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Another DAM Podcast interview with Brooke Holt on Digital Asset Management

Brooke Holt discusses Digital Asset Management

 

 

Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:  [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Brooke Holt. Brooke, how are you?

Brooke Holt:  [0:08] Good.

Henrik:  [0:09] Brooke, how are you involved in Digital Asset Management?

DAM is a large part of my daily work. I’m a one woman DAM team.

Brooke:  [0:11] DAM is a large part of my daily work. I’m a one woman DAM team. Our system, which we call SEAL, houses photos, videos, logos, marketing collateral, and all the typical files you would expect to see.

[0:24] I’m the only team member with DAM responsibility and we have employees all over the country, so I spend a lot of time training them, serving them, maintaining the health of the system.

[0:35] I created the taxonomy metadata fields, standards, workflow, user communication, and overall aesthetics of the system. I also have a number of non‑DAM responsibilities, but they are not as fun.

Henrik:  [0:46] Can I ask what SEAL stands for?

Brooke:  [0:47] It stands for SeaWorld Entertainment Asset Library.

Henrik:  [0:50] Brooke, how does a chain of marine mammal parks, oceanariums, and animal theme parks use Digital Asset Management?

Brooke:  [0:58] We use our system in three major ways. One is an archive. Our company is fifty years old. We have a lot of physical and digital assets. So there’s an archive area of our DAM, where we can store files that have historical value but don’t need to be accessed regularly.

[1:13] As a sharing portal. We have teams and partners all over the world. It’s vital to have a central depository in which new logos or key visuals can be stored by anyone with the appropriate permission level.

[1:25] Some of our events are held simultaneously at three different parks, so putting them in SEAL allows us to have one place. It cuts down on sending large emails or worrying about who may or may not have the most recent version of a file.

[1:38] We have two children’s education television shows that air on TV. Each week there’s a new batch of promotional assets for those and I can easily put them in SEAL and get them out to all the various people that need them. They can continue accessing them.

[1:52] The third way is as a development tool. This is kind of new for us. We use it for storage and sharing hub for projects that are under development. So in this scenario a very limited number of users have access to the files as they develop maybe a new show or attraction.

[2:09] It’s unlike the rest of the system which is really final files. It allows us to be able to share things with partners and vendors in a more secure area than just using Dropbox or any file sharing system.

Henrik:  [2:21] What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Brooke:  [2:27] For me, the biggest challenges are overcoming bad user and past user experiences. I overhauled a DAM system that previously didn’t have standards, an accurate taxonomy, or modern features. Any user that had previously encountered difficulty with the system was hesitant to give it a second try.

[2:45] Another challenge I have is what to keep and what to delete. Everything does not belong in there. It’s tough to balance what should be ingested. Do we want all B‑roll, do we want all of our RAW files, do we not, and how long do we keep these active before we move them into archive? Those types of things.

[3:01] Lingo is a challenge for me. We have teams that fall within the zoological field, entertainment, sales, legal, and a number of other ones. They all use different terminology for things. A good example is that someone in the veterinary field might come looking for a manatee calf, but everyone else that uses the system is going to call it a baby manatee.

[3:26] Making sure that I’m accommodating all those options. We have a lot of internal abbreviations for our Halloween event, Howl‑O‑Scream. Are people going to search for Howl‑O‑Scream or they going to search for HOS and not find anything?

[3:39] Then some of the big successes that I’ve seen are empowering people to do their job. When a user is able to get what they need without asking anybody else for help, that’s a huge success for both of us.

[3:51] Also security, so without DAM, you know we have very little security. People can have assets wherever they want and we have no way to monitor what’s happening. We have a EULA in place for non‑users who receive files from the system to just agree to our terms and conditions.

[4:08] We can track anyone who has shared a file, downloaded a file. I can immediately replace things that are outdated. I can get very granular with the controls over somebody who can see something, versus someone else may be able to download that or of those types of things, so improving security.

[4:23] Also culture change over my last year and a half there, I’ve created a DAM culture that has gone from basically, “Like ugh, I hate this thing”, “I can never find anything”, “This is the worse”, to more like, “This is so much easier to use, oh my gosh, it made a PNG for me”.

[4:40] “So and so should be using this” or “The rest of my team should be using it.” This is still a work in progress. I certainly don’t hear these things every day. Culture change is a big success for me.

Henrik:  [4:54] I don’t think any DAM Manager hears wild reviews every single day.

Brooke:  [4:58] Yeah.

Henrik:  [4:58] No worries.

Brooke:  [4:59] I’ll take one every six months.

Henrik:  [5:00] That’s fair. What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people who inspire to become DAM professionals?

Brooke:  [5:07] I would say DAM is awesome. I’ve been working in this field for about ten years and a variety of industries. I do not have a library degree or an IT degree. I have a degree in Spanish and a Masters in Linguistics.

[5:19] The beauty of that is that you can have any type of education background, basically. The field is a good combination of many things. My passion is photography, helping people, teaching, art, grammar, I love arguing about commas, organizing language, and then technology.

[5:37] Still working with people and also working with technology. I fell into this field I think a lot of people at this point have just kind of fallen into it, but it’s growing a lot. One of the things that I would like to see professionally would be more standardization, DAM job titles, and departments.

[5:57] It’s really hard to find positions because they might be called content manager, creative services, a librarian, a systems engineer. It can fall under a variety of departments, so maybe it’s IT, a business department, or marketing. The reality is that any major company is getting more and more digital assets, so there’s great job security in this field.

[6:20] I would recommend anybody looking for a DAM job, to just apply. There are not a lot of people that have tons of DAM experience. There are so many facets that if you have experience helping people, organizing files, using a CMS system, or manipulating digital files, that might be good enough.

[6:39] A lot of people just fall into this DAM jobs. I say it’s important to enjoy working with a variety of people, being able to listen to people, having attention to detail, and be passionate about technology and creativity.

Henrik:  [6:55] Thanks Brooke.

Brooke:  [6:56] You’re welcome.

Henrik:  [6:58] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to anotherDAMblog.com. If you have any comments or questions please feel free email me at anotherdamblog@gmail.com.

[7:09] For this and 150 other podcast episodes, including transcripts of every interview, go to anotherDAMpodcast.com

[7:17] Thanks again.

 


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Another DAM Podcast interview with Kevin Gepford on Digital Asset Management

Kevin Gepford discusses Digital Asset Management

 

 

Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:  [0:02] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I am Henrik de Gyor. Today I am speaking with Kevin Gepford. Kevin, how are you?

Kevin Gepford:  [0:10] I’m fine. How are you?

Henrik:  [0:12] Great. Kevin, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Kevin:  [0:16] I work for Comedy Central at their in‑house Brand Creative department. We create all the advertising, the billboards, the video promos, graphics for digital platforms such as iTunes, Xbox, and Hulu.

[0:30] Specifically, I work on the print side of things. I’ve got hands‑on involvement with our photo re‑touching. We also do the mechanical production and the final delivery of the files to their destination. I work in a team of brilliant right‑brain creatives, but I’m more of a left‑brain sort of person.

[0:48] I got interested in DAM originally as a self‑defense against the distractions of non‑core tasks. I’m talking about requests like digging up logos for someone, cracking open old archives just to print out an ad from last year, or hunting for a specific image among all the assets that we had that were scattered across the universe of portable hard drives, servers, optical media, and the like.

[1:15] The DAM that emerged from this is something that’s been a resource for the whole company for about 10 years, and it’s grown and evolved. Later, as time went by, it led to my involvement with content management. The volume and scope of our work had expanded tremendously, but our approval process didn’t grow along with it. It had become sheer chaos. It was in dire need of order and coherence, and I decided that this was an opportunity for me to make a bigger difference.

Henrik:  [1:46] Why does a television channel, focused on comedy programming, use Digital Asset Management?

Kevin:  [1:53] We use asset management to support our promotional efforts here. Just to be clear, I want you to know that this is not a function of our long‑form programming. We are part of Brand Creative, and our primary partner is the Marketing team. Everything that we do is focused on promotion and marketing, and the graphics that go into that production.

[2:17] I want to talk about the two prongs of asset management here at Comedy Central. The first one is DAM. These would be our libraries of static assets used across our advertising and promotional campaigns. The second is content management. We developed a system here to manage our internal work‑in‑progress. This could be the review and the approval of all of our creative output.

Henrik:  [2:42] What are the biggest challenges and successes that you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Kevin:  [2:45] For the first prong, Digital Asset Management, we started building our asset libraries about 10 year ago, as I said. All of our logos, our images, artwork, and including a PDF archive of all of our print work. That’s been updated over time ‑‑ not only the assets, but the back‑end ‑‑ but it still performs its original mission, for the most part.

[3:07] As far as challenges are concerned, I would say the first challenge was getting it off the ground. We obviously needed corporate resources so we could invest in the system, and then operate it on an ongoing basis.

[3:19] After that, it took a lot of work to prepare the assets. That’s the first step for any system that’s going from nothing to something. You’ve got to organize, you need to upload, and you need to keyword all the assets.

[3:32] After that, we had the ongoing challenge of keeping it up to date. The main issue for us, as I imagine it is for a lot of people, is that we don’t have a dedicated staff, so we do it in our down‑time. Even though we ourselves are dedicated to it, there’s often a lag between when an asset gets created and when it goes up to the library.

[3:51] For instance, if we do an entire ad campaign, the last thing we do before we archive it ‑‑ all the resource files, we make PDFs and put them in our asset library. So there’s a lag, depending on the scope of the campaign and how long it’s taking.

[4:08] After that, I would say probably the biggest challenge is just getting everybody on‑board. This took training, this took patience. People have been used to coming to my team directly, and just asking us for anything. Once we got this up and running, we would remind them to check the asset library first.

[4:27] Sometimes the thing they wanted wasn’t there, or it hadn’t been keyworded, or it just didn’t exist. Part of the training process was that we would fix the problem, upload the asset, and then make them go back and look again.

[4:40] This really went a long way to building good habits. Nowadays, people will come to me and say, “I already searched the library, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for.” And that’s really music to my ears.

[4:53] As far as successes are concerned, there’s a funny little story. A little while back, I was talking to my assistant, and I asked him, “Does anybody even use this system that we’ve put all our work into? I mean, why do we even bother?”

[5:05] He answered my question with a question. He asked me, “When is the last time that anyone came and asked you for a logo? The system is just working.”

“That’s when I knew [DAM] had become an essential resource for Comedy Central.”

[5:13] Almost prophetically, the system went down a few days later. Within about 30 minutes, I’d heard from about a half‑dozen people. That’s when I knew it had become an essential resource for Comedy Central.

[5:27] The second prong of asset management that I wanted to talk about is content management. I really enjoy talking about this, because it really is such an interesting project, and it’s made a profound difference in how we work.

[5:39] I think it really shows a path forward for our field as we imagine our future, and try to be more creative about how to make it dance.

[5:46] Our content management system is kind of like asset management on steroids. It’s active, it’s alive, and this has become a centerpiece where anyone can instantly see everything that we are doing, in real time, by visiting the site.

[6:00] Our content management system is a tool that we use, basically, to manage our work‑in‑progress. It has a longer name that nobody uses ‑‑ we call it the Creative Review and Approval System. It is, from the standpoint of most of our users, a Web based application.

[6:18] It lives in the cloud, and it’s used to coordinate the efforts of all of our design teams. The graphic designers, the Web designers, the animators ‑‑ they upload their work for review and approval. Then they can also get comments and updates from their team members.

[6:37] A great example of our workflow prior to this would be how we made Web banner ads. This is going back maybe four years. The team for building Web banner ads would be ‑‑ a developer on one end, the marketing department on the other, and in between you would have project managers, designers, and one or two or more creative directors.

[6:57] The number of individually posted files of updates and the number of emails about them, just to get one ad approved, was insane. All the comments were buried in enormous email‑chains. There was no way to really visually track an ad’s progress, and when the first ad was finally approved after 20 rounds, we had two dozen more to go. There was almost no way to really compare the ads to ensure consistency.

[7:26] What we built was a content management system to fix the process. Over time, we expanded and re‑built it so it would service not only the Web banner ads, but it would also serve the entire Brand Creative department, and it would be able to handle video clips, Web banner ads, and basically any kind of static asset.

[7:50] Now, all from one place, our users can do a number of common tasks. They can upload files, update it with new versions, they can email their team members, they can view and leave comments. Their managers can review, approve, and reject things. They can create lightboxes they can share with anybody.

[8:07] Then they can take anything that’s in the system and pretty much share with anybody else with just a couple of clicks. For the last piece, you could see the entire campaigns with just a click, it’s an automagic slideshow, for anyone that wants to review the entire campaign, or for any normal user who wants to just take a look and see what other departments are doing. The magic part, though, is when a campaign is archived, it becomes a searchable library of our completed work.

[8:38] So… challenges, you asked.

[8:41] Well, once again, it wasn’t easy to get resources for our initial investment. It took a lot of persuasion that what we envisioned would be a better product than anything we could get on the market. But then we got some seed money, and we were able to show proof of concept, and then grow it from there.

[8:59] A surprising challenge was simply getting the teams to work together and be open to sharing their ideas with each other. They really all liked living in their happy little silos. I got feedback from a couple of people that really were worried that their projects, which were so important to them, would just be sort of lost in all the other projects of other people that were working on the same campaign. From my perspective, that’s kind of the point. No man is an island, anymore. You are playing in a bigger sandbox.

Henrik:  [9:31] True.

Kevin:  [9:31] The other part of the challenge, for me, was just patience. It took more than a weekend to build this and I would say that it was the fruit of many months of development and testing, and we’re still getting comments and feedback. I got some comments just this week that we intend to work on to improve the functionality of our lightboxes. It’s a work‑in‑progress.

[9:55] Now, as far as successes are concerned, I would say that it’s pretty obvious. Everybody is just collaborating like we never have before. We’re talking to each other, we know who is working on the other projects, and we have quick ways of communicating with them, to get a visual overview of what we and other people are working on. So it really has, just by its design and by its very nature, helped collaboration.

[10:20] User engagement with the system is just phenomenal. My co‑workers and colleagues care enough to give feedback all the time, and it’s not all positive. Sometimes they come in and they just demand better features, or they have a great idea to make an improvement. Their engagement is just wonderful, and I appreciate it so much. Any kind of feedback is a sign that they care, rather than just accepting the status quo. That’s why we started this whole thing to begin with.

[10:52] Another success ‑‑ and this one totally surprised me ‑‑ our most popular feature turned out to be lightboxes. These have just revolutionized the way that we give presentations. There’s no more poking around in the middle of a meeting to find assets on a server somewhere. It just puts everything in a streamlined slideshow that you can navigate with the arrow key on your keyboard.

[11:16] This was a feature, I know and am glad to say, that nobody asked for, and nobody even imagined something like this could be possible. And yet, there it is, and they love it.

[11:29] The last thing, and this always gives me a chuckle. We kept the old system on standby. Just in case, you know? It slowly and gradually fell into disuse, and finally, when the old thing crashed, nobody even noticed for several days.

Henrik:  [11:46] [laughs]

Kevin:  [11:47] What does that tell you?

Henrik:  [11:48] Time to make it extinct.

Kevin:  [11:50] Yeah.

Henrik:  [11:52] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Kevin:  [11:57] I am kind of a contrarian by nature, but I really think that formal education, maybe formal training, is not necessary to enter this field. It’s wide open for anybody who wants to make a difference. I really bet that if you took a survey of influential people in the field, very few have actually gone to school for it. What you need is a desire to make a difference ‑‑ a passion for it. It also helps if you get a lucky break and you have the right contacts.

[12:26] Lastly, I think anyone wanting to become a DAM professional needs determination and patience for the long journey.

Henrik:  [12:34] Great points. Thanks, Kevin.

Kevin:  [12:36] It’s a pleasure.

Henrik:  [12:38] 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.

[12:54] Thanks again.

 


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