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The Future of Video: Digital Asset Management Software for Editors

By Lance Hukill

In this Post:

  • Learn the differences between the different types of Asset Management (production, media, digital, video).
  • Learn the benefits of (video) Asset Management for the creatives.
  • Learn why (video) Asset Management does not provide all the answer, and the importance of other ecosystem components.
  • Learn how and why (video) Asset Management is being adopted and migrated to the Cloud.

Lance Hukill, Chief Commercial Officer for Acorn Cloud, by CHESA, sat down with Kurt Clawson, Senior Vice President of Solutions at CHESA, for an interview. We appreciate Kurt sharing his insights on video digital asset management software. Let’s dive into the conversation.

 

How to Empower Remote Digital Teams

Lance Hukill: Kurt, the first thing I would like to do is define what video asset management means and its progression over the years.

Kurt Clawson: Over the years, asset management has specialized in several niches in terms of primary focus. Baseline asset management systems include media asset management and digital asset management. They are very similar.

Digital Asset Management has shifted towards finished goods like highlight clips, editorial pieces, or commercial advertising with an emphasis on cataloging content so that it can be monetized or repurposed quickly and easily. Many companies have DAMs for their marketing and internal communications.

Media Asset Management implies an across-the-board focus of: video assets, still images, production data, and background documents. A MAM encompasses the entire catalog of all things that fall into the world of media.

Video Asset Management Systems is a newer term that primarily focuses on video but usually supports other media types. They have to. Video post-production requires access to more than just motion assets; creative teams need access to everything from graphic elements to still images. One could argue that VAM is a subset to MAM.

Production Asset Management is a different animal. It is all about the work-in-progress in the context of a larger project like an episode of a TV show. All the elements that are necessary to make up that TV show go into the production asset management system and are all at the fingertips of the entire creative team. The team members are able to pull them in and access them, use them for reference, and use them in the finished goods. Production asset management is a niche market.

 

 

Lance Hukill: What are the benefits of video digital asset management software platforms, specifically for creative teams? How do they help creators find video assets and ensure they are easily accessible and organized? How are Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence enhancing the ability of creatives to share and collaborate? 

Kurt Clawson: Creative teams need to find the right asset at the right time. Assets that are easily accessible enhance the ability of production teams to share and collaborate. Asset management platforms should rapidly ingest files so that they are accessible to creative teams. Systems with rich extended metadata capabilities make it easier to find content, organize it, and repurpose it.

Platforms that incorporate machine learning and artificial intelligence dramatically enhance metadata. That allows creative teams to find and organize content easily. Without ML and AI, team members must manually enter metadata and add context. This can be a time-consuming and error-prone process. Through ML / AIs can utilize facial and object recognition to automatically enrich metadata without anyone having to go into the file and manually enter the information. Speech-to-text capabilities, often thought of in terms of closed-captioning, can be very useful during production. I recommend using speech-to-text as assets are ingested to enrich metadata. AI-generated metadata allows creatives to perform powerful searches within the video elements and audio stream, all without time-consuming and expensive manual entry.

There are a number of asset management systems that incorporate Review and Approve to assist in Collaboration. Some lean towards production and offer features like the ability to do markups directly on a frame inside of a video stream. Others focus on workflow with approvals triggering the next phase of production. Sometimes tools can enhance Review and Approve. For example, Frame.io is a heavy-duty review and approval tool specific to the production environment.

The project aspect is relatively new in the asset management world. People are beginning to take that next step of saying it’s not just about finding your assets; it’s about managing your project. Most of the asset management systems fall short of the project. They let you create a project file, check it in, and catalog it. You can add some metadata. But what if you want to search a project and cross-reference all the assets that were used in it? Most systems can’t do that. That’s where a platform like Helmut and Frame.io come into play. They focus on the project side, managing the content of your projects rather than the assets themselves.

Many asset management systems focus on the integration layer and NLE. Adobe Premier Pro is very popular. Avid is still heavily used in specific spaces. From the perspective of asset management, the ability to look into an Asset Management system from the NLE without leaving that creative environment enhances flow.

Powerful asset management systems foster collaboration. Two creatives on opposite sides of the world can be working together and share information in real time. Many companies have freelance editors or outsource production, so not being limited to a single network or system is essential.

 

 

Lance Hukill: A lot of what we just spoke about is never in just one platform. Let’s walk through how sometimes “the sum of the parts is greater than the whole”.

Kurt Clawson: You’re right. No single platform has all the features. Creative teams can finetune their asset management system through systems integration. Rather than having to have one system for your production team, another for your marketing team, and another for cataloging, you can use third-party components to extend the capabilities of the environment. We help hone in on what our clients are trying to accomplish and collaborate to identify other components so they have the best of both worlds. Right now, we are working with clients to integrate Helmut, Frame.io, and other specialty tools. As a systems integrator, we help deliver the right solutions and subcomponents, and then we support them.

 

 

Lance Hukill: Let’s close this session by talking about The Cloud. How has The Cloud impacted Video Asset Management requirements? And how are clients shifting from on-premises architectures to Cloud First technologies? 

Kurt Clawson: Remote work is going to be here for some time. Asset management systems had historically been on-site, usually with direct interaction with the storage subsystem.

Video production companies want to move the video digital asset management software system to The Cloud to enable secure remote access and improve the entire process of being able to share, find, and utilize the content. Some don’t want to uplift all the media that they have been storing on-premise into a cloud environment. They also want to leverage the CapEx (on-premise) solutions that they’ve invested in. However, that can be a challenge from the perspective of implementation. On-premise architectures are often focused on either monolithic apps or being able to distribute services evenly and effectively across a couple of different pieces of hardware. Many Cloud First technologies have asset management systems built in, and some have the ability to work in “hybrid” workflows by leveraging on-premise investments as well.

Some companies are fully embracing Cloud First technology. Across the board, the front-end side is moving to The Cloud to promote accessibility. It’s taking longer for other companies to embrace a Cloud First mindset for storage, mostly because of egress charges. I suspect over time the industry will perceive cloud storage as cost-effective as volume increases and egress charges go down.

 

 

Lance Hukill: It’s such a paradigm shift. With the pivot to The Cloud, you move from CapEx to OpEx financial models with smooth lines of operating expenses, but may have higher Total Cost of Ownership costs than the old model. However, you don’t have to reinvest in new capital expenses every three to five years. 

Kurt Clawson: You bring up a good point. Cloud First is pay-as-you-go. You are not hosting up an environment and paying a 24/7 bill. With On-premise, you make a significant CapEx investment and have lower OpEx. But you must refresh every three to five years. We’ve seen companies making that initial investment. After a relatively short time, the software exceeded the hardware capabilities. The perception was that the software was meeting expectations. Maybe it was too slow to ingest content, or there were system lags when the number of editors increased. But what was really happening was the hardware needed to be refreshed to get it to the point where it could function as it should.

The more sophisticated the software becomes, the heavier load it expects to be able to pass off to the hosting environment. In a Cloud First model, you don’t have to worry about software exceeding the physical resource capabilities of the hardware.

 

Find Out How Your Creative Teams Can Benefit from Video Digital Asset Management Software with Acorn Cloud

Acorn Cloud is more than a workflow; it is a solution with full support and services behind it. Contact us today to see how Acorn Cloud can transform your video production process.

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