Move O’matic – The automagic structure
Imagine you are moving from your house that you have been living in for years. You pack your items in boxes with whatever is next to each other and put a sticky note on the box that indicates the overall theme of the contents and where it should go. This process is very much the same when you transmission from a network storage structure to a Digital Asset Management system.
You might think that this task is a long and manual process requiring a massive amount of work to get to a base level of Metadata on all assets. In this article, I intend to show how most Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems handle this automatically.
Who am I and why should you trust my advice?
My background for this article series is based on more than 30 Digital Asset Management implementation spanning from global enterprises to local medium sized businesses. I frequently facilitate practical and strategic workshops with clients and partners in all from actual configuration through tactical rollout to strategic implementation roadmaps. I have prior experience from web, newspaper industry, strategic marketing and sales.
I know the pains, needs and pitfalls in implementing a Digital Asset Management system and want to share this to help you in having a better customer experience regardless of your choice in vendor.
Following this best practice and aligning with your DAM provider you should save a lot of time, grief and get a lot quicker to the market with your new system.
Where do we start?
Everyone has an archive of media prior to purchasing a DAM. It can be stored a network drive or locally on your machine. What I have experienced is that it’s always structured. It might be in the filename, folder structure or a combination of both.
Example of naming convention on files:
Example of folder structure:
As is without a Digital Asset Management Solution
I’m creating a presentation for the yearly event and want to show a gallery of the business campaign from the last three years. In the scenario of the folder structure, you would either click through the structure and preview the images in the Pathfinder, finder, Adobe Bridge or Adobe Lightroom. I can navigate the tree structure and scroll through the contents a folder at a time finding one image and then navigating to the next folder. I generate a version, crop, scale, conversion of the asset or alternatively drag in the original high resolution material in to the presentation. This is slow and inconvenient, and for some impossible if you don’t have access to the archive.
Note: This is not a pros and cons of a DAM since I find this obvious but the angle of this article is not to argue this, but show the effect of migrating with the information already available.
Analyzing what you have
Think like the example from the intro of this blog. You should break down your structure into terms like year, campaign, type and category.
Breaks down to:
- Category level 1: Imagearchive
- Category level 2: Brandimages
- Year: 2017
- Dimensions: 131x365
- Department: Brand
- Segment: Business
- Campaign: summercampaign
- Filetype: TIFF
A DAM provider will automatically provide information from the files embedded Metadata like:
- Creation date: July 3rd 2017
- Asset type: Image
- If Audio or Video: Play length
- File dimensions: 131 width 365 height
- DPI: 300
This can depend on the photographer and the way you work with assets. It might contain geographical information and copyright information also.
Map your data and add it to search
When you know what you have, we simply add it to Metadata in the DAM system and apply powerful search like SOLR to present the content. I would recommend to simplify your metadata model to very few fields and use an assisted keywords field for the rest. You can always add governance when you have achieved some level of customer adaption. I will do a separate blog post on my philosophy on this area later.
Replay of the scenario and now it takes under a minute
I’m making a presentation for the yearly event and want some to show a gallery of the business campaign from the last three years.
I filter on campaigns and add creation date from January 1st 2015 to December 31st 2017, and I can see the campaign material across years. If I want to limit further, I can filter on asset type so I only see images or add some free text parameters that look across all fields.
This action can be done in under a minute. No manual labor is applied in the import of the archived assets. On top of this, a DAM provides services like scaling, transcoding to other formats to suit your needs. In some cases, it even integrates into your template system or Microsoft Office products.
It’s not AI or robotics. It’s simply taking your work until now into account and getting the best out of it. Saving grief, time and ensuring everyone can find the images. Not just the ones who made the structure.
The world isn’t perfect
You might have more than one structure in your company or even on your computer. In this case, you need to weigh the number of assets you have. Maybe you want the automatic Move O’matic to do it, or you simply upload the assets and let the fingers do the work.
I hope my post is helpful in letting you understand how best to transition from an existing legacy structure to a more modern search based structure in a Digital Asset Management system.