Guru Talk: David Klee – Univision

David Klee - Director of Digital Assets

Whether it’s digital asset management or media asset management, David reminds us it’s always about metadata schemas.

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

I have been very fortunate to be able to work on DAM at organizations both large and small.

On the large side, I led an engineering group at NBC in New York called Media Software Integration.  There, we worked with the Media Asset Management (MAM) system that made content available to NBC News properties including our evening newscast (Nightly News), morning news show (The Today Show), news magazine program (Dateline) and various programs on our cable news platform MSNBC.  Our team focused on file-based workflows and software development to both connect internal users with the content they needed and the system itself with other platforms inside the company.

On the smaller side, I helped develop file-based workflows and asset management solutions to support an internal corporate agency for the Salt River Project, a public power and water utility in Arizona.  Also in Phoenix, I had the fantastic opportunity to help design and execute file-based workflows for the Arizona Cardinals Football Team in-stadium display crew, which included getting the new University of Phoenix stadium online in 2006.

Currently, I lead a new department at Univision Communications, Inc. (UCI), working to build and support technologies for media management.

On a personal level, I also maintain an interest in time lapse photography and do my best to wrangle a collection of nearly one-million images.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

In the broadcast industry, there’s always a very salient use case to introduce people to Digital Asset Management; the aging video tapes packing shelves in warehouses and tape libraries are now becoming digital video files.  This presents a variety of challenges — all the old workflows that people were so comfortable with managing video tapes (cataloging, storage and physical logistics) now need to be re-invented to make it easy to manage, find, preserve and reuse digital video files.

But DAM is also much more than a digital library.  Once you have all your eggs in one organized basket (so to speak), there are lots of opportunities to connect that basket to other systems and integrate it into your workflows.  DAM is as much about the process of getting the content organized as it is about getting it connected to the people and systems who need it.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

There’s really no substitute for diving in and getting some practical experience with DAM, but there are also some fantastic resources on the topic that I’ve benefited a lot from over the years.  Below are some of my favorites.

For those of you in New York City, the NYC DAM Meetup Group is a fantastic group of people with meetings on interesting topics.  Many recent meetings are also available for streaming online.

There are a couple of excellent conferences on the topic by Henry Stewart and Createasphere.

More for the individual, Peter Krogh had a very solid book several years ago introducing many important DAM concepts to photographers, and has followed up with some more specific tips that are particularly relevant on the Adobe stack.

For those more interested in the metadata and taxonomy side of things, Heather Hedden has lots of interesting information in her book and blog, the Accidental Taxonomist.  David Riecks’ website on controlled vocabulary also shouldn’t be missed, particularly for those who lean more toward the photo side of the equation.

And no listing of DAM resources would be complete without Henrik de Gyor’s Another DAM Blog, which includes links to some valuable resources, as well as a large offering of podcasts on various DAM-related topics.

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

DAM isn’t really a problem to solve — it’s a process to manage.  Some people seem to think that all you have to do is find the right system to manage your assets and the situation will be taken care of.  The reality, as with most things, is much more complex.

Depending what kind of organization you’re in, the goal of DAM may be much more focused on managing a pipeline or supply chain of assets — often with new assets coming in all the time.  Understanding and optimizing the workflows that get assets in and out of the system is an important part of the process.  And in most organizations, this set of workflows is far from static; new file formats, software packages and business requirements all converge to disrupt even the most thoughtfully designed processes.

DAM is often about developing workflows and tools to build a dynamic supply chain that can adapt and grow as needs evolve.  It’s more about building a framework to solve problems than about implementing one magical system that will cure all ills.

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

I started my career as a creative professional, and my early focuses on video production and time lapse photography very much helped frame how I approach DAM.  I still enjoy sitting down with graphic design and video editing software when I can.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Managing large quantities of video and/or audio present several unique challenges to DAM.  However, as with many DAM topics, metadata is key, and it can be particularly interesting to manage metadata with the addition of time.

When searching across long videos, simply locating a relevant asset in a big system is rarely enough — users often want to locate a particular moment in time.  There’s very little standardization around the handling of time-based metadata in different systems (even different systems from the same vendor can model time-based metadata very differently).

The process to effectively design and implement time-based metadata schemas within the constraints of existing tools is probably the single greatest challenge I face in video and audio-based collections.


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Guru Talk: Frank Milson – Chevron

Frank Milson - Digital Asset Manager

Frank understands that one of the hurdles in digital asset management is the speed in which a new asset can be created. Streamlining the ingest process helps to reduce costs and improve efficiencies within a company.

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

One thing that I noticed about working in DAM for some time, is that I was working in DAM long before anyone knew to call it Digital Asset Management. I spent over a decade in corporate sales for CompUSA, selling the first laptops, servers, and computer equipment to Houston businesses.

One of the earliest concerns of many of my clients was how to scan, and otherwise digitize their paper processes. I was well familiar with the need for high speed scanning, high resolution imagery, and secure storage, as well as databases that made all of those assets rapidly accessible. All of this was immediately familiar to me when I came to Houston Community College (HCC) to do a job that basically, no one else wanted to do. After all – it was “just filing”!

HCC had already been using ImageNow for student documentation, and they were looking to expand that to the documentation they had been using for decades to process and track their physical inventories. My job became the process of ingesting the physical documents into a database, creating metadata for those documents (what we called “tags”), and process the physical documents for destruction. Ultimately, I was able to become the primary source for researching and delivering the electronic copies of those documents whenever they were needed, as well as using the database as a method of tracking physical inventories.

I was then offered an opportunity to work with Chevron in their Image Library project. A huge corporation such as Chevron has a ongoing need for business imagery, and they were used to accessing it directly from stock photography sources. The Chevron Image Library was created, using Telescope, to store stock images, manage licenses, and create a central database of imagery accessible to all employees. I worked as a liaison to their Information Design And Communications (IDC) in house agency, ingesting finished projects, sourcing permissions, linking images to their online originals, and creating first-level metadata.

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

The most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand is that the ultimate goal is to make the results accessible to the daily business user. A scanned document is just an image, and is useless to business purposes unless it can be applied to practical purposes, just like a file in a folder is just a piece of paper until it is found and used.

The creation of metadata is as important to the access of the document as an accurate scan. It is important to understand how your users will access the data, and thus the digital asset that the data represents.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

My ongoing greatest challenge with DAM is the speed, or the lack thereof, inherent in the translation process. It takes much longer to ingest and notate every single document, image, video, or audio clip than it is comfortable to discuss for budgetary purposes. Once it’s done, of course, it’s there forever, and can be accessed instantly, so the results are certainly there, and are tangible. For long periods of time, it doesn’t look like anything in particular is happening. DAM is definitely a background process.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

My biggest success in regards to DAM was when I was able to use our database to help the police track and identify a large number of stolen items. Before the process, all of those documents would have to have been physically pulled from files collated, annotated, and returned to storage. I was able to create a digital file from all the documents, and deliver to investigators within a day.


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DAM Guru Program Members for Hire

DAM Guru Program is now two years old and more than 650 signups strong. To enable the DAM community to better benefit from the growing range of expertise available within DAM Guru Program, we now connect participating members to organizations seeking freelance, temporary or permanent help.

Based on matching a needs profile to an expertise profile, DAM Guru Program managers will do their best to find the right Guru for every request, no matter what the area of expertise, global region or language.

We hope this provides hiring organizations with the expertise they need to make the most of their DAM initiatives, and we hope it helps our members find employment opportunities they’ll enjoy.

As with all DAM Guru Program member services, there is no charge for this service.

If you’re an organization looking to hire a DAM Guru, start here.

If you’re a DAM Guru Program member who would like to participate, start here.

More information about this announcement is available at the Picturepark website.

Guru Talk: Laurentia Romaniuk – Digital Asset Management Professional

Laurentia Romaniuk - Digital Asset Manager

Fresh off her internship at Apple and now managing assets for a well-known furniture company, Laurentia has learned quickly to find success it is important to understand how digital asset management is scaleable inside a company.

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

I suppose that I first got my feet wet with DAM at Apple as a Digital Asset Management Intern in the summer of 2013. That being said, I had used various document control and asset management tools in my role at the University of Alberta (in Canada) for three years prior to that. In mid-2014 I started working for a well-known furniture company as a (digital) Asset Manager.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

If I’m describing what I do to someone that has never been exposed to DAM before, I start by posing the problem I often try to solve as a digital asset manager.

My shtick usually goes something like this: At large companies with a strong creative marketing presence, you can easily end up with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pictures. You may only see 20 pictures of a product on a website, but to get to those 20 pictures, thousands were shot. When a photographer or creative director needs to find that one picture with the happy smiling family in South Korea with a hot air balloon flying in the background, how does the photographer find that image when they have a huge pool of images to sort through?

My job is to facilitate finding that image and manage the lifecycle of that asset from the moment it is shot to the moment it shows up on the web. That’s DAM, and it doesn’t just pertain to photos. It can be anything – legal documents, blueprints, sound files, videos – large organizations are creating all sorts of digital documents that need to be sorted somehow.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I learned DAM on my feet to begin with. At the University of Alberta it was just a matter of someone needing to do the work, and the University had tools in place to help along the way. I then interned at Apple where, again, I picked up a lot on my feet. At this point, I knew I wanted to learn more, so I took an online course as part of my masters program at San Jose State University in Digital Asset Management with John Horodyski. I learned a lot.

With all that said though, by far the largest DAM resource that I feel I have is our professional network, whom I have largely met through LinkedIn, the DAM Guru Program, and most of all through the DAM Henry Stewart Conferences. Having peers to bounce ideas off of, pick up tips and tricks from, and share frustrations with, is an incredible gift. So! Jump in! Start reaching out to other DAM folks in your area!

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

Wow. Tough call.

I’d say it’s important for people to understand how DAM is scalable. Sure, you may need to hire a digital asset manager if you’re a large organization or if your company finds that you really need someone to manage a large pool of digital documents. But you can do DAM in little ways too; organizing assets and information can start with even a tiny pool of assets, and having an asset management strategy early on can only help you if your business / asset pool grows.

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

Project managing. Working in User Experience. Working towards a PhD (it’s on my radar, someday).

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Implementation & integration across the organization (both on the technical side and human side) is always a challenge. Also, creating a tool that is effective to users! Sometimes what may seem like a smart solution really just generates more problems.

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

I’m still pretty new to DAM and so it’s hard for me to comment on this one. I just don’t have strong enough knowledge and experiencing using most of the DAMs out there. So from a technical side, I can’t comment on DAM. In 5 years though, I do hope DAM roles become much more common and understood for their use in various organizations.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

Hmmm…. Getting caught up on flashy DAM systems. At the last Henry Stewart conference (DAM LA) I was so excited to hear about all the latest DAM technologies and to bring this information back to my work. Then, I heard a lot of asset managers talking about their experiences using these DAM systems, and it sounds like sometimes the sparkle is just that – sparkle – and it can really inhibit getting work done. I’ve since learned that simple systems, though maybe not capable of doing everything I want, can be much more useful and reliable.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

Check back with me in a few years! I feel like I’m still too young in the field to be commenting on my successes just yet.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I’d love to get more experience in blending my love for project management with DAM.


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  Category: DGP Member Interviews
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Guru Call: USA

USA FlagLooking for a Guru in MN, USA. DGP member is looking to select and implement DAM for a web publisher and events organization.

Currently there is no shared storage solution in place, and digital assets are stored on a mix of google drives, dropbox folders, and individual team member hard drives. It is required that the solution be cloud-based and have WordPress integration built in.

Member is seeking advice on a low-cost solution.

Signup: signup


Guru Talk: Sunil Krishnan – Cognizant

Sunil Krishnan Director of Technology

Digital asset management problems are not completely solved by tools or technology, Sunil knows it requires something else to attain success in the DAM industry.

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

Ford – I was a Program Manager managing a current state to future state road map, assessment along with strategic actionable recommendations.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

DAM is a combination of process, people and technology that helps manages the complete life cycle of a digital asset – starting from ideation, creation, collaboration, approvals , management and effectively distributing assets to call the consumers within in the Enterprise.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

Henry Stewart events, conferences, being active in the LinkedIn groups and local DAM chapters that may have connects to the marketing function.

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

DAM is a journey that has its own maturity curve which needs patience, compelling governance, sponsorship for the enterprise to accept it. In other wards success behind DAM is more than tools – it is the people and process that makes it successful.

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

I would be teaching in local school as I feel spending time with young and new generation is more rewarding or work full time with a non-profit.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Articulating value of DAM and working closely with less technology savvy functional users and leaders to embrace the basic usability, navigation, relevance of metadata in a meaningful fashion.

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

DAM will be a strategic component in the future Digital workspace race that is going in the enterprise. DAM will be the central nervous system where all the front-end facing content management, social media platforms and other sales (SFDC) and marketing tools would directly integrate or access to consume the central repository of digital assets.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

I thought for awhile that just a product or a tool would solve the digital asset management problems, but I was wrong. It’s more of a process, and solutions are people dependent.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

Helping my customers focus on process maturity around metadata, fine tuning search criteria, usabilities, navigations and Governance and sponsoring basic DAM training has been the biggest success.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

Learning how the many puzzles fit together in the entire Digital work space that is upcoming within the enterprise.


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  Category: DGP Member Interviews
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Guru Call: Norway

NorwayLooking for a Guru in Stavanger Area, Norway. DGP member has started the process of planning and implementing a DAM strategy for a major Oil & Gas company. The core need is to handle digital assets used as documentation of a construction process.

Member is seeking advice on how to handle collections of photographs in a given context and on-site creation of assets to ensure sufficient indexing by inexperienced users pressed for time.



Commercial Exploitation of Digital Assets

This article was originally published on the DAM Coalition website, a property of Pro Video Coalition. As DAM Coalition was decommissioned in early 2015, this content was moved with Nick Sincaglia

As a continuation of the theme from my Finding Inspiration from Metadata Standards article, I want to discuss the challenges surrounding the development of metadata models for the commercial exploitation of digital assets.

One of the benefits of developing a business in the field of digital media is the versatility and flexibility that file-based digital content affords you. However, with these benefits comes the potential for increased complexity in how you manage the metadata for your digital assets—that is, if you want to be able to take advantage of the many new opportunities now available to you. I frequently say to people, “You might know what business you are in today, but are you certain you know what business you will be in tomorrow?” The pace at which businesses must adapt to threats and new opportunities is significantly greater today than just a decade ago. And from what I can tell, there are no signs of it slowing anytime soon.

Listen to the Music (Industry)

So, what are some digital asset management strategies you can apply today to help keep your organization competitive tomorrow? My response to this question is to try to learn from others, perhaps other industries, that might have already addressed some of the challenges your organization or industry is just now beginning to address, or will likely need to address in the future.

When it comes to commercially exploiting digital assets and experimenting with new business models, there is a lot one can learn from the music industry. It is easy to discount this statement, considering what you might have heard from popular news outlets about the troubles the music industry has experienced over the past decade. However, the music industry was the first of the media industries to have to address these challenges head-on, and they have been doing so for well over a decade now. As a result, they have gained a lot of experience and it shows when you look at the data models they have developed and included in their metadata standards.

For the past 10 years, the technical leaders at many of the record labels, collecting societies and digital retailers have been collaborating on a regular basis to try to develop metadata standards that will increase clarity and reduce frictions in their day-to-day business communications. The results of this effort can be found in the Digital Data Exchange (DDEX) standards.

Digital Data Exchange (DDEX)

I would like to focus on one aspect of the DDEX standards, which addresses the commercial exploitation of digital assets.

The DDEX standard is an XML data exchange metadata standard, which is used to exchange information between business partners. Content owners wanted a standardized way of communicating with their business partners that would clearly describe the contractual terms that govern how their digital assets may be exploited commercially. Music can be used and consumed in so many different ways, so great effort was taken to try to define data structures that were versatile enough to handle all known cases.

The DDEX standard encapsulates all its commercial exploitation information within what is called the “Deal” data composite. While no metadata standard is perfect, I think DDEX has done a very good job in expressing the combination of elements one would need to describe the many possible dimensions required in the majority of business scenarios that exist in today’s digital marketplace.

Let’s take a tour through the “Deal” data composite to highlight what is there and how we might be able to learn from or repurpose some of the ideas for use in your business and industry.

Deconstructing the “Deal”

Let’s start with the basics: The first thing to consider is territory information. Every “Deal” must specify the territory for which it applies. Every country has its own unique laws, in terms of taxation, intellectual property and decency, of which one must be cognoscente.

In addition, each territory has its own cultural standards, business environment and popular methods of content consumption that one must consider when defining the commercial terms of a digital asset. Obvious examples are wholesale and retail pricing, which must be specified in the local currency.

Finally, due to restrictions defined by other licensing contracts, release windows and marketing campaign schedules, content owners must define the start and end dates between which these commercial exploitation terms apply.

Once the time and place for which the digital assets can be commercially exploited is defined, the next area of focus for definition is in the content’s “Usage.”

Defining content Usage is more complex than it might seem. Content Usage encompasses not only the means by which the consumer will access or experience the content (download, on-demand stream, conditional download, content influenced stream, non-interactive stream, ringtone, ringback tone, etc.), it might also detail many other conditions that surround the act of accessing and experiencing the content. These might include:

  • the type of device or user interface the consumer is using (mobile, kiosk, personal computer, game system, home entertainment system, broadcast receiver, physical media writer, etc.)
  • how the content is delivered (wired, wireless, satellite broadcast, terrestrial broadcast, p2p, physical media, etc.)
  • the type of carrier on which the media is allowed to be fixated (CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, VHS, etc.)

Each unique combination of “Usage” dimensions may dictate its own set of restrictions or price differentiation. Because of this, the standard must support the ability to explicitly define commercial terms for each described “Usage” combination.

As complex as this might already sound, there are other dimensions one might need to express in combination with “Usage.” For example, one may want to tailor the deal terms for their digital assets to be more or less favorable based on what type of business model their business partner is using. If the content is being included in a monthly subscription service, the content owner might want to restrict certain types of Usage, or include incentives for subscribers to purchase the media. If one’s business partner operates a media rental business, content owners might want to define the length of the consumer’s rental period. Or, if the business partner is a promotional outlet, the content owner might want to define the number of free plays the consumer is allowed.

Another consideration that could affect the commercial terms is a digital asset’s technical specification or quality, such as encoded bitrate (SD, HD, lossless, etc.), number of audio channels (mono, stereo, 5.1 surround, 7.1 surround, etc.), 3D video, etc.

In recent years, there has been some experimentation around offering the consumer the ability to pre-order content before it has been released. Defining the terms that govern when a pre-order deal can be advertised publicly, and the price incentives offered to the consumer, must be something that can be defined and communicated to retailers.

And don’t forget about digital returns. Yes, you read that right.

The concept of a digital return was introduced by iTunes. iTunes allowed consumers to purchase individual tracks on an album but, if a consumer later decided to buy the whole album, iTunes would provide credit for the cost of the individual tracks. iTunes would then message back to the content owners that they were issuing a digital return for those tracks.

Allowing or disallowing digital returns was an unexpected communication requirement that most content owners were initially unprepared to handle.

The last significant component of the DDEX “Deal” describes a means by which content owners can tell their business partners that they are no longer allowed to offer the digital asset to the consumer.

I mentioned earlier a start and end date within the commercial terms, but this is slightly different. There are times when a content owner suddenly loses the rights to distribute a digital asset to their business partners. This can happen through expiration of a license agreement, a lawsuit, or transfer of ownership. No matter what the reason for the sudden change in distribution rights, the content owner must quickly notify its business partners that they no longer have the right to license a particular digital asset, and the business partner must remove the ability for the consumer to access it.

Clearly, commercial exploitation of digital assets is complex today. I feel fairly certain in saying that it is likely to get even more complex in the future.

If some of the circumstances described above apply to your business today, or you foresee your industry trending toward some of them but are not sure how to best handle these types of situations, I recommend taking a look at the Digital Data Exchange metadata standards. There might be some data modeling techniques that you will find useful in keeping your organization agile so that it can take advantage of new opportunities or stave off new threats and remain competitive in the digital marketplace.

Nick Sincaglia

Nick Sincaglia is President/Founder of NueMeta LLC, a consulting firm focused on digital asset and metadata management strategies. Nick’s company provides software development and system design consulting services for the leading digital media & entertainment companies. Nick has been active in several industry technical standards bodies as a Board Member and Working Group Chairman for the Digital Data Exchange (DDEX), NARM’s Digital Think Tank, and member of Metadata Working Groups sponsored by the European Broadcast Union and Audio Engineering. Nick has been a member of DAM Guru Program since 2013.

LearnDAM-Logo-75x75DAM Guru Program recognizes this article as worthy of the #LearnDAM designation for materials that provide genuine digital asset management education without sales agendas. Search #LearnDAM on Google for more materials.