Digital Asset Management Education Experts

Special Report: Buying Corporate DAM Systems: A Manager's Guide To Procurement Best Practices

This report offers purchasing and procurement tips for managers involved in decisions about selecting a DAM system. Also included is an example RFP with questions that specifically relate to Digital Asset Management.

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Enterprise Digital Asset Management: A Guide For IT Professionals

Practical advice for IT professionals on issues from systems integration to the IT infrastucture requirements for Digital Asset Management.

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Video Digital Asset Management: 12 Crucial Points For Marketers

Marketing managers are invited to consider 12 crucial points that will determine the success or failure of a web video archive.

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What Does Timeline Metadata Mean For Video Asset Management?

Timeline metadata is a concept that has been gaining interest amongst users of Video Asset Management systems and is now being provided as standard in more sophisticated DAMs. In simple terms it means the tagging or marking of unique sections of time based media such as audio or video. Why is this of significance to marketing managers?

To explain this, it is helpful to look at how metadata in time based media has been used conventionally outside of the context of Digital Asset Management. Many marketers who have been involved in the production of corporate showreels or audio broadcasts will be familiar with EDLs (Edit Decision Lists). These are series of in/out points recorded as time codes that describe to a video or audio editor what parts of the original footage are to be included or excluded from the final production. Historically, these may have been recorded using something as simple as a pencil and paper. With the advent of non-linear editing, this has been replaced by electronic equivalents, although the basic idea has not changed.

Timeline metadata, however, extends the EDL concept by allowing a more diverse range of attributes about sections of time based media to be recorded. As well as marking in/out points, many modern video or audio container formats now include support for cue points to be embedded into the media also. Why is this beneficial? To answer this, consider some potential practical applications of timeline metadata:

Linked Media Assets

A lot of video footage or audio clips may implicitly cross reference a wide range of other subjects as the media is playing. For example, if a video contains a series of scenes describing different business units or markets, it is possible to show to the user photos, documents or other files that specifically relate to those subjects – but only when they actually appear in the clip. The same links can also work in reverse which enables the same static assets to also directly cross-reference the section of a clip that they relate to. With time based media this can save staff hours of time having to watch material that has no relevance to them. As well as productivity gains, linked media assets can also increase the visibility of assets that may have previously not been found via a conventional search facility.


Having cue points embedded into media enables users of Digital Asset Management systems that support them to setup triggers that can call other processes when the user is watching or listening. A simple example is the ability to identify how much of a clip has actually been viewed. While most systems can record whether or not a media assets has been accessed, this gives an incomplete picture of what proportion of the media has been reviewed. Triggers enables more accurate reporting about usage to be established. There are a wide range of other opportunities offered by timeline triggers for integrating Digital Asset Management with third party applications.

Micro Navigation

Most readers will be familiar with the ‘chapters’ concept used in consumer DVDs that allow them to jump from one section of a film to another. Using timeline metadata, the same flexibility is also possible within Digital Asset Management systems. Linear footage or audio can be embedded with cue points that allow users to navigate the clip at a micro level. This permits full non-linear consumption. As with linked assets, this can save users a lot of time finding the section of a clip that they require. When closely integrated with the search facilities provided by a DAM system, not only can users find media assets but also they can also access directly the section that is relevant to their needs.

Custom User Editing – Personal EDLs

A more advanced facility that timeline metadata provides is the ability for users to create their own custom edited editions of footage by generating their own set of in/out points. The list of edit points (the user’s personal EDL) can also be shared with colleagues and also be used to produce custom editions of footage quickly and easily without the need to request them from a production company. The flexibility and cost savings that this kind of power provides clearly has considerable potential benefits for marketers for whom video production costs will often constitute a major proportion of their annual budget.

About the Author

Ralph Windsor is a senior partner in digital asset management implementation consultants, Daydream. He has eighteen years experience of delivering DAM and content technology solutions acquired as a developer, project manager and consultant working with global clients such as WS Atkins, Major League Baseball, BNP Paribas and The British Museum.

To find out more about Daydream and our service, please email or telephone us on: +44 (0)20 7096 1471.