Listen to Nancy Price talking about Digital Asset Management
Henrik de Gyor: This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Nancy Price. Nancy, how are you?
Nancy Price: Great, Henrik, how are you?
Henrik de Gyor: Great. Nancy, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Nancy Price: Well Henrik, I kind of stumbled into Digital Asset Management after working as a cataloging librarian at an academic library. It’s actually pretty funny because when I started I really wasn’t very clear on what I’d be doing other than applying metadata, but it turns out that I really performed that day to day activities that make Digital Asset Management magic happen. So on any typical day, I would upload assets into the system. I applied descriptive metadata so the assets can be discovered by our corporate users. I manage the assets for different stages in their lifecycle. I developed system workflows for onboarding new types of asset. I version assets. I provide user assistance and customer service. I fulfill requests for asset location and delivery. I document system processes and communicate them to users. I develop training materials and provide system training and I work with IT to troubleshoot the system and for upgrades and a UAT testing. So I can typically have a pretty full day and I really liked the variety that might position offers, so I do really enjoy Digital Asset Management.
Henrik de Gyor: Nancy, how does is a premier brand for girls use Digital Asset Management?
Nancy Price: Well, I think we use Digital Asset Management and any other corporation in our industry would. We use it to organize and store digital assets such as images, videos, graphics, and those are all used to support the creation of our content and for our marketing purposes. I’m actually very fortunate that our company were pioneers in Digital Asset Management adopting the system in 2006. At that time, when I started I was charged with gathering assets off the departmental servers and ingest them into our new Digital Asset Management system. The 27,000 files I found on the servers had file names like hair or blue dress and then, there were a duplicate file of the thing image that had totally different file names. So I know for a fact that Digital Asset Management has improved our productivity here and it’s my opinion that a digital file is just that, a file, but once it is entered into a Digital Asset Management system and metadata is applied, it becomes an asset because I believe it’s the metadata that gives it value.
Nancy Price: For example, if you had a system with 400,000 assets, but you didn’t have any metadata, people wouldn’t use the system because they had to page through every asset, define what they need, which isn’t very efficient. So I really do believe that metadata provides the access points to discover the assets, whether it be by brand or category or a year. And it also allows that asset to be discovered for purposes other than for which it was intended. And that will increase the value of the asset. So there’s plenty of reasons to use Digital Asset Management today and I believe that we are using it in a very efficient manner as we use it for workflow and for versioning and for managing other aspects of the system. Like when assets need to be retired or for usage rights, so we use it in a variety of ways and it is been very productive for us.
Henrik de Gyor: Nancy, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?
Nancy Price: Well, I would say that some of the successes is that when we first went into Digital Asset Management, our system was more of just a repository for digital assets with rudimentary functionality and now it’s really grown into become quite the dynamic graphical database with the ability to search, display, transform, share, download, and link assets within the system. Some of the challenges that we face are integration with other systems. For example, the ability to push assets from your DAM into your content management system or the ability to link your assets in your DAM to Adobe Creative Suite products such as InDesign. We’ve also had some challenges with vendor’s proprietary software limiting our ability to automate certain processes. We also have problems with vendors not really offering some of the features that we would like, like versioning. We had to do customization on our and have the ability to version the assets. It wasn’t something that came with our system, so there are some challenges in features that we’d like to see and have not yet been developed yet.
Henrik de Gyor: What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals to become DAM professionals?
Nancy Price: Well, you know, I have such a unique background. I really do believe that my master’s degree in library science and experience with international bibliographic standards for description access gave me a really solid understanding of the theory behind information organization and management, but I do know that an MLS degree is not very feasible for a lot of people, so my suggestion would be to seek out a course or a workshop in metadata standards for digital collections and learn about the different international metadata standards such as Dublin Core or metadata object description such as mods. The Visual Resource Association Standard, which is the VRA. Library professionals have been developing these standards for decades and we can really learn from the effort that they’ve already expelled in this area. DAM professionals can learn a lot from the metadata standards that exist today. I would also like to offer one other piece of advice is when you get that first Digital Asset Management job, the first thing you should do is locate that one source of truth for accurate data. When I started over 10 years ago, that’s the first thing I did. It took months to find it, but I did end up finding the fountain of truth and that way I know that the information that I am entering into my system is accurate. It’s correct data, and it’s coming from a reliable source. If you don’t have correct metadata in your system, users will give up on it and it ended up compromising your system and its efficiency and how it’s used. So I really, I’m a big stickler for accuracy. I also think that consistency is vital to any Digital Asset Management system. Your metadata should be well documented along with the parameters around how it’s applied. So this maintains consistency on how you will apply metadata throughout the system and throughout the years, and that is extremely helpful and especially when you’re. You try to automate processes. Consistency is key.
Henrik de Gyor: Well, thanks Nancy. For more on this, visit anotherdampodcast.com for 200 other episodes like this. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. Thanks again.
Henrik de Gyor: This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Alice Cameron. Alice, how are you?
Alice Cameron: I am doing well, Henrik. How are you?
Henrik de Gyor: Great. Alice, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Alice Cameron: So I got involved with Digital Asset Management kind of haphazardly. I did my undergraduate degree in history and couldn’t quite decide what to do with that. I had always enjoyed library and archives, so decided to transfer that into a Masters in Library and Information Science [MLIS] at Dominican University, which is out in River Forest, Illinois. And from there, I actually had really good luck in my internship and ended up interning with WFMT radio to work with their Studs Terkel radio archive. So we worked in transcribing a lot of those interviews and it really opened my eyes to the world of what librarianship meant. And then I think unlike most grad students, was very luckily offered a position at McDonald’s global headquarters the day after I graduated with their DAM system. So something that I had never really known existed turned into my career. And from there, I began my work at Northwestern University.
Alice Cameron: I currently run our Digital Asset Management system. I was brought on right before we signed with our vendor since we have over 36 marketing department alone and that’s outside of necessarily just regular schools and departments, each housing their own marketing content. It was very important that they had a centralized place where people were able to find what they needed and share what they needed, make sure it was stored properly. So it really went from the opposite that, that I am in, in global marketing, having this really incredible idea. And from there I implemented this system, I know run this system from day to day. There are a lot of different levels to have it. But my main approach and what encompasses all of it is kind of seeing the asset as a holistic life cycle and making sure that from creation to preservation we are handling the asset and the way that we should from beginning to end.
And now I’m also seeing, you know, we’re based that we can do that before the asset has even created. So, you know, when we’re scheduling photo shoots and things like that, making sure that for every step of the way, we’re doing all that we can to have it stored properly, to make sure that people are able to access what they need, to make sure that people cannot access what they’re supposed to and to use things in a way that are really going to help our brand, our help our university. So yeah, so a variety of different ways. I think as a DAM professionals see it.
Henrik de Gyor: Alice, How does a premier research university use Digital Asset Management?
Alice Cameron: So there are quite a few different ways. Really the most integral to us is, again, brand consistency. Making sure that, you know, since we do have so many different incredible institutions that we work with, having them all be able to access content immediately upon its creation and download it and use it in their marketing, in their presentations across the world. That’s really our main focus, for each of our schools, each of our departments and that encompasses all of our campuses. So since we are a universal university, we’re based in Qatar and we’re based in Evanston, in Chicago and also in San Francisco. So having a web platform where everybody can be on the same page, to make sure that our brand is being represented and the way that it should be is one of the best ways we can utilize the tool.
Henrik de Gyor: What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?
Alice Cameron: Just overall, again, I think that most people in the field can relate to it. There are again, just a lot of silos in organizations. It really needs to come from the top down. Throughout my career, I have seen it just kind of taper off though. So people are very excited about having a DAM and then the onboarding doesn’t go properly or people just kind of get stuck in workflows. It’s not necessarily anybody’s fault, but the way that DAMs are brought into any institution or organization. I think it’s really integral for that to be kind of a focus for anything to happen with it. You know you can buy a big expense system and if you don’t have anybody running it properly and you don’t have your employees or staff, they don’t have the ability to access things that they need to.
It’s not going to be used and it’s just kind of going to be another system that they have that they pay for that that doesn’t necessarily work for them. I think with that as well, having the professionals in the field, DAM is, in a lot of ways, it’s very old and it’s very new. So having people that have the right skill set is vital. I’ve been really, really fortunate to be able to partner with two different ALA-accredited library schools, graduate schools and to use their incredible students to help us with our system and to also kind of open up conversations with other organizations who need a DAM Professional. You know, there’s no real like here’s a website, go to here’s a here’s a degree that I can take. Things are popping up definitely, but there’s not kind of a, a strong group that is mandating or showing, you know, these are the necessary qualifications.
As I said earlier, kind of coming into this with a, with a library background, I didn’t know DAM existed, you know, I didn’t really realize what my degree would lead me to and when I look at it now, Oh wow, you know, this Masters in Library and Information Sciences [MLIS] is really a Masters in DAM for me. They’re all focusing now on, on metadata and taxonomy and all of these very integral things. And at the end of the day it’s so much about storing, preserving, getting access to information that’s really the highlight of librarianship, of being an archivist and also being a DAM professional. So I think just seeing kind of the crossover since so many people come into the field in different ways. A lot of photographers. Graphic designers. It really kind of fans all over the place. But I think the lack of having, you know, like kind of a central professional organization that can say, “Hey, look, here are the necessary qualifications for these people that you’ll want” can be definitely hard to overcome.
And it also makes it harder to explain to people what kind of, what we do when it’s often people are hired for a specific job and it ends up becoming something that DAM is the project, but then they are pulled into a lot of different directions and the DAM often loses its integrity and its usefulness. So I think it gets better explaining what the field requires of people is very important and I’d like to see that grow again. I’ve been able to do that, you know, with the students and connecting them with different groups. I know like Henry Stewart DAM, things like that are really great ways to kind of promote what will we do and show people how useful and you know, cost-effective it really is to have everything in one place. But yeah, I think that the struggle is really kind of the onboarding and also again, just showing people what it is that we do.
Henrik de Gyor: And what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and become aspiring DAM professionals?
Alice Cameron: I would definitely say not to plug librarianship too much, but a lot of these schools are transferring their program, the names like iSchool, you know, information school, because there is so much data out there and we need to figure out what to do with all of it. So my advice would be get a Masters in Library and Information Science and focus in on DAM. Then come and take a practicum or do an internship. I do think that that’s really useful. Also trying to find places to learn more from other professionals. So much of this is networking and talking to others in the field about what they do. I’m very lucky again to work at an incredible university that gives me the opportunity to talk to other professionals at other universities who are doing the same thing and we’re able to see what missteps are there. What can we do better? What areas are you working in that maybe we’re not utilizing that or not leveraging? So definitely for people who want to become DAM professionals, I would say just doing the research and finding out what I needed and also seeing things from, again, this kind of much higher level perspective of, you know, not getting stuck in editing metadata and things like that that are, that are very necessary and it’s so important, but seeing kind of the longterm goal of what we’re hoping to do with assets is vitally important.
Henrik de Gyor: Thanks Alice
Alice Cameron: You’re very welcome.
Henrik de Gyor: For more on this, visit anotherdampodcast.com for another 200 episodes and transcripts of the interviews. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again.
Henrik de Gyor: This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today, I’m speaking with Dan Rosenberg.
Dan, how are you?
Dan Rosenberg: I’m doing well, Henrik. How are you today?
Henrik de Gyor: Dan, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Dan Rosenberg: Well, my first job out of college was I started actually in the tape library at WWE in Stamford, Connecticut. Through some twists and turns, I took on some side projects and ended up digitizing edited shows from tape, wrapping them with metadata, and sending them out to cable and satellite companies for WWE 24/7, which, at the time, was one of the most expensive video on demand [VOD] services. Through the success of that platform, this encouraged WWE to embark on a massive digitization project and make its entire 100,000-hour tape library accessible to hundreds of producers and editors all on a searchable database.
I eventually got to take on the number-two position in WWE’s new Digital Asset Management Department and eventually head my own team, which was in charge of archives and restore operations, digital delivery, disaster recovery, storage management. We eventually ended up supporting and building out a system. We educated the users, we trained them, and this eventually made it possible for WWE to launch its own OTT network, which combined a 24-hour live stream with an incredibly rich on-demand anthology which was accessible through almost any device. The other major win that we got out of that was that every ingested video asset would get a low-res proxy, which could be viewed and edited by the low-res … excuse me, by the live show production teams prior to retrieval. This ability to have full resolution assets restored very quickly from the LTO library and dynamically relinked to sequences was a major leap forward for WWE and the quick-turn demands during the weekly live shows where historical events are constantly referenced and storyline changes occur at the drop of a hat.
A lot of these offerings and workflows are much more commonplace today, but WWE always seemed to be ahead of the curve when it comes to video. I was very fortunate to be there for nine years actually, starting in 2005, working with some of the best mentors and teammates imaginable. We grew the department from two of us to start to nearly 30 by the time I left. This was just an exceptional learning experience which allowed me to be prepared when the opportunity arose to start a team here at Time Inc., where I’ve been since 2014.
Henrik de Gyor: Dan, how does one of the largest media publishers use Digital Asset Management?
Dan Rosenberg: Well, people all over the world are familiar with the Time Inc. titles, or brands as we call them, like Time and People, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, Essence, to name a few. Time Inc. has really spent the last several years redefining its image and the space it occupies in the mediascape. While we still maintain the outstanding print journalism and photography, which has been the hallmark of the company for nearly a century, we’re seeing the most explosive growth in the video realm. When I was hired three years ago, the brand teams were already turning out content at a breakneck pace, everything from quick news hits to digital features accompanying the articles on our ONO website to long-form documentary series, such as the massively successful Year in Space, which we’ve had many iterations of over the last year. Time Inc. has really been able to serve a varied audience with its varied titles. We have Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, Southern Living, People en Espanol. Everywhere there’s an incredible demand for video, the company can be there.
The major challenge that we’ve dealt with as we’re growing faster than the technology in place could keep up … So when I started here, the 80 or so people on the video staff, not all were connected to central storage. The only archives we had were external hard drives of varying sizes, which were mostly stored in producers’ desk drawers, which is not exactly secure. There was no searchability or rich metadata attached to any of these video assets, so there was no way to know what reservoirs of content were being left untapped. We began a process where we would talk to similar-size video outlets with comparable output to see how they were using asset management systems to both store content and standardize workflows across the internal teams and external distribution based on media type.
After some site visits, proof of concepts, and extensive customization, we began to beta test our new video MAM system with some of our most skilled editorial team members and really let them kick the crap out of it. Then we simultaneously began populating our system with as many current and legacy assets as we had the bandwidth at our small team at the time to process, ’cause no one is really going to see the user value of an empty system. So we wanted to have as much available to the users as possible when it came time to do a general onboarding so we could say, “Hey, look at all this great video you can search for and use right away,” which was brand new for everybody here.
So the video staff, which was 80 3 years ago, it’s now over 300. We have 150 editors across about 25 of our flagship brands who are using our man every day. They access it and help us grow the archive. Through that, we’ve been able to support the teams that have gotten the company up to a billion monthly streams across our onsites. Company launched the People TV OTT platform, and just this week, we launched our Sports Illustrated OTT subscription VOD service. We rely heavily on the feedback from everybody, really across the board, to tell us what’s working and what’s not and also to champion the implementation of our metadata schemas, taxonomy, disaster recovery procedures, all these things that people don’t necessarily think about on a daily basis unless you’re in our field. It’s all really a lot of work for all the teams that are involved. It’s also really a lot of fun working with such a diverse group of people and content and for one of the most historically significant media companies around.
Henrik de Gyor: Dan, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?
Dan Rosenberg: Well, certainly lots of challenges. It can be tough not to feel overwhelmed by the vast quantity of incoming content every day, and all of it needs to be attended to one way or another. Not only is new media coming out of, constantly, from our NYC-based teams but we have producers and studios in every timezone across the country and contributors sending clips from really all over the world. And then we have the seemingly endless set of legacy content in which the metadata is inconsistent at best. Sometimes you get lucky and the producers have been great about standardizing naming conventions and keeping meticulous notes or spreadsheets. A lot of other times, it can just be, “Here, take this. I have no idea what’s on it. Have a good time.”
From a metadata standpoint, when it comes to challenges, you don’t really want to reinvent the wheel where you don’t have to. If you try stick with what’s already in place or what the users are familiar with to help increase adoption of new policy and just really help them feel comfortable. At Time Inc., we have such a vast photo and print archive that we at least had a jumping-off point to work with and some people here who have been here a while to really collaborate with. But so much of what we do in the video space is unique, and we have a branded and native content. We have a TV division that just released the Princess Diana documentary this past summer. So we all just have to work collaboratively and make the best decisions we can with the information available to us.
In terms of video-specific challenges, the technology, the cameras, the formats, it all changes what seems like every day. Producers are always going to want the latest and greatest so their videos look as good as possible. But we might not necessarily have the workflows in place to handle what just came out a week ago. So it’s important to keep the lines of communication with them open, manage their expectations, and have some approved workarounds in place if production demands actually denote using 8K or 16K or whatever is next down the pipe.
So for successes, it really seems like companies of all sizes have jumped into the digital space with two feet. They’re now coming up for air and realizing how seriously they have to take [digital] asset management or they’ll lose everything they’ve spent so much time and money investing in. I think there’s significantly more investment in technology but more importantly, the personnel around Digital Asset Management, and I think the return on investment for implementing comprehensive systems and having them run by motivated and driven people is nearly limitless. I’m also very encouraged with all the camaraderie I’m seeing in terms of digital asset professionals sharing their stories, networking, attending workshops and conferences, and of course, listening to informative podcasts like this. I think just the field is full of people who love what they do and really enjoy helping each other out and brainstorming solutions. It’s really energizing. It makes it fun to not only come to work every day but to be involved in the space.
Henrik de Gyor: Dan, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Dan Rosenberg: I think the most important thing is to understand that there’s no magic product that’s going to solve all your problems. There’s never going to be one solution to anything, so it’s crucial to do your research. One file that goes into our system hits at least six different pieces of technology from six different vendors during its life cycle, and getting everything to play nice isn’t always easy. You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel or do it all yourself to prove how smart you are. Chances are there’s a handful of people out there, whether internally or externally, who have seen a similar challenge and often they’re happy to help you out. So don’t be afraid to reach out to people within your network.
Also, I think it’s important to try to take in as much information as you can, document it, because in Digital Asset Management, we are the record keepers and people expect us to know where all the bodies are buried. So work in collaboration with your content teams, get involved as early as you can in their processes so you can understand them and help guide them. I’ve really found that 20 minutes on the front end of a project can save you days or weeks on the back end of trying to decipher what happened.
Some days it feels overwhelming, but you should have confidence in your methods and understand that everybody makes mistakes but what’s important is to learn and improve and refine. I also think it’s important to think like the clients or users and have their processes in mind. How are they creating things? How are they searching for things? How will they try and game the system if you let them? Everybody should be acting like teammates and working towards the same goals of putting the best products out there, but each segment of the business starts in a different place with different marching orders, so just getting everybody to understand asset management is the hub of where creation, innovation, distribution, and IT all come together. If you take the role seriously and have some fun, the people around you will too.