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CatDV Enterprise Server

If you work in a large department or production facility, CatDV Enterprise Server gives you all the benefits of CatDV Professional Edition and the Workgroup Server but with the option of applying controls so that users only see and work with files relevant to their current project, along with other tools to simplify sharing data within the team.

CatDV Enterprise Server
  • Authentication and logging
  • Configurable access control, with a flexible users, groups and permissions model
  • Server-based handling of preference settings to ensure that everyone working on a production has the same settings such as pick list values or preview settings
  • Shared group documents, such as a To Do list or production ‘blog’
  • Shared clip lists and smart folders
  • Tape library management (in conjunction with optional barcode reader)
  • Extra tools to simplify browsing clips on the server.

The CatDV Enterprise Server is available for either MySQL or Oracle databases, and is available for most common server platforms including Linux, Windows and Mac OS X.

Read some customer stories describing how the CatDV Enterprise Server is acting as the “gateway to the SAN”, a simple yet powerful user interface to the entire library of online clips.

For more information about CATDV, or to place an order, call (310) 922-1631

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CatDV Workgroup Server

CatDV Workgroup Server uses a powerful client-server architecture and a central shared database, allowing media catalogs to be searched and updated by multiple users concurrently.

How it works
  • The CatDV Workgroup Server is a separate server program that ‘clients’ (the CatDV Professional Edition application) connect to via a local area network
  • Clip metadata and thumbnails are stored in a central SQL database
  • No need to change your file organisation and workflow – media files are stored on your network or digitized from tape when required as you would previously, but CatDV helps you locate them quickly and effortlessly

Our entry level server product, the CatDV Workgroup Server is ideal for teams with up to 5 users.

CatDV Workgroup Server is available for most common server platforms including Linux, Windows and Mac OS X.

For more information about CATDV, or to place an order, call (310) 922-1631

CatDV Pegasus

Pegasus is a new, premium CatDV client. It builds on the foundation of CatDV Enterprise and includes built in support for MXF and archiving plus a brand new solution for integration with Avid Media Composer. It also includes metadata support for Red Epic files. Pegasus can co-exist with CatDV Enterprise clients and is available as a stand-alone product. The product is downloadable today.

CatDV Pegasus provides a complete Avid workflow solution within CatDV. Sequences, Master Clips and Subclips can be exported to Avid Media Composer from CatDV. The CatDV AAF Tool supports import of Avid created sequences, Master Clips and Subclips. Supported media is relinked within Avid media Composer.

This allows for CatDV to collaborate with Avid Editors as never before, providing a full round trip of media and supported metadata. Logging clips and sequences can be performed outside of the Avid edit suite saving valuable time and resources. Shot lists with added meta data can then be prepared off site and then sent to the Avid NLE for editing.

Media can be ingested and transcoded using the CatDV Worker and then Pegasus can send the clips to Avid .

Master clips, subclips and sequences created in Avid Media Composer can be exported to CatDV. Supported media and metadata is imported to CatDV, the Avid MXF media is relinked and metadata available to all CatDV users.

This new tool allows for a complete ‘round trip’ workflow of media and metadata between CatDV and Avid Media Composer. Allowing CatDV to manage and search all your media assets and make them available to your Avid editors.

Clips and sequences can be simply dragged into Avid by selecting the AAF Tool icon and dropping onto any open Avid bin.

PegasusDragDrop2

For media playback 3rd party codecs may be required

For more information about CATDV, or to place an order, call (310) 922-1631

SkyTech Media Solutions is proud to be a reseller for CATDV Asset Management Solutions

CatDV Digital Asset Management

catdvwordcloud3

CatDV is a digital asset management system with production management capabilities.

For companies that create or manage a large volume of digital media CatDV helps teams organise, communicate and collaborate.

Its simple, yet powerful tools support some of the world’s most sophisticated media workflows and provide the flexibility to work your way. CatDV brings value to single user installations through to large, dispersed teams in the world’s largest firms.

Unlike many asset management systems CatDV is easy to learn and deploy, has one of the lowest costs of ownership in its sector and has unrivalled ability to integrate with other products, platforms, formats, hardware and software.

systemDiagramUltimately CatDV helps companies find and reuse their media assets, helps teams to collaborate and to get more done, saving both time and money.

Over the last 12 years, CatDV has hundreds of successful deployments across some of the best known names in the media and entertainment world as well as in education, sports, non-profit and commercial settings. At the same time CatDV is used by several thousand individuals.

CatDV’s key strengths are its flexibility, power, simplicity and cost :

  • Flexibility: It can fit with your existing workflow and provides round trip metadata management with many different asset types (video, stills, audio, subtitles, documents etc), video formats, NLEs, storage systems, database systems, operating systems and archiving systems. There are APIs and flexible importers / exporters for customers & integrators to further extend the product.
  • Power: the CatDV worker can automate many tasks in a workflow, including ingest, file naming, file organisation, media logging and transcoding. The worker can also integrate with a wide variety of hardware and software tools so that existing investments are maximised
  • Simplicity: CatDV’s desktop interface is clean and straightforward. The complexity that comes with the flexibility and power of the product is hidden from the user who can focus on getting their job done. CatDV also has web clients that present a subset of CatDV functions, improving usability further.
  • Cost: CatDV is cost effective and pricing is tiered from stand alone, single user clients to systems that support hundreds of users across large, distributed organisations.

CatDV Connects with Avid

CreativeCOW presents CatDV Connects with Avid -- AVID Editorial


Santa Monica California USA©2013 CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.

Square Box Systems’ has just unveiled a CatDV asset management system for integration with Avid nonlinear editors. Pegasus is a premium CatDV client that is based on the CatDV Enterprise product and, in addition to integration with Avid Media Composer, also offers metadata support for RED Epic. With this addition, CatDV now offers support for Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere and Apple Final Cut Pro.

Square Box Systems‘ CatDV is an asset management system with production capabilities that has had a deep impact in numerous industries, including media and entertainment. “It’s aimed at people who have a large volume of digital media, which is relevant to many industries,” explains Square Box CEO Dave Clack. “It helps teams to organize and search that media and communicate among their divisions. There’s an insatiable demand for media and more and more large media, and to be able to find it offline and online is vital. So we help people to find the media and thus save money and time.”

Square Box CEO
Dave Clack

Now, Square Box has unveiled a CatDV product that integrates with Avid Media Composer. Pegasus, a premium CatDV client that builds on the foundation of CatDV Enterprise and includes built in support for MXF and archiving, now includes a new solution for integration with Avid Media Composer. Pegasus also includes metadata support for RED Epic files and can co-exist with CatDV Enterprise clients and is available as a stand-alone product.

“This now provides metadata integration between CatDV and Media Composer,” says Clack. “A producer can put together a rough cut together in CatDV and then mark up the data about what they like in the shot and communicate that directly into the editor. All the logging data is stored in CatDV and it can be shared seamlessly with the editing program. So it’s a collaboration tool between the edit team and the creative team.”

“We’re pitching CatDV Pegasus at the premium end of the market,” he continues. “We expect more sophisticated customers might have a niche environment of different editing stations to pick it up. It’s an extension to the existing customers we have, but it’s certainly a more high-end solution.”

Pegasus now enables a “round trip” workflow of media and metadata between CatDV and Avid Media Composer and a complete Avid workflow solution within CatDV. Sequences, Master Clips and Subclips can be exported to Avid Media Composer from CatDV.

The CatDV AAF Tool supports import of Avid created sequences, Master Clips and Subclips. Supported media is relinked within Avid Media Composer. CatDV Pegasus users can save time and create efficiencies by logging clips and sequences outside of the Avid edit suite and preparing shot lists with added metadata off site. Media can be ingested and transcoded using the CatDV Worker and then Pegasus can send the clips to Avid.

The workflow will allow users to export master clips, subclips and sequences created in Avid Media Composer to CatDV and import supported media and metadata to CatDV; the Avid MXF media is relinked and metadata available to all CatDV users. Clips and sequences can be simply dragged into Avid by selecting the AAF Tool icon and dropping onto any open Avid bin.


Clips and sequences can be simply dragged into Avid by selecting the AAF Tool icon and dropping onto any open Avid bin.

Clack notes how this workflow already exists for Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere. “Our roots were the Apple side of the community and when Apple changed, we were keen to have two horses in the race,” he says. “For customers, the decision about what NLE or hardware to buy isn’t such a risky decision. With our open communication between everything in the middle, they’ll never lose data and have an expensive mistake on their hands.”

Pegasus has been in beta testing since the beginning of 2013 and is now shipping

Clack describes CatDV’s key features as “power, simplicity, flexibility, paired with reasonable cost.” He adds, “It can fit with your existing workflow and provides round-trip metadata management with a full array of assets, formats, NLEs, storage systems, database systems, operating systems and archiving systems. With CatDV, you can automate many tasks in a workflow and integrate with a wide variety of hardware and software. At the same time, the desktop interface is straightforward; the complexity of the product is hidden from the user. CatDV is also cost effective. The user can choose from a standalone and single user clients to systems that support hundreds of users.”

CatDV users include such media-rich enterprises as CNN, BBC, NBC Universal, CBS Television Networks, as well as GoPro, Intel Corporation, NFL Films, Iron Mountain and dozens of museums, worship clients, hotels and other organizations that deal with media.

Pegasus has been in beta testing since the beginning of 2013 and is now shipping.

As the creation of rich media continues to explode in the media and entertainment space, the Achilles heel is the ability to easily organize and access assets. Square Box offers solutions that now span the range of NLEs, making them more powerful than ever for professionals within our industry.

For those interested in more information and pricing, in North America, contact JB&A. Outside North America, contact Square Box directly.

CatDV Case Study – SportsMax Jamaica

Technology Partners Deliver Complete Production Ecosystem for Caribbean Cable Sports Giant SportsMax

SportsMax logoWith 23 countries in the Caribbean tuning into sporting content from SportsMax, it has become one of the most successful cable sports channels in the world. Parent company, IMC, founded in 2002, are rights holders for the world’s top sporting content including the 2006, 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, the London 2012 Olympic Games and the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.

For the 2012 London Olympics, SportsMax took on its most ambitious challenge; bringing the Olympics to the Caribbean, 24 hours a day in realtime from London. And an even bigger challenge to the production team at Sportsmax, getting a new production pipeline up and running in less than three weeks. “We knew we needed a SAN solution to serve as central storage for the Olympics,” stated Kerry Gibbons, Executive Producer, Production & Technical Operations and Creative Director, SportsMax. “What we ended up with was a much-needed complete overhaul of our entire workflow.”

One of the biggest issues for SportsMax is that investing in an entire studio of new equipment is unaffordable. The Jamaican dollar is currently at 100 to 1 USD making what would cost $50,000 in the states, a half a million dollar purchase in Jamaica. To this point, choosing the right equipment, and the right technology partners and suppliers is not just crucial but a necessity.

Broadcast audio and video consultant, Carlos Sezumaga of Enhanced View Services, assessed the workflow situation for SportsMax. “I was concerned about the inefficiencies in their workflow,” explained Sezumaga. “Or as some at SportsMax have called it, all work and no flow. Not only were they facing the technological challenges that are common in a live production environment but a constantly growing frustration amongst staff which was leading to a reduction in productivity.”

After a week long visit to SportsMax HQ in Kingston Jamaica, Sezumaga designed a strategy for solving the workflow issues then reached out to Technology Partner, JB&A, who helped put together an entire production ecosystem that could handle, not only their needs for the London Olympics, but take them into the future with a solid infrastructure.

“We knew that without the right system in place, it would be total chaos,” said Gibbons. “We had two 14 person teams in London and over 100 people in the Studio in Jamaica–many of whom were students learning on the go. We weren’t sure if we could get a new system in place in time, but Carlos and the team at JB&A made it happen.”

The Olympic broadcast required capturing six different feeds from Satellite and Fibre, coming into the Studio in Jamaica. They had six logging stations set up running 24 hours a day, an all Mac workflow for the Olympics with a mix of iMacs and Mac towers running both Final Cut Pro and the Adobe Creative Suite. With the London team in place and a Studio set up in Jamaica, there were six TV programs running at different times daily producing 12-18 hours of content a day. Quick turnaround on edited footage was essential, often needing to insert relevant clips and/or stills on the fly during broadcasts. Without a clear asset management system in place, no centralized storage, archiving and backup solutions, or the ability to ingest the Satellite feeds, this would have been impossible.

To handle these demands, the newly defined workflow ecosystem from JB&A consisted of several components working together in concert: EVO Shared Storage Server from Studio Network Solutions (SNS) to serve as the central storage hub; CatDV digital asset management application from Square Box Systems to manage, organize and categorize all the multimedia assets; Pipeline Dual HD from Telestream for ingest of the Satellite feeds to EVO and CatDV for shared storage live logging respectively and; Cache-A LTO to archive the files created from the Satellite feeds after the content was created.

Together with Sezumaga, Enhanced View Services and JB&A,the new ecosystem was installed onsite at SportsMax. Lead by Sezumaga, this “dream team” of technology and broadcast specialists worked cohesively to install, train and support the project through the completion of the Olympic games. “This was a team effort,” stated Sezumaga, “It couldn’t have happened without any of the facets missing.” A technician from SNS was also on site in Jamaica to do the install and training of the EVO system.

“We’ve come a long way since I started 14 months ago,” said Gibbons. “With this new system, everything is more manageable. We could never have pulled off the this unprecedented achievement, broadcasting the Olympics to 23 Caribbean countries, without this new system in place. The more we use it the more we love it. SportsMax is well positioned for the future.”

Technology Partners Deliver Complete Production Ecosystem for Caribbean Cable Sports Giant SportsMax

(June 18, 2013) With 23 countries in the Caribbean tuning into sporting content from SportsMax, it has become one of the most successful cable sports channels in the world. Parent company, IMC, founded in 2002, are rights holders for the world’s top sporting content including the 2006, 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, the London 2012 Olympic Games and the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.

For the 2012 London Olympics, SportsMax took on its most ambitious challenge; bringing the Olympics to the Caribbean, 24 hours a day in real-time from London. And an even bigger challenge to the production team at Sportsmax, getting a new production pipeline up and running in less than three weeks. “We knew we needed a SAN solution to serve as central storage for the Olympics,” stated Kerry Gibbons, Executive Producer, Production & Technical Operations and Creative Director, SportsMax. “What we ended up with was a much-needed complete overhaul of our entire workflow.”

One of the biggest issues for SportsMax is that investing in an entire studio of new equipment is unaffordable. The Jamaican dollar is currently at 100 to 1 USD making what would cost $50,000 in the states, a half a million dollar purchase in Jamaica. To this point, choosing the right equipment, and the right technology partners and suppliers is not just crucial but a necessity.

Broadcast audio and video consultant, Carlos Sezumaga of Enhanced View Services, assessed the workflow situation for SportsMax. “I was concerned about the inefficiencies in their workflow,” explained Sezumaga. “Or as some at SportsMax have called it, all work and no flow. Not only were they facing the technological challenges that are common in a live production environment but a constantly growing frustration amongst staff which was leading to a reduction in productivity.”

After a week long visit to SportsMax HQ in Kingston Jamaica, Sezumaga designed a strategy for solving the workflow issues then reached out to Technology Partner, JB&A, who helped put together an entire production ecosystem that could handle, not only their needs for the London Olympics, but take them into the future with a solid infrastructure.

“We knew that without the right system in place, it would be total chaos,” said Gibbons. “We had two 14 person teams in London and over 100 people in the Studio in Jamaica–many of whom were students learning on the go. We weren’t sure if we could get a new system in place in time, but Carlos and the team at JB&A made it happen.”

The Olympic broadcast required capturing six different feeds from Satellite and Fibre, coming into the Studio in Jamaica. They had six logging stations set up running 24 hours a day, an all Mac workflow for the Olympics with a mix of iMacs and Mac towers running both Final Cut Pro and the Adobe Creative Suite. With the London team in place and a Studio set up in Jamaica, there were six TV programs running at different times daily producing 12-18 hours of content a day. Quick turnaround on edited footage was essential, often needing to insert relevant clips and/or stills on the fly during broadcasts. Without a clear asset management system in place, no centralized storage, archiving and backup solutions, or the ability to ingest the Satellite feeds, this would have been impossible.

To handle these demands, the newly defined workflow ecosystem from JB&A consisted of several components working together in concert: EVO Shared Storage Server from Studio Network Solutions (SNS) to serve as the central storage hub; CatDV digital asset management application from Square Box Systems to manage, organize and categorize all the multimedia assets; Pipeline Dual HD from Telestream for ingest of the Satellite feeds to EVO and CatDV for shared storage live logging respectively and; Cache-A LTO to archive the files created from the Satellite feeds after the content was created.

Together with Sezumaga, Enhanced View Services and JB&A,the new ecosystem was installed onsite at SportsMax. Lead by Sezumaga, this “dream team” of technology and broadcast specialists worked cohesively to install, train and support the project through the completion of the Olympic games. “This was a team effort,” stated Sezumaga, “It couldn’t have happened without any of the facets missing.” A technician from SNS was also on site in Jamaica to do the install and training of the EVO system.

“We’ve come a long way since I started 14 months ago,” said Gibbons. “With this new system, everything is more manageable. We could never have pulled off the this unprecedented achievement, broadcasting the Olympics to 23 Caribbean countries, without this new system in place. The more we use it the more we love it. SportsMax is well positioned for the future.”

NAB 2013: JB&A, SNS, Square Box, Telestream

CreativeCOW presents NAB 2013: JB&A, SNS, Square Box, Telestream -- NAB Expo Editorial

NAB 2013: JB&A, SNS, Square Box, Telestream


Santa Monica California USA

©2013 CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.

At JB&A’s annual Pre-NAB Special Event, the media management company brought together a range of companies representing the entire production/post pipeline, to show off a range of workflow solutions. Some of those companies included Christie, which showcased its new Phoenix content management system; Square Box, which unveiled Version 10.0 of its CatDV Digital Asset Management software; Studio Network Solutions (SNS), which debuted EVO v5, major hardware and OS upgrade to its EVO shared storage server; and Telestream, which introduced new products and capabilities for its Vantge video transcoding and workflow orchestration products.

Just prior to the opening of NAB 2013, JB&A hosted a gathering of companies that created an entire workflow. It was a logical step for the company whose services have been a mix of consulting, channel partner, solutions provider and distributor offering a n ecosystem of certified products and workflow solutions. Founded in 1996, JB&A has focused on media management and IP video distribution, with MAM, DAM, IPTV, streaming and digital signage markets. In addition to customized solutions, JB&A has also provided training and support.

Its Annual Pre-NAB Special Event, at the MGM Hotel, showcased technology solutions from 16 manufacturers including ChristieCache-A, Cambridge, CatDV, Exterity, FocalPoint, MarquisNevionNexidiaQuantum, Studio Network Solutions (SNS), Telestream, Tempest, ViewCastViewZ and ZeeVee.

“We are constantly bringing new and cutting edge technologies to market,” stated JB&A CEO Jeff Burgess. “With this event we tie them all together showcasing a complete product ecosystem that solves virtually every workflow need from ingest to distribution to collaboration to monetization.”

One highlight of the event was the new Christie Phoneix, a network-distributed open content management system for simultaneous encode, decode and display of audio-visual data enabling seamless access and control of audio-visual data, regardless of the user’s location, showcased by Christie, a Platinum Sponsor of the event.


CatDV Digital Asset Management.

Square Box Systems unveiled Version 10.0 of its CatDV Digital Asset Management software. Used to manage the tasks and decisions surrounding all aspects of the production process including ingest, logging, annotation, cataloguing, storage, project sharing, retrieval and distribution of all their digital assets, Version 10.0 is a major upgrade that was first previewed as a technology demonstration at IBC 2012, Version 10.0 features new pricing, improved integration with Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 and other NLE applications, an enhanced interface, and increased support, speed and accuracy for QuickTime. Other features include a pluggable exporter framework to support transcoding using different media libraries including QuickTime, Xuggle, and DirectShow; QuickTime movie exporter improvements with better control over frame size and the ability to create fast start flattened movies; and an updated interface for a consistent user interface across the whole CatDV product family. “CatDV is the virtual glue that holds today’s most complex workflows together,” said the recently appointed CEO Dave Clark.

The Nick Saban Show
The Nick Saban Show

Crimson Tide Productions. CTP’s production studio is an all digital workflow, no tape and made the transition from tape to digital about two years ago.

Studio Network Solutions (SNS) debuted EVO v5, a major hardware and OS upgrade to its EVO shared storage server. EVO is designed for real-time use with applications including Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer and ProTools, Adobe Premiere Pro, Autodesk Smoke and Assimilate Scratch. This all-in-one box system combines nearly 2.5GB/s throughput and 4K support with connectivity options including 10 Gb/s Ethernet and 8 Gb/s Fibre Channel.


Studio Network Solutions EVO is a RAID-protected SAN + NAS shared media storage server. Shown above, the 8-bay. (8 SATA/SSD drive bays.)


… and the 16 SATA/SSD drive bays (Expandable)

V5 of EVO now offers the flexibility of built-in SAN and NAS, with features including volume/pool expansion, 128TB per node, project/bin sharing for OS X and Windows, RAID 6, and remote monitoring and setup. Shipping in 8-bay or 16-bay configurations, EVO v5 comes with 1TB, 2TB, 3TB and 4TB drives and supports RAID 0, 1, 4, 5, 6 and 10. The new EVO v5 8-bay unit is priced starting at under $7,000 and, similar to its 16-bay edition, has no per-seat software licensing fees.

Telestream unveiled new products and capabilities for its Vantage video transcoding and workflow orchestration products, including a transcoder for IPTV and cable VOD workflows, new formats including HEVC, new integrations for QC, high-speed delivery and watermarking, as well as the ability to run all Vantage capabilities in the cloud – providing the ultimate tool for automated media workflows. Telestream now offers transcoding products for multiscreen, IPTV, edit, cable, and broadcast workflows.

Vantage Transcode IPTV VOD focuses on challenges specific to IPTV and cable Transport Stream transcoding, offering integrated Manzanita multiplexing and GPU-accelerated video compression for high quality at the lowest possible bit rates for IPTV distribution.

Telestream also announced several new formats for the Vantage transcoding product family, including HEVC H.265, updates to x264 H.264, plus AMWA AS-02 and AS-11, as well as DPP AS-11 MXF files. New capabilities allow Telestream to offer GPU-accelerated compression. Telestream also demonstrated new system integrations with Aspera faspexCinnafilmTachyon, Digimetrics Aurora, Interra Baton, VidChecker, Civolution, and Screen Subtitling, which now join over a dozen integrations already available for the Vantage engine. Telestream demonstrated the integration with VidCheck‘s second generation of VidChecker auto QC software. VidChecker QC software appears as an icon in the Vantage GUI, and users are able to select it as part of the Vantage workflow, choose the testing template, and then see the QC results within the Vantage interface.

Telestream’s new Vantage Cloud allows users to run Vantage video transcoding and workflow automation in cloud-based environments, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), unifying Vantage Cloud with on-premise systems.

A visit to JB&A’s Pre-NAB 2013 event was well worth the trek to the Mirage. JB&A has done a service to NAB visitors by bringing together a range of companies providing workflow solutions and enabling everyone to ask enough questions of on-site company representatives to build the right workflow for every solution. Square Box’s CatDV Version 10.0, SNS’s EVO V5, and Telestream’s many enhancements for its Vantage video transcoding family were some of the brightest highlights, but every company exhibiting at the Event had something valuable to show, and Christie validated the importance of the event by its exclusive showing of the new Phoenix technology.

Great article on preparing for Digital Asset Management

Preparing For Digital Asset Management

Key preparatory considerations for managers planning to implement Digital Asset Management

By Ralph Windsor | June 10, 2013

When many prospective DAM users decide they need to either implement Digital Asset Management they often start by looking at the numerous DAM systems available on the market.  While that is an important consideration, astute managers quickly realise that there is a lot more involved than just licensing some software and deploying it.  In order to extract the maximum benefit, DAM initiatives involve changes to the working practices and culture of the organisation.  You cannot properly decide on what those need to be until you have carried out some rudimentary analysis of your current situation.

There are some simple auditing and discovery techniques you can employ to meet that goal.  In this article, I will describe some of them and also examine some of the implications of what you may uncover in your investigations.

Key pre-implementation questions

In a typical corporate DAM scenario, the business will want to consolidate all the digital media it owns so that everyone can become aware of its existence and later maybe consider building services based around the DAM solution.

From those requirements, you can derive some key questions that need to be answered.  These should form the basis of a pre-implementation audit.  Below are some examples:

  • Where are our assets?
  • Who controls our assets?
  • Which assets do we own the Intellectual Property to?
  • How will we catalogue our assets?
  • What existing systems are we using?

Where are our assets?

With most organisations, there are numerous disparate collections of digital media held on a range of storage media.  These can be found  within individual departments, held by third party suppliers and (still in many cases) a proportion of material in analogue formats that will require digitisation.  See also the question below about existing systems later on.

When auditing your existing assets, you will find it necessary to be both persistent and diligent about researching sources.  Often end users will tell you they are unaware of a collection of items which colleagues even within their own department might know of.  Ask as many people as possible and get examples of the assets so you can reality-check whatever you are being told as to their existence and/or suitability for inclusion in the DAM.  Attempting to ingest every item of digital media that your organisation handles is likely to be counter-productive.  Depending on the size of your various collections you probably will have to select and prioritise some assets over others based on anticipated demand.

As part of the discovery process, you need to keep records about collections of assets, who owns them and any other relevant details like the intellectual property status etc.  A simple spreadsheet or even a document just listing them will help when it comes to consolidating these resources.  In each case, you need to examine the content and decide whether it is worth ingesting:

  • Pre-launch
  • Post-launch
  • As required (on demand)

Pre-launch means the assets will be available as soon as the system goes live and should be the ‘must have’ assets that many users will want.  Post-launch is material that is not needed right away, but should be assimilated and introduced as soon as is practical.  As required means assets which are not deemed to be integral or essential, but should be ingested as they are used.

There will be some assets that will get proposed for inclusion but the cost and time involved might not be justifiable.  If you have documents and records that detail the existence of these repositories, you can make a judgement nearer the time about what to do with them and review that at a later date.

Who controls our assets?

For each of the repositories you identify, you need to find out who controls them.  How likely is it a department or supplier will upload the assets or hand them over to allow someone else to conduct that task?

In larger corporations with multiple business units, the identification process can get quite complicated as there are grey areas between different businesses that share a brand name, but whose staff and assets exist in a separate legal entity.  For each repository, you need to find out who controls those assets and obtain feedback from them about the likelihood of them participating in your DAM initiative.  It is certainly possible that multiple DAM projects (or similar exercises with different project titles) will be taking place simultaneously and you may decide to merge requirements together to consolidate costs and share knowledge.  Clearly, it is easier to find this out before you have chosen vendors and commenced an implementation rather than integrating different products from competing vendors later.

Even if your organisation is relatively small or has a simple organisational structure, there is a good chance that many assets will not be held in-house.  In the case of marketing collateral, they may be retained by an agency – or at least source material like design files. It is quite common for print suppliers to hold many of an organisation’s assets too as they are often the end-point where assets are dispatched prior to going to press.

As well as each repository, your fact-finding should detail who controls the assets held within each if them and what their relationship is with you and the DAM project you are undertaking.

Which assets do we own the Intellectual Property to?

These days, organisations usually require that the Intellectual Property to media assets they have paid to originate is transferred to them, but that does not mean all digital media they hold will be their exclusive property.  There are a number of circumstances where it is not possible or is cost-prohibitive to obtain IPR.  These might include:

  • The assets were originated some time ago and the original asset supplier retains the rights.
  • IP was never properly transferred and still rests with the originator.
  • The assets were acquired from stock media libraries who provide a licence to use the assets under certain specific circumstances only.
  • The organisational unit is a separate business and they have a dispensation which allows them to retain ownership of their own IP and control who else has access to it.
  • The assets belong (or may soon belong) to a part of the business which has been sold off as a separate entity to new owners.

Before you place assets into the DAM system, it is vital to have clear and accurate records about who holds the IPR and ensure that any usage restrictions get included when assets are ingested.

It is dangerous to make assumptions about this without some careful auditing being carried out first. When you launch your DAM system, you are effectively promoting and publicising your collection of assets.  This means some which might never have been re-used before many now acquire a renewed popularity.  You need to be sure that the reason they were not used before is because the IPR could not be properly established or was not secured to begin with.  To avoid litigation problems, it is essential that the usage restrictions are identified and recorded along with each asset.

It is true that most DAM systems now offer some form of usage control where download can be blocked until proposed usage has been checked, but you don’t want to be insisting on this for everything, or users may become frustrated with delays in getting access to non-contentious assets.  Doing some pre-implementation planning and analysis can identify what assets are safe to allow general access to and which need to be restricted.

How will we catalogue our assets?

Developing a taxonomy or metadata schema is a wide-ranging topic that needs to be a whole separate stage in your wider DAM implementation process.  That said, it is possible to do some preliminary analysis of how you will want to catalogue your assets and that can be used as the starting point for more detailed work.

When asked to do this, a lot of prospective DAM users come up with many subject-specific keywords or terms that are relevant to their business.  This will need to be done too, but at the pre-implementation stage you should be more concerned about broader concepts and themes that will define your cataloguing requirements.

To give some examples, if your organisation is involved with manufacturing consumer goods, you might think about concepts such as:

  • Products
  • Brand names
  • Departments
  • Regions and countries

A professional services business might use something like this:

  • Services
  • Vertical markets
  • Business units
  • People

There is obviously some cross-over here and you will also have generic cataloguing needs such as the  type of asset media also (e.g. images, video, document etc).  In addition, there could be some highly subject-specific classifications that will be meaningless to those outside your organisation but are well-understood and integral to those within it.

The key point is to consider how your end users will ultimately expect to both catalogue and search for assets when the DAM system is released.  If you defer this task until you have appointed a vendor, you have less time to think about it more carefully and also envisage how an ideal solution might support your needs.  When vendors first set the system up for you, they will require a clear guidance about your metadata requirements to carry that task out for you so it makes sense to think about it early on.

What existing systems are we still using?

When I liaise with clients in my DAM consulting work, unless they are migrating from an existing product, many start from the assumption that they do not have anything which may have been used to catalogue media in the past (DAM or otherwise).  That is not always the case and sometimes there are actually existing systems in use.  What they mean is there isn’t anything that is accessible to most of the users and/or that works in the way they want it to.  Even if they are exchanging one DAM system for another, it may also be the case that there were legacy products that got ignored the first time around either because they were not known about or due to lack of funds etc.

Using database applications to catalogue media is not an especially new concept and there have been software products that have shared features with DAM systems for at least 25 years now (arguably longer if you count spreadsheets).  For some specialist media assets, bespoke database applications may have already been developed and still be in use.  Desktop applications can be quite well hidden as they not accessible via Intranets etc and unless the existing users tell you about them, you will not know they exist.

What these systems may have is re-usable metadata that can be migrated into the new DAM system.  This can reduce the amount of effort required to catalogue assets and also prevents the existing time (and money) already invested from completely going to waste.  Database engineers and software developers can extract useful data from all kinds of sources, even unstructured files like Word documents, web pages or spreadsheets. It might be that the time and cost involved cannot be justified compared with what you will get out, but you need to assess what is available in each case.

As well as legacy systems, many digital media files may contain embedded metadata within them which you can sometimes extract.  Media that has been sourced from commercial photo libraries, will generally contain keywords, captions and the copyright and usage restrictions in common embedded metadata formats like IPTC.  Not all the metadata will be usable, but it is still worth analysing the contents and evaluating what is on offer.

The more metadata you can retrieve from existing systems and within sources such as the assets themselves, the less effort is required when you transfer assets into a new solution.  You may well still need to go back later and optimise the quality of the cataloguing data, but you will at least have a starting point that avoids having to do this job completely from scratch.

Thank you to the Digital Asset Management Coalition for this great article… Read more….

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