How Comedy Central uses Digital Asset Management


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  • Comedy Central is the funny member of the family – one of a dozen-plus channels belonging to Viacom.Our family includes MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, TV Land, Nick at Nite, Logo, Comedy Central, Spike, CMT, BET. Too many logos to fit on this slide. The odds are, if something isn’t owned by Disney, it could be us. That’s not true, but it’s almost true. It sounds good to say that, anyway.Of our whole company, Comedy Central is definitely the best place to work, with TV Land coming a close second. Yet, there’s a little bit of sibling rivalry too. Check out the tag line for TV Land. “Laugh More”? When they came out with that, we laughed all right. Ha ha. But maybe not for the reasons they expected. I do know a lot of people in their creative department, which is what led to taking what we did at Comedy Central, and working out a similar solution for them.
  • The Brand Creative group (35 members) produces all on- and off-air marketing for the channel, including interstitials — we’re looking at a nice slo-mo promo done for Workaholics. And Daniel Tosh shown here as a quasi-cult leader.
  • … print ads, billboards and web advertising— here’s a Subway 2-sheet we did for the launch of Tosh, on (can you guess?) May 29. Plus a one-off billboard for the simultaneous launch of Workaholics. This was out on the west coast. California or somewhere. It was meant to represent a recurring motif of the show -- three “Torques”. If you haven’t seen the show, and don’t know what a Torque is, I’m not going to tell you here. But you ‘re adults, you can handle the truth. Google it.
  • Against that backdrop, where do I fit in? I’m the Studio Director, and we do all the traditional tasks associated with any Creative Services department — mechanicals, retouching and color correction, file delivery. Sometimes we even order toner for the printers.Also, we’re the last people to be informed of anything, and the first to get the blame. I jest. Comedy Central is a no-blame environment. It’s very nurturing. We love our jobs, and we love Comedy Central.But seriously, we do collaborate with the creative guys in as much of the work flow as possible. Our self-view is that we are the problem-solvers of the group. We are the Left Side of their Brain. We think strategically — that’s something I’ll have to remind my boss at the next annual review.We like to anticipate trouble spots, avoid the mad dash to the finish line, to make everyone’s job a little easier.We even like to make our own jobs easier.Which is why I’m here today. I want to talk about our implementation of Extensis Portfolio, how it’s helped us put smiles on the faces around us, and in the process eliminate some of the classic pain points.
  • Let’s get started.I’ll be talking about Comedy Central and TV Land somewhat interchangeably. But in reality, Comedy Central started first. We needed an internal solution, not only to make our own lives easier but to help the groups we work with on a daily basis. As it grew and evolved, TV Land got wind of what were doing and they wanted a site of their own.But, their site was intended to speak to the outside world. They wanted to share a carefully curated set of assets, plus present some slide shows and style guides.Comedy Central’s site, having an internal focus, sits behind the firewall. We can’t get there from here. So, about all you’ll see of Comedy Central during this presentation is a couple of logos, a screenshot or two, and me./ Note: Touch on what NetPublish is. Brief synopsis./The final product is a seamless integration of HTML pages, with tabs for the Portfolio content.But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s walk through Comedy Central’s thought process.
  • I’m very interested in bottlenecks and workflow efficiency, (and we have built a pair of web applications which are beyond the scope of today’s demo)Based on our workflow and experience, we wanted easy access and sharing for four categories of static assets: Logos, Photos, PDF’s/Archives, and DTO’s.
  • Life Before DAM: Four Points of PainArchives were Offline: All on DVD, so if the art director needed a printout of last year’s ad, we had to drop whatever we were working, locate the archive disk, pop it in, load the fonts…Logos were a Mess: Constant requests from around the company for a variety of logosDTO’s (Download To Own) were Chaos: No systematic way to keep track of, or distribute, our ballooning catalog of graphics for iTunes, Xbox, Amazon, etc. — the familiar names where digital content may be purchased and downloaded. We don’t give our graphics to any kind of torrent site.Photos, also Chaos: Constant interruptions to pull images from the archives for a wide range of in-house constituents. No central place to find all the approved photos.Solving these four issues would let us get back to the real work.
  • Purpose: The main goal was to provide immediate gratification to anyone seeking an image, logo, or past job: If my boss could find what she needed immediately, instead of waiting for me to come back from lunch, that would be a win.Train people to think of a logo or image request as an administrative task (and an easy one at that), not a graphics task.With proper planning, we guestimated we could automate 80-90% of all requests.The secret purpose was to reduce the constant disruptions and annoying requests.
  • Competitors: I had some prior experience with a competing product. Seemed to be built for engineers, not for visually oriented creatives. Learning curve was too steep. I could learn it, but not my team.Cost: Needed to be budget-friendly. I was never going to talk the money lady into investing in a huge back-end system.Control: Didn’t want to hand over control to some third-party group and become victim to their black-box process.
  • Create Assets: We began creating PDF’s of every single finished piece that left our department. Every Single Piece. Each had its job number, and was dropped into an aptly named folder.Organize Assets: Somebody had to do the gritty work of organizing our logos and photos, and giving them sensible names.Find the MoneyPortfolio Server Setup: Worked with IT to get a Mac server installed in our data center. This went against every kind of protocol, and I had to call in favors.UploadTrainingPut NetPublish to workSpread the Word
  • Once in place, challenges included:Training: Do you think our project managers appreciated a new task of having to send out logos? Yet, access is power. We did not need to keep our assets in a black box. But they were distrustful that this was insanely better.Training: We also had to get our clients in the habit of first checking the site before asking us.It’s intended to be a trusting and democratic system for users and administers alike. However, users get read-only access. So, not too trusting.User Resistance: We have discovered that the “Creatives” don’t like using the client software. They prefer going through the NetPublish interface. They prefer visiting the server via Finder. Nothing can be done about it. Old habits die hard
  • At the beginning of 2011 we launched a brand re-design. Complete overhaul that affected everything we do. Has anyone here been put through that particular form of torture?Things like this have a ripple effect, down to our internal resources. It was a new opportunity to update the Portfolio template and our sites to the new look. Logo Central is the active Netpublish Site. The next one is Photo Central, Archive Central and so forth. We came up with the titles on our own, without the help of a copy writer. Clever, huh?I’m showing you our logo. Its colors, and the new minimal style of our brand, informed a the re-design of the site.
  • Here’s a look at the TV Land Brand site. This site is a blend of html pages built through an off-the-shelf html editor. All the tabs are OUTSIDE of portfolio, and some of the content as well.
  • Two workflows: Getting assets into the system, and then a specialized delivery system we developed for TV Land.Workflow 1: IngestionThe studio is the gatekeeper for adding images, logos and PDF’s of final projects that come through the house. We upload photos that have been approved and retouched. And we create and upload purpose-made PDF’s at the end of every campaign. Goal is to create an up-to-date catalog that people can search, download and print without involving us.TV Land: How do they ingest?It’s worth the up-front investment in time.
  • Workflow 2: Custom DeliveryOur partner in the Electronic Sell-Through team (iTunes and Xbox, etc.) was having inbox management issues. Her workflow involved receiving email attachments from three channels (Comedy Central, Spike and TV Land), and then she would save them locally. Situation overload. We gave her an account enabled her to log in via the web-based client, and view galleries we set up for each new project. She can also search for old stuff. Now, she never has to keep local copies.Bonus: my group got out of the ftp business.
  • Self serviceInstant gratificationLess interruption and annoyanceCollaborationBut it Took Patience and Training:Get people to check the website first. Then, they ask a project manager. Only if a logo or graphic requires customization does it come to us
  • Hardware upgrade: Currently a first-gen Intel Mac ProIntegration: Visually merge with our intranet site which holds a couple of workflow-and-approval apps we’ve developed. I want to build a complete go-to resource for the group.Sharing: I want to offer a carefully curated set of assets (logos and images) outside the firewallCollaboration: Create a shared asset dump, organized by campaign, for on-air, off-air and digital groups to all go to SHARE graphic elements. Cluttered chaos, but not anarchy.Video: In active talks, but this opens Pandora’s box
  • Add greeting remarks, seque into presentation
  • How Comedy Central uses Digital Asset Management

    1. 1. Comedy Central& TV Land Case StudyPresented by Kevin Gepford
    2. 2. Comedy Central - The FunnyMember of the Family
    3. 3. CC: Brand Creative35 membersOn- & off-air channel creative: • Promos • Interstitials • Stunts • Product Placement •
    4. 4. CC: Brand Creative
    5. 5. CC: Brand Creative
    6. 6. CC: Brand CreativeOff-air Creative: • Print ads • Billboards/Subway • Web advertising
    7. 7. CC: Brand Creative
    8. 8. CC: Brand Creative
    9. 9. Off-Air Studio• Creative Services department• Problem solvers• Collaborators• Strategic thinkers
    10. 10. Comedy Central & TV Land• Needed to share: • Curated assets • Slide shows • Style Guides
    11. 11. Lets Get Organized
    12. 12. 4 Points of Pain:Life Before DAM • Archives: Offline (DVD’s) • Logos: Bombarded with requests • Photos: Bombardment x 2 • Digital Platforms: No system for tracking and distributing graphics
    13. 13. Goal: Change the Work• Provide immediate gratification• Create a culture of self-service• 80% - 90% of requests could be automatedSecret Agenda• Reduce constant disruptions and annoying requests
    14. 14. DAM: Considerations• User friendly• Easy to learn• Budget friendly• Keep control in-house
    15. 15. Implementation (a left-brainthing)1. Found the Money2. Installed Portfolio Server3. Created Assets4. Organized Assets5. Uploaded Assets6. Spread the Word
    16. 16. Implementation Challenges• Empowering Project Managers• Encouraging Self-Service• Resistance to change/learning• Open Access
    17. 17. Comedy Central: Consistent with Brand
    18. 18. TV Land: Consistent with Brand
    19. 19. Workflow
    20. 20. Workflow
    21. 21. Measuring Success• Instant gratification• Democratize the process (not a graphics task)• Less interruption and annoyance Patience…
    22. 22. Next Steps• Hardware Upgrade• Visual Integration with Intranet• External Sharing• Cross-team collaboration/workflow• Video?
    23. 23. Sidebar: Digital Ad Workflow
    24. 24. Virtual Job Jacket
    25. 25. Versions & Approvals
    26. 26. Making a Difference