:01] Don’t wait. Get on there. It can’t hurt and you are going to connect with people you worked with ten years ago, and be like “Oh, look. That person works at NBC now.” Now you have a contact with NBC. Great!
[8:12] Another thing to do, if you’re really aspiring to get into DAM, find a way to incorporate it into your personal life.
[8:20] In my case, I am a music nut. I have to have the whole discography of every artist that I love. I have 50,000 media files and they all have artwork. They all have metadata. The year that the album came out, what artist, what album. The ratings in iTunes. 3 stars, 4 stars, 5 stars.
[8:46] I can make a playlist of Rolling Stones songs from the 70s, which in my opinion are their best years. Exclude live albums, only include songs that I’ve ranked as 4 stars and 5 stars.
[8:59] Where your friend might want to make a Rolling Stones playlist, and it’ll take him three hours to go through everything, and say, “I want these songs. Maybe that one. Maybe not. I’ll come back and decide on that later.” They can work on it for three hours. At the click of a button, I have my playlist and I’m already listening to it.
Dan: [9:15] Just finding any way. Be it your personal movie collection, whatever, find a way to incorporate it to your life. If you’re not already in the field, you’re going to go on interviews and explain it to people why you’re the best person for the job. If you don’t have that past experience, at least give them something that like that.
[9:33] You have Digital Asset Managers in everyday life every day, that don’t even realized that what they’re doing with iTunes is exactly what we do with these massive media corporations.
Henrik: [9:44] Great advice. Thanks.
Dan: [9:45] My pleasure.
Henrik: [9:46] For more on Digital Asset Management, log on to anotherdamblog.com.
[9:50] Another DAM Podcast is available on AudioBoom and iTunes.
[9:53] If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[10:00] Thanks again.
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