If you find yourself experiencing any of the following, or if you can relate to any of the following experiences, then you should seriously consider a digital or media asset management system.
You cannot easily find the content you are looking for: One of the key functions of any asset management system is that the content must be easy to search. Otherwise, if you cannot find your content efficiently, you will get frustrated, waste time and money on duplication of effort. Investing It will slow you down, delay projects, make your customers angry, and a whole host of ensuing problems. You will waste time trying to figure out which hard drive or archive tape has the content you are looking for. Additionally, an asset management system will allow you to organize content into groups, projects, or categories, making content more organized which translates into easier, more secure searching. Metadata and other tags can be added to content, making refinement of search results possible.
You have projects on hard drives only: Keeping content only on hard drives is data suicide. Even keeping backups on multiple drives is not wise either, because without a management system behind it you are just multiplying your headaches. If one drive should fail, are you going to remember which drive has the backup? The key distinction between a backup and an archive is this – archive systems have brains which keep track of where your content is, while a backup is just a backup. Preferably, archive systems should be self-describing such as LTFS LTO (open standards for archival tape) tapes, so that proprietary software or drives will not be needed for restoration if necessary. Also, keeping data (video, images, audio, documents, etc.) on a different type of media increases overall durability – LTO tape is certified for 30 years of archive.
You have stacks of video tapes on your library shelf and have no idea what is on them: If your library looks like an endless stack of tapes and you have no idea what to do with them, here is one suggestion. Get them digitized. Once you have content digitized all sorts of miracles can occur. You can preview, edit, search, store, manage, re-purpose and share them. Ingest is the process of digitizing video and other content into a DAM (Digital Asset Management) or MAM (Media Asset Management – for video content typically) system. Once content is ingested, effective management becomes possible. Your operation will be much more efficient, and if you want, you can discard the video tapes saving lots of space (once you have backups in place). If you cannot ingest the content yourself, outsource it.
You lost content with no backup:; You think it will never happen to you, but when it does occur it really bites. Hard drives do fail, and if you have no backup data is gone forever. Murphy’s Law is always in force, and Murphy never takes a day off. At best, you might have a restoration service try to recover the content off the hard drive, but there are no guarantees. It is better to be safe than sorry – invest in a MAM system with an LTO archive attached – there are many cost-effective solutions and there is a solution to fit every budget.
Your workflow is disorganized, redundant, and inefficient with content on disparate systems: You have multiple groups working on the same project, but there is lack of communication such that mistakes and delays occur. There are multiple storage systems which are not networked together, and there is no central management system either. Content is all over the place, with some unaware of where key clips are. One group duplicates the efforts of another, wasting time and money. Another group overwrites the work of another, causing delays and re-work. Unapproved content gets released, because a key decision maker was left out of the loop, unaware of what was occurring. A central MAM or DAM system eliminates all of these problems.
Projects are late or behind schedule due to inefficiencies: Customers are screaming because their projects are delayed, and you cannot tell them the real reason you are behind, so you make up excuses and lame reasons for delays. Even if you are not behind yet, you are sweating it out trying to find the right content for the project. With a MAM/DAM, there is no sweat – the content is at your fingertips literally, and collaboration makes the whole process much smoother, efficient, with deadlines that are met. In the end, both producers and customers are happy with a MAM/DAM system.
You are shipping hard drives and DVD media all over: The overnight couriers love you because you are sending data on physical media all over the globe. However, this is the 21st Century, and physically shipping large amounts of data this way is so 20th Century. Today we have broadband data services, and now content can be delivered in seconds or minutes instead of days. The best part is that it can be transparent to your operation, saving time and money. Your courier bills will be a lot less, and your clients, both internal and external, will be much happier due to instant gratification. A central MAM can coordinate the delivery of content over the wire securely. DVDs and other media can wind up in the wrong hands, so direct electronic delivery is much safer. A MAM/DAM system can determine who can see what content (asset or group permissions). If you do need to burn DVDs or Blu-ray discs, that can be arranged as well. Content can be sent to robotic DVD or Blu-ray burners at or near the customers’ locations automatically.
Chris Guli is in charge of Business Development at Empress Media Asset Management and has several years experience with MAM and DAM systems and applications.