Why Your Production Needs a Digital Asset Management System

How is a DAM different from a MAM? There’s a reason why major studios are leveraging a DAM with their media asset management system. Learn why in this article!
Media & Asset Management
September 28, 2022
Why Your Production Needs a Digital Asset Management System

Almost everyone in the media and entertainment industry uses some form of a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system and often does not even realize it. Even if you are not using any systems which are called a DAM, your internal business operations (or that of your individual productions and vendors) probably already utilizes various elements of a fully-fledged DAM.

If you are storing work-in-progress or archived media files created by any production department or production creative vendor in folders where they can be shared, then you are using a DAM or a Media Asset Management (MAM) system.

For example, if you’re using Avid Media Composer for editing, you probably are using and sharing NEXIS storage, which is a basic form of a MAM. If you are running an entire post production or broadcast facility, you may be using Avid Media Central to be able to search for Avid editorial media no matter where it is stored, or if the media is from currently active or archived video editing projects.  

But, you also might have a bunch of other non-editorial media and metadata which you need either as a visual reference or to provide to creative teams & vendors as input to create new derivative entertainment or advertising media. This could be as simple as logos that get inserted, or it could be a script, artwork, audio recording, VFX model, location photo, or even original camera media that was not used in the original project.

This related media often gets lost, or is filed in different ways by different people and is so hard to find later that it’s not possible (or just not worth the time) to go on a goose hunt for what might not even be there. So why aren’t these related digital assets easily findable or reusable?

It’s because most productions are only leveraging a fraction of the power of a DAM, usually in platforms that are technically categorized as such, throughout their workflows. An example might be a directory tree of folders organized by department on a local shared server or in a cloud file sharing service like Dropbox. But how is a DAM different from a MAM (media asset management system) or a fileshare?

Below, we explain the differences between the two types of platforms, and three reasons why your production needs a DAM to drive your studio’s economic engine.

What’s the Difference between a DAM & a Media Asset Management System?

A media asset management system, commonly referred to as a ‘MAM,’ handles the workflows of video content in production. A MAM is a massive library of sequences or complete cuts of an episode, movie, etc. that feeds editing content to create a finished production or to push out quickly on air for broadcasting.

How is a media asset management system different from a DAM?

A Digital Asset Management system, a ‘DAM,’ is a media asset management and real-time collaboration software that enhances security, improves real-time collaboration during production, and also takes a MAM to the next level.

A DAM, unlike a MAM, can store every single file type from anywhere in the world. A DAM stores, manages, and supports high quality viewing and media collaboration with every kind of 2D and 3D image, document, video, and every other type of media, even things that are not meant to be viewable

Many industry professionals use the same terms for each, despite their differences.

Is a DAM more useful than a MAM?

In short, yes!

While you could use a media asset management system to edit video files for your media production needs, your studio 100% needs a DAM to bring all of your global assets together, including related non-editorial media elements, to support your media productions.

There is a growing trend in the industry where studios are using both platforms separately, or not at all. For those organizations, we have identified the reasons why you want to reconsider this approach and leverage a DAM to maximize your operational cost efficiency and better leverage your existing IP.

3 Reasons Why You Need a Digital Asset Management System

So why does your production need a Digital Asset Management system?

1. Eliminating Duplication of Work Increases Profitable IP

The best way to ensure that media assets are being used effectively is to take out all the manual management from the workflow.

People don't and can't reuse assets because they don't store them and even if they can, they usually can't find them. The best way to maximize the reuse of assets is to use a DAM. For example, imagine your production has one team that's working in China and another that's working in Los Angeles. The LA team needs assets for a scene, and try to find it because they know the group in China has already created it. They get so frustrated that they simply create it again because they cannot find it.

This is because the whole studio is not aware of all the assets that are stored in their facility.

Or, imagine that there were VFX models of characters, objects, environments, or extensions to practically shot backgrounds on prior productions or episodes that you can now use to save the cost of creating them again. Or, what if you need to shoot in Times Square in New York City, but you cannot get access within the timeframe of the project, but you once shot background plates there or created a lidar scan scan that you can now composite in or use as a virtual background for in-camera VFX?  

Having unorganized assets is like walking into a garage that’s stuffed to the brim and wondering where one item is that you haven’t touched in a year.

It's too much to keep up with as time passes and the amount of prior created content builds up and the people who remember it are no longer around. And, it's too hard to search through at all manually. That's why a MAM and a DAM can work together can globally index with both metadata and proxies. Everything, even if it lives in your media asset management system, in some other on-premise or cloud storage, can connect to a DAM and index globally.

Eliminating this duplication of work (and saving production costs) is one of the reasons why major studios have started using a DAM system. After production wraps, a team can archive assets for future use, saving the time and money to create them again. Or, if the DAM was flexible and easy enough to use during production, the assets may already be tagged and organized in the format needed for an archive (with easily findable assets) without any extra work.

2. Media Productions, the Economic Engine of Your Studio, Need Modern Software

Another reason why your production needs a digital asset management system is because the media that is created is not just a piece of media, it's the economic engine of your business.

For large media companies and studios to drive that economic engine efficiently, they need software that can bring all their elements together.

A digital asset management system provides that fundamental software at the studio level, at the production level, and at the individual level of those working on that production. Having a DAM is a multi-tiered approach to optimize your economic engine.

It can optimize the entire workflow and associated technology of production around best practices and core principles for how to drive media productions efficiently.

3. Optimize Your Production Process to Make More Complex Productions

More complex productions means more consumers will want to watch your media, which means more revenue. The flip side of the coin is that more complex assets means you need more complex processes to design, create, access, review, approve, distribute, and archive those assets.

This is what your digital asset library is like without a DAM – a disorganized library.

However, your creative teams can’t keep up fast-paced productions without an efficient process AND a platform to bring it all together (like a digital asset management system).

Take Marvel for example, who has been extraordinarily successful with 26.6 billion in total worldwide box office revenue in just 2020. They use cutting edge technology to ensure their complex processes are streamlined. Their studio management, economic model, production workflows, and more can all be tied back to the technology they use to keep their complex productions in order, such as a DAM.

When there’s more productions created with complex digital assets, then there’s revenue.

Your Production Needs a Digital Asset Management System

While different, a DAM and a media asset management system have key differences, but when used together, they are a powerhouse of media asset management.

How? Leveraging a DAM and a media asset management system reduces the friction and effort to find assets and reuse media. A DAM houses all of the profitable IP file types with their important metadata you need around the world.

You can live without a MAM, but you can’t live with a DAM.

Are you ready to optimize your production’s economic engine?

Learn why 5th Kind’s CORE is the literal core of many studios, and the modern technology you need to manage profitable intellectual property – schedule a demo today!

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