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  Vecta on Digital Asset Management
  Digital Asset Management (DAM) is revolutionising those media companies who have learned the value of their archive material and the cost of cataloguing, storing, restoring, and retrieving it.

Similar issues face all companies as they decide which information to retain, in what form, and how to make it accessible by their staff, suppliers, and customers.

  In earlier times, repeats of broadcast material rarely occurred after the week of first transmission. The evolution of the pre-recorded music and video industries has created demand for physical distribution while multi-channel digital TV has an insatiable appetite for reuse of the original material in a variety of formats to suit different timings, channels and platforms. Many home users have accumulated stores of film, audio and video tapes and cassettes that they might prefer to have accessible on thir TV sets or PC displays.

However, much early material was recorded on media that is obsolete and the film or tape recording medium itself is deteriorating. Even today a variety of recording formats are in use on each single recording medium. Modern media like CD or DVD are more stable but the lifetimes of their playback devices are shorter than those capable of playing wax cylinders or vinyl records. While lifetimes can be extended by careful, if expensive, storage a continuous restoration effort is required in media companies to progressively migrate key material onto modern formats and media. Of course, migration itself is of little use if attention is not paid to cataloguing the content of the recording, at least to the level of key frames per shot. Selection of material to retain or restore is also difficult.

New material, even that recorded digitally, presents at least as many challenges. Apart from decisions to limit storage formats, creators must decide how much information to retain about the content, what tools to use to search disk and tape archives, how much archive material to make available on servers alongside work in progress. and so on.

Distributors must think about how to recognise any rights remaining with the originators - or their rights successors - and other interested parties, how to compensate those with rights, how to comply with restrictions on usage and, particularly in the case of repeat distribution, who to negotiate with today when rights may have transferred from the original holders.

Digital Asset Management is key to successful operation, irrespective of whether it uses physical or electronic distribution. However, it is an emerging science involving a substantial element of judgement, which can be influenced by sentiment or politics. Selectivity is also important if the content stores are not to be full of worthless material, preserved beyond its usable life. Used effectively however, digital asset management promises to cut costs of production and maximise revenue.

Our Digital Commerce Experts Network is dedicated to exploring the key issues related to developments in digital commerce and entertainment. This involves projecting the evolution of the competitive platforms - games consoles, mobile handsets, PC, and TV, identifying popular applications and understanding revenue models and valuations. It also requires identifying issues related to supplier and partner selection for commerce.

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Cottenham, CAMBRIDGE, CB24 8RN

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