For most folks working day to day in film and video production, digital asset management is a concept they may have heard about, but don’t necessarily keep in mind.
After all, it’s tough enough to raise the money, do the production and post on budget and on time, and finish far enough ahead of the game to do it again.
But if properly understood and implemented, digital asset management (DAM) brings a set of added, useful capabilities to both the production and distribution of film, video, and other digital media. Besides grunt work like helping track the myriad files and folders that get generated in today’s productions, DAM can help you best control future monetization of your creative efforts.
(You’ll also see the term MAM or media asset management used. While it’s a bit more specific in targeting media as the main asset you’ll be managing, the term DAM has become more popular. We’ll use both interchangeably for now.)
That brings us around to the annual Henry Stewart confab, held this past May in the City. The London-based Henry Stewart group holds DAM conferences on a regular basis, with New York and Los Angeles being the most relevant to this readership. New York, of course, because it is here, and Los Angeles, well… unfortunately for those living here, the LA event in the fall always has lots more presentations relevant to actual film production and post. New York’s emphasis is understandably most centered on the publishing and broadcast industries, with enough on digital media and video postproduction to make it a worthwhile visit.
But there is still plenty to learn from attending the New York event. Besides offering a chance to see some of the top vendors side-by-side, this still modest sized show is also a great opportunity to spend enough time to dig deep with one or two particular systems that might interest you.
Just getting a sense of what’s involved with considering an asset management system is a good place to start. That’s just what Amit Kumar does for companies as the senior business development manager for media and entertainment at Paramus, New Jersey-based ITC Infotech. Rather than sell any one package, ITC Infotech helps advise companies before they make what can be a considerable investment.
“The first step is to clearly understand what the company does step by step as it runs its business,” says Kumar. “The actual work begins with information architecture modeling and taxonomy design, controlled vocabulary design, and finally developing the metadata models themselves.”
“Asset management give you a means to control your content,” says Kumar. “Besides embedding metadata, you can also embed things like copyright information such as to what length of time the asset can be used and in what particular geographical areas.”
Taking a look at all the new, relevant products at the show would make for a very long article, so instead I’ll just note some of the more interesting projects and technologies. We’ll be presenting other articles on digital asset management soon, so stay tuned.
One long-time player in our industry, Toronto-based North Plains Systems, continued building out its TeleScope Video Manager, said to be one of the most popular DAM systems in the broadcast industry.
TeleScope Video Manager 3 debuted at the show. It enables secure archiving of video productions, simplifies rights managed access to your video archive and makes distribution across organizations and third party agencies seamless, according to the company.
Integration with the rest of post is key: it configures easily with third party non-linear editing software (think Apple Final Cut Pro and Avid editing systems) as well as various archiving, transcoding, and delivery systems.
One growing area of concern—can you take advantage of new ways of distributing content? A DAM will help reduce channel complexity, says North Plains, meaning you can approach getting your work out via HDTV, IPTV, mobile phones, iPods, iPads, and video-on-demand without reinventing the process at each step along the way.
One neat capability: you can edit and annotate hi-resolution, 16-track audio proxies via a web browser.
The new release also includes full support for two Telestream products, FlipFactory 7.0 video transcoding software and Telestream Pipeline video capture system. North Plains TeleScope DAM and Video Manager use the popular FlipFactory to extract video metadata, transcode and deliver video, and create storyboards. Video Manager 3.1, in concert with FlipFactory 7.0, can create high definition H.264 MPEG 4 proxies with 16 channels of compressed audio (AAC) for reduced file size while maintaining high resolution and time-code accuracy.
If you don’t want to be bothered with installing and maintaining the software yourself, you can also take advantage of North Plains’ software as a service offering and just use it its online version.
Berkeley-based Xinet released Video 4.0 for WebNative Suite at the show. Better management of multimedia files has to be on anybody’s must do list so the new version does just that by adding control of Shockwave Flash and HTML files while expanding its Video Reel Generator app to include soundtracks and previews of all files in the videos generated.
Working solely via a web interface, with Video users can search, view, annotate, approve and distribute video files, as well as create video reels seamlessly.
Portland Oregon based NetXposure released NetXposure 5.5 at the show. This is the first major update to the fifth version of NetXposure’s web-based Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution, and so updates that apps incorporation of an Adobe Flex user interface.
Adobe’s Flex is a Rich Internet Application (RIA)—Microsoft’s Silverlight is the other major RIA—which are designed to blur the distinction between the desktop and the Internet. Flex delivers a slick user experience more tuned for use in systems that ‘point outwards’ to the public, pertinent in this case, instead of functioning solely for internal use.
Improvements in this 5.5 version, according to the company, include better efficiency (faster screen loading and file importing) and stability when handling large volumes of files compared to version 5.0.
You can check out the results yourself by visiting MoMA–in person or via their web site–as the museum uses NetXposure’s DAM to build out its centralized image repository. With MoMa’s collection of more than 150,000 pieces and over 22,000 film and media works, the initial database (not a DAM app) had become ungainly, not to say incapable of handling all the new sorts of information the museum now wanted to track.
Thankfully, NetXposure was able to incorporate the existing legacy collection’s database; the company claims that MoMA now “saves $200,000 a year in production costs” by relying on the DAM software, which runs on a Mac OS X server and Apple Xserve RAID combo.
This is just a light overview, a look at some of the DAM asset management products available today. Check back for our coverage of other DAM products and approaches. Next up: Leipzig-based Ceiton Technologies, which recently sold systems to A&E, Warners, and Sony.