Video files are massive and your company may have a lot of them, between live event footage, social media videos, and more. You don’t want your files to get lost, or for there to be duplicates running around everywhere. You also don’t want constant questions about where a file lives or how to access a folder.
In this blog, we’ll be going over the best practices for video asset management at large organizations. A large company can have hundreds or thousands of video assets spanning years, so we’ll cover general best practices as well as the advantage of a software system that can help manage these assets. Cover photo via Authentic.co.
What are Digital Asset Management Systems?
Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems are suites of software that store digital materials such as images and videos. They organize these assets and make searching for files easier. It might sound similar to a Content Management System (CMS), but they serve two different purposes. While a CMS is used for publishing webpages and storing website data including images, a DAM stores all media and is thus more like a file storage database that is highly searchable. Ideally, it will boost productivity by making it easy to find and share assets wherever they need to go. They can also be integrated so that a CMS draws from the files stored in a DAM.
While a Digital Asset Management system is obviously great to have, some companies may find that using Google Drive, a shared network drive, or some other similar solution works just as well. The key is to be as organized as possible, which is what our tips here are all about!
Use Detailed Naming Conventions
Every company will have different ideas of what information is important. But a few key details might be important. Of course, a name that describes the video and the campaign is important. If a video is part of a series, implement a numbering system. For example, a TV show can denote Season 3 Episode 7 by starting the file name with S3E7 or 0107. You should also include the resolution or the platform it’s meant for. Use whatever terminology makes the most sense, whether it’s 1080, 1920×1080, or just Facebook.
For example, one file name could be: 2021-08_Glitch-Transitions-Tutorial_1080p-YouTube.mp4
Use a Sensible Folder Structure
Everyone has a different idea of what “organized” is. Although a good file name and metadata will make it easier to search for files, there still needs to be a sensible folder structure to organize the video files. Your ideal structure will vary depending on your business. But let’s say you’re a company that has the following types of videos:
- Live event footage
- Edited social media videos
- TV commercials
- YouTube channel updates
These overarching topics will make a great starting point for folders. The live events folder can have subfolders for each of the events, preferably with a date at the beginning of the folder name. Within these folders, you could have even more folders for each camera, if there were multiple. TV commercials can be named accordingly to their campaign or topic. Just avoid tossing random video files into a catch-all folder. Err on the side of being too organized, rather than not organized enough! Your future self will thank you.
Use a Standard Video Format
Throughout your company, there should be a standard video format. This will ensure that files are easy to find, will always play on company computers, and is up to the quality standards that the company requires. This is especially important when your company gathers video from a variety of sources. If it’s meant for distribution, then it should be a standard format like mp4. If it’s a raw file such as a Blackmagic file, that is only meant for editing, then it could be forgiven – although ingesting and converting to something else for easy consumption wouldn’t hurt. Playing back these files over an internet connection can be slow and taxing on your storage system, so having access to a more compressed version of a large video file helps everyone.
Generate Proxy Clips
Instead of converting raw footage as we mentioned above, you can generate proxy clips whenever you import something new. These previews are automatically generated when added to your digital asset manager. These previews can use a container and codec that are playable on any device, and the files can be streamed rather than locally downloaded.
If you don’t have a Digital Asset Manager that can automatically convert files, you’ll need to import them into your video editor and convert them manually. Either way, proxies help a lot when various employees need to remotely access a file to edit. Raw files tend to be large, and transmitting a proxy over the internet will be much faster. Once you have proxies, you should never have to move the original master files. These can be saved in long-term storage and not take up any additional bandwidth by moving them.
Don’t Duplicate Files
The biggest downside of video is its sheer size. That’s why unnecessarily duplicating files should be avoided. A good file storage system will have a frequent backup, so having multiple copies of a file in multiple locations “just in case” is not required. If you use a DAM, then you may have access to deduplication features as well as the ability to access the same file from multiple locations.
- Uploading, ingesting, proxying, and copying large video files can take a long time. Make sure your DAM server (if you’re using one) is powerful enough to handle these tasks if you need immediate access to files.
- Video files are big. Make sure your system is expandable, either by adding more physical hard drives to your server, or by purchasing more space from a cloud service.
- Use metadata in your video files so that your file system is more searchable.