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6 Questions With Andrea Kalas

See What a Digital Asset Management Expert Has to Say

By Christine Purse | January 27, 2012

Andrea Kalas has been Vice President of Archives at Paramount Pictures since 2009. She has worked as an archivist at the British Film Institute, Discovery Communications, DreamWorks and the UCLA Film and Television Archive. She is a former President of AMIA and holds a Masters from UCLA in film history. She recently presented a paper on digital preservation at The Reel Thing in August.

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Q: How did you get into the digital asset management (archiving) industry?

A: When I worked at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, I gave a presentation at an AMIA conference about how closed caption text could be extracted into a searchable file for television news researchers. This was the spark, and one thing led to another. I eventually found myself working with some brilliant technologists on a digital archive for DreamWorks Animation.

Q: What do see as the biggest challenge(s) in digital asset management? Have you found creative solutions?

A: The biggest challenge is that the phrase is used to describe so many functions and solutions - just defining what DAM means to the specific project or operation is the first step.

The most satisfying solutions for me have been the times when I have found ways of automatically moving assets and metadata into a system by setting up simple rules and requirements upstream from the system.

Q: In your day-to-day operations, how many technologies do you utilize to provide a DAM solution? Do you consider any the industry leaders?

A: I have seen many digital asset management systems come and go that claim to do it all. The issue is that there is not one technology to provide a full DAM solution, just as there is not just one skill set. A good DAM solution is the result of people with, among others, strong archiving, software integration and systems engineering skills.

Q: Where do you turn for knowledge and information?

A: I turn to my colleagues, the good professional groups like AMIA, online forums like Masters of Digital Assets, and conferences like the Createasphere DAM conference.

Q: How do you use DAM in your personal life?

A: If I told you, I'd have to kill you...seriously how you manage your own digital files them is going to be an increasingly private thing. We'll no longer be storing very sensitive data in boxes in the bedroom closet and we'll have to find clever ways of using available tools. But my philosophy is the same at home as it is at work: preserving files means keeping them documented well and in a managed infrastructure, not on removable media on a shelf.

Q: How do you see DAM 10 years from now?

A: I think we'll take digital preservation a lot more seriously than we do now, and I think there will be more and more clever ways to integrate film production, for example, with a final digital archive. I think we will have increasing access to amazing and interesting films, documentaries, television programs that are yet to be digitized.

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