Another DAM Podcast

Audio about Digital Asset Management

Another DAM Podcast interview with Jim Sippel on Digital Asset Management

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • Why does a community church group use Digital Asset Management?
  • What advice would you like to give to DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?


Henrik de Gyor: [0:02] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today, I’m speaking with Jim Sippel.
Jim [0:09] how are you?
Jim Sippel: [0:10] I’m good, how are you?
Henrik: [0:12] Good. Jim, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Jim: [0:16] The way I got involved with Digital Asset Management, I currently
work at Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicago land area. We’re a very
large church, we’re one of the largest churches in the country. My role here is
managing and directing the post production and field production in video. I
don’t do the live production of video or for services, I actually am in the content
creation side. [0:44] When Digital Asset Management came to Willow Creek
about four years ago, it was through our IT department that was trying to resolve
a problem that they were having with a lot of people using, and you may
have talked about this on previous shows, having their own desktop DAMs.
Meaning that everybody was storing content that they were creating on their
own laptops, their own desktops, their own server folders.
[1:11] Our IT department realized that they were having a problem of they were
running out of space, they were having to purchase more server spaces, drives,
and maintenance and all that goes along with that cost.
[1:20] When they did their own internal audit, they realized that video was probably
the biggest culprit in absorbing all that storage and space. They approached
us, saying, “We’re going to purchase a Digital Asset Management system, and
it’s going to solve all your problems.
[1:37] Start putting everything on there and don’t put it on the network at all
because you’re killing us. Every time you transfer a video you slow down the
network, and storage, and so on and so forth.”
[1:48] We’re all like, “OK, what’s a DAM and why do we have to use this?” “Why?
Because we like this.”
[1:54] After the first year and a half of implementation, and I use that term
loosely because it was implemented, but nobody was using it. Out of frustration,
they came to me and said, “Jim, you seem to be a little more knowledgeable
than most on what Digital Asset Management is. Your department is the
one who’s using the most amount of IT services, so guess what. You’re going to
manage this and good luck with that.”
[2:24] With very little training or any kind of orientation, I wound up having to
the guy to learn how to do Digital Asset Management. We’ve thrown this
around before. I became an accidental DAM manager because I had no previous
experience. It’s been quite a learning curve. [laughs]
[2:43] Getting involved with it is, first and foremost, I had to understand what our
business was at doing video and doing video within a church. Then, as it expanded
out I had to learn what other ministries were doing with media in general,
and how they were using it within the church.
[3:02] Just like any other business, our realization is we’re using a lot of digital
media. That all needs to get managed, especially when you’re trying to locate
things, whether it’s pictures, video images, stock images, music.
[3:20] A lot of people never, really had to think about, “How am I storing this,
and how do I find it, and how do others find it?” This is how I got involved
with it. It’s not that I was looking for it. It’s just kind of like I didn’t sit down
fast enough.
Henrik: [3:38] Why does a community church group use Digital Asset
Jim: [3:42] Again, just like other businesses, we have a lot of media content.
We produce hundreds of hours of video. We have hundreds, if not thousands,
of hours of live church services across over 50 ministries throughout our organization.
[4:01] Not all ministries have a live service, but they’ll request or create
content that’s either going to go into a teaching class, or they’ll use it on the
Internet or they will use it in the service itself. All of these, as with the rest of
society, we become more and more media savvy, more digital savvy. In creating
that content, it all needs to go someplace, obviously.
[4:29] When you look at the history of the church, they’ve been managing
content for thousands of years. From “Dead Sea Scrolls” to printing Bibles in
a Gutenberg press and trying to distribute that. It’s a natural phase for the
church to go from analog and physical asset management to Digital Asset
[4:53] Our asset is the message that we have in the church. That’s number one.
Then everything we create around it to support preaching that message naturally
fits. We need to store that and be smart about it and steward our resources
and our money well by being able to retrieve that information. Be able to make
it usable for other people.
[5:15] We may create a great video for a service and then one of our youth
ministries want to use it, but they don’t want to use all of it because they want
to create it for their age group. They may want to change some components
within that video like, maybe, they want to take the music out that we use and
put some better music in from their perspective. That’s an asset that needs to
go into that piece of content. Or they want to use graphics and, maybe, the
graphics for the old people church is not cool enough for their service. They can
create their own graphics and insert that into the core of that content.
[5:47] It’s, really, great to be able to have that ability to be able to go into a
centralized system, find those different assets that you can use to either make
a derivative of the original piece and make it work for your specific ministry or
business group. Then be able to take those assets that you create within your
own group and put that in a centralized location that other people can grab it
and use it for theirs.
[6:15] It also helps through all continuity throughout the different medias, too. If
we’re using something live in the service and then we decide we want to put it
up on the Internet or we want to use it in other distributions through publishing
or whatever, it’s like everybody can go to that one place and grab that specific
asset that’s important to that brand or whatever they’re trying to do. And be
able to incorporate that into the piece so that there’s continuity throughout the
different media that it may be in.
Henrik: [6:43] Jim, what advice would you like to give to DAM professionals and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Jim: [6:47] Well, for those that are in the predicament that I was in where it’s
you’re chosen to be the DAM manager, I think one of the things that the learning
that I’ve come away with is understanding it forces you to sit down and think
about what do you do just within your own group. What do you do? Why are
you doing it and what are you trying to do with it? [7:09] For me, it was a very
interesting exercise to go through to think about this is where we start, this is
where we end and here’s everything that’s involved in that process. Now, some
organizations are, probably, more thoughtful than we’ve been, but it really
helped identify a lot of things in terms of what happens to our videos. What are
all the elements that are going into that video? Then, what happens to the video
afterwards, and who needs it? What do they want to do with it?
[7:38] Going through that alone, really, helps to identify, I think, what you need in
a Digital Asset Management system. What are the different components do you
need? Do you need it to do a lot of different transcoding within itself or do you
have to buy an add-on or a bolt-on? Do you need a document management to
go along with that and how does it tie back to your specific digital assets?
[8:08] All these things I never thought about when I was creating video. We
would think about what’s our script, how are we shooting it and it goes into the
tape library until somebody asks for a copy. That’s how I’ve thought about it
most of the time. And obviously, did it succeed in the message?
[8:25] The next thing I learned through all this, is I had to build…Well it was twofold.
I had to be a salesman through this whole thing to get people to buy into
why would they want to take their work and put it into this centralized storage
system or repository? Instead of keeping it on their desktop where they can go
into their my docs and pull it up, or they can go into their thumb drives or external
hard drives and pull up that content or asset, immediately, and be able
to use it.
[8:55] Trying to cast that vision for…Well, you could add more value. The whole
point of an asset is to add value to it. The more you make it accessible to others
for use, the more value it creates. It’s like what Kevin Kelly talked about in one
of his books from “Wired” where the fax machine by itself has no value, but the
more fax machines there are in the world the more value there is. Obviously,
that dates us [laughs] because people, probably, don’t use fax. The same with
an asset if you think about that.
[9:30] With the sales, there also has to be trust. Again, if they’re able to look at a
tape on their shelf or look at a hard drive on their shelf, there’s the feeling like,
“OK . I have control over this and I know where it is.”
[9:43] Where it goes into a central repository it’s like you don’t see it. If people
are going to put it in there, they want to be able to get it back out like they do
with their desktop DAM. Because they can’t see that asset and they’re putting it
in that repository, they got to have that trust that they can find it quickly.
[10:00] Most people will browse. They want to click through however your repository
interface is set up, whether it’s a folder collection or it’s little widgets. But
they can get to it quickly just browsing.
[10:12] Or if you have the metadata, which is like learning about, what is metadata?
What is taxonomy? How do I? But if it’s offered search purposes that they
can put in keywords and be able to find again what they’re looking for quickly,
and have confidence that it’s there. Or they have confidence that whatever their
search, whatever search they create, it’s going to return to them quality assets.
[10:36] Because, again, you can use really broad strokes on metadata and you
can return 100 assets on a search that, really, are not relevant to what you’re
looking for. Or you can design metadata that, or descriptions of that asset, in
a way that’s going to return 10 to 20 high quality assets where it’s right there
on the first page. You don’t have to go through 20 pages to find what you’re
looking for.
[11:00] Just learning how to do that. What’s metadata? What makes quality
metadata? What’s taxonomy? How am I structuring all of this stuff? This is all
stuff I wish I would have known when this was put on me. Fortunately, through
this community and yourself, a lot of people out there that were blazing a trail
before me are very helpful in learning that structure.
[11:23] I think, the third component is learning, networking with others. You
realize, hey, I’m not the only one [laughs] that’s tried to figure this out. There’s
others, and just learning from each other. That’s been a huge help to me is like
being a part of various digital asset conferences, whether it’s LinkedIn groups,
or Another DAM Podcast or Another DAM Blog and other resources that are
out there.
[11:48] It’s great to be able to know you can go to…You meet people, and you
learn where this all is and you don’t have to build this all by yourself. Yeah,
networking is the third and, really, important component, too. There’s a whole
bunch of other things, but those are probably my top three.
[12:05] As far as aspiring, don’t know if I have too much advice [laughs] for aspiring
other than the same thing.
Henrik: [12:10] Great. Well, thanks, Jim.
Jim: [12:12] You’re welcome.
Henrik: [12:14] For more on Digital Asset Management, log onto Thanks again.

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