Kevin Duggan, Product Manager/Director, iMedia
Sam Bogoch, CEO, Axle
Robert Krueger, Managing Partner, Lesspain Software
Steve Shim, CEO, Malgn Technology
Erika Nortemann, Vice President, TANDEM Stills and Motion, Inc.
James DeRuvo, Film and Technology Reporter, DoddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz we look at digital asset management. What is it? Why are there so many options, and why is this so difficult to accomplish?
Larry Jordan: We start with Kevin Duggan, the product manager at iMedia for Focal Point Server. Kevin begins our coverage with a background on what asset management is and how Focal Point Server manages media by managing projects.
Larry Jordan: Robert Krueger is the managing director of Lesspain Software, the developers of Kyno. This dynamic media tool acts like the finder on steroids. Robert explains why they created it, and who it is for.
Larry Jordan: Next, Steve Shim is the CEO of Malgn Technology, the developers of KeyFlow Pro. This asset manager is specifically designed to improve collaboration of small to medium sized work groups as Steve illustrates tonight.
Larry Jordan: Next, Erika Nortemann is the vice president for Tandem Vault. This cloud based system was invented by photographers, but has expanded into supporting audio and video elements as well. Erika describes why it was invented, who it’s for and how it is used.
Larry Jordan: Sam Bogoch is the CEO of Axle Video. They’ve developed Axle, an asset manager designed for work groups sharing resources across a local area network. Recently, they added an artificial intelligence interface to help editors find the clips they need without logging them first.
Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo with this week’s DoddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking – authoritative – one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals – current – uniting industry experts – production – filmmakers – post production – and content creators around the planet – distribution. From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, the Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to the Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry, covering media production, post production and marketing around the world.
Larry Jordan: Hi, my name is Larry Jordan. If you were on the web yesterday, you probably noticed a variety of postings about net neutrality. Net neutrality is the principle that all internet traffic should be treated equally, and not discriminate or charge differently based on user, content, website or how your computer is attached to the web. The term was coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003 and it emulates the rules that telephone companies are required to follow as common carriers. Now net neutrality first became an issue with Comcast slowing up loads from peer to peer file sharing sites, but other companies such as Madison River Communications restricting access to Vonage or AT&T limiting access to FaceTime have brought the issue into public view. The FCC is currently rolling back the open internet rules that established equal web access for all, and there are those that support this position casting the debate in terms of reduced incentives for investment or removing unnecessary regulations or supporting free speech. There’s also the related issue that some governments restrict access to the web in order to censor what their citizens are able to see. This issue is not limited solely to the US. Nine other countries and the EU are currently wrestling with this including Canada, India, and the United Kingdom. As a podcaster since the year 2000, we fully support the idea of net neutrality to allow all legal net enterprises to have equal access to the web. Personally, I see no advantage to rescinding the current rules, and many disadvantages to doing so. If you live in the US, I encourage you to contact the FCC at FCC.gov and file a public comment to express your own opinion.
Larry Jordan: Now it’s time for a DoddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Hello Larry.
Larry Jordan: It is good to hear your voice again. What is in the news today?
James DeRuvo: Well first off, I want to say I agree with you on net neutrality. The bottom line is, that in the digital world, dits are bits, and it doesn’t matter what it is, it’s still a one or a zero. So therefore, net neutrality is really the only true way to go, and I’m one of the most conservative people you’ll ever meet and even I know that.
Larry Jordan: Thank you for the opinion, what have we got that’s our lead story?
James DeRuvo: GoPro has started a pilot program to refine their Fusion VR camera. With over 20,000 applying to be a part of the program, to beta test the Fusion design, prototypes were sent out to a handful of news agencies, including Fox Sports, Getty Images, and Digital Domain. Applications are still open however, and GoPro plans to add regular users as time goes on before it comes to the market in the first quarter of 2018.
Larry Jordan: What features interest you the most about this?
James DeRuvo: I’m not much of a VR fan, but what really interests me is that Fusion has this feature called Overcapture mode which allows users to punch out a flat 2D clip in 1080p from any angle in the 360 degree spectrum, so you’re shooting in 5.7K, it’s sure to give you plenty of great options for re-composing a scene.
Larry Jordan: That’s pretty amazing. What’s our second story this week?
James DeRuvo: Seed&Spark is teaming up with the Duplass Brothers for a film contest with a local flair. The contest, known as Hometown Heroes will have a local community aspect, and will offer $25,000 to five lucky filmmakers. Local film commissions will provide support, and resources for the competition, and the Duplass Brothers will serve as producers on all five winning projects.
Larry Jordan: So what do we have to do to qualify?
James DeRuvo: To qualify, users must gather at least 500 followers, on a crowdfunding campaign that raises at least $7500 in cash, and services for their project. The top ten will get to pitch their ideas to the Duplass Brothers, who will pick the top five winners. You know, Seed&Spark is a crowdfunding portal known for not only its ability to raise money, but to find much needed equipment, props, costumes and other items that can provide added value. Toss in their online film streaming and marketing tools, and you have a one stop shop Larry.
Larry Jordan: That sounds like a fun contest. I’m looking forward to seeing what ideas get proposed. What’s number three?
James DeRuvo: I’m really excited about this one. Nikon has announced they’re developing a mid range professional mirrorless camera. This is a company that actually blazed a trail for DSLR home video, but they’ve fallen on hard times lately with flagging sales and having to cancel numerous planned product releases. Now, they’re going to be developing a mirrorless camera with the latest Nikon Exmor sensors, but it remains to be seen if it will be a full frame camera like the Sony A9, or a micro four thirds like the Panasonic GH5. But it will be designed to take full advantage of Nikon’s strength in optical lens design, and it may have a possible mobile connectivity, much like RED’s Hydrogen mobile device can connect to RED’s cameras. So that is exciting.
Larry Jordan: James, does this indicate the start of a turnaround for Nikon do you think?
James DeRuvo: You know, only time will tell, it was only a few months ago that Nikon seemed to be on the ropes. But by going after the higher end, I think they’re returning to their original roots, and that’s always a good idea.
Larry Jordan: James, for people that need more information, where can they go on the web?
James DeRuvo: Well you can go to Doddlenews.com and there you can find out about more Hydrogen details from RED’s founder Jim Jannard, Leica’s new 4K mirrorless camera, and if you’ve registered a drone with the FAA, you may be entitled to a refund Larry.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the senior writer for DoddleNEWS, returns every week with the DoddleNEWS update. Thank you James.
James DeRuvo: Alright Larry, take care.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to. Doddlenews.com. DoddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource, presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry. DoddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platforms specifically designed for production. These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in depth organizational tools for busy production professionals. DoddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts Community, a worldwide community of artists, filmmakers and storytellers. From photography to filmmaking, performing arts to fine arts, and everything in between, Thalo is filled with resources you need to succeed. Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go. Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: Kevin Duggan has 40 years of media experience, including as a director of photography, editor and director for a variety of broadcast projects. Formerly he was the product manager of CatDV, he’s currently the product manager and director of iMedia. Hello Kevin, welcome.
Kevin Duggan: Hi Larry, thanks.
Larry Jordan: Kevin, today we’re talking about digital asset management, and the software that performs that function. How would you define what digital asset management is?
Kevin Duggan: I tend to approach these things in an anecdotal fashion. I got into it because I saw a need for a client, about 14 years ago now. Basically the job was for the Volvo Ocean Race where I had to bring together a team of people, and define a workflow. I think it was about Final Cut 4.5. I had to produce an hour’s high quality material once a week, where we distributed to 32 different countries. The problem for me was how could I get the job out in time? The media was coming from all over the world, there were cameras on the boats, so it was very new and we’d just started working with SANS, the very first one I used was SNS. As soon as I had a SAN, I realized I had multiple people hitting it, and I had to produce a team that produced the product Thursday night. So I had to start analyzing how I got people to cooperate and work together.
Kevin Duggan: So I broke it down. I had my online guy, my graphics guy, two editors and I had my dubbing guy. Then I realized as the media was coming in, a shot of a guy at the back of the boat with water in the background, and another shot of a guy with water in the background, I didn’t know whether it was in the Indian Ocean, African Ocean or a puddle in my backyard. The way I first thought of the problem was basically, “I need to log this, because I’m a film guy.” I’d worked as an editorial assistant, and we logged stuff. To this day, that’s how we approach things.
Kevin Duggan: So I had to log stuff, and I struck lucky because I got a real lady librarian who was very scary, and would not let people access the material until she had logged it. She memorized the faces of every crew member, there were about ten crew members on each boat, there were eight boats. As the footage came in, she took pride in tabulating and classifying the data. I didn’t think of it as a data classification problem at that moment, I just saw it as logging my footage, like you would, it’s a film thing. She was scary and she would not let anybody touch the assets until she had logged it. The stuff was being logged to the SAN and I centralized the ingest. I took the lessons that I’d learned and I started to look around for something else, and that’s when my involvement with CatDV started, because I realized I needed not only a shared area network, a SAN, I need to share the metadata between people. If I centralized the ingest, it made sense to add the metadata as we came to call it later, or logging as I was thinking at the time, and we shared that equally.
Larry Jordan: If a digital asset management system is essentially centralizing media and the notes related to that media, within that definition, where does Focal Point Server fit in?
Kevin Duggan: 2011, I was talking on this subject in Soho and someone came up to me, and he gave me a problem which was essentially 50 suites of Final Cut 7, a 24/7 project where he would have 300 freelancers coming through the door. It turns out to be my friend now Chris Groom, and the job was the 2012 Olympics in London. Now he said, “Kevin, I have defined the workflow, this is what has to be done. It’s taken me six months.” He gave me a 60 page document which was basically a set of rules and regulations about “If you’re on this machine, and you’re cutting this show, you should call it this, and you shall put it there.” I knew at that stage, because of the high turnaround, that I could not slow things down by having centralized ingest and having somebody logging every show. There wasn’t time because we were filming everything that was happening, everywhere.
Kevin Duggan: So I had to come up with a new way of doing it and I went back and I thought quite hard, and I thought, “OK, if I can’t log it, how do I track the stuff?” What I did was basically invert the whole process because my perception was in conventional asset managements, we centralize the ingest, we create a catalog and we essentially give it the name of the show, then we bring in media onto the SAN, make a folder, put stuff in there. We take it out of there, we bring it into the MAM. We do some logging and we try and share that information. That workflow would not work in the Olympics, because it was too fast moving. But a catalog struck me as a named object that had pointers to media. Then I thought, “Well, what else is there like that?” I came up with the notion of the project file. The project file, if it’s Adobe or Final Cut 7 or Final Cut X, is a named object, it’s the name of the show, and it typically has pointers to media. What I did was take the project files, and I put them inside an object, which we now call a portfolio, and I take all project files associated with the production, so that’s Photoshop, After Effects, text files, anything that we now, in our digital workflows we use to make the production.
Kevin Duggan: The inception, I create the folder structures, I name things concisely according to a schema, and the users can do the whole nine yards in probably less than ten seconds. But it creates the folder structure on the SAN, and if you drag and drop media onto this object it places it into a media folder within the correct folder on the SAN. In a manner, it’s very reminiscent of what Apple have been doing with the Final Cut X libraries, where they put aliases inside the libraries to the media on the SAN. In the SAN world, most of us don’t use the libraries in the way that Apple intended, but you can see the idea was create a single object, track that object, put everything in there, and manage your media that way.
Larry Jordan: On your website, you list a number of applications that the Focal Point Server supports. This idea of project management rather than media management, but Final Cut X is not on your list. You’re describing it now. Is this a new feature, or is Final Cut X not supported?
Kevin Duggan: For two years I’ve been able to share libraries, non-destructively, and in the manner that you would expect to share libraries, within Focal Point. I could show complete project management and people would say, “Where’s the media?” and I’d go, “Well it’s in this folder, we’ve …” and they go, “Yes, I get that, but where’s my media?” Then I would say, “Well it’s in the project file, it points to it, open up the project file and there’s your media.” Then they said, “But where’s our media?” So, I came back to the conclusion that people want to see media. Based on the folder structures that we create, automation can only occur if you have consistent places where stuff goes, and you know what it is. We’ve created what we call the video portal which automatically picks up the media, and turns it into proxies. So we can do cloud based logging and tagging, and you can upload from set, these proxies, which you can create in Resolve. Another thing that conventional asset management isn’t really dealing with, it’s not thinking about applying LUTS, it’s not thinking about audio that’s been shot on a Sound Device’s 633 or a 688 or a Zoom F4, a Zoom F8 bringing these things together, and marrying them up, and we can upload them and download them and bring them down pretty much anywhere in the world.
Larry Jordan: But Kevin, I’ve got a problem with the project oriented approach. I understand perfectly the benefit of being able to manage projects which have all the media and everything in them, so you can just simply say, “Find me Wimbledon 2017” and if I wanted to find Wimbledon 2017, that’s great. But if I wanted to follow the career of Roger Federer, and I wanted to show him in a match, let’s say one of the Grand Slam tournaments and then his first match at Wimbledon, and then in the quarter finals, and then in the semi finals, and then in the finals, I’m opening multiple projects and the media manipulation of this becomes really tricky. Whereas a traditional MAM that focuses on media not projects, would make that much easier because it’s logged and tagged as Roger Federer, with the different events. How do you benefit me when I’m repurposing media as opposed to creating it for the first time?
Kevin Duggan: If we tag it, Federer quarter finals, Federer, we do take these tags, create tags in our world, and we can ask the system, “Find me Federer” and it will give you all of the matches he’s in. But journalists and sports journalists are very meticulous. We can talk to archive which remember things like Federer had a good run last year and they will go, “I remember that game against Nadal” so they can search for Nadal and search for Federer, and they bring back the project files and we also take the whole folder and the project files because we put the project files in the same folder structure as the media. If we archive those objects as a single entity, our Pro Tools sessions, our Photoshop graphics, and then we restore them, we have the whole nine yards. We just open up the project and we have a secret weapon in England, we call it Cut and Paste. It’s a way of stealing a good editor’s work. Because a project file, unlike a catalog in a MAM has a super power, it can create your media. It has the metadata present in it to change that media radically to give us the mix, to give us the graphics and people are essentially in such a hurry they go back to the previously edited production and they cut and paste. They’re repurposing not only the media, they’re repurposing the work.
Larry Jordan: Who would you consider a typical customer for Focal Point Server? Is it the enterprise?
Kevin Duggan: We sell to NBC who use it for trailers. I get a lot of demand from Avid users who are currently doing BT sport at this minute where they want us to name projects against a given schema. Create the project settings, set the timeline, set all the preferences. For instance, in Premiere there’s about 40 or 50 preferences that you need to get right. We set all those at launch. It means your rendering times don’t go through the roof, you render out at the right size. I’ve done many installations, so we know what users typically do wrong, so we set up the environment at a project level for them, and then we track the projects, and we create the folder structures. We also do versioning of projects. Rather than burying data in multiple nested folders, I like a much flatter organizational tool. Instead of having multiple timelines and sequences within a project, we reversion, so each version or iteration of a project gets cloned, re-named, and given a version number. All of these project files are being tracked within the ambit of the production.
Larry Jordan: How much does Focal Point Server cost?
Kevin Duggan: I think the smaller edition’s around $3,500-$5,000.
Larry Jordan: Kevin, for people that want to get more information about Focal Point Server, where can they go on the web?
Kevin Duggan: www.focalpointserver.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, focalpointserver.com and Kevin Duggan is a co-founder and product manager for Focal Point Server, and the company is iMedia. Kevin, thanks for joining us today.
Kevin Duggan: Thank you Larry, it’s been my pleasure.
Larry Jordan: Robert Krueger has worked in the media industry as a software professional for 20 years. Currently he is the managing director for Lesspain Software which has developed Kyno, a brand new media management tool for Final Cut and Premiere. Hello Robert, welcome.
Robert Krueger: Hi Larry, great to be on the show.
Larry Jordan: Robert, in tonight’s show, we’re looking at digital asset management. What does that term mean to you?
Robert Krueger: To me, it means dealing with all organizational tasks that you have from camera into the edit and later in re-using your media assets that you have produced in subsequent productions.
Larry Jordan: Well within that definition, how would you describe Kyno?
Robert Krueger: Well Kyno is a very easy to use media management solution that is not the typical server based MAM. It feels to users a lot more like a file browser with integrated media management functionality, so the initial hurdle that you have to overcome to use it is really normally just five minutes which is a big difference from the usual media asset management products. It is something like a crossover between a media browser and a professional media player and a full blown MAM. It gives you the best of both worlds, the speed of a media browser that lets you access your footage wherever it is, be that an SD card, or a production drive. At the same time it gives you access to organization features, filtering features, features that you usually have in a full blown server site MAM.
Larry Jordan: Traditionally, server site MAMs are databases. They remember the files that they track and then there’s yours which is dynamic. As the files change, you change. If you disconnect a hard drive, you can’t see the files which are on it. Why the emphasis on this dynamic feedback?
Robert Krueger: It’s really from our experience as filmmakers ourselves, and speaking to a lot of professionals in the area. The amount of time that they spend in those repetitive tasks that happen between shooting things and the edit, is enormous and that’s why we thought, we’ll just approach it in a different way because otherwise we couldn’t keep up with the speed of those workflows.
Larry Jordan: One of the other things I’ve noticed in Kyno, is a deep integration with transcoding, being able to convert files from any format to any format. Why is that important to you?
Robert Krueger: Because transcoding is in so many workflows, just a part of the way and if you have to go to a different tool for the transcode, you lose the integration, you have to switch between programs, the programs often don’t know about each other, and having a transcoder implemented within Kyno gives you access to an enormous workflow speed and integrating it with features like our batch renaming engine, just eliminates steps that you definitely have if you do this in two different programs.
Larry Jordan: Who would you define as a typical customer? I know you want everybody to use it, but who is the person that’s going to benefit the most from the tools that are inside Kyno?
Robert Krueger: I would say the typical customer that benefits most is either a freelance shooter or a production company. Essentially anyone producing large amounts of footage. If you just produce two or three clips per shoot, you can probably work well without Kyno, but if your shoots typically produce dozens or hundreds of clips, then the amount of time that you save using Kyno in a typical production process from freelance shreditor, the person doing all the shooter, editor and producer jobs at the same time, to a typical production team. For those people the amount of time they save in Kyno usually just pays for the license during the first one or two productions.
Larry Jordan: Is there an upper limit to the number of clips Kyno can track?
Robert Krueger: No. We have customers who use it with large folder structures that contain tens of thousands of clips.
Larry Jordan: What does Kyno cost?
Robert Krueger: It costs $159.
Larry Jordan: Where can people go on the web to learn more about it?
Robert Krueger: The address is kyno.software.
Larry Jordan: That’s kyno.software and Robert Krueger is the managing director for Lesspain Software, the team that developed Kyno. Robert, thanks for joining us today.
Robert Krueger: Thanks so much for having me again.
Larry Jordan: Steve Shim founded Malgn Technology in 2001. Since then he’s been involved in developing shared storage systems and media asset managers. His latest product, KeyFlow Pro was released in 2015. Hello Steve, welcome.
Steve Shim: Hello.
Larry Jordan: Steve, what does the term, digital asset management mean to you?
Steve Shim: Media asset management means managing a lot of media efficiently. Basically handling with metadata is most important to find media quickly and re-use the media in the future. Nowadays, a lot of people create a lot of videos, not just professionals, but many general people need this kind of digital asset management skill.
Larry Jordan: Within that definition, then what is KeyFlow Pro?
Steve Shim: KeyFlow Pro is media asset management software for the rest of us. So KeyFlow Pro makes media tagging and organize and searching simple and fun.
Larry Jordan: Why did you decide to invent it?
Steve Shim: Many people have to have the tools to manage their media more efficiently. Until now, many media asset management software prices were relatively high. The price is kind of a big barrier. We decided to create media asset management with the basic and best features at a reasonable price.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that I find most interesting about KeyFlow Pro is its ability to support collaboration. How can people use it to collaborate?
Steve Shim: KeyFlow Pro is available in the Apple Mac app store and it can work both server and client. Plus users install KeyFlow Pro to their dedicated Mac, and that Mac can be working as your server. Another Mac can connect to that server, and they can share the one KeyFlow Pro library and they can share all the media with metadata such as markers, key words and tags too. So all the people can share the one KeyFlow Pro library and they can work together more efficiently.
Steve Shim: Recently we updated to version 1.8, and we implemented Live Folder. Live Folder is a kind of sharing on top of shared storages. Whilst users edit the Live Folder in KeyFlow Pro, the actions to that folder, i.e. adding the clips, or linking the clips, all the events are updated automatically. So all the users connected to the KeyFlow Pro library simultaneously have updated information, and those can be drag and dropped to the Final Cut Pro event, and edited … also can be imported via Live Folder automatically.
Larry Jordan: You mentioned metadata, and we all know that metadata is important, but adding metadata to our clips is really boring. How can KeyFlow Pro help?
Steve Shim: Adding metadata is kind of painful. KeyFlow Pro basically can add the tags automatically. The folder name, and that tag is also added to the finder tags. It is very useful.
Larry Jordan: What does KeyFlow Pro cost?
Steve Shim: It’s 299.99 for five users.
Larry Jordan: Where is it available?
Steve Shim: It’s available on the Apple Mac app store.
Larry Jordan: For people that need more information, where can they go on the web to learn more?
Steve Shim: Keyflowpro.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, keyflowpro.com. Steve Shim is the founder of Malgn Technology and the developer of KeyFlow Pro. Steve, thanks for joining us today.
Steve Shim: Thank you Larry.
Larry Jordan: Erika Nortemann is a veteran photography industry professional with over a decade of high level management experience. As vice president of Tandem Stills + Motion, she oversees three leading platforms. Photography and motion clip licensing, digital asset management and original content production. Hello Erika, welcome back.
Erika Nortemann: Hi there, thanks for having me again.
Larry Jordan: Tandem has a variety of products to meet the needs of photographers. The last time we talked in fact you told us about Tandem Stills, but now we want to talk about asset management. Tell us what Tandem Vault is.
Erika Nortemann: Tandem Vault is a super powerful cloud based digital asset management solution. We deliver a very easy to use interface for uploading, managing and sharing all of your digital file formats.
Larry Jordan: Why cloud based?
Erika Nortemann: Most companies whether they’re small or large, they’re finding their folks are working either remotely or working in different countries even. It’s so critical to be able to have their assets in one central location that anyone around the world can access. With a cloud based system, you can do that as long as you have an internet connection.
Larry Jordan: Is this designed for stills or for video or audio or what?
Erika Nortemann: All of the above. Digital asset management in general, but especially for Vault, we host audio files, visual files, whether that’s still or motion. We do design documents, PDFs, Word documents, any digital file that you want to be able to store, you can store on Vault.
Larry Jordan: There’s a number of companies that make asset management software. What features makes Tandem Vault unique?
Erika Nortemann: Tandem Vault was built by photographers in collaboration with of course a development team, so our first priority was to make sure the system was beautiful and easy to use. We didn’t want folks to come in and feel like they needed a degree in IT or in computer science to be able to use our software. We also realized that a lot of our clients are very busy doing multiple things. They are not just an archive manager, and so when they come in, they want to be able to find what they’re looking for. They want to have the experience like they would if they were shopping for something on the internet, and so we’ve tried to develop the platform with those ideas in mind, to keep it simple, user friendly and also very powerful.
Larry Jordan: Simple, user friendly and powerful. So how does it work?
Erika Nortemann: You would just log into your specific Tandem Vault account. You would click the upload button. You would select the video file that you wanted to share, that you wanted to store, and you could add metadata at that point, if you had any sort of description or key words or anything, you could add that on the upload. You’d click that upload button and Tandem Vault would do its thing, processing, get it into the cloud, and then it’s there for storage, it’s there to share. You’ve got the ability to share internally with other staff just by sending them a little note within Tandem Vault itself, or if you want to share externally, if it’s going out to a media company or to a partner organization that may not have access to your Vault account, that’s OK. Vault gives you the ability to share links through our lightbox feature so you can share one asset or you can share a whole host of assets just by putting them into a lightbox and sharing that lightbox link with your media team.
Larry Jordan: Am I using an application for this, a web browser?
Erika Nortemann: It’s 100 percent web based. So as long as you have an internet connection, you can log into your Vault account.
Larry Jordan: How does Tandem Vault keep my stuff secure?
Erika Nortemann: We use Amazon Cloud Services, so when it gets uploaded to Vault, it gets uploaded to multiple places at the same time. You don’t see that on the front end, but on the back end, it’s going to Amazon systems all across the country.
Larry Jordan: What does it cost?
Erika Nortemann: The starting price for the Vault plan is $99 a month which includes up to 250 gigabytes of uploaded and stored data.
Larry Jordan: Now, as a price goes, that’s fairly expensive compared to other sources. Why is the price where it is?
Erika Nortemann: We talked earlier about the power, and you get so much with your Vault account. It’s not just a place to store your assets or to share them. It is a very robust service that offers the ability to attach contracts and to personalize every single user’s experience when they come in. So we work mostly with medium to large size companies, and they’ve got very big archives, and they have very different user groups that need to be able to access their assets in different ways. With Vault you can customize groups of people, but you can also customize down to the user level what experience they have. Along with the price, you’re also getting a high level of customer service. When you have a problem and you send an email, it goes to an actual human being, or if you pick up the phone and call, an actual human being answers it, and we pride ourselves in that really great customer service.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe your typical customers?
Erika Nortemann: Medium to large size companies are our main customer base. We have folks who are all over, they’re in the nonprofit space, education, some tech companies, and a lot of the folks that we talk to on a daily basis are actually from their marketing teams or their photography or communications, creative department teams. So again, we’ll work with our IT teams to get the solution set up. Other than that, our clients that we’re talking with day to day are the folks who are in there using it. They’re the folks who made the case that they needed a dam for their company in the first place because they’re spending too much time searching for photos or not finding the video that they know they just recorded last year. So it’s really the end user, usually creative teams, that we’re working with.
Larry Jordan: For people that need more information, where can they go on the web?
Erika Nortemann: They can go to tandemvault.com.
Larry Jordan: That’s tandemvault.com and Erika Nortemann is the vice president of Tandem, and Erika, thank you for your time.
Erika Nortemann: Thanks so much Larry.
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Larry Jordan: Sam Bogoch is the CEO of Axle Video which has developed a new approachable system for asset management called Axle. Prior to Axle, Sam spent five years doing director level work in product design, product management, and business development for Avid. Hello Sam, welcome.
Sam Bogoch: Hi, great to be here.
Larry Jordan: Sam, in tonight’s show we’ve heard a lot of different approaches to media asset management. What makes this process so difficult?
Sam Bogoch: That is a good question. I think the number one difficulty is that it requires people to do more, rather than do less, and any time you ask people to roll up their sleeves and do something they weren’t doing before, you’ve got a challenge on your hands. Historically, that’s been the number one problem. Obviously we think that there are some new developments that may change that, but I think over time it’s been the Achilles Heel of media management space.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that I’ve learned over the years, both from working with my own team, and personal experience is that editors really hate logging, and they really hate tracking media. So what type of person is most suited to run an asset management system?
Sam Bogoch: That is the question, and the answer we find is that it’s somebody who is perhaps adjacent to the editors, like an assistant editor or a producer or even the newbie, the new hire or the intern. Somebody who is looking at the problem with a fresh pair of eyes, and fewer constraints on their time because of course, editors are very busy people and one of the things that probably isn’t going to work is to ask them to do something on top of all the things they’re already doing.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that’s been running around in my head is, do we want to look outside the media community, and look for a librarian or somebody that likes talking about grammar? Someone that’s really detail focused?
Sam Bogoch: We’ve certainly seen that in our customers. The ones that have the budget to have someone truly riding herd on their media are in fact, able to get librarians or people with a background in library studies. The thing is though that for most small teams, that’s a luxury that’s not affordable. I think the attitude is, it’s a little bit like doing accounting. A couple of times a year you might have to put on your green eye shades and pretend you’re an accountant, but very few of us can afford a full-time accountant, and maybe we’ll bring somebody in to consult on it. There are very talented people who can come in and give you good advice on metadata and so forth. So maybe that’s the right approach for the majority of teams? But in general, the problem in a nutshell, you’ve got people busy doing what they’re doing, and then the person that probably ought to be there to do the asset management side of things, is very often not available.
Larry Jordan: So then describe what Axle is.
Sam Bogoch: Axle’s designed to be a system for those teams. For teams where you’re already really busy, you’re trying to get work done, and you do not want to change how you work, you don’t want to dislocate the people or the tasks or the media itself. You basically want to ease something in that’s going to give you better visibility into all of this, without disrupting what you’re already doing. That is what Axle’s designed to do.
Larry Jordan: What does it do?
Sam Bogoch: It pretty much scans the storage that you have, so you point it at your network storage or your SAN, or even individual hard drives in some cases. It catalogs all the media that it finds there, it generates low res proxies of all those media so you can scrub through them and see them in your browser or in your mobile device. And it grabs all the metadata that it can find, precisely because you probably don’t have a librarian, and so it would be good to know, for instance, about all the clips that you have that are in a particular format, or particular length or were shot on a particular date. So it grabs all that information in the background, while it’s making the proxies and while it’s creating this browser view of everything.
Larry Jordan: Of all the different programs that we’ve talked to, every one of them has had a different approach to how they do asset management. But of those that are creating a database, which is what Axle is doing, they’re all very similar. They scan the server, catalog the media, create proxies. What is it that makes Axle unique? Why should someone consider you versus the other database driven managers that are out there?
Sam Bogoch: The key is ease of implementation, and ease of use. This is designed to go in, install and be available to your entire team in a matter of hours, or at most a day or two. What we see is that there are other products that are similar perhaps in installation time, but are designed for individual users or modest sharing applications, and then there are big enterprise systems which can take weeks or months to deploy, and require major changes to your workflow. We basically have the lightest possible touch, the product goes in extremely easily and does not require anyone to rethink what they’re already doing. Really, that’s our claim to fame, and has been. We’ve been doing this now for five years, and each year product becomes more mature, more robust. We are now up to 500 customers worldwide, and those numbers are growing pretty rapidly as people figure out that it’s even possible to do this sort of thing.
Larry Jordan: One of the words that you’ve used a lot is the idea of a team. How does Axle enable collaboration?
Sam Bogoch: It does so by making everything that’s in the database available in anybody’s browser. They don’t have to be on a Mac, they don’t have to be in the editorial network. They can basically be anywhere on your LAN and even with our new cloud mirror solution they can be out on the open internet. So essentially, you can have a very wide extended team of people. Yes, starting with the editors and the heavy duty media folks, but extending all the way out to your clients, folks in other departments that might want to be able to see the media, and do things with it. And in fact, things like interns who you might want to have logging the media, but you can’t afford to give them high end work stations to edit 4K. All of those people will have the same view either from their browser or from our Premiere panel, so it’s essentially a way to level the playing field for access to a wide range of media.
Larry Jordan: What is the preferred hardware and system to configure an Axle system? What does it connect to, and what kind of gear should we run it on
Sam Bogoch: Connectivity is basically that it works with almost any shared storage, network attached storage. We have great relationships with a number of NAS vendors. Also for higher performance, some people like to use a SAN, storage area network. Anything that a Mac can see as a file system and in our business, that’s essentially all the storage vendors, can be catalogued in Axle. Now, if you don’t have shared storage you can also use Axle on locally attached storage, but the downside of that is that while you can collaborate with people through the browser, the high res material is only connected up to that one machine. So for instance, in our Premiere and Final Cut workflows, where you’d like to be able to just grab something and drop it into the timeline of your editor, there’s going to be an extra step of copying it from the machine that the Thunderbolt or other direct attached storage is connected to, to your machine wherever that may be. So it was one thing when SANs cost $50,000 and up and were extremely complicated to install, but nowadays you can get very good performance for HD editing for instance, using NAS storage. And for 4K, yes, you do need a SAN, but there are companies doing very cost effective SAN solutions that can handle 4K media and still cost a lot less than traditional SANs.
Larry Jordan: Yes, that was the mistake I made, connecting my version of Axle up to direct attached storage and then trying to access it from a separate computer. So I’m part of the choir now saying you’ve got to connect it to shared storage for it to work the best.
Sam Bogoch: That’s right, because essentially the browser view makes it look like everything is right at your fingertips which is great. But then you really want it right at your fingertips and that extra hop is time consuming.
Larry Jordan: Painful too, yes. How would you define or describe your typical customer?
Sam Bogoch: Media teams from say five to 50 people. We’re seeing those across a wide range of disciplines, everything from new media companies that are publishing directly to the web, to corporate video teams, big five accounting firms, technology companies, they’re all using video much more heavily for communications than they used to. We have educational institutions, so a lot of the Ivy Leagues and other large universities are using our software. Then things like sports teams and churches and government video groups.
Sam Bogoch: So it’s fairly diverse, but the interesting thing, I was discussing this with one of our partners the other day, is that across all these disciplines, when you actually sit down with the video teams and talk to them about their work, you see many more similarities than differences. The same editing software is in wide use. Right now, I would say Premiere has the largest market share, then you have Final Cut X and Avid, each having their strong proponents. You have a lot of the same skills, people shoot with a lot of the same equipment, and a lot of the same trends.
Sam Bogoch: For instance, one trend that we see a lot of is the almost uncontrolled use of new cameras and formats, because in the old days from a management point of view you could decide “We’re a Panasonic P2 shop” or “We’re a Sony XD cam shop” and then everyone would go out and shoot with exactly the same camera, set to the same frame rate etcetera. Nowadays, it’s the wild west. People are sending in GoPro footage, they’re reaching for their iPhone and grabbing some stuff. They might have a DSLR handy or they might have professional cameras but then it might be one of the weird new RAW formats, like ARRIRAW, or Blackmagic or RED of course, and it’s way less predictable what a given project is going to include than it used to be. I’d say that’s a great argument for having a media management system, something that can handle almost any format and will not force you into a particular workflow or a particular approach to your media.
Larry Jordan: You guys just released something called Axle AI which refers back to something we talked about at the very beginning which is that editors hate logging. Tell me what Axle AI does.
Sam Bogoch: What Axle AI does is it makes it possible for you to search for things without having to tag them and log them up front. It does that using machine intelligence, uses AI techniques and a bunch of new algorithms, to basically figure out what’s in your video and then when you pick a video that looks similar to that, you can say “Find me all the other videos that look a little bit like this,” and if there’s a logo or an object in the video or a particular scene or building, it’s going to be able to actually find all the clips that resemble that the most closely and dish them up as a search result. Including sub clipping information, so it’ll say, “Oh that logo appears from this time code to this time code, in this clip.” And that kind of thing used to only be available after painstaking logging, and you never knew how much you had to do. If you just want the top level you could probably put in a few key words per clip. But people don’t just want that, they want to know where it is in the clip, and then they want to know is it a good shot, a bad shot, is it in focus or out of focus? What this does is basically drill straight to all the appearances of that thing in your videos, and lets you immediately view them, play them, and decide which ones you want to take. This type of technology which is currently being developed actually in a fairly broad front across a number of the big cloud companies, means that video is suddenly much more visible medium. You could always watch it if you were willing to sit down and literally screen it from end to end. But now you can say, “Show me all the places this appears,” and have the system go get it for you. We think it’s a huge breakthrough.
Larry Jordan: Watching is fine if you’ve got just a few hours of material, but if you’ve got thousands of hours, this could be a huge time saving.
Sam Bogoch: When I was at Avid, I visited one of the world’s largest media companies, and they had just gotten our system, it was called Interplay, it’s now called Media Central. We were delighted, they were delighted, it was a huge contract and they’d been running it for a few months, and they told me that they ingested tens of thousands of hours of material into their main facility every year. And I said, “Oh great, so that means you must be able to search it all now?” They looked at me like I had two heads, and said, “Frankly, we’re lucky if we have a start time and a file name to search off of.” This was like a really fancy media company. I thought, “Wow, if that’s the best they can do, then what’s the average media team dealing with?” It was really sobering and it just made you realize no matter how big you are, and no matter how much budget you have, you’re not going to have enough hours in the day or enough interns in the summer to have them log everything. That’s the underlying challenge.
Larry Jordan: For people that are interested in purchasing Axle, what does it cost?
Sam Bogoch: It starts at about $500 with our Axle starter product. Axle starter is actually bundled with Avid’s Nexus Pro Work Group Storage, and also with storage from Simply. We’ll be announcing additional storage partners later this year, and so in some cases, it doesn’t have to cost you anything to get started. Between the simpler deployment, much less training and much lower cost, essentially it’s a much less intrusive way to get a lot of the benefits of media management at a fraction of the cost.
Larry Jordan: For people that want more information, where do they go on the web?
Sam Bogoch: Axlevideo.com.
Larry Jordan: Sam Bogoch is the CEO of Axle Video, and Sam, thanks for joining us today.
Sam Bogoch: Thank you.
Larry Jordan: Digital asset management is easy to define, but surprisingly difficult to implement. Each of the software tools we looked at today has a different approach to solving the problem of indexing, finding, and previewing our media. In tonight’s show we talked with companies in England, Germany, Korea and the US discovering that truly, managing our media is a worldwide challenge. And looking into the future as machine learning becomes integrated with asset management, we may finally be able to find that shot that we know is here, somewhere.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests, Kevin Duggan of iMedia, Robert Krueger of Lesspain Software, Steve Shim of Malgn Technology, Erika Nortemann of Tandem Vault, Sam Bogoch of Axle Video, and of course James DeRuvo, with DoddleNEWS.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews, all online and all available to you today. Remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Friday.
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Larry Jordan: Our producer is Debbie Price, my name is Larry Jordan, and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.
Larry Jordan: The Digital Production Buzz is copyright 2017 by Thalo LLC.