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Digital Asset Management

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Digital Asset Management, 9780240519241 (0240519248), Focal Press, 2004

My interest in this subject started when I joined the broadcast equipment manufacturer, Chyron. For a few years I was the product manager for their playout automation and asset management product lines. These were one of the first applications that gave television broadcasters the means to manage the ingest, storage, archiving, and playout of programmes and commercials using the video servers that had just been introduced. The use of video compression, and the availability of high capacity disk drives, meant that the server had become a viable replacement for videotape.

Before that time, television programming had been broadcast from a combination of automated videocassette libraries (usually referred to as cart machines) and manually operated videotape recorders. The cart machines had sophisticated control systems to manage playlists and even make backup tapes for commercial breaks. As the broadcasters migrated to disk storage they demanded a similar functionality. The asset management system needed to handle multiple copies of a television commercial or programme, whether a tape or a file. The complete system had to be highly available and to fail-over gracefully–a spoilt commercial slot is a revenue opportunity lost forever. I must thank Spencer Rodd, now of Pharos Communications, for introducing me to the many issues involved in television channel playout from video servers.

Since those days, transmission from servers rather than tape has become the norm. The old methods for managing tapes, little different from a public lending library, have been replaced with digital asset management to control the ingest and playout of files.

I then moved to an industry working with much smaller video files–streaming media. I joined a team that was planning the system architecture for an application service provider that was to offer media encoding, archiving and distribution. Part of my role was to evaluate the leading digital asset management systems. That knowledge gained was the starting point for this book.

As I looked through the collateral from the vendors, they promised object-oriented software architectures with XML interfaces. The storage products offered helical or linear tape transports, NAS or SAN? The list went on and on. I had to sift through all the information and decide whether the claimed product benefits really gave a clear advantage in managing the content workflow, or would deliver a better return on investment. The problem was that the products covered many disciplines, from software engineering to video technology (for me familiar ground). Furthermore, no deployment can be successful without a deep understanding of the processes and workflows of content creation and publishing.

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