How to Better Manage Media Assets in Production

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Media & Asset Management
September 28, 2022
How to Better Manage Media Assets in Production

When you think of fun activities, managing media assets might not be the first thing that pops into your head.

But some people in the media and entertainment industry actually enjoy media management because it can be rewarding in its own way. Humans are reward-based beings, and tagging assets or neatly archiving files can provide a dopamine boost when everything is organized in the right place.

But when films have thousands or more files and assets, having organized media assets presents a challenge that many production teams or creatives encounter.

How can those who are working on set and behind the scenes in production better manage media assets to make their lives easier? We have three suggestions to help such teams maintain complete control of their media assets.

We’ll start with how assets can be managed in pre-production, then discuss how those assets are organized throughout production, and finish with how to look towards the future at the end of a digital asset’s lifecycle.

Plan for Asset Creation Starting in Pre-Production

Create a foundational ‘map’ or list of assets in the beginning of pre-production, and as things start gearing up, keep it updated. With this map, assets can be easily tracked and revised during production or in post as needed.

Ultimately, only the director knows what the final film or other media will look like at the end of the process. Thousands, if not millions, of assets and files are constantly changing, along with the scope of each scene.

That’s why it’s imperative to know what media assets you have in pre-production and have the ability to keep track of what has been changed, using that original map as a reference. For example, Doomsday (2008) holds the record for the most shots in the film’s dataset – 4,052.

This is an astonishing number, and it’s a trend shared by thousands of films and television shows. The necessary scope needed to manage media assets of that caliber is made possible by advanced media asset management tools, such as 5th Kind.

“The average shot length of English language films has declined from about 12 seconds in 1930 to about 2.5 seconds today.” - James Cutting, Psychologist at Cornell University, The Evolution of Cinema

Years ago, the number of shots and digital assets in a film were several seconds long. Today, thanks to new technology and complexities, shots are becoming shorter than ever.

More shots means studios and vendors need to keep track of and manage media assets more frequently. For example, the King Kong remake (2005) had 3,099 shots packed into just 187 minutes.

Archive Digital Assets After Wrap

Once post-production ends and the final product is finished, you can rest easy knowing that there is not much work to be done. Or can you?

The lifecycle of a digital asset doesn’t end once production wraps. It’s important that any asset’s versions, used or not, are not thrown away.

To better manage media assets and save you time, archive these files instead. This ensures they can be used in the future.

Archiving rescues the future of what Hollywood is producing.

For example, maybe there were a handful of creatures that didn't make it into the film, but they were interesting designs. By archiving those assets, they become a visual reference for a future movie that needs some creatures.

When you decide to manage media assets after wrap by archiving everything that went into the final film and more, wrap becomes less painful.

Tip: Keep in mind that the cloud is your best friend before, during, and after production. Using the cloud and a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system as a digital asset library creates a safe area for backups for thousands of assets, all with different versions.

Everyone remembers the Universal Studios Hollywood fire in 2008, where digital masters and originals were lost. It’s no surprise that many production teams use a master backup to keep track of media assets. To protect against any loss and to make future productions easier, make sure to archive everything in a trustworthy DAM system.

Determine How Much Tagging is Realistic

When production starts, it’s chaos. Everything is changing and in flux, especially media assets. That’s why metadata is so important – this digital information helps organize your files and more.

However, it’s not practical to ask everyone to tag all of their files with metadata. There’s no time, and they may not see the point of tagging assets that might not get archived.

The best practice is to figure out how the production team as a whole can get as much tagging done as possible. This needs to happen without asking anyone on the crew to do anything that they wouldn't normally do to get their job done.

film set

For example, the camera department might have metadata because once a shot is done, they need to write in their camera log that they used a certain type of lens, or it had this amount of lighting, etc. There are countless examples of this, and so there is tagging that is happening behind the scenes, but it’s not connected.

Another challenge is that only specific people can tag assets properly. Anyone who didn't work on the film is unlikely to be able to properly tag media assets – even though these individuals are often the ones with the time and motivation to do so.

So you have this conundrum: The only people who can tag media assets properly are the least inclined to do so. How do you solve this puzzle?

Manage Media Assets with a DAM Platform

It’s quite rare for a crew to want and be able to manually tag with metadata, archive files, and manage media assets during the production process. To solve these issues, whether you’re a vendor or a studio, every production needs a central location to manage the thousands (or more!) digital assets at your disposal.

That’s where a DAM platform, such as 5th Kind, shines. Our system integrates with many platforms and production technologies, such as specific cameras, a film script, or even Box.

film set

A DAM also removes the need for manual tagging by automatically pulling the metadata from such platforms. This automated tagging removes the need to ask anyone to do more work – it just happens!

The combination of grabbing metadata from its source, and automatically creating metadata creates effortless organization during the chaos of production. Once production wraps, then a DAM becomes a secure place to archive everything that was and wasn’t used, along with their own metadata attached.

It acts as the bridge between physical and digital media assets, and coordinates files between every phase of production.

Are You Ready to Spend Less Time on Managing Media Assets?

During the next media production, note how many files and assets are used just in pre-production. Think about how you could use a digital library of media assets that has every file automatically tagged, organized, and secured with the click of a button – before production even begins!

This data organization can get done during pre-production, leaving asset management out of the chaos of production.

It might seem like an unreachable dream, but that’s why media asset management through a DAM has become a favored tool among filmmakers and major studios. Digital assets are your friends, and they need somewhere to live (with their own metadata!).

Is a DAM system your must-have solution to organized assets and files? Learn why major studios, vendors, and more choose 5th Kind to solve their media asset headaches.

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