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Digital asset management: Video advances!

This article appears in the issue October 2015, [Volume 24 Issue 9]
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Video continues to grow in importance as an enterprise asset, but it remains difficult to manage at almost every stage, from capture to distribution, as well as subsequent access to stored content. “Among our clients, video is a top-of-mind concern,” says Anjali Yakkundi, senior analyst at Forrester. “However, many companies, even very large ones, don’t have a central repository for video or for their other rich media assets. The files are typically scattered in multiple locations, including Dropbox, SharePoint or share drives.”

That situation is not surprising because videos have multiple use cases that range from training and education to marketing and corporate communication, and different departments carry out those functions. However, improving management of video can have a rapid and significant return on investment, so organizations are increasingly motivated to address the issue. Moreover, being able to find not only a particular video but also information within the video is also growing in importance.

Lifelong learning

STEMbrite is a mission-driven company that evolved from research carried out under a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Based on research by Carol Dweck, the learning solutions offered by STEMbrite focus on developing a “growth mindset” in post-secondary students to help retain promising individuals, especially in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and math).

In contrast with a “fixed mindset,” in which students view their intelligence as a predetermined and limited resource, the growth mindset promotes an approach of flexibility that supports a philosophy of lifelong learning. Making a transition to that approach is particularly important to students who are economically disadvantaged or face other barriers, both internal and external, to advancing their careers. Research in the field shows that interventions can improve retention rates significantly for women and under-represented minorities.

“We focus on microlearning,” says Chris Carson, COO of STEMbrite. “Our learning materials are delivered via video, with assessments at various stages to verify that the student is mastering the content.” As part of its production process, STEMbrite wanted to repurpose and manage small chunks of videos and keep the assessments associated with each video clip. “We were very motivated not to let the content slip through our fingers,” he explains, “because we knew we would need to find it regularly.” In addition, the company wanted to keep track of the digital rights for the assets.

Although on a startup budget at the time, STEMbrite realized the critical nature of managing its video assets properly and made it a priority, including carrying out a careful evaluation of the digital asset management (DAM) systems that might be a match. The organization worked with a consultant who narrowed an extensive list of possibilities down to 10 companies and, from there, to a group of three finalists. “We knew we wanted a company focused just on cloud-based DAM in order to get more specialized service, but we also needed a company that supported the product with unlimited support and training,” Carson says.

STEMbrite selected MediaValet based on its focus, features and the positive interactions it had with the company during the evaluation process. “MediaValet was very responsive to our requests for information and direct about what they could and could not do,” Carson explains. “Once the product was selected, the system was up and running quickly since it is a cloud product and does not need any internal IT support. Because we started using MediaValet so early in our startup, we were able to simply upload all our assets ourselves from our existing storage drives. Then our DAM administrator tagged them based on date of creation.”

Smallest clips for greatest flexibility

Researchers who are experts in adult learning and pedagogy develop the content. The video is created in either presentation or interview format. “As soon as the video is recorded, it is downloaded into clips by the videography team,” Carson explains. “We create the smallest chunks we can to give us the greatest flexibility both in finding and repurposing. Two hours of video might turn into 150 clips. At this stage, we apply basic metadata.”

The DAM administrator then processes it to add more detailed metadata, with 12 to 15 categories typically used, out of a total of 25 available. The latest version of MediaValet has a new menu feature that simplifies the metadata entry process by allowing users to check boxes for the desired elements. A controlled vocabulary is used for keywording, one of the top recommendations from the consultant that STEMbrite had engaged.

Keeping the clips and the assessments together is critical. The assessment might be a multiple choice answer, true/false or fill in. “The same clip might be used for different levels of students,” Carson says, “but the set of questions could be different, depending on the expectations for that level.”

The video is then put together in a lightbox that allows the instructional system designer (ISD) to structure and sequence the final product. “Music is also kept in MediaValet,” Carson adds, “and that is layered into the video editing software as a final step.” The post-production team uploads the finished product into MediaValet for the team to be sure the product does not have any issues that need to be corrected. For more detailed post-production reviews, STEMbrite uses a third-party video collaboration solution.

Customers usually review the videos via a link STEMbrite sends, and clients take delivery of their video by allowing STEMbrite to upload them directly onto Blackboard or other learning management system (LMS). “Thanks to MediaValet, we are able to provide our clients with learning modules that are produced quickly and efficiently,” Carson says. “We can also easily find the segments we need in order to repurpose them in other modules.”

“When we launched in 2010, our focus was on providing the first 100 percent cloud-based, enterprise class DAM system,” says David MacLaren, founder and CEO of MediaValet. “We first wanted to be sure the technology offered the scalability and enterprise grade security our customers needed. With Version 3.0, released in January, we’ve shifted to the user experience, to make sure the user has the most positive experience possible. We redesigned the entire user interface to reflect everything we’ve learned over the past few years to make it richer and more intuitive.”

MediaValet handles all media types, including HD video formats, and can manage file sizes up to 200 GB per asset. In 2016, the company will release a new feature that will give users the ability to search dialogue within videos. That will allow users to find any spoken word within their video library with a keyword search. “Once the word is found, the user will be able to jump right to the sequence in a video where the searched word is spoken. The video will start a few seconds before the target word, and continue as long as the user wishes,” MacLaren adds.

He sees continued growth for the burgeoning cloud-based DAM market in future years. “There’s a huge demand for content, and it’s increasing at a rapid pace,” he says. “So much content is being created by marketing and communications teams that they’re being overwhelmed by the sheer number of media assets.”

Capturing tacit knowledge

Video content management (VCM) for platforms designed for enterprise use is an emerging market; Gartner published its first Magic Quadrant for that technology two years ago. Those platforms are intended not only for management of stored content but also for live streaming. Mediasite by Sonic Foundry, for example, captures and distributes video both live and on demand. A spinoff from technology developed at Carnegie Mellon University, Mediasite is typically set up in a presentation room or lecture hall.

“Mediasite is a purpose-built family of hardware and software that creates a workflow from presentation to a URL,” says Sean Brown, senior VP at Sonic Foundry. “It provides all the software to organize and curate the video, creates metadata automatically and OCRs all the text on the screen.” It also provides closed captioning by automatically uploading the video files to the customer’s captioning service provider. The product can operate on premises or in the cloud.

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