Widen digital asset management users are a diverse and fascinating group with various backgrounds, occupations, and interests. They work in a range of industries and live in different locations around the world. In fact, they’re so great that we’re profiling these people in a series of digital asset manager interviews, so other users can gain a better understanding of how the Media Collective is being used and to what end.
Our first interview is with Lee Stadler, Senior Designer at Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas. Lee has been a Widen user for two years and was the champion who led Ottawa’s internal initiative for a DAM system. He continues to spearhead all things DAM at Ottawa University in order to protect their brand assets and help the institution build a story that’s truthful and lasts.
Lee’s background is in art and music performance. And, to give you a glimpse into his world, here’s a shot of his personal work space (note customized espresso corner and tropical paradise image).
When I chatted Widen DAM with Lee last week, this is what he had to say.
How often do you use the Media Collective?
Personally, a minimum of once a day. If not, it’s because I don’t have a computer handy or I’m not on the clock. Otherwise, I’m on it every day.
In what area(s) of your organization are you using Widen’s DAM system?
Marketing, PR, Alumni relations, external agencies that opt in and out as they want to be able to develop materials without micromanagement over them. The outside work we have done is typically contract video, audio and photography.
For what kinds of activities are you using the Media Collective?
General archiving and marketing materials development. I just finished sending someone a collection of photos taken at an event from about a month and half ago for something he needs to do today. That’s just a small bit of what it can do. The Media Collective is the central tool for all our marketing campaign development in terms of assets. We recently dumped all of our production files from the last six years in there (over the past six months) to free up our internal servers. That was great.
How are your users using the Collective? What do they do with it?
They are doing roughly the same thing as me – archiving, developing marketing materials, proofing. I still like to think of it as helping to secure and build the University’s story. It’s true that user adoption by folks internally can be challenging. Some people outside the University have adopted or adapted more quickly than some inside. I think it speaks to culture and I’m glad it does. It’s a constant evaluation of how we can function better. Do I send constant reminders telling people to use the Collective? No. But we all try to show that there’s a better way when then send everything as email attachments. You don’t want to have a clogged pipeline.
What is the most useful thing that the Media Collective does for you?
It takes obstacles out of the way. Having the ability to automatically switch formats for various file types so easily is so great. It’s much akin to voodoo. In my field [graphic design], you spend so much time learning how to save out to various file formats for very specific uses that having a system do that for you is amazing. Automatically generating jpgs and tiffs within the DAM system, it’s incredibly useful. This really clears software and personnel obstacles. I’ve been an obstacle to people simply because they needed a file. That’s silly. Now that others can so freely and easily use the Media Collective, I don’t want to nor do I need to be there saving files for someone else. We were spending so much time doing things like that and now we no longer have to. The ROI is immense.
Can you share something that you do with the Media Collective that other users may not know it can do?
This is something I knew was possible, but we never really implemented until recently and I don’t know why – separate metadata schemas. We use them to extract metadata from externally developed assets. People outside of the University have their own way of going about things, so if someone was using Aperture to append their IPTC data with we could store the data but it wasn’t searchable. Now, there is a selectable metadata profile with four or five IPTC fields that are extracted and searchable so other folks using the same method aren’t hindered. It was cake, this was already built right in there in the Media Collective. It’s a method that I hope we start using for other internal groups as well. It certainly makes things easier and helps people maintain a large degree of their own workflow.
What are your favorite apps on your smartphone?
I don’t own a smartphone, but I own the game tetris. I don’t have a smartphone just to maintain history. I like pencils and pens and paper and I see them as necessary to my craft. Regardless of what I can get for free with a two-year cell phone plan, I wouldn’t be as concerned with dropping a piece of sticky paper than a phone on concrete. I did have a blackberry at one point, and one of my favorite days was when I accidentally left it on the roof of my car. It slid off the roof onto the highway and was crushed by two cars. The second one swerved to hit it. The SIM card survived.
Which tech websites or blogs do you follow?
I reference CMSWire fairly frequently. Design Observer is popular. Blacksmithing websites are fun. Any type of craft that can cross that technical and design divide. Linguistic sites. My background is in music performance, so that’s been a guide for my work ethic. If you don’t play, you don’t eat. So I try to remain as varied as possible.
What do you think is the most important thing other users should know about using a digital asset management system?
It’s the change that you need. It really is a solution that creates liberty and freedom. It makes an organization sustainable because it makes them responsible for not just having everything out there without following any order. It makes them accountable. When you use it correctly, it helps keep your organization stable and effective.