This is the second in a series of interviews introducing the experts who are speaking at the upcoming Digital Asset Management Conference.
Today, we’re speaking with Ben Ross, who serves as Creative Director for the award-winning production house Wild Plum. He describes the many ways he utilizes DAM on a daily basis and what benefits attendees will glean from the session he is participating in.
1. How did you get started in DAM?
When I went to film school 10 to 12 years ago I was getting my start in DAM without even knowing it. I learned how to keep my video projects organized and archived in order to get a passing grade and not lose my projects! When I moved to California in 2004, I quickly found a job at commercial house Plum Productions. Things had gone somewhat digital by that point but not fully and I was able to use the skills I had learned in organizing my own projects in school and apply them to Plum’s media library, reel production, and website management.
2. How do you utilize DAM on a day-to-day basis?
I use DAM every day, but not necessarily the same way each day. One area that I am responsible for is Wild Plum’s media management, which consists of maintaining a library of high resolution finished projects and compression of those files for various uses – today, that’s mainly web use. In addition to maintaining the public view of wildplum.tv, we use the Simian back-end to create digital reels to send out to various clients. Every piece of work we have is uploaded to Simian and is ready to use at a moment’s notice by us or our reps. Beyond that, I am looked to for other tech solutions that allow Wild Plum to run smoothly, many of which require some sort of digital asset sharing or cloud management.
3. What’s the most valuable aspect of DAM in your work?
In addition to being looked to for tech solutions, I am also leaned on for creative ideas, from writing treatments and supporting the creative needs of our directors, all the way to directing and shooting content myself. What I’ve found over the last five years or so is that DAM has gone from a very intimidating to a very user-friendly area of tech. Our Simian reel system allows my executives and reps to view every spot any of our directors have ever done, make a custom reel for a given project, send it, and track it in a simple, straightforward interface. Just five years ago, when Wild Plum opened, I would have been responsible not only for uploading new material and keeping things organized in the system, but none of our reps or producers were comfortable using our back-end system, and frankly, I didn’t want them to. It was confusing and easy to do something incorrectly that would jam up the works. Now, because everything is available to them in a form that is simple and effective – as well as mobile, it can be accessed with an iPhone or iPad – they don’t have to wait for me to make a custom reel or worry about shipping or any of the other factors that could have given a rep (or me) a stressful afternoon in the past. The exact reel they want is sent instantaneously. All of this allows me to focus on the creative aspects of my position in a manner I never have before. I make sure the best quality product is made available to the users of our system and then I can sort of step away from reel creation for the most part, always being there as a backup, but finding as time goes on that I’m needed less and less in that capacity.
4. You’re participating in the session “Workflow in the Clouds” at the Createasphere Digital Asset Management Conference. What’s it all about?
I think the Cloud has always been about sharing – I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground with that statement. Whether it’s sharing movies, music, or documents with yourself and your various devices or your company team, it just makes things so much more efficient in life. Various ‘cloud’ products from Dropbox to YouSendIt to iCloud to Google Docs have, over the last two or three years, made it so much easier for us at Wild Plum to share with each other and our clients in the fastest manner possible. We are getting high resolution finished products online as opposed to shipped on data-DVD or on tape, allowing us to have that brand new spot on our website or on a reel within hours as opposed to days. Our producers share bidding documents and correspondence, always confident they are working on the correct version and can access it from anywhere. We are no longer chained to our desk for fear of inaccessibility, which allows us to be more productive in our lives as a whole.
5. What do you hope attendees will glean from attending the session?
I hope that I can bring the perspective of how Cloud DAM can help a small company like ours be as organized and efficient as possible, allowing us to spend more time on the creative and strategic aspects of our jobs rather than the logistics of things. I think that DAM is very specific to the individual or company and I wouldn’t pretend that our way of doing things would necessarily work for everyone – in truth, we are constantly evolving how we do things – but if attendees get a few tips about some ways to go about things – or even confirmation of some of the things they’re already doing – then I think we’ll have been successful.
Ben will be joined by many other DAM professionals who will be sharing their valuable insights at the Digital Asset Management Conference, February 27-28, 2013, at the Beverly Hilton. Register at www.createasphere.com/damla.