Can a small New York City-based start-up take on the established heavyweights in the digital asset management market? Well, it just might if its low-cost, point-and-click approach finally convinces producers that DAM’s time has come.
DAM? While “digital asset management” might be a too generic name to explain much, think of the separate postproduction tasks that this method of managing data addresses: ingesting, annotating, cataloging, storing, retrieving and distributing. You probably do one or more of these things on a regular basis; using DAM is just a structured way to get a larger view of the whole post workflow, and marry it to a coherent data format.
Unless you’re a major broadcaster or post house, DAM’s cost and complexity has kept it out away from its place as the database manager of digital media operations. Start-up Scenios hopes to change that. Offering inexpensive tiers of storage and eliminating the need for special servers or software helps. What makes it even more attractive is the no contract approach, enabling productions to use the app for specific projects without high upfront and ongoing costs.
At its May 17 launch, president and co-founder Mark Davis explained that the company could offer lower prices and its no contract approach as the app takes advantage of Amazon S3–Simple Storage Service. S3 is Amazon’s attempt to make use of its huge storage and server infrastructure to offer unlimited storage via straightforward web interfaces. Another advantage: Mac, Windows, and Linux users have similar capabilities from the beginning.
A number of companies already offer online storage services that employ S3, so Scenios’ deferentiator is an interactive thumbnail image of the file—hover over it and you’ll get a preview (sound as well). There’s also a player with an H.264 version of the file, as well as keyframes every 10 seconds.
While that might not enough keyframe generation for some productions, the setup does create a shot log where you can create a note with clip times, useful for general discussions on content and editing. Another nice feature: you can re-encode the clip in some 13 different formats, such as up-rezzing from 720p to 1080p, and then download the results, or post to YouTube et al.
“We’re working on incorporating timecode in future versions,” says Davis.
Some provisos to consider: you can upload files only to a maximum of 5GB each (this reflects the built-in limit of Amazon’s service) and upload speeds. Or lack there of—a CNET reviewer faulted the “painfully slow” file uploads. Not surprisingly using the public Internet without a dedicated, high-speed link, so you might want to consider overnight uploads.
Want to try it out without a dent in your wallet? Try the free version. Although you’re limited to posting one project with 2GB of storage, you can include up to three other collaborators to see if the approach works for you.
This will at least give you a sense of what’s involved in the future of our ever-proliferating digital media universe.