Guru Talk: Lisa Grimm – GlaxoSmithKline

Lisa Grimm - Content Librarian

An extensive literary history and programing background, Grimm understands the importance of a strong taxonomy and the value of an open-mind with all things DAM.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

I’m presently the Content Librarian at GSK, where I oversee the (relatively-newly-launched) DAM for marketing materials. Highlights of previous DAM-related roles include a stint as Content Manager for the NYC Department of Health and a very enjoyable time at Drexel University College of Medicine, where I worked with an outstanding collection of historical materials on women in medicine that is still being digitized, though I’m proud to say I got them started blogging as well.

I’ve also spent many years ‘managing’ content without any sort of DAM, so I know the chaotic side of things too – starting in the 1990s, I built and managed websites for companies like Time Out in London and Women.com in Silicon Valley (among many others) back when we had to hand-code everything and store our images in complicated folder structures, both on and offline, so I know the value of having a solid DAM!

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

I try to break it down into its constituent parts: I oversee content coming into the system and ensure that it is findable by attaching appropriate metadata – at that point I usually do a brief explanation of metadata and taxonomy that might be more usefully employed as a sleep aid. What I tend to leave out are the more complex product and change management pieces of my role, but I do like to compare notes about those aspects with other DAM professionals.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

After years of hand-coding and putting files in random locations, the online industry finally began to realize that it might be more useful to have their images, audio, video and other files in some more manageable system, and as a web manager, I was asked to evaluate a number of software solutions in the early days of both DAM and web content management.

As I moved into other jobs, I worked on a variety of platforms – some homegrown, some purchased – and learned as I went along. I later went back to library school for my MS-LIS, which gave me more grounding on the taxonomy and knowledge management side of the fence. All of it has been useful in one mode or another, so my advice is to keep an open mind and learn from a variety of sources.

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

My other degrees are in archaeology and I’ve worked a lot with museums, archives and rare books, but I’d hate to give up the technology piece; as much as I do love my current company, in an ideal world, I’d probably be running a DAM for the British Museum or the Bodleian Library. I also do a bit of freelance writing when I have time, but it’s always been a sideline; I don’t have the time or patience to develop it into a full-time career, though there’s probably a (non-fiction) book or two in there somewhere that might come out eventually.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

User adoption of a new system and building a longer-term roadmap are always the tricky parts – change management is just as important as having a solid taxonomy.

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

The challenges of managing text-based content and working more from a content strategy framework are always front of mind for me; while there are other tools that can manage structured content very well indeed, we need to consider integration with the DAM and what that will look like – not to mention the additional challenge of dealing with great volumes of utterly unstructured content. I’d love to see DAM tools reflect (or perhaps ‘reinforce’ is the better word) the content life cycle; content governance is important, but it’s easy to push off until ‘later’ without built-in encouragement.

—–
Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.

  Category: DGP Member Interviews
  Comments: Comments Off on Guru Talk: Lisa Grimm – GlaxoSmithKline

Guru Talk: Matt Shirley – Nordstrom

Matt Shirley - Media Asset Manager

An accomplished Enterprise DAM Manager, Shirley has the ability and understanding to recognize what is required for DAM system success.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

  • Yale University – Digital Studio Manager
  • Disney Interactive Media Group – Senior Manager, Digital Media Management
  • Nordstrom – Manager, Digital Assets

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

Because it’s inherently esoteric I have two responses based on the audience.

For the non-technical:

DAM manages all of the photographs on the computers at our company – kind of like a library.

For the technical:

DAM supports the business through the management of all content, tools and processes for all digital media creators and consumers at all content waypoints – production, delivery and archive.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I began working at Cornell University in 1998 on one of the first digitization projects in the country. We were creating an online presence for the H.F. Johnson Museum there. I was responsible for the digital capture of all artwork, CD backup and the management of the system designed to keep track of it all. It was DAM before we knew it was DAM.

Resources:

The Journal of Digital Media Management

DAM Coalition, Dam Guru, DAM Learning Center, The Accidental Taxonomist, Another DAM Blog, etc.

While those are great resources it’s easy to put the DAM blinders on and only look exclusively at the industry. It’s important to be able to anticipate where digital in general is headed. This is especially true for DAM programs supporting e-commerce.

Resources like, Wired, CES, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, etc. can really help with strategic thinking to better support your business.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

DAM has three requirements for success – advocacy, neutrality and expertise:

  • Advocacy – access to budget, some autonomy and the authority at establish and enforce governance.
  • Neutrality – DAM operating horizontally as a service to the enterprise with accountability across verticals and not the property of any one vertical, Technology, Marketing, etc.
  • Expertise – DAM strategy and operational support provided by a demonstrated expert in the DAM space.

Without those three requirements met DAM often settles into stasis, providing little to no value for the organization.

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

Something analog, tactile, and interactive. I pine for the connectedness with the world around me that technology insulates me from, but ever taunts me with through mimicry.

Maybe organic farming – I did that once and loved it.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Education. I have yet to get involved in a project where there is pre-existing DAM understanding, other than in academia. Bringing an organization up to a current state with DAM is an enormous effort of ongoing sales and tap dancing.

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

It would be great for successful DAM implementations to be the rule not the exception. It seems now when an organization is really leveraging DAM in innovative ways we gather around to divine how it happened as if it were some wonderful accident.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

The naïve misunderstanding that a DAM demo is a real product ready to implement.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

I had the privilege to work with truly innovative people at Disney and Pixar on reshaping the DAM landscape for the company. While there I was able to contribute to the engineering of an end-to-end DAM solution. We went from redundant manual spreadsheets, asset storage on external hard drives and CD’s, duplicative content creation across teams to a single point of contact asset hub effectively tracking all asset activity and dependencies.

So from chaotically managing disparate hoards of rich media and losing terabytes of content per year through drive failure and invisibility due to no search capabilities – to a single source of truth for all content at all stages of production.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

DAM seems to be an industry in need of direction – it’s reactive, even passive. I would love to know where it’s really going and what I can do to contribute to a strategic plan to bring it to the fore as a core technology supporting digital.

—–
Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.

Guru Talk: Wendy Walker – Dalet

 

Wendy Walker - Senior Trainer

A specialized Media Asset Manager, Walker has trained many on best-practices in the video and broadcasting industry.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

I have worked for JB&A Inc and Dalet Digital Media Systems.   I was a technical trainer at JB&A, and am a trainer at Dalet Digital Media Systems.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

It depends who my audience is, but generally I describe it as a system that integrates with your media storage architecture and non linear editing systems, that helps increase collaboration between departments and teams and to keep track of your media assets so that they are easily searchable.  Often it is a suite of applications integrated with storage solutions, databases, archiving solutions and other products.

Often the bottom line with Media Asset Management systems is that it helps people use their fast data and media storage system efficiently, so they don’t waste space, time and money.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I learned DAM at JB&A from my colleague, Matt Stamos and Shane Scarbrough, as well as gaining experience on the road with clients.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

There are many things, but I try to emphasize the importance of metadata, creating good search terms, and ways to categorize your media.

In essence, I think of it like library science for media assets.  If your lists and categories are good, your searching should become easier.

Also, Media Asset Management is something that takes time to perfect.  When a new system is installed, and put to use, it will take time for the teams using it to find what works best for them in workflows, naming conventions, and tagging assets with metadata.  Some patience is needed.

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

Running a mobile espresso business.  I love good coffee.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Learning new systems quickly, understanding how they work, how they fit into a client environment, and being able to impart that to others so they can use it in their daily workflow.  Media Asset Management is deep, and the products are deep.  It is a continual learning process.

I enjoy this challenge.

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

Interesting question.   The systems I have worked with use storage architecture that houses high resolution video assets.  It makes more sense for most facilities to keep their video assets on large storage, where everyone can access it quickly.   Accessing video remotely from several locations is more common now, and I hear requests to put all of the assets in the cloud.   As cloud storage becomes faster, and cheaper, we will probably see more assets being put in the cloud and accessed from there.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

Once I understood that CatDV was not duplicating assets, or accessing them in a destructive way, and that it was able to access multiple storage units, it made more sense.   Of course, you can move, copy or delete assets, but it is a very deliberate action in the software.

Permissions can be set up in both CatDV and Dalet to limit who can delete media.  Most of the time, it is non-destructive, and is linking to the assets where they already exist on the storage or hard drive.   With both Dalet and CatDV, rules can be set up to automate processes, such as video conversions, moving or copying files to a new location, and sending assets to archive.

I think my biggest mistake, in starting out in this industry, may have been clinging to one way to work, and applying that to many situations, because it was my comfort zone.   Each facility is different.  The beauty of good Media Asset Management systems is their flexibility, and adaptability.  With each client visit, I built upon my existing knowledge, and shared best practices with the teams.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

Becoming more confident as a trainer, and enjoying helping others gain understanding of how media asset management works and opening their minds to the possibilities of the tools they have at their disposal.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I’d like to gain a better understanding of what is out there in the market, and learn new media asset management systems that I haven’t used yet.

—–
Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.

Guru Talk: Mars Roberge – Nomad

Mars Roberge - Digital Asset Manager

A primarily self-taught pioneer in the DAM industry for Film assets, Roberge has worked with some of the leading companies in enterprise DAM, cataloging over a million assets in a single year.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

I have worked for Nomad Editing Company as a DAM professional for the past 3 years. I work for their main office in Santa Monica which also oversees their NYC and London location.

My job consists of maintaining their asset database which I built from scratch–the company has been around more than 30 years, cuts commercials and has been the sole source for Apple commercials since the eighties. I also digitize all of their commercial spots, create proxies, maintain their client server, create manuals, back up our SAN nightly, deal with vendors, train staff and attend seminars/expos on the latest DAM technology.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

Most “normal” society has no clue when I start talking about computer-oriented jobs so I have started telling people “I am a film librarian for Apple commercials”… ha!

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

My company’s Technical Producer started to train me and then I had to run with the reins which meant constantly working with the product’s support staff (Kris and Bryson of North Shore Automation for CatDV Pro; Tom’s staff at Cache-A; Karan and Dan at SDNA). Plus I learned a great deal on my own via Google. DAM has always been around for Banks, Libraries, etc. but I am one of the pioneers in Hollywood dealing with Film assets.

I attended several DAM meet-ups and NOBODY was doing what I do so I had no reference point. For example, I would be dealing with assets like DPX files which would crash our media system. Why?  A lot of these programs weren’t prepared for what we do. That doesn’t mean new scripts can’t be developed to create work-arounds but I had to be the one to do a lot of trial-and-error before I contacted support to essentially re-write these programs.

For example, I would be dealing with the assets from a commercial cut in Final Cut Pro from five years ago but yet the assistant editor included a lot of odd characters such as “*, ;?”  In an ideal world I could tell them to change it as it clogs our LTO system and MAM down. However, simply changing names in an edited job will make it impossible for future editor’s to relink them so I had to create a work-around script with software developers and LTO machine support staff. Did I mention I had NO computer background before this??  I had to learn everything REAL fast. But thanks to the internet and perseverance, you can learn anything pretty quick these days.

Now I am comfortable in Terminal and know a lot of backdoors for these programs/LTO machines. I had even looked into schools for this but there aren’t any (in regards to dealing with film assets). Sites such as Lynda.com and Creative Cow are great sources to learn about film editing but yet they do not offer any DAM support as of yet. In Hollywood, DAM is a new world where no person has roamed before.  🙂  Oh yes, whenever support would train me remotely or go into terminal, I would take constant screenshots while they worked so I would know what to do later on. That up arrow in the Terminal window saved me a lot of phone calls….

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

Actually have a “keen eye for detail” like your resume states. If you think something might be going wrong (wasn’t archived properly), stop and ask support. Don’t rush through everything and find out 5 years from now nothing was done properly. We tend to only hear from our co-workers if something goes wrong. A pat on the back for a good job NEVER happens in this industry (thank God for the Dammy’s!)–It is given that we will perform our duties 100% accurate.

Also, double-check on all automation. It’s very easy to set up automation to essentially do our jobs for us but if you can’t double-check it (such as did the proxies get made?) then we could be in for a lot of trouble down the road. I actually had to force one company (who I won’t name) to create a proxy field in their window layout just so I could make sure our encoding program/mac cluster was working properly (and it wasn’t).

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

Hahaha, before this I managed Hustler’s flagship sex shop. Next up, I’m hoping to make it full-time as a filmmaker.  See my last film which is playing around the world here (www.thelittlehousethatcould.net).  I also would like to be an editor (http://ma5286.wix.com/marsroberge).

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Every time I get it down, the system changes. I started off doing everything in LTO4s and Cache-A, now I use LTO5s and SDNA, having to convert old archives into the new ones. Next up from here will be LTO6s…  It also seems to be a business like computers where next year they show us how slow we went this year and how much easier/better everything becomes. I just always have to stay on top of the latest technology.  Or else I’ll be staring at a bunch of external hard drives sitting on shelves from the eighties that do not work any more, as I have been told with companies who lost their all their archives.

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

We will finally receive the respect we deserve.  Everyone will know what we do, our importance and everyone will have some form of DAM in their own homes.  I’m already seeing it with Adobe Premiere CS6 support.  It seems the more these cloud companies push themselves, they are helping our industry by stressing the importance of backing up files with proper organization.  There will be more jobs for us and more universities will give out degrees for becoming a DAM.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

I managed to solely create a 100% accurate database with over 1 million files in my first year of working at my company.  I deal with thousands of commercials that are 1 TB+ each in size.  If anyone remembers Steve Jobs, there is no room for losing ANY information.  He was such a workaholic he could call up one file for twenty years ago in a heart beat.  I also digitized every commercial my company ever made within my first year.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I would like to learn more about scripting and Unix.

—–
Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.