MM: I take it in the GLOBALedit system that you have today; it has some enabling services for workflow?
BG: Yes. The workflow starts from the very beginning – the photo shoot. We can do image capture at the photo shoot, move the selected images from the photo shoot to retouch vendors with comments attached, and move them back into DAM system into retouched folder, then also, flowing them back out to the end-users or the printers. It has a pretty comprehensive workflow capability.
MM: In that workflow specifically, does your system really support online review and approval of the asset? Or is the review and approval process kind of an overlay to the asset?
BG: The approval and select process is all done in the workflow within the DAM. You can select or kill and use a star rating for the images that are selected. Different designers and creative directors can go in and pick which ones they want to select and then they can be reviewed or approved by the Chief Creative. There is a way to track who selected the images or rated them and then who killed or approved them.
AS: BJ, you might want to talk about the evolution of your vision since the project kickoff, for the central library into how it’s evolved. I think that’s an important point. [NOTE: Andrew Salop joins this interview. As a consultant, he worked with BJ Gray in implementing the DAM at Victoria’s Secret]
MM: That was really more of just a basic library function. Right?
BG: True. Very basic library function. My thought at that point was, “Once we get this library up, wouldn’t it be great that everybody can connect to it as cross-functional partners?”
Victoria’s Secret is broken up into different sub-brands. There’s a sub-brand called “Beauty,” and a sub-brand called “PINK.” Then we’ve got several cross-functional partners—a real estate team, another creative team that’s at the Limited Brands level. I was thinking, “Wow! Once I get this library done, I’ll be able to share this library, and everybody will see how useful it is. They can now have access to look themselves for images that Victoria’s Secret specifically—the store channel—had created.
While meeting with Industrial Color about GLOBALedit, I heard more about the GLOBALedit functionality, the workflow capabilities, and then the intent of what I wanted the system to do really evolved.
That’s when we got into creating an online tool for the designers to use for image selects and approval, where they could review the images, approve them or kill them. Having it web-based was a huge plus as many of our creative directors are out of the office, at photo shoots, working from home. Having easy access to review images saved time in getting the images in play to work on.
In addition, many, many requests come from the Victoria’s Secret enterprise for the same high-res images that are completed through retouching because it’s going to be deployed for multiple uses. For instance, each campaign our production team sends the images out to many different print vendors they work with so the same asset might go to 10 different vendors to be printed in a digital format or an offset format. I really wanted a tool where those images could just be moved in and out of so we didn’t have to ask or get charged by the retouchers each time we needed a download of final images. I wanted those final images to be ingested back into the DAM, and then pushed out from the DAM by us.
Then for the front end I wanted the workflow to be in place so that the photographers could easily upload their images from the photo shoots. This would make all the difference in the time it takes to edit and select the images. Because there are thousands of images taken at the photo shoot, editing down the images instantaneously or each night—on GLOBALedit—is just a lifesaver.
We’ve really increased our efficiency in time in getting projects done and images selected. We’re not in the dinosaur ages anymore of moving the images on a hard drive—having the art director upload them onto her screen—picking which ones she likes. It’s really being done instantaneously on GLOBALedit.
As we thought about putting all the images up, the art buyers started getting really nervous about, “Well, then everybody can download these images at any time. They might not have rights to download them. We may not have bought enough usage rights for those images or they are expired.” We needed to build in some sort of image rights approval workflow for all the images. In the XMP compliant metadata, we set the expiration date for that image. So the expiration date would determine if the user gets approval to download or needs to request access to the expired image. Part of the workflow is that the requests are generated in the DAM and sent out via email to the image rights managers who will approve or deny.
This was a big thing that we talked through. It took a long time, processing through how an image would flow through the system automatically to get approved—either via the art buyer or the library manager. This became part of the evolution of developing the DAM.
Which brings up another big thing to figure out: the Metadata Schema. We wanted to create a simple metadata schema that would make sense to the users. How are they going to want to search for images? What key words are they going to use in the search? Let’s make those words part of the metadata and enable the user to search using metadata. That was another evolution that came about. I wanted the metadata to be the working tool for finding the images.
I think that’s about it. Those were the main things that came about, as we started brainstorming. They really enhanced the system from a basic library and actually put a lot more exciting energy into the product.