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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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Another DAM Podcast interview with Matt Shanley on Digital Asset Management

Matt Shanley discusses Digital Asset Management

 

 

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • Why does a museum use Digital Asset Management?
  • What were the drivers for getting a DAM?
  • What advice would you like to give to 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 am Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Matt Shanley. Matt,
how are you?
Matt Shanley: [0:09] Very well, and yourself?
Henrik: [0:10] Good. Matt, how are you involved with Digital Asset
Management?
Matt: [0:14] I am the Digital Asset Manager for the Photography Department of
the American Museum of Natural History. They brought me on in 2006 to develop
a photography workflow that would stand savvy. [0:30] Basically, what they
were doing at the time is just taking everything they shot, burning it to a CD or
DVD, and putting it into a binder, and keeping an Excel spreadsheet of what
CDs were where. As you might imagine, that quickly became unmanageable.
[0:44] So when they hired me in 2006, it was a priority for them to have me redesign
their workflow and then research what hardware and software we would
need to get a Digital Asset Management system that was going to be usable
and scalable to the amount of assets that we would eventually accumulate.
[1:06] We decided to go with an Apple Xserve with a 10.5 TB X RAID, and we
decided to use Extensis Portfolio as our DAM. That has a MySQL back end with
a portfolio governing the front end.
[1:25] We started cataloging from 2006 on and then I redesigned the workflow
of the photographers to use Lightroom. It was embedding copyright metadata
on import.
[1:39] We came up with a standardized file naming and folder naming protocols
that were DAM savvy. Basically just formalized the workflow, because the photographers
were pretty much just doing their own thing and there was no real
organization to it. Had to standardize what they were doing in the workflow that
they used.
[2:05] From the time it left the camera and went onto the computer, data preservation
protocols were put in place so that things would get backed up onto
the server, so that if their local hard drive ever crashed, they would at least have
unretouched backups of everything, etc., etc.
[2:23] Then, I have to, when they finish a job, they move it to an area on the
server that I know that they’re done with that job. Then I move it over into the
portfolio sys, catalog it in portfolio. That’s how we do it.
Henrik: [2:43] Why does a museum use Digital Asset Management?
Matt: [2:45] I would say that while we are a museum photography department
we are actually a division of the communications department. We do all of the
press photography, anything that goes out to the press, advertising, marketing,
all of that stuff. We document all of the educational events that happen here.
We documents all of the development events that happen here. [3:12] What
we don’t do is we don’t, for the most part, photograph the collections for the
purposes of cataloging the specimens and artifacts that we have. That’s up to
the scientific department themselves. What museums would probably use it for
would be actually like a collections resource, management. But that is not what
this department does.
Henrik: [3:35] What were the drivers for getting a DAM?
Matt: [3:39] The bottleneck that was happening where it was just taking too
long for photo requests to be fulfilled. Once we got up over a couple hundred
thousand images, that system of burning stuff to CD and DVD became unwieldy.
It was just taking too long. Anything that wasn’t done recently it would
take someone doing much research and going through DVDs and the Excel
spreadsheet. [4:13] There was no controlled vocabulary as far as search and
keywords and stuff like that. It was just a mess. It made it very, very hard to
find things. We needed a centralized storage system that was well organized.
Keywords needed to be standardized with a controlled vocabulary. Once we did
that, it turned image requests from taking days to minutes. It was a huge efficiency
boost for us.
Henrik: [4:45] I bet. Are any of these requests you get paid requests?
Matt: [4:49] Yes. Our business development department and our museum
library both deal with requests coming in mostly from education book publishers.
We do get some of what I would call commercial requests, but it’s mostly in
the educational realm. [5:04] I don’t know how much they’re actually charging for
this stuff, but we’ll get a call. “Do you have a picture of an Apatosaurus thigh or
something like that, a thigh bone?” We’ll look through the collections and see
what we have. We’ve been shooting a mix of digital and film since around 1998.
I think by 2000 or 2002 we were shooting exclusively digital. Considering that
the museum has been here since about 1875 or so, the bulk of our collections
are shot on film.
[5:44] When we went digital the museum library did not have the manpower or
the technical expertise to handle and archive our photos, which is what, back in
the film days, we did. We always turned everything over to the library and they
would put them into the photo archive. When we went digital there was nothing
they could do with the stuff and we did what everybody did, just burn everything
to CD and DVD and store it that way. It was really the only economically
feasible solution at the time.
[6:23] But, like I said, once we got up over a couple hundred thousand assets
it was not working. Sometime in 2007 this new DAM system went online. I’ve
cataloged approximately 328,000 assets. At any given moment there’s about
100,000 assets that I haven’t gotten to yet.
[6:53] That legacy system, we had all of those CDs and DVDs copied onto the
server over a period of time and tried to clean it up as much as we could with
the limited manpower that we have available to be spending time doing that.
That’s somewhere around 210,000 assets in the legacy system.
[7:17] It’s never going to get smaller. We keep everything. So, pushing a million
assets total in no time. We have to make sure that are hardware and software
stay scalable to handling those kind of numbers.
Henrik: [7:33] Wow. Great. What advice would you like to give to DAM professionals
and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Matt: [7:39] I sort of tripped and fell into it. My background is photography.
It was my photography background that got me hired into this photography
department. Photography, digitally driven photography or organization, Digital
Asset Management is a necessity just like having an IT guy to keep your computers
working is a necessity. [8:09] I would say Higher Education is definitely the
way to go. I had to learn it from scratch, kind of on the job, on the fly. There’s
definitely a market for it out there. Anybody who deals with digital content has
to keep it organized because if you can’ find it then it’s like not having it.
[8:38] I think it’s a growing field. As more digital content is created better solutions,
on a larger scale, are going to become available. I think, even if you get
an education in it now, people who work in this field are going to have to get
reeducated in it multiple times over the course of their career. I think the technology
is going to keep changing at a rate that if you want to stay competitive
you’re going to have to keep up with it.
Henrik: [9:06] Never stop learning.
Matt: [9:07] Yeah.
Henrik: [9:08] Good point. Great. Thanks, Matt.
Matt: [9:11] Thank you. I enjoyed talking to you.
Henrik: [9:14] Me too. For more on Digital Asset Management, log onto
anotherdamblog.com. Thanks again.


 

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