What are the Best Tools for Improving a Production’s Media Workflow?

How can a studio limit the number of tools they use in their media workflow during production? Find out what steps you can take in this article.
Media & Asset Management
September 28, 2022
What are the Best Tools for Improving a Production’s Media Workflow?

Content owners and producers are dealing with a wide variety of digital content. Whether it’s short form, long form, live action, animated, unscripted, scripted, etc., there's so much content in the world.

So how can studios make sure they are choosing the right tool and processes to enhance their media workflow for each production? What can they do to prepare for what every team will require in the future? The truth is that every production and department has their own needs that can fit under a variety of tools. To help you determine the best tool for your media workflow, we have put together some initial steps to get you started.

The first thing that can help you narrow down your list of tools is understanding what your production really needs.

Understand What Your Media Workflow Requires

The goal is to have fewer tools to deal with, which makes everyone’s life during production easier.

To make sure you're choosing a tool that is versatile enough and can replace outdated or redundant platforms, make sure that it can handle the requirements of different departments and productions. It’s also vital to consider the security requirements of that tool.

Some studios will only consider the requirements of their ‘tentpole’ feature films and television shows, which might only encompass something like 3% of a studio's content production. That means that if a tool is selected to only serve that small portion of content, the rest of the media assets might not require it.

Curious what tools the leaders in the M&E industry are using for their digital asset management? Download our free report and find out.

This creates a split-decision scenario which can get quite messy. Suddenly, there are thousands of digital assets that need to be reviewed, shared, and moved across platforms and different areas in a studio. For productions that involve hundreds of visual effects, like The Peripheral, media asset management can be chaotic.

That’s why we recommend taking a step back and understanding all the requirements of ALL the different types of content your productions create. Only then can you start to find one tool, or the fewest set of tools, that can really cover your media workflow needs.

Review the Different Media File Types

To find the right tool for your digital media workflow and processes, it’s important to think about the actual file types.

Your larger and smaller files cannot be fragmented across people, departments, vendors, etc., which often happens when there are too many tools being used. Plus, it’s inefficient to have everyone learn the hundred or more tools used to manage media assets throughout production.

Even popular file share platforms, which are great for the art department and for smaller files, do not work with large media file types. This is when you encounter a split decision because you might use such a platform for initial art, but then you can’t use it for your editorial media, visual effect shots, or even storyboards.

You can’t use a file sharing tool (or some other tool that is used often in this scenario) for everything, especially for large files that require high content protection.

How can a team prevent themselves from being drawn to one type of tool that looks perfect for one area of their needs? This is when you need to evaluate the tool based on all of the file types it will need to store, organize, and secure across productions.

After that, you will be close to finding that one tool or the fewest number of tools that will actually cover everything.

Determine What You Will Need in the Future

To be satisfied with your media workflow tool in the future, you need to think about how your studio or team can possibly scale. What will you need in two years, or even five years?

When you're looking at something that solves your media asset management problems right now and also understand where you need to go to in the future, you start to sort your search for a long-term solution into phases:

  • Phase One: The tool will carry basic production needs and tackle the lowest hanging fruit.
  • Phase Two: The digital asset manager eliminates working siloes and works across departments, functions, security requirements, etc.
  • Phase Three: The platform has the ability to scale with your productions, otherwise you're going to throw it away in a year.

While it’s easy to buy ‘throw away technology,’ it is harder to find a production tool that does everything you need and won’t be obsolete in a few years. 

The biggest challenge is that you can find a tool that does everything, but then your users will struggle to adopt it in their day-to-day workflows. If it can’t be set up easily for a non-technically savvy crew or modified to fit how creatives work, then you will end up with more problems than you started.

If you can't get them to use it, then everything sort of breaks down in production. You find a single system that meets all of your media workflow requirements and then you can't get the files into it because people say, “That’s too hard, I'm going to just use what I’m used to.” You won’t have the files to start the whole chain of production that leads downstream.

The question is, “How do I find all these things I need, and still make sure I have user adoption?

There is No ‘Silver Bullet’ for Media Workflows in Production

Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic widget for every media workflow. It’s a miracle enough to find a tool that can manage thousands or more digital assets, let alone one that can scale with your production. If your current tool is not adoptable or easy to use, then it must be simplified.

Choose a media workflow tool that is versatile, can handle requirements of your media production, and can fit your needs years from now.

Sounds easy enough, right? Unfortunately, this is an uphill battle for many people.

What about a Digital Asset Management System (DAM)?

There’s a reason why major film studios leverage a DAM to manage their media workflows. Some DAM’s have strict security and compliance requirements for content protection, in addition to being easily accessible for their various teams. 

Discover why Warner Bros uses a DAM to maintain digital asset security!

These time-consuming challenges are partly the reason why so many studios choose 5th Kind’s DAM platform for their media asset management needs. This tool optimizes your production process, accelerates decision-making, and keeps your cloud-based assets and workflows protected.

Select a tool that can do it all and more – learn why various major studios have chosen 5th Kind for over ten years.