Henrik de Gyor: [00:00] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Felix Cisneros.
Felix, how are you?
Felix Cisneros: [00:13] Hi, Henrik. Fine, thank you. Nice to be here.
Henrik: [00:16] Felix, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Felix: [00:14] I’ve spent actually my entire career in Digital Asset Management, starting at Paramount Pictures as Director of production information. Even before we called it metadata, it was just production information. I was responsible for tracking the development assets before they agreed with the film. We had over 200 projects in active development.
[00:35] They realized that the dissemination of the information throughout the company was important. So, I created the production information department specifically to track these assets, which existed at that point really in script form, treatment form. These were not obviously film or video assets, but really the basis for which films would be made.
[00:58] I have also spent about 10 years implementing digital library systems for companies around the world, whether it’s to track video, audio, photography, or other digital content and of course, all the associated metadata with it.
[01:12] In my current role, I’m responsible for the distribution of television content, metadata, key art, and all the content identifiers for multiple national cable networks sent to all the various platforms such as online, SVOD, TV Everywhere, electronic cell through, and of course the regular linear services.
[01:30] We utilize multiple Digital Asset Management systems to source this content. In each of these roles, it’s really been a key tool for everything that each company has been trying to accomplish.
Henrik: [01:42] Felix, how does an American entertainment company use Digital Asset Management?
Felix: [01:46] In my experience, it’s on multiple areas. One that gets a lot of attention, of course, is the main program or film and its various iterations, or versions. You’ll usually see some tolerable duplication of those assets in other systems for specific platforms, or distribution partners.
[02:05] Others, are in the key art and photography areas which are becoming more important each day, as the distribution platforms compete with each other for retaining viewers. They want more and more key art to showcase the content, so the challenge is of tracking every iteration, size, the rights associated with it, metadata, and the approvals are extremely important.
[02:27] Lastly, the purely digital content, which may not necessarily be released commercially, but is used as supplemental material for online purposes or PR. Those are some of the primary areas that you’ll see an entertainment company use DAM. In my experience, these areas have traditionally been separate Digital Asset Management systems, with separate taxonomies and metadata schemas. At least in my experience, that’s been the case.
Henrik: [02:53] Felix, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?
Felix: [02:58] Referring to the previous answer, I’d say that utilizing common content identifiers across the multiple areas of the content repositories is key. It is really a challenge. I think the success comes with being able to really tie those various areas together.
[03:18] The distribution and the rights management are becoming much more complicated. The ability to use content identifiers across these multiple asset management systems for identifying rights, integrating into programming or scheduling systems, what we consider the holy grail, orchestrating the gathering transformation and distribution of the finished product via an orchestration type of system.
[03:46] I think the biggest challenge would lead to the biggest success, in that the ability to actually tie these disparate systems together in order to gain real efficiencies in the packaging and distribution of that, is really where I think some major effort needs to be put to.
Henrik: [04:04] Felix, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Felix: [04:09] I always say, think about where the business is going. Whatever your business is, if it’s in retail, museums, television, film, how are your customers, your visitors, your users ultimately going to consume your assets? Then apply that thinking to how you design and implement your DAM system and the workflows associated with it.
[04:32] Secondly, I would say get out in the world. Talk to people. Attend the conferences. Talk to your colleagues at other companies. Listen to podcasts such as these, and keep your skills sharp. Make sure you know how other companies including those I would say not in your immediate field, are addressing and solving these issues.
[04:52] That to me is extremely important. It’s talking and understanding what other people are doing, and using that, and using how your end user or customer is going to utilize these assets, it’s all kind of one and the same.
Henrik: [05:08] Thanks, Felix.
Felix: [05:10] Thanks, Henrik. Good to be here.
Henrik: [05:12] For more on this, visit anotherdamblog.com.
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 AnotherDAMblog.com. For this podcast episode, as well as 150 other podcast episodes, including transcripts of every interview, go to AnotherDAMpodcast.com.
[6:01] If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at AnotherDAMblog@Gmail.com. Thanks, again.
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.
[9:53] If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[10:00] Thanks again.
Here are the questions asked:
- How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
- How does an organization focused on music use Digital Asset Management?
- What are 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 Paul Riggio. Paul,
how are you?
Paul Riggio: [0:09] I’m doing quite well, thanks and yourself?
Henrik: [0:14] Paul, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Paul: [0:16] I basically fell into it because I have a background in music, music
for TV and commercials more specifically. I was looking for a system to better
access my back catalog of music. [0:30] Once I started down that path, I found
that it was a much larger task than expected. Also found that other people
wanted it, as well. I started a company called, TuneSpring, that really houses
the music of multiple companies and makes that accessible. It was out of
need, in short.
Henrik: [0:52] How does an organization focused on music use Digital Asset
Paul: [0:56] Basically, if you’re familiar with Pandora or any of those services,
what we have to do is somewhat similar. We have to tag, similar to video or
photos, give some sort of descriptors. Basically, my company puts all of this
information together to make it accessible. That’s how we’re involved in it.
Henrik: [1:17] What are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset
Paul: [1:20] In general, I’d say one of the biggest successes is the fact that you’re
able to do more with your life outside of Digital Asset Management. Specifically,
for our business, it’s very hands-on. I’m consistently, along with many of the
people who use our system, we’re consistently asked for specific types of music.
[1:43] Putting a system like this together, which also incorporates video, in terms
of synchronization with audio and video, this system makes review and approval
very, very fast, and the ability to put playlists of tracks together very quickly. The
success is the ability to service clients at a very high level, and also have a life,
and be able to access that from anywhere.
[2:10] The challenge, I would say, especially with a system like ours, which is web
based, having to run through multiple iterations of browsers. Having to deal
with a lot of the technical aspects has been challenging. Also categorization is
always something that comes up.
[2:27] In our particular system, you’re able to search the music of multiple providers,
but each provider actually tags their own music. They’re all responsible for
their own tagging. We give guidelines and we provide different keywords that
we suggest, but everybody can tag the way they want to tag it.
[2:48] It was challenging to get to a place that would be both flexible enough for
individuals who might, say, have tags that would describe music specific to their
area. Even music that would be in different parts of the UK, for instance, might
have different descriptor that we wouldn’t use here in the states.
[3:08] Working out that system to be flexible enough to handle specific keywords
and that sort of thing was one of the many challenges.
Henrik: [3:17] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Paul: [3:21] Basically, like I said in the beginning, it’s something that was based
on need for me. I think, even if it’s something that you’re not sure how to approach
the business, essentially, look from the place of need, which is a little
bit broad. But it starts to come to light and as one experience the world a little
bit. [3:41] Essentially, again coming from a place of need, I would say one of the
things that I did was I really had to deal with a lot of my peers, who work within
the industry that I’m in primarily music for advertising, but also music publishers
and that sort of thing.
[4:01] I’ve spoken with major music publishers and looked at what their needs
would be, and tried to formulate a system that would simply address everybody’s
needs. It’s dealing with other people and experts within the field, such
as I dealt with metataggers who used to work at Pandora.
[4:24] I’ve dealt daily and technically with companies that are excellent at automatically
turning audio files into multiple versions of those files so they can be
reviewed in things like Firefox, which require OGG files, and that sort of thing.
Basically, from there, it’s based on need. There are many systems in place that
are badly in need of help, both with tagging and we’re finding that…One of the
major publishers I spoke with, I’m [inaudible 04: [4:41] 57] their name, had a staff
of about a dozen people, not too huge. They’re constantly going through and
tagging a million plus track library. They will be doing that, if you start doing the
math, and getting down to the hours per person, it takes a very long time.
[5:12] There’s work to be found. I had worked a bit with Dan McGraw in the
beginning. He helped to organize and break down the system that is the core of
what TuneSpring is now, to have the ability to look at potentially an industry that
from an outside perspective having somebody come in and look at it and break
it apart was very helpful for us.
[5:36] Again, if you can’t hire experts to speak to experts and try to interview
people who do this all the time, and kind of pick up fields that seems to
have a gray area of massive amounts of metadata, music being one of those
[5:55] There’s a lot of automatic categorization coming up, which is phenomenal
and really, really helpful. It has a tendency to find songs that sound like other
songs based on a variety of factors. But the human element is one that I think
to get truly accurate tagging, especially with audio, which is something that is
happening over time, you can’t just sit and look at it. It’s a particular challenge.
[6:22] There was one cool thing that we came up with in TuneSpring, which was
the fader search, which dealt with the unique challenge where music is concerned,
which is typically with keywords that a track is either happy or it’s sad, or
it’s kind of sad or it’s kind of happy. You don’t really have tags for that.
[6:40] We came up with a range fader for mood, for the subjective terms like the
“size” of the sound. Maybe technically an orchestra is very large, but if they’re
playing a small, quiet session, they’ll sound quite small, whereas if you look at
the White Stripes, which is just two people, they can sound enormous.
[7:08] Dealing with those things that the person who’s searching can react to
based on the results was the thing that’s been very successful with what we
created, having that move the fader from moody to happy and hearing what’s
there and being able to have an opinion based on what the results are. It’s
something very industry specific.
[7:33] Also, there’s a great book I’d recommend, which I think a lot of DAM
people may or may not know about, which is “Everything Is Miscellaneous.”
That was something that was very inspiring to me in terms of looking at the
broader world of Digital Asset Management and what the challenges are and
will be in the future.
[7:51] It’s an insane world. We are a world that’s generating a lot of content, particularly
in the music arena, since you can make a track on your iPhone or iPad,
and probably on an Android phone, too. It’s ever expanding.
[8:10] I guess in a way what we’re doing is, we’re doing a subscription based
group source thing, having all of our individual companies tag their own music
while also offering the potential of hiring professionals, should they so desire.
Henrik: [8:27] Thanks, Paul. 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 comments or questions,
please feel free to email me at AnotherDAMblog@gmail.com.
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