How to pick an Asset Manager – 5 Things to Note and Consider
Asset management is an essential aspect of any VFX studio. It plays a crucial role in organizing, storing, and sharing digital assets among artists and departments. However, with the growing complexity of assets, studios require more than just a simple file management system. In our previous post, we discussed three fundamental things to consider in […]
Asset management is an essential aspect of any VFX studio. It plays a crucial role in organizing, storing, and sharing digital assets among artists and departments. However, with the growing complexity of assets, studios require more than just a simple file management system. In our previous post, we discussed three fundamental things to consider in a good asset library: organization, collaboration, and workflow integration. In this blog post, we will expand on that and dive into five categories that studios must consider when picking an asset manager.
Category 1: Scalability
As a studio grows, its asset management system should grow with it. A scalable asset manager can handle an increasing number of assets and users without compromising performance. This means the system ideally processes, tags, and catalogues hundreds of Terabytes of assets and files.
Cloud storage solutions such as AWS, Azure, IBM Cloud etc eases the set up process for bigger projects. However, these do come with the cost of increased latency and greater issues around file syncing if you aren’t cloud native. That’s why many studios are approaching this problem from a hybrid cloud standpoint (predominantly local, occasionally cloud, but all integrated). As storage calls for scale, cloud environments for VFX studios can support the asset management system that will organize assets across networks, files, and dependencies. Asset mangers should be able to support with the various assets that are indexed as hot and cold storages in order to save time and costs as a studio grows.
Even if a team prefers to work in local environments, asset management systems should be able to support large amounts of files, the related data of the assets, various files across multiple users, departments, and projects, making sharing and collaboration across the globe, easy.
Category 2: Customization
Every studio has different workflows, tools, and pipelines. Therefore, any system should be customizable to fit specific studio and team needs. It’s important that modern asset managers integrate with project management tools like Shotgrid and Ftrack, or if you’re in the game studio market, version control systems like Github and Perforce. Without this integration, assets and versions will get quickly mixed up with little to no ability to reconcile across changes.
In addition, connecting to proper storage systems is imperative (if you haven’t, take a look at our article on best ways to set up your asset storage here). As we mentioned before about utilizing the cloud or if everything is run on a LAN, asset managers should be able to unify your assets from any location. Whether you are a single studio location looking to scale or a multi-studio looking to have one unified asset library.
Category 3: Security
Digital assets are valuable and confidential, and studios must protect them from theft, loss, or corruption. A good asset manager should have robust security features, such as encryption, access control, and backup and recovery. It should also have a disaster recovery plan in case of a security breach or system failure.
Category 4: Accessibility
Artists require quick and easy access to assets to meet tight deadlines. A good asset manager should provide fast and reliable access to assets, regardless of location or device. It should also have a user-friendly interface and a powerful search engine that allows artists to find the right asset quickly.
Category 5: Analytics
Analytics can provide valuable insights into how assets are being used, which can help studios make informed decisions about future projects. A good asset manager should have robust analytics features that can track asset usage, user behavior, and project performance. It should also provide customizable reports and dashboards that can give studios a bird’s eye view of their asset library and help them optimize their workflow.
Conclusion and The Biggest Thing
Now of course we’ve talked about everything when it comes to setting up, installing, and getting an asset manager integrated into your system. But ultimately an asset library is only as good of a tool as it is at searching through the assets that you have. Frankly put, most digital asset managers are not adept at being able to readily index maya binaries, houdini files, EXRs, .r3ds, 2D stock footage, image, audio, and more exotic files. And without the support of such files, you’re ultimately locked down into what you can ultimately search. Don’t forget also about all the other metadata that you house in your VCS system or metadata from Shotgrid.
Being able to have an asset library that integrates and is able to search all metadata, with faceted filters that can filter by project, asset type, tags, frame rate, and more is critical to helping users find the ideal asset that they need or a pitch, concept, or for reuse. In addition, being able to have rapid and a large number of visual previews to quickly go through multiple assets is a must.
In conclusion, effective asset management is a critical aspect of VFX studios, and choosing the right asset manager can save significant time and money. When picking an asset manager, studios must consider scalability, customization, security, accessibility, and support. At Shade, we provide a comprehensive digital asset management solution that addresses all these categories and more.
We’ve put some serious thought into building a “studio-caliber” system and we’d love to get your feedback on it.
If you’re interested, check out this notion document here.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your studio manage assets effectively.