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Another DAM Podcast interview with Mark Leslie on Digital Asset Management

Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor: This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor.

Today, I’m speaking with Mark Leslie.

Mark, how are you?

Mark Leslie: I’m wonderful. How about yourself, how are you doing today?

Henrik de Gyor: Great. Mark, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Mark Leslie: I’ve been in the graphic design space for just a little bit over 20 years now. And I go all the way back to when working even in a small design shop or an ad agency, how you would complete a project and things would get archived of onto a floppy or a zip disk, and you wanted to be able to locate those things after the fact. So building some kind of an index or having some kind of a cataloging program where at least you could find things that were offline was very important. Just as things have progressed in my career, and I’ve worked in larger volume environments, that DAM has become more and more important. That’s what DAM is all about right?

Find what you’re looking for, find the exact file at the right time, and the longer we go and the more digital anything that we have, the more important it is to be able to put your finger directly on something. Another thing that I’ve done in the last couple of years with DAM is being more involved in the community itself where I’ve been a speaker, a presenter a couple of times for Henry Stewart. DAM is an excellent opportunity, especially for companies that are looking at a challenge that they are not sure how to solve, it’s a great place to start. And I’ve also spoken and done a case study presentation at Adobe Summit this past spring. Just writing articles, and blog posts and spending a lot of time thinking about what this space can do, where we are right now, and what’s coming next.

Henrik de Gyor: Mark, how does one of the largest sportswear manufacturers use Digital Asset Management?

Mark Leslie: Well basically our company was responsible for apparel and headwear. A lot of it was for what we call licensed properties or a professional sport. So it’s things worn by the fans to celebrate their teams. And even at times, authentic apparel worn on the field. The way our DAM was used is basically as a collaboration platform throughout our product creation process, end to end. It basically sorts out into two large buckets. On one side you have the kind of technical specification documents that drive our manufacturing processes, and on the other side you have product photography. So all these things that get provided to retail partners and business to business that allow demand creation, and we literally would see it on a retailer’s website or in a print ad.

So we’re basically looking at that in a way, kind of almost like a closed circuit TV. It’s not necessarily driving any kind of public visibility, it does downstream of us, but we’re providing all that content and generating all that content so that it can be used to drive a couple of processes. I’ll tell you one of the things about DAM that we picked up early on in my time with the company that was actually a great side effect of DAM. For one professional sports league, we were putting together presentation boards that would serve a couple of purposes. One would be to take any given style and show for that product season what it would look like in all teams, and then we would have another type of presentation that would say, “For this team,” these are all the styles that are offered in the season and how they would all look together as a collection.

And we were new to our DAM implementation at that time, this was many years ago. There was something about that process, which by the way was entirely manual. So we were taking images from DAM and placing them into a document, and doing this by hand, things would be stable, and it would be great, and you’d come back maybe a week or two later and something about the way those images were being placed that it just wasn’t being honored. So we ended up having to recreate those documents several times during that season. It didn’t affect our ability to deliver. We still hit all of our deadlines, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking, “There’s got to be a better way.” So as a result coming out of that, we did internal development for automation tools and client-side automation that was able to eventually assist creation of all of those technical documents that go out to the factories. It was able to populate pages and catalogs that we used for our sales and marketing materials, and all those things are very, very embedded in the environment.

It’s something that when you’re working at scale, you worry about how long something takes, even if it’s just a short amount of time, you’re doing it a lot of times. And when you do something a lot, is there a way to not have to do it manually? And that was a great learning coming out of having a very powerful DAM at our disposal. I’ll give you an example of some of things that we in addition to the product photography and the technical specification documents that we save in the DAM, we also, because we’re dealing with professional sports leagues and teams, we have a lot of partner identity or logo information that’s stored in there as well. That’s used by all of the design and production teams to go through, pull out what they need as a raw material or a source image to start a design or to complete work on a design.

So there’s a lot of that information stored in there as well. And to put some numbers around things, if you think just in terms of the product photography, every week there’s something between 2500 and 4500 new product photos generated that all come into the DAM, need to have the proper meta-data associated with them, they need to be reviewed and approved and be pushed off to where they can be published and available to our downstream audience, to our retail partners. So a lot of files moving through that system. And if it wasn’t for DAM I just don’t know at that volume how we would be able to accomplish what we do.

Henrik de Gyor: What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Mark Leslie: I think one of the biggest challenges is looking at DAM … let’s say that you’ve got an established platform and you know what your capabilities are, there will come the time where your challenged with … the DAM will enable us to do, say fill in the blank, this example. And what that may require is some kind of sweeping change in the way that the business process is conducted or at least just the way that steps the order that work is done. Sometimes it can eliminate steps, it can eliminate several steps in a process. You might actually even be able to automate a large chunk of the work. But it’s being able to raise that awareness and to get the business to commit to the significant change that might have to happen in order to get that payback on the other side.

And just that human element of being able to walk everybody through that landscape and help them to understand. Another thing that’s a challenge is being able to look at the type of assets that are generated throughout a full life cycle of something. Let me step back and talk about full lifecycle. There is an originally an idea for something that’s going to be eventually created as an asset. Someone somewhere says, “You know what I need? I need a visual that is,” again fill in the blank. Somebody writes a creative brief, there is a marketing plan, whatever it is, something creates the need for an asset. Assets just don’t show up on their own. Somebody asked for it, there was a need, there was an ask.

So from the moment that that work begins on that asset, it’s life cycle has started. And all the way out the point where it gets used for the last time, those are the two goal posts. And in between that is the full life cycle of the asset. The temptation can be a lot of times for a business process to combine several things together into a document and you end up with maybe the need later to try to extract things back out of that document because you need just this piece or just this element. And you can actually stop that from being a problem if you go back and say, “What are the kind of things that typically we might extract now, and is there a way to save that as a component or an element so that I could just pull that up on-demand?” And even better, it’s not me pulling it up on-demand, it’s an automated process pulling that up on demand and providing it for whatever the appropriate situation is. As far as a success with DAM.

There was a period here a couple years back where we had been in a previous DAM platform for many years. The need had come to modernize. So we went through the process of evaluating what was available in the market, vendor selection and all of that stuff. But knowing that we were such a high volume art operation, we basically had to … it’s kind of like doing engine work on a helicopter while it’s flying. We had to continue being able to fly, we had to continue to deliver product. We could not stop, land and wait. And we went through that process even though we had a very tight timeline, we were able to extract an export what we needed from the old system to configure the new system, bring the assets in and get up and running with very little disruption in the business. And I would consider that to be a very large success.

Henrik de Gyor: And what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Mark Leslie: I think the biggest thing about wanting to get into this space, and it may not just apply to DAM but it certainly applies directly to DAM, is that you want to be curious. Your curiosity and wanting to know how things work, and wanting to know why things are a certain way, and then asking more questions after that will take you a long way. Because, one of the temptations especially when you’re dealing with technology or a software platform, is to look at features, or to say, “Oh that, shiny.” And you want to be able to take advantage of what you see, “Oh, imagine what we could do with that tool” That’s actually the 180 degrees from where you need to be. First of all, you really need to understand your business. You need to understand where those assets come from, how they get brought into being, what’s being done to them throughout their life cycle, and who the audience is downstream, who needs access, who shouldn’t have access? And if you understand the business, the next step is to say, “Now what’s the problem that we’re trying to solve?”

And if you really understand the business, you ask a lot of questions because you’re curious, and you’ve looked at the key problems that you want to be able to solve, and what it’s going to look like when they are solved, then kind of figure out what technology solutions fit into that to make that happen is easy. If you go about it the other way it’s going to be very hard and it’s probably not going to work very well. So if you’re a curious person, and you ask a lot of questions and you use the discoveries from those questions to drive you to new discoveries, you’re already set up.

Henrik de Gyor: Well thanks, Mark.

Mark Leslie: Thank you.

Henrik de Gyor: For more on this, visit anotherdampodcast.com. If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at anotherdamblog@gmail.com. Thanks again.


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Another DAM Podcast interview with Jay O’Brien on 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 Jay O’Brien.

Jay, how are you?

Jay O’Brien:  [0:09] I’m doing great. How are you?

Henrik:  [0:10] Great. Jay, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Jay:  [0:14] In my role at the Baltimore Ravens, I’m the director of broadcasting and stadium productions. I fell into the Digital Asset Management role here. I started 11 years ago here as an intern, just logging tape, doing tape‑to‑tape editing and logging tape in the…I think it was AVID media logger.

[0:35] I got very good at Digital Asset Management in terms of typing out every single play of every single Ravens’ game. That’s how I became a stickler for asset management and also became a football fan.

[0:47] I say I fell into it, because Digital Asset Management, as I’ve advanced through the Ravens and now I’m in charge of the broadcasting department, we were faced with a situation where we basically had to make a move. The previous system we’re on was at its end of life and it was of course going to be a big investment to upgrade.

[1:06] I took on the role of learning as much as I could about all the new asset management systems that were out there. It’s pretty exciting. It’s not something I thought I would be interested in but I’ve been working with some great people at other teams, and with our consulting group that we used to implement this new system that we’re on.

[1:24] I’ve really learned a lot and there are some great people in the field like yourself who’ve been very, I guess, instrumental in helping me to learn as much as I can about this. Now, I wouldn’t in any respect call myself an expert. I’m an intermediate novice in this whole thing and learning more about it every day.

[1:38] Our primary objective here is to create great content. When we made this change, I guess more involved in automating our Digital Asset Management, helped us to get away from the tedious typing out every player’s name and to actually editing content.

Henrik:  [1:53] How does a football team use Digital Asset Management?

Jay:  [1:57] It’s pretty interesting. For an NFL team, there are actually two different video departments that are using Digital Asset Management for two completely different purposes.

[2:06] We have a coaching video department which is using Digital Asset Management to record every play from practice and every play from the games so that our coaches can then go through to analyze the plays for teaching and to get ready for future opponents and that type of thing.

[2:22] What my department does is more on the entertainment side. We create television shows that air in our local market here in Baltimore and Washington, DC, also on our team’s website and mobile app and iPad app and all that kind of good stuff. Then, we also create all the entertainment at our home games on our big screens and our ancillary video boards.

[2:47] What we’re using Digital Asset Management for is to capture all the footage that we shoot at practice, at games, off the field with our players doing work in the community and that sort of thing. We’re using Digital Asset Management to capture and tag all that media so that it’s very easily searchable for us.

[3:11] You don’t know that you need a shot until you need a shot. We were working on a feature this past season about our old national anthem singer who sang national anthem for the first 18 years of our franchise. We had logged the first game that he sang the national anthem.

[3:29] While you’re logging and tagging that asset, you’re probably thinking to yourself “When am I ever going to need this?” But you eventually do. I’m sure that the people that are for us doing a lot of loggings sometimes are thinking “Wow, they’re never going to use this clip.” Surprisingly, we often do.

[3:45] With a team that’s now in our 20th season of existence like the Baltimore Ravens, we’re getting to the point now where we’re doing a lot of look backs and in‑a‑moment‑in‑time of the most famous plays and players in our history. Without a robust Digital Asset Management system, we wouldn’t be able to create the content and the quality that our fans demand.

Henrik:  [4:06] Jay, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Jay:  [4:10] For us, the biggest challenge is, with this new system that we have, we’re utilizing the Levels Beyond Reach engine. But it gives you the chance to create as many metadata fields and as many metadata keywords as you want.

[4:24] That’s the challenge and the success of the new system. You want to be able to search by all sorts of different tags. You also don’t want to create too many that you get bogged down with it or that the tagging process takes such a long time that it becomes not very worthwhile.

[4:43] That was our big challenge with this new system. Now going back in time, before you were able to tag metadata using drop down menus and things like that, everything was manual. You were typing everything out. At least, we were.

[4:58] For example, we had someone logging for us back 10 years ago who spelt a certain player’s name wrong for the entire season and nobody caught it. That’s a big challenge because when we’re searching for that player’s name and we’re thinking, “We know this player had good plays during the year. Why aren’t any of them showing up in our asset manager?” It was all just because of a misspelling.

[5:19] That’s a challenge that we’ve certainly overcome now with this new system where we can easily load an Excel roster of our players and then you type in the first letter or two letters of the player’s name and you move on. This new system has saved us a lot of time.

[5:32] At the same time, when we were first establishing the system and determining what fields and what key words we wanted, I think at first we may have gotten too overly ambitious of creating so many different fields that it was taking longer for the first few weeks of our season to log our games and not less time, which is what we anticipated going into the season.

[5:54] We were logging everything from what color jerseys our players were wearing, what the weather was like. It’s really just trying to be ambitious without being overly so where it’s really costing you time and not saving you time.

Henrik:  [6:07] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Jay:  [6:12] When we went through the process of choosing a new asset manager, we demoed as many of the new systems as we could. We also spoke with, in our case, other football teams that we knew had made this transition to a new system or teams that we knew were as robust as we are in terms of the amount of content we produce.

[6:33] Reach out to other people. Demoing is great and that was certainly helpful for us to demo every system we could. It was equally important for us to talk to people who have actually used the system, specific to our needs.

[6:46] We talked to some people who were using the system we went with and other systems but whose objectives are different than ours. What system may work for a sports team may not work for somebody who’s doing news programming or something like that.

[7:02] Reach out to as many people as you can who you think would be using the system for similar purposes. In our case, we leaned heavily on our consultant and integrator during the project to have them connect us to other sports leagues and organizations who we knew would be using the system for somewhat similar purposes.

[7:22] As I said before, as much as you can, figure out in advance what types of fields and key words you would like to use and have that all laid out. In our circumstance, we’re still evolving and we’re still adding metadata fields and key words and we’re removing some too. Don’t be afraid to do that and say, “This one is unimportant. We don’t really need this.”

[7:44] Those would be my two pieces of advice. It’s certainly a learning experience. This will be our sixth game of the season coming up. Just now we’re starting to get really into a flow and using the system in a way that is most beneficial to us.

Henrik:  [8:00] Thanks, Jay.

Jay:  [8:01] Thank you. Anytime.

Henrik:  [8:02] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics go to anotherdamblog.com. For this and 170 other podcast episodes, go to anotherdampodcast.com. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to reach out to me at anotherdamblog@gmail.com. Thanks again.