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ShedWorx Digital Asset Management Lifecycle
Table of Contents
Welcome to the Shedworx Digital Asset Management Lifecycle. We will use our lifecycle to show you some ideas for managing and protecting your digital memories and how we bring those ideas to life in the ShedWorx software.
Why is DAM important?
As we move into the digital age, the photos and movies that we used to keep in shoe boxes and the back of cupboards now live on our computers. This opens up fantastic opportunities for creating and sharing our stuff, but also creates some risks.
Do you think that the photos and movies on your hard drive will be intact in a few years time? What about 10 year's time? It's hard to know, but my bet is 'not a chance'. Unless you do something about it.
We all spend time importing photos and movies onto our computers, maybe do some editing and rating, then pretty much forget about it. Hard drive crash, fire, theft, accidental deletion - game over. Even if you don't lose your work, what chance have you got of even finding something that you are interested in when you need it?
The Shedworx DAM Lifecycle is a combination of solid theory and real-world practicality. The Shedworx DAM Lifecycle is behind all of our products, especially Cosmos.
The Shedworx DAM Lifecycle includes the following phases:
- Capture - guidelines for shooting photos and movies in a way that makes it easy to manage your growing library.
- Import - how and when to import from your camera to your library.
- Backup - when to backup and where to backup to.
- Organise - ratings, metadata, keywords, editing and all that stuff.
- Publish - the point of all this is to share your stuff right? This phase covers everything to do with publishing and sharing your work.
Digital Asset Management covers everything that you do after you have captured your photos and movies. However, there are some things that you should keep in mind during the capture phase that can help you down the track.
First of all decide what you will be doing for camera storage. Does your camera use internal memory or card storage?
If you have the choice, card based storage is always best because you can carry a spare card with you as backup. Also, you can import more easily from a card than your camera when it's importing time.
Carry a spare battery. Almost all cameras use detachable batteries now so it makes a lot of sense to carry a spare. If you care enough about your photos and movies to be reading this guide, you should also get that second battery.
The iPhone is now the most popular camera in the world (according to Flickr uploads).
With its network connectivity and high-end apps, the iPhone is clearly the future of general photography.
So what should you think about when it comes to iPhone photos?
You can continue to use your iPhone like a regular camera. Take photos, import to iPhoto, or even use Photo Stream under iOS5 to skip the "plug in to the computer" step.
Or, try something new.
Cosmos for iOS takes the full DAM Lifecycle to your camera. Capture, Import, Backup, Organise and Publish all from your iPhone and iPad. Learn more...
When it comes to shooting photos on a DLSR or high-end point and shoot, most cameras have an auto-repeat mode. Since photos are so tiny in size you should make the most of these types of function to take multiple shots of each scene.
Don't bother reviewing the shots on the camera. Trying to view a 4000 x 3000 pixel image (for example) on a 3" screen is a waste of time. Review your photos in full size once you have imported them and throw out the duds then.
When shooting movies the most important thing for home movies is to keep the clips short. Try and shoot under a minute at a time. By doing this you will ensure that you only have one scene per clip. Hunting through very long clips for the particular scene you are interested in is very time consuming and frustrating. Keep the clips short so that editing can be efficient and fast.
Video cameras and still cameras (including point and shoot and DSLR) require you to import your photos to a computer of some sort at regular intervals. Why do we do this? Its because the upcoming stages of your DAM Lifecycle (Backup, Manage and Publish) require you to get the assets off the camera in order to do this.
What this means is that the Import stage is not really needed. It serves no purpose other than to get ready for future stages.
For the HD Video and DSLR cameras, Importing is a necessary evil. When Importing a few things are worth keeping in mind...
The import should bring the assets in from the camera to the computer with no changes to the asset at all. Nothing should be lost or converted on the way in so that you don't lose any part of the asset.
You can't wait for ever for an import. Firstly you camera could go flat and run out of battery, and you have better things to do than wait for the Import to finish.
You only Import to get your assets onto a device that you can use to Backup and Manage.
What if you could get your Backup and Management done on the camera that took the photo? No more Importing?
Welcome to Cosmos.
Backup should be the very first thing that happens after importing. Its not something you think about once or twice a year. You need to have a process in place that ensures that once your Import is done, Backups are happening.
I like to follow the 3-2-1 Backup Principle [from who?]
- 3 Copies of every asset
- 2 Physical locations for each asset
- 1 copy of every asset offsite
Here's how to achieve the 3-2-1 Backup Principle using Cosmos for Mac, or any regular digital asset management solution (e.g. iPhoto, Aperture, Lightroom).
The 3 copies of every asset that i recommend you keep are:
- One in the asset management application
- One automatic backup on an external drive or somewhere on your local network
- One copy offsite
The use of 2 locations is a must, but you can have three. Here's what I recommend:
- The first location is in the asset management application
- The second location should be off your computer. This can be an external drive or somewhere on your network.
Backup to your second location should be automatic and instant. This backup protects you from hard drive failure on your computer and is critical.
When you have your two location backup running you are protected against system failures but not fire/flood/theft. You need a backup offsite.
Online backups for this kind of thing are still in their early stages. I often import a 16GB card of video into Cosmos. My Cosmos Mac library is approach half a Terabyte, so online isn't a good option.
What I do is use folder copying to make a regular backup to an external hard disk and store that off site. As long as my library stays under a Terabyte or so, this works fine.
Some people need their backups to cover a 'point in time' recovery. This can be needed if your library becomes corrupted in some way that you didn't notice between offsite backups.
Your local backup would also be corrupted, so you need to get back to your library at a certain 'point in time'.
This is a complex area and is best left to dedicated professional asset management solutions Unfortunately these are beyond the reach of home users, but you should at least know that they exist.
The Cosmos Way
If your camera could take care of Backup and Publishing of your photos, you don't need to Import.
That's fine, but how does Backup happen?
Cosmos sends photos to the cloud as soon as they are taken (assuming you have Wifi or cell coverage). This is an instant offsite backup.
We also backup the Cosmos service very regularly so by the time your photo is taken, 3 copies exist (one on your iPhone, one on our Cloud server and one on our Backup server).
You have you two locations straight away also - your iPhone and the Cloud.
And you have your offsite backup - on the Cosmos Cloud service.
The reason you Organise your photos is so that you can find what you want later.
Imagine if you put every photo you ever took into a single set. You would never be able to find anything. For this reason, we organise our photos using data to describe them. This is called Metadata - data about data.
Metadata is then split into automatic and manual.
Automatic metadata is metadata that you get for "free". This includes the date/time the photo was taken, file size, resolution, location (from GPS) and so on.
This metadata gives you a start when you want to find something, but its not enough.
Manual metadata is everything else! This includes grouping, ratings (e.g. 1 - 5 stars), flagging and keywords. Using these 4 metadata types is usually enough for anyone to keep their library organised very well.
Grouping is how you bring related photos together. There are many ways to do this, but we've chosen a Group and Album approach for Cosmos.
This approach is taken directly from Peter Krough's advice, as found in The DAM Book, and it goes like this...
Assets (Photos, Video and Notes) can be grouped initially into Albums. An Album is the lowest level of grouping and would cover and event (Birthday, Holiday, Sporting game) and nothing else.
You can start a library using Albums only (this is in fact how Cosmos for iOS starts off) but eventually you find that you have too many Albums. This is where Groups come in. Groups are merely groups of Albums.
This simple approach is very powerful in that it gives you the freedom to keep creating Albums related to things that happen in your life, then you create Groups as you need them to keep the Albums organised.
We use a 0 to 5 star rating approach for Cosmos, similar to many photo management apps.
The best way to use ratings is to go through an Album and rate every photo.
Here's a guideline for what your star levels should mean:
- 0 - not rated
- 1 - worth keeping, but nothing special. The default value for a photo
- 2 - the better shots of an Album.
- 3 - the best ones in an Album. You should see a few three stars per Album
- 4 - really good stuff. These are the photos you want everyone to see because they are that good. You won't see a 4-star photo in every Album.
- 5 - the best photos that you have ever taken. You should only have a handful of 5-star photos in your library.
Flagging is a simple on/off setting for photos. It is really a simplified rating using a scale of 1 to 2.
If you use the flagging approach, the way to do it is flag the best photos of an Album, which makes it like a 3-star rating.
Keywords are how you describe a photo. This is more than just plain text, but the use of a system to describe any photo.
Why do we take photos or movies? Apart from our own enjoyment, we want to share them. This is the Publishing stage.
Publishing involves a few areas:
- Destinations - where do you need to send your photos?
- Formats - what formats or sizes do you need to use?
- Logging - which photos have been sent to which Destination and when?
A great deal of our guidance in the Digital Asset Management area has come from world-renowned DAM expert, Peter Krogh. Peter has been our DAM mentor for most of the development phase of Cosmos (both OSX and iOS versions), providing invaluable guidance and insight during the long slog of software development.