MM: This calls attention to another core concept of creative support DAMs: optimization for creative workflows and work-in-process files—as opposed to repository and distribution DAMs optimized for central management and access-control functions.
In particular, DAMs that work well in creative and work-in-process workflows tend to have a pretty well-behaved Mac and PC native client by which to really do very fast, fluid drag and drop. Things like Apple scripting or other forms of scripting, so as to automate a lot of the oft-repeated activities and tasks associated with opening a file, resizing it and so on.
Could you take us through some of the finer points from a production/technology or workflow perspective—some of the finer points of the Canto Cumulus DAM solution?
JK: When you receive the Canto DAM, in the beginning it’s very overwhelming when you start to think about workflow and how you want to lay things out. But I learned a long time ago to get the creative folks involved from the beginning—to allow their input.
They can be a very demanding, intelligent group. They want the best. I feel partnering with Vince DiPaola and Moksa, we put some serious demands on the system. We built a workflow that they not only accepted, but they like much more than anything they’ve had in the past.
Part of that is because the Canto solution is a very visual solution. The Cumulus software works very well on the Macintosh. The collaboration we did with Vince DiPaolo—Vince comes from that background, and that helped a great deal.
We use the KISS method, Michael—Keep It Simple Stupid—but to create a sophisticated workflow.
So what do I mean by that? The artists populate a database themselves. They are responsible for entering the metadata. The artists know that the metadata they enter—in certain cases—is critical to the database and to all of their colleagues searching for that asset one week or five years from now.
Vince helped us come up with a solution to get that metadata associated with the assets very quickly. In essence, you drop an asset into a certain category. The metadata window pops up and you answer a few simple questions. That asset—again—is in the database forever. We don’t plan to purge it at all.
From there, we looked at all the different file formats that we had—whether video or Flash or InDesign. All the image types we have, Michael. Everything behaved fairly nicely. Then we had the curious challenge of, “How do we get all of the InDesign print documents and the Flash files and the videos to the sales assistants without overwhelming them with file types that they don’t need?” That’s where Moksa came in and we did custom coding and some advanced workflow automation.
We actually have a flag that the artists can change on a print document. It will take that document, and in the background, create a PDF and send it to the Web catalog for the sales associates.
PDF is a word that they understand and that they can show to a client when they have their laptop out in the field.
The solution I have found, with the right partner on the support side, can be a very scalable. It’s a system that you can mold and make what you want to make it.
When we started, I thought maybe it would just be a DAM. Now it’s turned into an actual workflow solution for us, as well. The artists are much, much happier with Canto and Cumulus than with anything we’ve had previously. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that they were involved, and that the Canto solution is a very visual solution.
On the 19th of this month, Star Advertising will begin the process of migrating their current solution to Cumulus. This will entail a great deal of custom coding and XML migration from the content server.