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Another DAM Podcast interview with Anne Graham on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Anne Graham discusses Digital Asset Management


Henrik:  This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Anne Graham. Anne, how are you?

Anne:  Great, how are you?

Henrik:  Great. Anne, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Anne:  So I actually work for Turner Sports. I came from an archival background. I worked for a public university in Georgia and I was a digital archivist there for eight years before moving to Turner Sports. So I’ve worked in academic institutions and I’ve also worked in corporate archives before. So here at Turner, I am managing digital assets, specifically our media assets, so this would be audio and video recording of sporting events.

Anne:  So I manage the media in two different ways. I manage the digital media feeds that come in remotely from the trucks. At remote sport events, we actually have trucks and they bring in the actual video recordings that are going on and those get sent to our site from the remote site. And I also manage a physical tape assets which are kind of legacy assets that we have on site and kind of what that entails is I develop and enforce retention periods. I create and maintain data models and metadata schemes with our stakeholders and users. I develop a controlled vocabulary and a document the relationships between those terms with a variety of stakeholders and partners. So basically, we’re working on creating an ontology as well as just control vocabulary. And we do a lot of reaching out to stakeholders just to survey content to make sure that it’s being managed properly. So it might not be something that’s coming into our MAM or our media asset management system. It might be something that’s being managed in C2. So C2 just means that people are managing their media in place. So it would be the actual content creators are managing it in their area instead of moving it to our centralized MAM system. But I just want to make sure that we provide recommendations for them as to how to preserve it and how to organize and describe it.

Anne:  And then, I also control the movement of content between users and partners. So we get a lot of content from our media partners like NBA, PGA, NCAA, MLB. So we’re basically transferring that content into and out of our MAM system. And then on top of all of that, we take care of reference requests for our users.

Henrik:  Anne, how does a sports broadcaster use Digital Asset Management?

Anne:  Something that’s a little bit different about the sports library at Turner is that we started out as a tape library and we have moved obviously to managing digital media so there’s still some remnants of our old workflows that were in the process of updating, but basically feeds come in from satellite or fiber from the sports venues and those are fed through the trucks which we discussed. And sometimes those also have digital or social media content and engineers in the trucks as well.

Anne:  So sports broadcasting, we manage access to the content that follows the contractual obligations with content owners, both long-term and short-term access and preservation to those. Meaning that each of these properties are major properties are actually partnerships. We have partnerships with NBA, MLB, PGA, and NCAA. That content doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to them. We fulfill the contractual obligations with those partners concerning access and preservation. We also manage access to content produced by Turner that can be current production or legacy. For instance, the current productions we’re doing or Eleague, which is our eSports property, but we also have legacy media, like Goodwill Games that went on from 1986 to 2002. Then we also transport media to and from remote sites, so that would be the media that’s coming from the trucks, but we also send media out to the trucks to be used on site.

Anne:  We add metadata and aid search and retrieval and we document the provenance and we are trying to automate our workflows as much as possible. We match game logs, so games are actually logged when they’re going on for actions and players. We’ve matched us with the content. Our content, basically are airchecks, melts, and clips. So an air check would be an off-air broadcast. It’s what you would actually see on television if you were watching a game. Melts are highlight reels basically, so you would see the most important actions from a game, but you’d see them from multiple angles and we call that clean footage because it doesn’t have any bugs in it, any graphics. Bugs are what the network identification is on the actual feed. And then clips. So we preserve and provide access to those [clips]. We also manage our content standards with partners so we actually have content standards that we follow and we need to make sure that content we receive from partners follows the standards. And then we collect media and distributed to users so that can be inside our MAM for users inside and external users, especially we get requests from talent who want copies of their appearances. So that’s basically it.

Henrik:  Anne, what are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset Management?

Anne:  So what I like to talk about our challenges and opportunities instead of successes because I kind of see opportunities as potential successes and I think it gives you a little bit more of a win for it. So I think some of the biggest challenges with Digital Asset Management right now, and I think this is universal, is funding. We’re always looking for funding for positions, for digitizing legacy media and just for Dev[elopment] work for new systems that you’re bringing online. I’d also say a problem that we have here is just overcoming silos to find stakeholders and allies who might be across properties and also identifying content, I would say across the silos. We have staffing limitations, there’s a lot of complexity since we have rights managed by so many different contracts.

Anne:  So trying to simplify that is always a challenge. And I’d say, again, this is probably something that everyone deals with is just the scale of content. We keep getting more and more content. It’s a higher and higher quality and I think everyone needs to understand that you can’t keep everything so you have to keep the stuff that’s really important where you can’t find it. And I would say another challenge we have is just getting everyone else to kind of see the big picture for content management that it’s actually, it’s an overarching picture and it needs to be administered in a standard consistent and predictable way. It shouldn’t be ad hoc decisions that people are making. And so for opportunities, I would say what we’re doing now is trying to accurately model our data so it describes it the way that our users actually search for it and use it themselves.

Anne:  And we want to extend that model. We’ve started with our highlights production and we want to extend it to other users like creative services. They actually look for different things. So their data model is slightly different. Whereas a highlights looks for the actual actions are players during a game. What a creative services is looking for is actually a fan reactions, colors, believe it or not, emotion. So just trying to get a handle on how they actually use that same data. And we wanted to extend our models to include that manage vocabulary thesaurus, and eventually in the ontologies so that we can really start to identify the relationships between those different terms. What we aspire to, I think is to have our users not only discover the content that they knew they wanted, but to find the stuff that they didn’t know they wanted. That’s my goal.

Anne:  So we have a metadata schema and our model. We also want to have that accepted across sports properties. I’d like to have kind of one standard that we all use. And basically the biggest thing is documenting our policies and procedures. That’s a huge hurdle, but it makes things so much easier for administration.

Henrik:  Anne, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Anne:  So I’ve heard lots of your guests recommending networking and I think that’s hugely important, but my advice is going to be to study across disciplines because if you’re managing content, you’re basically the advocate for that content. And in order to do that well, you need to be able to translate your needs between multiple areas. You need to be able to translate business needs to your IT support and you need to be able to to promote production needs to business and technology.

Anne:  Everybody needs to understand what is best for the content and how to get there. So the areas that I would suggest studying would be archival science because that’s my background and it really helps you in terms of just thinking about collections instead of individual items about original order. So how things were organically created, the provenance, where things came from, and how to really describe things in terms of how your users look for things. And the most important skill I think you get from that is appraisal, which is deciding what you keep and what you don’t keep. I’d also suggest studying digital preservation. I think everyone should be familiar with the OAIS model and they should know the trustworthy repository audit and certification, which is now ISO standard 16363, the trusted digital repository checklist. It helps you to ensure that your users have confidence that the content is what you say it is, and I would also suggest doing some reading and records management.

Anne:  It’s related to archival science, but it’s really about how to organize and manage your records as you’re creating them. So it will help you with lifecycle management. It’ll help you with creating retention periods and it really helps you to gather customer requirements by interviewing and observation and just doing research. I would also suggest studying technology so IT or I studied information systems [IS]. It’s been tremendously helpful in just understanding the lifecycle management not only of your assets, but if your systems. You’re never going to put one system in place and it’s going to be there forever. Those things change over probably a five to seven year development cycle, so as soon as you get your new system in place, you’re already looking for the next one. And studying IS really helped me with understanding software development cycle, how to actually write project requirements, basic project management and really thinking about getting your content out of the system from the very beginning of the project. It shouldn’t be something that you think about later. You need to think about that immediately and the last thing that I would suggest is studying business because my IS program was actually within the college of business and it was just invaluable for teaching me how to put together a funding proposal, how to make a business case for something, how to do presentations, which sounds very basic, but we think we’ve all seen some truly terrible presentations and if you can get your point across in a very efficient manner, people really appreciate it and it also really helps with just how to negotiate, so whether it’s negotiating with your users or your tech support professionals or even vendors. I think that’s just a hugely important skill.

Henrik:  Great. Well, thanks Anne.

Anne:  Thank you.

Henrik:  For more on this, visit for over 200 episodes including transcripts. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at Thanks again.



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Another DAM Podcast interview with Mark Leslie on 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 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 If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at Thanks again.

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