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Video Asset Management Systems: How to Choose the Right One

As the number of video assets has grown in all manner of organizations, so has the need to organize this content efficiently. Too often, stakeholders have a hard time finding the content they need—and when they can find it, it’s often not in the right format, or there are multiple versions with no indication of which is the final one approved for publication.

So how can an organization make sure that employees and others can access the video content they need, in the right format, and in the right version? How do you turn a library of digital files—or even video on tape—into a manageable, searchable, easily usable archive?

Online video platforms are one option, but more and more organizations are turning to asset management systems to wrangle a wide range of digital assets, including final produced content, individual production elements, and raw footage. Though these systems go by different names, their goal is the same: They provide management of digital assets over the asset’s entire lifecycle, and offer more metadata and tracking features than a typical online video platform, which emphasizes publishing.

Video asset management systems generally fall under three terms: digital asset management (DAM), media asset management (MAM), and production asset management (PAM). DAM, MAM, and PAM systems all do similar things. DAM systems come in a wide variety of flavors, and many are geared toward working with more static digital and print content. (Some don’t handle video at all.) MAM systems have more features around asset management, while PAM systems provide yet more tools for a production environment.

MAM systems and PAM systems provide a slightly broader type of functionality than do DAM systems. If you’re running a large professional video studio, PAM might work best for you. If you want to associate a lot of additional content with your archived video, or you are running a traditional television production studio, MAM may be what you need. Caveat emptor: A representative from one company says he would even change the name depending on who he was speaking to, so you may be best served by focusing on the features offered rather than getting hung up on the terminology. It all comes down to organization and access.

“Digital asset management is critical when you’re creating much more content deliberately. The system has to organize it so that people can find it,” says Sean Brown, SVP of Sonic Foundry. “Today people want to know that they can create custom metadata relationships relative to what they want.”

“Right now we have a DAM platform that’s quite well-developed and established,” says David Boyll, director, media technology solutions for Oracle Marketing Brand Creative. “It’s tightly integrated into our video hosting and publishing workflow. It also serves a self-service function within our enterprise in the areas of video, logos, icons, photography, and illustrations such as infographics.”

Simplicity is the key. “Part of our client’s scope is that they want to manage and maintain just one master file,” says Craig Bollig, senior DAM advisor for Widen Enterprises, which has a cloud-based solution called Media Collective.


We’ll start our look at asset management systems by examining how three enterprises are either using or planning to use them.

Symantec: Ease of Use Is Key

Many organizations have a DAM platform, but often those systems were designed for print and digital needs, but not rich media.

“A lot of the asset management systems out there that the rest of the organization uses won’t accept files as large as we create,” says Greg Posten, director, content strategy and storytelling and general manager for Symantec TV. Posten says Symantec uses three different DAM systems.

“All of those DAM [systems being used elsewhere at Symantec] won’t take a file bigger than about 1GB, so that’s always been an issue for us trying to find an asset management system that can work with the large files that we routinely deal with,” Posten says.

“We also wanted [it to do] things like transcoding, because when we want folks to be able to have access to those files, we don’t want them taking the big ProRes file,” Posten says. ”We use a piece of software called Cantemo. It does what we needed it to do in terms of dealing with large file formats. It was built from the ground up to deal with video so it has a very robust file format and metadata engine.”


Posten says that Symantec uses Cantemo for two purposes: first, storing edited program masters; and second, keeping track of production elements, such as opens, lower thirds, and b-roll.

“We had a whole feature list that we wanted, file size, file format, transcoding engine, ability to modify metadata, ability to save searches, and integrate eventually with our global directory services,” Posten says. “Now it’s used in the department only as our master repository. Within the next 6 months we’ll be rolling it out to the entire company or about 12,000 users. It’s all on premises.”

By Nadine Krefetz

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