Jennifer Veiga and Theresa Honig discuss Digital Asset Management
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 Veiga and Theresa Honig. Thanks for joining me. How are you?
Jennifer Veiga: [0:10] Good, how are you today Henrik?
Henrik: [0:12] Great. How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Jennifer: [0:15] We are involved in various ways and various capacities. We work for a media company, and we implement the standards in which the agencies and photographers and all of our contractors provide assets to us.
[0:35] We probably use Digital Asset [Management] in a very different way than most companies do, in terms of we also use it to a degree as a news feed. We have pretty much written the standards for how the photographers and agencies insert their material into our system, in terms of captioning, keywording, metadata so forth and so on. It’s what we require, what our standards are.
Henrik: [1:06] How does an organization focused on celebrity media as well as health and fitness media use Digital Asset Management?
Theresa Honig: [1:13] I think part of our way is getting on our news feed, getting information from the photographers and mainly these agencies. We have to catalogue our information as far as past projects that we’ve done, and also pictures that were used by getting different pictures into our database. We also have to get them out to our designers.
Jennifer: [1:32] We have an enterprise digital asset management system as well as workflow, so there’s other software tied into it. It’s kind of a complex system in regards to that because there’s so many users.
Theresa: [1:45] Also, programs have to be linked together to our database…
Jennifer: [1:50] …to support the DAM.
Jennifer: [1:51] We use it differently in terms of from the celebrity and the health portion of it. Everybody has their own library and we give access to certain people. For example, some of the builders can’t go into some of the other titles’ libraries due to copyright and embargoes and permissions and certain things like that.
[2:19] In terms of the celebrity portion of it, the greatest challenge with that is being that we are such a huge company, and we work at iconic print brands, there’s a lot of photographers and agencies and so forth that want to contribute. It makes it difficult in the sense that the more you store, the more it’s going to cost you.
[2:43] When you implement the system, you only buy a certain amount of storage. It’s not just endless. That presents a problem. Sometimes, we have to be selective on who we allow to contribute. They have to go through a process, in terms of being allowed. I guess you could say like a membership to get username and password into our FTP. Some agencies stream. In that respect, it’s different.
[3:10] Obviously, it’s just different businesses. The entertainment, the celebrity brands, don’t get people working out, and the fitness titles do. In the same realm, we’ve implemented a library that’s for internal use, and it’s a free library we’d like to dole out.
[3:30] It’s basically stock images, product shots, generic things that everybody can use, though we try to repurpose that. In that way, every title doesn’t have to go out and do the same photo shoot for generic shots.
Theresa: [3:45] We also have to have a bigger library for the celebrity end of it because there’s a lot more material coming in and out. The celebrities are out every day, whereas, the health and fitness end of it is a lot more photoshoots and freelance art and stock art.
Jennifer: [3:59] A lot more tailored.
Henrik: [4:00] What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?
Jennifer: [4:05] Well, I think the biggest challenge really is having an active commitment from the top to support our efforts. A lot of times at the top, they don’t really get all the techie stuff about it. They just think they’re going to buy a system, and that’s it. They pay one time, and it’s all over. That’s not obviously the case.
[4:27] I’ve tried not to sugarcoat the reality that you have to maintain it, update it, and care for it. That essentially is going to cost money and time. At the end of the year, a lot of times, for us, we’ve reached our limit quickly because so many people, every single day, are putting materials into our DAM.
[4:48] For example, when there’s award shows, in a matter of eight hours, you’ll get 75,000 images. It’s a lot for the system to handle, and it’s a lot for everybody to go through. For us to handle too, because at some point, there’s no need for 10,000 pictures of Jennifer Lopez smiling in the same dress.
[5:09] That’s what you run into. It’s hard to get to what you need because you have to dig through all of the award shows stuff. It gets, kind of hairy and complicated and annoying at times. Basically, on those days, we’re all working overtime because we have to go in, basically clean and edit.
[5:29] A lot of times, like photographers and agencies, and stuff like that…It seems cheap and easy to just shoot a bunch of pictures, but you don’t need all of those pictures. I think a lot of times, people just need to learn how to edit. That’s really important for any system because you get backlogged.
Theresa: [5:48] It gets too big, and then you have to…
Jennifer: [5:50] It slows the system down. It slows everything down.
Theresa: [5:54] You have to get it empty enough that it will take more on. You need to do the maintenance. At that point, empty some things out. Also, make sure it’s properly backed up is another issue we see. A lot of times things aren’t properly backed up and then we have to change servers, then we lose a mountain of information. We have to get it all back in again. It makes a whole, huge effort that was unnecessary.
Jennifer: [6:19] Another challenge that we have is making sure that everybody’s software, programs, technology is compatible. For example, ‑‑ what was it? ‑‑ today we had a problem where somebody’s Photoshop didn’t match up, wasn’t being properly ingested into our system. It wasn’t reading it.
[6:37] We get glitches like that and things like that come up. It’s frustrating because a lot of times it’s not the end user, so we not only cater to the end users here, but we have to support outside efforts as well. That sometimes gets to be difficult and stressful. I’m not sitting at whoever’s desk in California, so I don’t know what’s on their computer.
[7:03] And successes… I’d say our most successful implementation was SCC Media Grid, which is a digital asset management system that is basically created for the publishing industry. For our purposes, it is by far superior, I think, than most in term of You can see everything immediately.
[7:25] You can do time searches. You can do looped-in searches. You can do Boolean searches. It is multi‑faceted, and it is extremely quick. It’s really easy to maintain. When people drop things in, it has pretty much ranks in most meta data.
[7:40] Once we’ve given them our style guides and standard guides, if they properly adhere to them, then it creates a nice workflow. It makes our job a lot easier.
Theresa: [7:53] It can handle a lot of information. There aren’t as many system crashes.
Henrik: [7:57] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Jennifer: [8:03] First and foremost, make sure you have commitment from the top. Make sure that they know that every person that you visit, that’s a license fee. Everybody can’t share the same username and password. You can’t do that. That’s stealing people’s technology, and that isn’t right.
[8:20] Develop a strategy and customize it to your business needs. Talk to as many people as you can because it’s so imperative. Employees in different departments, everybody has data in their head. Data is essentially knowledge, so everybody is knowledgeable in some degree or another.
[8:42] We try to have an open door policy in terms of, we encourage people to come and speak to us with all kinds of questions, comments, concerns, ways to improve anything. It’s a work in progress. It’s not perfect now, but that obviously is our goal.
Theresa: [9:00] To really help, you have to know the ins and outs to the company you’re helping and know what the employees need and what they need to do their job and get it done efficiently. Also, like we said before, plan for the future. Make sure there is enough room in that database so that you have a plan after that. That you have a bigger system you can move onto.
Jennifer: [9:19] Obviously, you’ll need controlled vocabularies and your keywords. And I think sometimes with digital asset management people think the more metadata and the more keywords and the more this is better. I personally don’t necessarily agree with that.
[9:32] I think that there’s something to be said for simplicity. I think it needs to be straightforward… real people speak. Some people get a little too smart with their keywords. If it’s a picture of an island, just write “island”. You don’t have to have some crazy… I mean obviously you should [say] what island and where it is, and stuff like that is important, but sometimes people just get too literal about it.
[9:57] That’s happened here where they’ll write, “This is West Indies,” but it doesn’t say “island” and a lot of people are sometimes looking for an island. Develop a strategy and talk to as many people as you can because that’s where you will get ideas and solutions. And basically, that’s what we are usually trying to do. Find a solution to something.
Theresa: [10:20] Yeah. Talk to other professionals is great because everyone is running into a different situation. You might have a situation that somebody conquered last year.
Jennifer: [10:30] Glitches and things like that. Sometimes one person is able to pull up something on the other person like, “Well, I just typed that in, and it’s not coming up on mine.” For the most part, that is usually a user error. I have seen instances where things haven’t shown up, and I still don’t have the answers to those.
Theresa: [10:48] Stay on top of your software. Make sure you don’t forget to schedule your updates and things like that. There’s a lot of times where we have to work really closely with IT. I mean, IT is probably who we work closest with because they support our efforts as well.
Henrik: [11:03] Thank you.
Jennifer: [11:03] Sure.
Henrik: [11:04] For more on this and other digital asset management topics, go to anotherdamblog.com. For this podcast and 160 other podcast episodes including transcripts of every interview, go to anotherdampodcast.com. If you have any comments or questions, email me at anotherDAMblog@Gmail.com. Thanks again.