Mastering Digital Asset Management in Video Production

January 20,2024

Videos currently make up about two-thirds of all online content, and the average internet user watches around 100 minutes of online video content every day.

As brands and individuals try to keep up with this growing demand, they often find their library of past and future videos and other assets growing to unmanageable dimensions. If you’ve ever had a product or campaign launch delayed because your company’s Google Drive is so full that no one can find the clips they need or figure out which of the random product launch video versions getting circulated is the right one, you might have already stumbled deep into the chaos.

If you want to spend less time finding and coordinating content and free up more mental bandwidth to make great videos, you can use a digital asset management tool with built-in video asset management software like Avid’s Enterprise Media Management. Video digital asset management systems can help unify your library, speed up searches, track versions, and encourage real-time collaboration.

Let’s take a look at how to master digital asset management in video production.

What Is Digital Asset Management?

Digital asset management (DAM) is a convenient, usually cloud-based way to organize your files so that they're easier to search, share with your collaborators, and publish for the public. Files can include images, videos, logos, text documents, audio, color palettes, fonts, 3D graphics, templates, and any other digital content imaginable.

DAM lets you give your team different levels of access to those assets without losing fine-grained control or security. Its centralized system can keep your versions and messaging consistent, and its increasingly intelligent search capabilities can help you avoid bottlenecks.

Individual video creators often use locally installed digital asset management software. Larger video production teams are usually better served by cloud-based video digital asset management systems that members can access from anywhere, like Avid’s Enterprise Media Management Solutions.

Here are a few more great tools and resources for digital asset management that specifically focus on video production:

  • Brightcove: This intelligent, high-quality video streaming platform comes with insightful analytics tools and supports subscription, advertising, and pay-per-view monetization. Most of its plans offer limited hosting and tracking, and top features like live streaming are only available to high-end subscribers.
  • Wistia: This video marketing software comes with an easy-to-use content management system (CMS) and a video player that you can customize with your own branding, making it highly popular in podcasting circles. It has no live streaming or monetization options.
  • Kaltura: This video management system is built on a flexible open-source platform and used by many educational institutions. Its excellent cloud-based transcoding ensures consumers can play your videos on any device, and its bustling user community regularly contributes useful open-source add-ons.
  • IBM Cloud Video: IBM’s video management platform is focused on live streaming with great live analytics and livestream transcoding options. It can also host large video libraries and supports all major monetization models.

Lights, Camera, Organization! What Is the Importance of DAM in Video Production?

Digital asset management is important in video production because of the sheer size and complexity that most content libraries grow toward over time. In general, the more video content you accumulate, the messier your digital shelves get. DAM specializes in organization.

It might be easy to keep a system in your head as an individual creator making fun videos, but as your team and content expand, even the best head-based system can quickly find itself in danger of exploding. Using a DAM service as your video management software gives you and your team a number of easier ways to find needles in haystacks, including metadata, tags, color coding, version filtering, and AI-powered phonetic searches. You can also mark certain assets so that only certain user tiers can view or edit them. When it’s time to publish, your DAM service can help you automatically transcode your videos for any device or platform.

DAM can also help streamline your video production by:

  • Providing a centralized hub that you can integrate with your other video production and distribution tools
  • Encouraging communication among your team with built-in collaboration features so users can leave comments, suggestions, and annotations on any part of any asset
  • Speeding up video postproduction with built-in video editing software, like Avid’s Edit on Demand that lets you use Cloud VM, a fully virtualized version of Media Composer, from wherever you are
  • Keeping your branding consistent with version control features to make sure everyone uses the right logos, taglines, banners, etc.
  • Making it easy to repurpose media for different marketing campaigns and platforms by keeping videos and other assets available and clearly marked for reuse

From Chaos to Cannes: Best Practices for Effective Video Asset Management

Organizing and Categorizing Assets

Your DAM service will give you a few different ways to categorize and mark your assets. As long as you use them right, you’ll never have to lose a file again. Besides creating consistent file names and folder structures, you should add rich metadata and relevant tags to every file you upload to make sure everyone on your team can find anything they need.

DAM search will use all available information about every file, but you should still create consistent file naming conventions as your first layer of organization. Even if your content library is big enough to put Borges to shame, DAM search will usually be able to fill in any future forgetfulness as long as you start with a logical file-naming structure.

  • Make sure everyone on your team uses the same file-naming style.
  • Only use alphanumeric characters in your file names.
  • Instead of spaces, break up words with dashes, underscores, or CamelCase.
  • Include the date in every file name, always using the same format.
  • If an asset has had multiple revisions, include the version number.
  • Don’t include special characters like periods, slashes, and spaces.
  • Try to keep your file names short with fewer than 30 characters, if possible.

Metadata is like digital labels your DAM search can reference. You can add descriptive information to a file’s metadata to make content easier to identify. Here are some of the most important specifics to include in your metadata:

  • A short description of the file and its contents
  • The file’s format
  • Creation and modification dates as well as when the file will expire, if relevant
  • Who created, uploaded, and modified the file as well as who's authorized to use or edit it
  • Project data
  • Client data
  • Instructions on how the file should be used
  • Previous usage data
  • Structural data about how the contents of the file are organized
  • Licensing information
  • Genre data

Tagging your files will improve their discoverability. Tags act like custom keywords that team members might use when searching for an asset. While you should have a consistent method for your file naming and metadata conventions, tagging is usually better off left up to each user’s creativity.

Finally, your folder structure acts like an address for each file. Use an intuitive folder structure that everyone on your team understands. You can categorize folders by date, campaign, product line, project, etc. Just like your file names, your folder names should be simple and standardized.

Implementing Access Controls and Permissions

If you’re worried about giving clients or freelancers full run of your in-house library, many DAM systems have flexible access controls that let you assign different kinds of access restrictions to different kinds of users. You can allow or restrict specific files or folders and also specific actions like downloading or editing.

Here are a few of the most common tiers of access you’ll be able to assign:

  • Read only: In the lowest user level, you can restrict access to viewing only and prohibit any interaction with your assets.
  • Editing: One level up, you can authorize these users to modify your assets.
  • Developing: The users on this level are responsible for maintenance and development and allowed to work on back-end tasks.
  • Administrating: At the highest user level, administrators have free rein to view, edit, download, or manage any part of your library.

Regular Backups and Version Control

Even in a DAM system, the best way to prevent data loss from a rare system failure, breach, or accident is to back up your library regularly. The video asset management software in most DAM systems will let you set up automatic backups at regular intervals.

If you have multiple versions of certain assets, your DAM tool generally comes with a version control log that lets you track file modifications. Many systems even allow you to link related assets, which you can use to connect different sizes or formats of the same video. That way, when you click on one, you’ll be able to see all its related versions. Be sure to mark versions clearly in the metadata to avoid confusion.

DAM It! How to Streamline Your Digital Asset Management Workflows

Once you’ve picked the right DAM tool for your video production team, you can design and streamline a DAM workflow to help your team members understand how to use it. Your DAM workflow should include systematic processes for ingesting new assets, real-time collaboration, and optimal distribution.

Ingestion and Metadata Tagging

Once you create and approve a digital asset, like a video or logo, you’ll start by uploading it into your DAM system. Whether you or a co-worker uploads it from a personal device, a company computer, a production camera, or another cloud service, the ingestion process should always include adding enough information to the file to make sure your team can find it later.

You can follow these steps to make sure the metadata and tags you add are comprehensive and easily searchable:

  • Add a short description of the asset in plain language.
  • If your assets come in multiple languages, declare each asset’s language in its metadata.
  • Add its size or dimensions, including the resolution of video files and images and the bitrate of audio files.
  • Include the file’s format and which program can view and edit it.
  • Add its creator or uploader, who made or added it to the library.
  • Include the date it got created and last modified and the date it will expire, if pertinent.
  • Add usage data, including what the asset was created for and whether it’s meant for internal or external use.
  • Add any product data, such as which of your products is featured or appears in the asset.
  • For video files, include any important elements featured in the video, such as people, objects, themes, and ideas.
  • For visual assets, note the color scheme or palette the asset is based on.
  • Add historical data and asset version information.
  • Include any relevant administrative metadata like the asset’s copyright data, terms of use, license expiration date, and compliance requirements.
  • Finally, add any additional specific tags or keywords your team might use when searching for the asset in the future, including commas to separate tags.

Once you’ve prepared and marked your assets, your DAM tool will generally let you drag and drop them to upload them to the system.

Collaboration and Review Processes

Most video-focused DAM tools promote collaboration among team members during video production with an auto-sync feature that lets everyone instantly see any changes made to any asset. Changes will also be saved to a history log so anyone can see when a change was made and who made it. This helps resolve conflicts and makes the production process as transparent as possible.

Here’s an example of a typical DAM collaboration and review workflow along with some tips to help things run smoothly:

  • When users want to edit an asset, they’ll check the asset out to indicate they’re working on it. Some DAM tools allow for exclusive checkouts to avoid conflicts, and some let multiple users check out the same asset at the same time to increase efficiency.
  • When users save changes to a local copy of an asset they’ve checked out, the DAM system will automatically sync the changes to its cloud copy. If multiple users make changes at the same time, the edits will get merged.
  • You can leave comments or notes in any asset, including at specific timestamps or frames of a video, to let co-workers know what you’re working on and what changes are still pending or to give feedback to the video’s editors. Anyone with access can see the asset’s communications log.
  • The best DAM tools even come with integrated communication channels, like in-house video conferencing or chat, for real-time discussion.
  • Some DAM systems include AI-based conflict resolution tools to detect and advise you of any conflicting edits and possible solutions.
  • Your DAM system’s activity feed will notify all authorized users of any assets that have recently been ingested or updated.

Distribution to Multiple Platforms

When you’re ready to distribute a video, your DAM system can help you optimize the transcoding process for multiple platforms or devices so you don’t have to go back to Media Composer or your main NLE to export different versions. Most digital asset management software will have export presets for major social media sites or for viewing content on desktop or mobile devices at the best quality possible.

Some DAM tools come with AI-based composition algorithms that can automatically detect faces or other crucial elements in your videos and crop accordingly. Many also let you or your design team create templates for different platforms, audiences, quality, etc., with locked formats, resolutions, bitrates, font sizes, color palettes, cropping, watermarks, and other design elements. This can help give your team members confidence that their projects will stay on brand.

Conclusion

A quality DAM system with focused video asset management software can boost your creativity by streamlining your team’s workflow, enhancing communication, and keeping your assets organized and easy to find. If you want to see how one of the video production industry’s most respected companies handles DAM for video production, click here to try out Avid’s Enterprise Media Management solution.

References:

[1] https://www.sandvine.com/hubfs/Sandvine_Redesign_2019/Downloads/2023/reports/Sandvine GIPR 2023.pdf

[2] https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/340714/time-spent-watching-online-video-expanding-to-100.html

[3] https://www.ibm.com/topics/digital-asset-management

[4] https://www.nyu.edu/employees/resources-and-services/media-and-communications/digital-communications/cms-training-support/digital-asset-management/best-practices.html

[5] https://www.artworkflowhq.com/resources/what-is-digital-asset-management-dam

[6] https://scholarworks.rit.edu/books/3/

[7] https://digital.wpi.edu/concern/student_works/gx41mm87k

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