Digital asset management
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The management of digital assets requires the unbroken maintenance of the ownership of a digitized object while permitting access to those who have obtained that right. Once a media object enters the digital domain its owner can control who else may view, use, or modify the asset and asserts that control by applying some sort of encryption method used for digital rights enforcement. Applications that implement digital asset management (DAM) apply their digital rights management (DRM) method of choice when new digital objects are brought under management, whether by importing them from the analog and/or digital domains (by scanning, Optical Character Recognition, etc.) or authoring them as new objects. Digital objects that do not have DRM applied cannot be brought into a DAM, but may be managed in a Content Management System.
The indexing of objects that exist only in analog form (printed documents or photos on paper for instance) in a digital system (i.e. an online database of published works) is not DAM as an encoded, binary data form of the object must be available to have DRM applied before it may be imported by a DAM application.
For objects under its control a DAM system may offer facilities for their annotation, cataloguing, retrieval and distribution.
The term "media asset management" (MAM) may be used in reference to DAM applied to the sub-set of digital objects commonly considered to be "media", namely audio recordings, photos, and video.
Smaller DAM systems are easier to categorize as to content and usage since they normally operate in a particular operational context. This would hold true for systems attached to audio- or video-production systems. The key differentiators here are the types of decoders and I/O (input/output) used for the asset ingest, use and outgest. Since metadata describes the essence (and proxy copies), the metadata can serve as a guide to the playout decoders, transcoders, and channels as well as an input to access-control rules. This means that the essence can be treated as a non-described storage object except when being accessed for viewing or editing. There is relevance to this when considering the overall design and use of larger implementations. The closer the asset is to the ingest/edit/playout tool, the greater the technical architecture needs to accommodate delivery requirements such as bandwidth, latency, capacity, access control, availability of resources, etc. The further the asset moves into a general storage architecture (e.g. hierarchical storage management [HSM]) the more it can be treated as a general blob (binary large object) that is typically held in a filesystem, not in a database. The impact of this set of needs means that it is possible and reasonable to design larger systems using smaller, more expensive performance-systems at the edge of the network where the essence is being used in its intended form and less expensive systems further back for storage and archival. This type of design exemplifies Infrastructure Convergence Architecture, where the line-of-business operations technology and IT technologies depend on one another for functional and performance (non-functional) requirements.
There is usually a target version – referred to as "essence" – generally the highest-resolution and highest-fidelity representation. The asset is detailed by its metadata. Metadata is the description of the asset and the description depth can vary depending on the needs of the system, designer, or user. Metadata can describe, but is not limited to, the description of: asset content (what is in the package?); the means of encoding/decoding (e.g. JPEG, tar, MPEG 2); provenance (history to point of capture); ownership; rights of access; as well as many others. There exist some predefined standards and template for metadata such as Dublin Core and PBCore. In cases of systems that contain large-size asset essences, such as MPEG 2 and JPEG2000 for the cases of images and video, there are usually related "proxy" copies of the essence. A proxy copy is a lower-resolution representation of the essence that can be used as a reference in order to reduce the overall bandwidth requirements of the DAM system infrastructure. It can be generated and retained at the time of ingestion of the asset simultaneous or subsequent to the essence, or it can be generated on the fly using transcoders.
Types of systems
The following broad categories of digital asset management systems may be distinguished as:
- Brand asset management systems, with a focus on facilitation of content re-use within large organizations. Here the content is largely marketing- or sales-related, for example, product imagery, logos, marketing collateral or fonts, to give a few examples.
- Library asset management systems, with a focus on storage and retrieval of large amounts of infrequently changing media assets, for example in video or photo archiving.
- Production asset management systems focus on managing assets as they are being created for a digital media production (video game, 3D feature film, animation, visual-effects shots, etc.) They usually include work-flow and project-management features coupled with the storage, organization and revision control of frequently changing digital assets.
DAM software may be open source or proprietary.
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- Collaborative software
- Content management
- Data proliferation
- Desktop publishing
- Digital artifactual value
- Digital library
- Digital preservation
- Extensible Metadata Platform
- Image organizer
- Image retrieval
- Information lifecycle management
- Institutional repository
- Hierarchical storage management
- Non-functional requirements – definition of performance requirements
- Preservation metadata
- Repository OSID
- Web content management system
- Magan Arthur (30 April 2005), Intro to Digital Asset Management: Just what is a DAM?, archived from the original on 22 July 2012
- Diamond, David (2012). DAM Survival Guide: Digital Asset Management Initiative Planning. DAMSurvivalGuide.com.
- Krogh, Peter (2009). The DAM Book, Second Edition. O'Reilly Media. ISBN 0-596-52357-2.
- Krogh, Peter (2005). The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers. O'Reilly Media. ISBN 0-596-10018-3.
- Austerberry, David (2006). Digital Asset Management, Second Edition. Focal Press. ISBN 0-240-80868-1.
- Jacobsen, Jens; Schlenker, Tilman; Edwards, Lisa (2005). Implementing a Digital Asset Management System: For Animation, Computer Games, and Web Development. Focal Press. ISBN 0-240-80665-4.
- Mauthe, Andreas; Thomas, Peter (2004). Professional Content Management Systems: Handling Digital Media Assets. Wiley. ISBN 0-470-85542-8.
- Digital Asset Management and Museums – Digital Asset Management and Museums – An Introduction.
- List of Digital Asset Management Vendors – Comprehensive list of DAM vendors.
- Open Source Digital Asset Management – Overview of Open Source DAM systems.
- DAM Directory – Actively maintained directory of DAM-related resources.