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Another DAM Podcast interview with James Chan on Digital Asset Management

 

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • Why would an organization focused around Architecture and Planning use Digital Asset Management?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM Professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?

Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor: [0:00] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with James Chan. James,
how are you?
James Chan: [0:08] I’m great. I’m very good. How are you?
Henrik: [0:11] Good. James, how are you involved with Digital Asset
Management?
James: [0:17] Firstly, I can tell you very quickly about what we do here at the
studio. We’re an architectural visualization studio. Very quickly, what that means
is that we create photorealistic images of architecture before it gets built. My
role in that is that I help the artists to produce their renderings. What happens
is that the artist will get a 3D model and do their wizardry on it, their 3D
thing, and render out a 2D image of the building. [0:46] That’s when the things
I do come into play. What they do then is, with the render, they bring it into
Photoshop and add 2D assets into that. Assets could be photographs of trees,
people, plants, you name it. Whatever you need to do in order to make the
image look photorealistic. Sometimes it’s a whole image, like a photograph of
the site where the building’s going to go, and they literally just drop the building
into that photograph.
[1:17] Other times, it’s a complete render. What they do then is just add elements,
like people and trees, into the image. What I do is I have to maintain a
library of these images, of these assets. It’s a quite crucial role within the studio.
Because time is money. To be able to produce high quality illustrations or
images that you need to be able to find exactly what you need and be able to
put it into the image straight away.
[1:43] The artist doesn’t want to waste their time looking for things. They just
want to do a quick keyword search, browse a folder or whatnot, within the asset
management system, and find exactly what they want straight away. Quite
often, we get some artists who work with other studios. They come in here, start
fresh and are absolutely overjoyed that they have a really nicely organized and
curated library of images they can just dig into and get what they need.
Henrik: [2:07] Why does an organization focused on architecture and planning
use Digital Asset Management, beyond what you just said?
James: [2:13] Architecture is a very visual discipline. Historically, designs for
buildings have started off as sketches. Even current buildings, such as Renzo
Piano’s The Shard of Glass which is a great big building being built in London.
It’s a very striking building. It is literally a shard of glass going into the sky. That
started out as a sketch on a napkin.

[2:36] From then, it was put into a CAD drawing. Then, we produced a photorealistic rendering from that. With architecture, they really do communicate in images. I know that in dedicated, proper architectural firms, they use asset management systems. Because that’s how they communicate with each other. They have drawings. They have site photography.

[2:57] They have model shots of models they made themselves. Architecture is
awash with images. It’s crucial for an architectural firm to be able to organize
all their images very effectively. For planning, they use images as well. But it’s
more of a 3D thing. They use a lot of 3D techniques to do their work. But again,
you have to find the images first. It’s really just about finding your images. If you
can’t find them, we all know, it’s not going to be much good to anyone.
[3:33] The artists are fantastic at producing great renderings and 3D files. But
they’re terrible when it comes to the metadata. That’s where I come in. If you
don’t have good metadata, it’s going to be a nightmare to find anything. I provide
the structure and then I also provide the oversight, to make sure things are
keyworded properly and named correctly and organized in a way that makes it
very easy to find it.
[3:57] Architects often are very creative people. Quite often, organization isn’t
necessarily part of the creative process. I know a lot of architects are very well
organized. But it’s quite common for them to lose their images and to have to
come back to us, to say, “We need those images you rendered for us three
years ago,” or whatever. “Because we’re going to have to make some amendments
to it.” Or, “Planning has come around again. We can’t find them anywhere.
Please send them to us.”
[4:24] We really are able to find the images in moments. Whenever we can do
that and we send it to them, they’re overjoyed. They can’t believe how quickly
we can pull out even ancient photographs in moments. It really does help our
client relations.
Henrik: [4:41] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
James: [4:45] With the DAM professionals, the two main things I’ve been thinking
about is, understand the users and understand the business needs and
problems. Because Digital Asset Management is really just about problem solving.
You have to understand the problem that exists. Quite often, people don’t
realize that there is a problem or that there’s a better way of doing things. Think
about how to make it as easy as possible.

[5:11] You do that by understanding everything about the business and how people interact with their assets. Also, once you understand that, you need to understand the technology. Once you have a good understanding of the technology, you can come up with solutions, creative solutions. It’s like Photoshop. The more you know about how to use Photoshop, the more ways you can fix a certain problem. You can do the same thing, address the same problem, in Photoshop, in one way, but in many different ways.

[5:47] In an individual situation, you might need a different technique. That’s the
same for Digital Asset Management, the same for metadata. You have to know
your technology inside out, in order to get the most out of it. There are my two
tips for the DAM professional. Also, another thing is, always look for the most
simple and elegant solution. That’s really hard to do. It’s easy to make a very
complicated solution to a problem.
[6:14] Anyone can do that. [laughs] It’s trying to find the most simple, elegant
solution that, when you actually come up with it, you wonder why you haven’t
come up with that 10 days before, or a month before, or a year before. When
you have that kind of a solution, that’s when you know you’ve hit on the gold
dust. Gold dust is simplicity in all Digital Asset Management things. Anything
that makes things more complicated, more time consuming, takes more time to
teach someone, then you really have to go back to the drawing board. Because
it’s a waste of effort.
[6:46] The effort should always go into finding the most simple, elegant solutions.
As for people who want to become Digital Asset Managers, how I came
into it was that I was working in a sports photography agency. We’d be processing,
in a team of 10 people, a thousand images or so. Whether it be live images,
coming in live from the football field, or taking the orders from the photographers,
when they have a couple of hundred photographers coming through.
[7:17] The way the images would flow from the photographer, through the production
department, into the archive and onto the website got me thinking
about workflow. That got me thinking onto Digital Asset Management. That’s
where I found Peter Krogh’s book. I can’t pronounce his surname.
Henrik: [7:34] Peter Krogh, yeah.
James: [7:36] That’s the one, The DAM Book. I found that book. That really
inspired me to look more and more into things. That’s how I got my current job.
I found problems which I found interesting. I wanted to find solutions to that. I
did some research. I discovered a whole field called Digital Asset Management.
It’s still a very young field. I got to where I am now just by being inquisitive and
trying to understand the problems other people or organizations might have
and try to think of ways I could solve them for them.

[8:09] Luckily, I found this job here at the studio where they literally did advertise the job as a job for a Digital Asset Manager. That was certainly easy for me to find this place. It was
a very nice fit. I went straight in there. I said some few key things, which were
metadata, control vocabulary, Digital Asset Management systems. I mentioned
a few blogs or a few people who talk about Digital Asset Management. I got the
job within the first 10 minutes.
[8:36] They’d been advertising the job for more than two months, and interviewed
over 30 or so people. I was the only person that actually understood the
job. It was a bit of a no-brainer for them, and it was a no-brainer for me. It was a
perfect match. To anyone who wants to become a Digital Asset Manager, they
have to do the research. Understand that you need to be a problem solver and
come up with creative solutions to problems.
[9:04] Also, I view my role as being a communicator between the technical side
of things and of the creative side of things. Often, the end users of Digital Asset
Management systems are creative people. Sometimes they don’t understand
technical things. So you really do need to be able to have the ability to translate
technical things into lay person speak. On that note, don’t worry if you come
across, for example on Twitter, I see a lot of people talking about pretty technical
things, things that go over the top of my head.
[9:40] It got me a little bit bothered, to think that maybe I’m at a very low level in
my career. But I got over that very quickly because I realized that you don’t need
to be an IT professional to work in Digital Asset Management. You just have to
know how the software works and can always learn. It’s a process of learning.
That’s why you have IT departments. [laughs] That’s why you have people who
are IT professionals.
[10:06] They don’t necessarily understand how the software or the technology
would work for the end user. That’s where you come in. You need to be the
translator between the IT professionals and the end users. Once you understand
how that works, you can find yourself in a very rewarding career. That’s
that. That’s me. That’s my rant. [laughs]
Henrik: [10:23] Excellent. Thanks, James. For more on this and other
Digital Asset Management topics, log onto AnotherDAMblog.com.
Another DAM Podcast is available on Audioboom, Blubrry, iTunes and the Tech
Podcast Network. Thanks again.

 


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Another DAM Podcast interview with Tracy Guza on Digital Asset Management

 

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • What are the biggest challenges for dealing with creative assets in a DAM system?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM Professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?

Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor: [0:02] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Tracy Guza. Tracy,
how are you?
Tracy Guza: [0:11] I’m very good. How are you?
Henrik: [0:12] Good. Tracy, how are you involved with Digital Asset
Management?
Tracy: [0:16] Currently I work at Corbis. Corbis Images is a stock photo and
various other creative types of format company, and I am part of a small internal
team in editorial photography that creates custom content for a client of ours. I
manage their Digital Asset Management system.
Henrik: [0:41] What are the biggest challenges for dealing with creative assets
in a Digital Asset Management system?
Tracy: [0:45] Well, currently my challenges are somewhat different than previously.
I have worked in Digital Asset Management for some time at a variety
of advertising agencies. I’m pretty used to creative users and how they search.
One of the things I’ve found, over the years, is that the way that a library or
information professional might consider keywording items is not necessarily
the way that an art director or a designer would search for the items. [1:20] It’s
really helpful, as in any case, to do some kind of user analysis to figure out and
to know your clientele, to figure out how your user base is searching for things.
And how to intuitively keyword things and create a vocabulary that’s tailored to
the users, more so than a 100 percent kosher library science management thesaurus
or vocabulary. While structure is lovely and consistency is great and one
of the reasons that a vocabulary is important, that vocabulary can be flexible
and it can be tailored to your users.
[1:57] One of the other huge issues that comes up a lot in creative agencies
is the licensing and rights associated with different creative assets. Whether
they’re images, video clips or audio clips. Usually, especially with stock images,
when an image is purchased, it is purchased for a particular usage if it’s a rights
managed image. That usage can be very specific. It can be something as specific
as, “We’re buying this image once, for three months, for 10 publications in
North America, with a print run up to a million.”
[2:34] If that is not communicated jointly, with the asset, in a way that users can
see and notice, there can be some legal ramifications and infringement can
occur. One of the things that’s important is to look at whatever DAM system is
being used and figure out how you can best flag images or assets that have particular
restrictions. Is there a way to create permissions only for certain users?
[3:04] Is there a way to create an HTML popup that wants people that, “Hey, this
image has some particular restrictions to it. If you’re not using it for X, Y and Z,
you shouldn’t be using it.” Because generally, the users, especially in a creative
agency, aren’t legal professionals. Nor do they have regular access to legal
professionals. But they can get a company in a lot of trouble by using things that
they’re not supposed to use.
[3:35] Often times, especially in the stock industry, the fees for infringing on use
or using something that you haven’t licensed properly, are much higher than
the costs for just licensing the image properly and using it correctly. That’s a
big thing.
Henrik: [3:52] So rights management and permissions management, as far
as licensing and permissions for the use of any asset. That’s a very key thing
to reduce liability as much as possible, as far as appropriate use of assets.
Great point.
Tracy: [4:07] Yes. And what can be challenging is not only educating the users
that licensing restrictions exist. But also helping them, by using the system to
the best of your ability to make it easy for them to discover what the rights are
that are associated with the asset. It shouldn’t be hidden in 64 metadata fields.
It should be easy for them to find out.
Henrik: [4:30] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Tracy: [4:34] It’s interesting. The way that I got into this, originally, was working
at a particular advertising agency. I was doing a lot of project management and
production kinds of things. I was very familiar with the clients and with the workflow
in creative services. So I was asked to do, as a consultant, a freelance project
to organize all of the client assets at the agency. At that time, the workflow
was changing. [5:04] It was right when you were able to buy like four terabytes of
storage really cheap. Suddenly, everybody could use super huge, high-resolution
images.
[5:24] So we had literally file cabinets full of CDs. This is how crazy it was.
Where those images were the high-resolution images that corresponded to the
low-resolution images on the server. No one [laughs] had any way to match anything
up or find anything.
[5:42] So the company purchased a very basic DAM product, and I was asked
to actually put everything in there for the first time. It changed our workflow. It
changed how people needed to use things. I realized at the time, this was about
six or seven years ago, how much I still needed to know.
[6:03] I created a vocabulary on the fly and realized that I needed to know a lot
more about metadata and tried to figure out ways to customize the search fields
and so forth so that we could get a prompt when an image license was about
to expire and stuff like that. I was a little over my head, so what I did was I went
back to library [laughs] school.
[6:27] I got an MLIS , and I found that that program really helped to fill out for me
all of my questions about different kinds of technology, backend database programming
stuff as well as the very basics of SRS [?] vocabulary development and
a lot about metadata. So my advice is not only to network, which is a wonderful
thing, but also to figure out what kind of additional education you may need.
[6:57] There’s something to be said for being in an organization and realizing
that maybe you have the aptitude to organize their assets. There’s another thing
to be said for making sure that you actually can back that up a little bit with
some tangible courses, workshops, or whatever form they take. It really helped
me to formalize the way that I think about how I work on DAM now.
[7:24] That’s my advice, and it seems to be a very much growing field as the
amount of digital assets grows. Certainly companies finally realize the value in
retrieval and the cost effectiveness of allowing people self-service access to
DAM systems. There’s more and more of a need for DAM professionals.
Henrik: [7:43] Very true. Did you want to share your blog with the audience
as well?
Tracy: [7:48] Oh, I would love to. It’s modlibrarian.posterous.comhttps://modlibrarian.wordpress.com/
Henrik: [7:55] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics log
onto AnotherDAMblog.com. Another DAM Podcast is available on Audioboom,
Blubrry, iTunes and the Tech Podcast Network. Thanks again.

 


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Another DAM Podcast interview with David Fuda on Digital Asset Management

 

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • How does an organization focused on furniture use Digital Asset Management?
  • Tell me about your title.
  • What advice would you like to provide vendors when trying to approach and sell to a potential client?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

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 Darth, Lord of the
DAM. I mean, David Fuda.
David [0:12] , how are you?
David Fuda: [0:13] Very good this morning, how are you?
Henrik: [0:15] Good. David, how are you involved with Digital Asset
Management?
David: [0:19] I’m Digital Asset Manager for Ethan Allen Global. Ethan Allen is a
home furnishings company. We’re based in Connecticut. It’s a worldwide operation.
Out of our headquarters area is where the Digital Asset Management
system is based.
Henrik: [0:34] David, how does an organization focused on furniture use Digital
Asset Management?
David: [0:40] Many ways. Its key function right now is in the Style and
Advertising Departments. Digital photography was introduced in Ethan Allen
about three, four years ago. At the time, we realized, suddenly the volume of
images that was being photographed went up 10fold over what it was in film.
We had to get a handle on the amount of images that were being done. [1:07]
Digital Asset Management is what we needed to wrangle in what turned in from
a year’s shooting of 10,000 images to 100, 000 images.
Henrik: [1:14] Wow.
David: [1:15] Yes. At the time I was Senior Staff Photographer. I had been so
with Ethan Allen for 11 years. When they started talking about Digital Asset
Management, it peaked my interest as some type of field that would be something
new, and exciting and different, and definitely growing. So, I took on the
position as Digital Asset Manager. [1:36] I found one of the most useful ways,
once the DAM was up and running, was its ability to allow users and groups
that before had no access to print or web ready artwork, for instance, our PR
Department, Training Department, Merchandising Department.
[1:55] Before, if they had the need for a print or web ready image, they would
have to open a job ticket with Production, and go through a process of asking
them. Say, for instance, there was a particular sofa that a print magazine required
a shot of in the living room. It could start to involve two, three people to
look for a particular image.
[2:17] Nowadays, the PR individual can jump right into the DAM, do a search,
and find a multitude of room images featuring a particular sofa that was required
to be seen. They can draw their own print or web rendition right from
the DAM, and not involve the production department. It’s very quick, very easy.
They simply love it.
Henrik: [2:37] That’s a great example of self-service.
David: [2:39] Yes, it is. It’s a wonderful thing.
Henrik: [2:42] Tell me about your title.
David: [2:45] I came up with the title Darth, Lord of the DAM, because at the
time
when the DAM was introduced, it was a totally new concept, at least to
Ethan Allen and all the departments. No one was really certain what a DAM
was. To make people look up from their desk and their daily task, when I would
walk into someone’s office and introduce myself, as opposed to Digital Asset
Manager, Darth Lord of the DAM, seemed to really make them look away from
their computer desktop and, “What? Excuse me, who are you?” [laughs] [3:18] It
was a nickname I chose to make people notice there was something new on the
block, and it happened to be the DAM.
Henrik: [3:27] What advice would you like to give to vendors when trying to
approach and sell to potential clients?
David: [3:33] I would like to say, as far as the vendors go, when approaching
a client, I noticed a couple of things that seemed to be a constant as we were
looking at different DAM systems offered by different vendors. They came in
with a preset presentation, a PowerPoint or whatever the case may be, of what
they envisioned a typical user might be for their product. [4:00] I’ve come to
learn that users for the DAM are as varied as the clients are. They would make
a presentation with, “OK , Ethan Allen’s in photography, they make a magazine.
Let’s show them something like a fashion magazine.” It was completely unrelated
to how we would use the DAM.
[4:18] I think it would be best if the vendor took some elements that a potential
client may be using as assets in their DAM, then mocked up some type
of, “This is what your DAM could look like,” as opposed to presenting something
generic.
[4:36] Of course on the other hand, looking back, hindsight, Ethan Allen could
have presented each vendor with a collection of images, mockups, and magazines,
saying “These are the type of assets we would be putting in a DAM. Show
us how we can make them relate.” So, a little advice for both.
[4:57] I had one particular vendor who had that had a very fine looking product,
we were very impressed with the user interface. It seemed like something that
was really designed more towards images, rather than documents, and really
wanted to succeed.
[5:12] But they failed, not once, but twice in the presentation. They insisted on
having a presentation given to us via remote desktop. Both times the remote
desktop connection failed. It’s kind of hard to sell a product to people holding
the checkbook on something that won’t function. We had to pass on them.
[5:33] From the buyer end, if I could offer a little advice. Not only in presenting
particular types of assets to them to make a mockup for you, I’d also like to
suggest to any particular buyer to go ahead and look at the vendors’ service
department. Once the DAM is installed, the techs at the their customer service
are going to be your best friends for many months to come.
[6:02] We were fortunate, the product we chose, the tech support is outstanding.
I would suggest, possibly, if you’re in the market for a DAM, look at a
vendor, ask to talk to probably one or two if you could, of their users. Talk directly
to their IT department, if possible.
Henrik: [6:24] You mean the customer facing technical people?
David: [6:28] Yes, definitely.
Henrik: [6:29] From the vendor? As well as the customer service under
their VSLA?
David: [6:38] Yes, because if you’re not familiar with a DAM at all and once you
install it, it’s a big piece of software. It’s going to be something intimidating to
some people, some of your users. Other users are going to dive right in and
love it. [6:52] Also a piece of advice to buyers, once you purchase the DAM,
it’s not going to be set and you can walk away from it. Your DAM will always
be morphing, changing as new groups are added. As the needs of your users
expand, there’s going to be meta fields constantly be added. Others that are
now irrelevant, you might as well pull.
[7:16] The DAM’s never, “Build it and there it is and walk away.” It’s going to
be
changing with your business needs. As far as that goes, our particular DAM
software, speaking of morphing, it’s only been installed three, four years. We’re
going to be facing an issue, coming up, with its compatibility with web browsers.
Most of our users are using a web based client.
[7:48] Regrettably, the version of our DAM software is already a version or two
old, being only four years old. It’s no longer updated and supported. Well, it is
supported, but it’s no longer updated to match and function with new, current
browsers coming out.
Henrik: [8:11] Hmm. There’s a lot of them.
David: [8:12] Yep, it’s all of them. Any new machines we install, or OS upgrades
that are done to users’ computers, all have to be backstepped with the browsers
to make sure they function with the DAM.
Henrik: [8:25] Hopefully they can support that by supporting back versions and
updating, as you suggested.
David: [8:32] Yeah, it would be nice. I suspect there are many customers of
there that are out there with a back version like we have.
Henrik: [8:40] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals.
David: [8:45] As far as aspiring to be DAM professional, I can relate Ethan
Allen’s experience with it. When our exploratory committee was first looking
into software and the idea of building a DAM, they thought it was more important
to have an individual that knew the company, knew the departments
that would be involved in the DAM, being Photo Studio, Style Department,
Production Departments are the three key departments, and someone who
Another D 174 AM Podcast Transcribed
knew the product and the business model of the company. [9:18] So, as opposed
to looking for someone with the tech experience, they looked inside. I
seemed to fit the bill, they offered the position to me. I had been with the company
10, 11 years at the time. I went for it because of my knowledge of the individuals
that would be introduced to this new software, the DAM, how it would
be deployed, and its needs would be to meet our requirements as a company.
[9:47] I think it was a good choice on their part to choose from within, someone
who knew their business model, as opposed to someone who was formally
trained in the DAM aspect and introducing them to the company.
[9:59] It may be a good piece of advice to the company to look for their DAM
administrator, or the Lord of the DAM from within, as opposed from without,
because that individual may be with your company already.
[10:09] In addition, I’d like to offer a piece of advice that didn’t handicap us,
but it was an error on our part when we first started investigating a DAM. The
exploratory committee looked at the DAM as a piece of software that would
be used by the members of the departments, again the Style Department,
Photo Studio.
[10:34] They didn’t realize just how intertwined the software of the DAM would
be with the servers. The IT department wasn’t consulted until the project was
well underway. It was simply because of our unfamiliarity with the DAM, and not
realizing that it was such a database and application driven piece of software,
completely based on the servers.
[11:05] So, for anyone looking for a DAM, bring your IT boys right to the
first meeting.
Henrik: [11:09] Thanks David.
David: [11:10] OK .
Henrik: [11:12] For more on Digital Asset Management log onto
AnotherDAMblog.com. [11:16] Another DAM Podcast is available on Audioboom,
Blubrry, iTunes, and Tech Podcast Network. Thanks again.

 


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