How to solve your creative team’s 10 trickiest workflow problems

How to solve your creative team’s 10 trickiest workflow problems

Our creative team understand just how critical a hassle-free workflow is. When your team’s trying to hit tight deadlines, the last thing they need is to be slowed down by the same old problems.

Below, we’ve listed 10 of the trickiest workflow issues that are causing trouble for creative teams, and some software solution recommendations that’ll help you fix them. You can stop pulling your hair out now.

“I need to see proof copies of my team’s work and be able to compare amends on PDF files.”

As every creative team knows, long paper trails are a real pain when it comes to proofing and amends. Luckily, there are PDF editing tools which offer document tracking and management functionality that streamline the proofing process and cut turnaround times. They should allow users to create, edit and sign PDF files, while providing cloud features that let you work on them anywhere. Keep an eye out for the ability to compare files, review differences between them, and visualise and filter changes, as well as mobile functionality that offers access to recent files across mobile, desktop and web, meaning you’ll be able to carry on working even if you’re away from your main computer. We use Adobe Acrobat DC – which offers all of the above – so we recommend giving that a look.

“I need to ensure all our staff have their devices backed up, so they can access files if they get lost or stolen.”

With a variety of options out there, such as Code42’s CrashPlan, we recommend you spend some time search for an easy to manage solution that enables users to restore lost files files without additional support from IT. Software like this works in the background of your team’s machines to silently and continuously back up all distributed end user data so you have complete visibility and control on a single, secure platform. Leading solutions will also allow your team to benefit from unlimited storage with no bandwidth caps or file type restrictions, rock solid security complete with advanced encryption for your data, and tons of backup options across numerous devices and hard drives.

“I need my team to be able to work remotely without a load of IT hassle.”

These days, lots of businesses want to equip their staff with the ability to work remotely, and there are a variety of office suite solutions that can help with this. One such example is Microsoft Office 365, which comes with apps your team should already be familiar with, and is great for handling those not so creative bits that are the backbone of organisation and productivity. Top office software makes collaboration and document sharing nice and simple, and should include the latest versions of your favourite applications in both web and mobile form, as well as cloud services that provide access to files, emails and documents anywhere, any time.

“We want to back our servers up offsite with the ability to restore any files or folders quickly and efficiently.” 

There are lots of cloud backup and storage solutions to choose from, but Backup24 is a solid choice for creative teams who need secure, offsite protection for their intellectual property and digital media assets. Solutions like this should be scalable for businesses that have over 1TB of data (with no upper data limit), and usually allow you to leave everything with the team behind the software meaning you don’t have to manage a thing. Offsite managed backup services also provide users with some great benefits too, including anytime access to data, fast and simple retrieval, zero recovery costs, over the phone support and guidance when your team needs it, and much more.

“We’re a small team who need to cut the time it takes to find and manage our digital assets.”

With so many DAM solutions to choose from, we’d suggest giving Extensis Portfolio a try (this is the solution our creative team use). Management solutions such as Protfolio are built with speed and simplicity in mind, and help cut out all that time wasted spent searching the network, browsing countless folders and consulting team members. They can be used to manage images, video, audio or documents, and automatically catalogue and extract metadata for all assets. Users should be able to organise multimedia files into refined collections, and browse, preview and search for files, while automated keyword creation and previews make it simple to quickly sift through your team’s hefty file bank. DAM solutions are usually built for a certain amount of assets as standard, but can be increased by purchasing additional asset packs.

“We need to streamline our design workflow, but have to manage a large amount of product information.” 

Keeping on top of your product information and digital assets is a key part of modern day marketing, and ensuring a high response rate across multiple sales channels is a growing task for modern businesses. With a few different solutions to choose from, we recommend finding one that offers comprehensive, integrated product management and publishing, that’s all about streamlining your team’s design workflow and bolstering your marketing and sales efforts. For this, we’d suggest a solution such as MatrixCMS. Solutions like this mean design teams and product managers can work even more closely together, and their automated tools mean you don’t need to sweat the small stuff like repagination. They should even hook into InDesign and allow for easier proofing and editing.

“We want to access files quickly and easily while on the move.” 

This stuff can get pretty technical, so your team needs a solution that combines great functionality and complete ease of use. Acronis Access Connect does a top job, with solutions like this allowing Mac users to have the same access to Windows file and print servers as PC users. They’re also packed full of features that are specifically designed to deliver the fastest file and print services available, and help resolve common cross-platform file sharing issues. Teams can also benefit from bundled mobile apps (such as the Access Connect app for iOS devices), which allow users to remotely access file shares from any location that has network access through in-app file browsers. Most such apps should also come preloaded with document editing applications that lets users to carry on working while away from their desks – ideal for proofing and amending while out and about.

“The number of products and digital assets our business needs to manage is getting out of control.”

There are a few PIM (product information management) and DAM (digital asset management) solutions around right now. When scouring the marketplace for the right software, keep an eye out for something that offers powerful cloud-based product information management system with near-infinite power to handle unlimited amounts of product information. They should also allow for total ease to use, while providing adaptable tools that let users create the rich product content that customers demand, and permit retailers to publish automatically across multiple channels. For a quality DAM solution, you want something that makes it easy for you to organise, find, retrieve and share files from a centralised digital library. It’s also ideal if the solution delivers fast, controlled access to digital assets, while managing them in the most efficient way possible and keeping all digital assets automatically associated with their relevant products through product codes. For this tall task, we think something like Pimberly is perfect.

“Our designers need to organise their font collections into a single, searchable location.” 

If your designers want to better organise their fonts, look for an intuitive, stable and secure font management solution for individual users. They should provide direct access to your font collection from within your creative applications and via the cloud. One such solution – Suitcase Fusion 7 – utilises TypeSync, which enables designers to sync their fonts on any machine. Equipped with exclusive Font Sense technology, Suitcase Fusion fingerprints each version of a font using multiple criteria. This enables the application to provide highly accurate font matching functionality.

“We want to centrally manage our typographical assets.”

For teams of any size wanting top-level control over their font collections, we’d recommend looking for an on-premises server solution that’s integrated with macOS, Windows and Adobe Creative Cloud, which is built to help creative teams streamline the management of their font collection, while reducing costs on unused fonts and avoiding legal complications. No matter how big your team’s font database, a solution like Universal Type Server 6 provides centralised storage that makes it easy to find, sort, use and distribute fonts, while also identifying fonts and even recognising duplicates. Enhanced diagnostic reports provide in-depth insights into font usage, and alerts users when unlicensed fonts are being used that could cause legal issues.

Why Jigsaw24?

If your in-house creative team are experiencing issues and want some answers, you’ll be pleased to hear that after 25 years in the game we’ve heard every workflow problem before, and our close relationships with leading vendors mean we can recommend a solution to fix them all. But whatever your team’s issue – whether it’s refining your day to day processes, automating tasks or seamlessly integrating software – we’ve got you covered with essential solutions that’ll free up your design team and give them more time to do what they do best.

If you’d like to find out more about our essential software solutions for creative teams, give us a call on 03332 400 888 or email sales@Jigsaw24.comFor all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Avid welcome Adobe Premiere Pro users to MediaCentral

Avid welcome Adobe Premiere Pro users to MediaCentral

Premiere Pro users, your years of warring with your Avid-loving counterparts are over. The two editing giants have joined together to bring harmony to the NLE market and peace to our timelines (and/or do some cynical marketplace positioning, depending on your worldview).

Adobe have previously teamed up with Maxon to give After Effects users dynamic access to richer 3D tools, and now they’re doing their editors a similar favour. The update will allow Premiere Pro editors to connect to Avid’s production environment via Avid MediaCentral | UX.

How does it work?

You will need to head to myavid.com and download the MediaCentral Premiere Pro Connector and install it on each of your Premiere Pro-equipped machines. You’ll then be able to see the Avid MediaCentral | UX HTML5 user interface within the Premiere Pro interface, and use it to access the wonderfully named “Avid asset management realm”, which consists of Interplay | Production, Interplay | MAM and iNEWS.

What can you do? 

Once you enter the realm, you’ll be able to:

– Search for media assets using the central Media | Index.

– Chat with other MediaCentral | UX users.

– Navigate database hierarchies.

– See, add and modify metadata.

Will you be able to register Avid Assets to Premiere Pro projects for editing? 

Hell yes, friend. Not only that, but you’ll be able to check out master clips in Premiere-supported formats, check out simple sequences for in-place editing and send rendered sequences back to Avid.

If your Avid media is not directly supported in Premiere, you’ll still be able to access it via an optional conversion to MXF OP-1a and simple XML shortlists.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

NAB 2016: New axle Pulse turns audiences into contributors

NAB 2016: New axle Pulse turns audiences into contributors

Today axle Video announced the first-ever integrated solution for news organisations and brands to gather and stream video directly from their audiences.

axle Pulse is a new mobile app that lets broadcasters and brands source immediate, authentic content; their communities are empowered with an easy way to capture and share video footage from their smartphones. The system is available either as a complete software/hardware solution for purchase, or as a monthly cloud subscription. It includes branded apps for iPhones and Android smartphones, and lets contributors sign up, shoot and upload video. The users can also join a dialogue with the broadcaster or corporate media department which can include requests to capture specific material in exchange for compensation. For breaking news stories, a livestreaming mode is available which turns the smartphone into an immediate on-location asset for news organizations.

axle Pulse

The axle Pulse system combines an easy-to-use mobile app and a powerful media management back end, based on axle’s radically simple axle Gear software. The solution works as follows:

– The company operating the software can request footage from contributors in their audience, optionally with specific assignments.
– Contributors capture and upload video footage in response to assignments, with any compensation predetermined.
– A built-in search tool lets the broadcaster quickly tag, curate and subclip submitted videos.

In the case of breaking news or live events, streaming from one or more contributors can be enabled for direct feeds.

Axle Pulse is based in part on pioneering mobile software called VidLasso, which axle Video has acquired and adapted for use in the new system. Christy King, a cofounder of VidLasso, who has joined axle as an advisor, said “I am delighted to see VidLasso grow up to become axle Pulse. The axle software team has expanded our original feature set in smart ways for news organizations and brands to harness the power of mobile video capture and streaming. axle is the leader in affordable media management, with great customers in the broadcast and corporate markets, and I’m thrilled to see axle Video build on our mobile capture technology, and make it even easier to gather and organize user generated content.”

The system includes axle Gear media management back end technology that gives permissionbased browser access to all uploaded content, as well as postproduction features like the ability to select and approve footage for use on air or on a website. When integrated with affordable networked storage and playout options from axle Video’s partners, axle Pulse can form the core of a next-generation media operation at a small fraction of the cost of traditional broadcast infrastructure.

 

 

Pricing and availability

axle Pulse is available now for complete on-site system deployment; after June 1 as a monthly cloud subscription. Both approaches include branded iPhone and Android mobile apps, as well as all required back end infrastructure for managing submitted video content and (with the streaming option enabled) live streams. Contact axle Video for details. axle 2016 software is available now starting at $995 for two users.

For more on the latest NAB Show releases, take a look at our roundup post, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Buyers’ Guide: Content management and storage

Buyers’ Guide: Content management and storage

The say cleanliness is next to godliness, but we’d make a strong case for organisation being slightly closer. If you don’t have your fonts managed and your assets organised and backed up, you’re not going to be able to work efficiently, repurpose content and – most importantly – leave on time. Yes, we know it’s not the most exciting thing to read about, but getting your content management workflow together now will save you time for years to come.

The quick fix (for when there’s only a couple of you, and you don’t produce that much)

Okay, so let’s say you have a pretty speedy MacBook Pro. Get yourself a nice dependable desktop drive like a G-Technology G-DRIVE, then set up Time Machine for backup locally. To avoid any unwelcome data loss, we’d recommend getting some RAID storage – if your MacBook Pro has Thunderbolt 2, try making the most of it with a high-speed PROMISE Pegasus R4 array.

If you need to work together, the Synology Diskstation DS414 is a feature-rich 4-bay NAS specifically designed for growing businesses to effectively manage, protect, and share data. You can even add Extensis Portfolio Studio for better asset management and Suitcase Fusion to keep your fonts in order.

The neat freak (for when you’ve got a team to support)

If you’re working in a range of media we always recommend a capable iMac with Universal Type Server and Portfolio Studio to keep your files in check and easy for the team to access.

If you need extra local storage or want to run backups to a local drive, try something spacious like this 8TB G-RAID, while euroNAS’s 16TB, 16-bay 3U network server storage solution is a sterling contribution to your server room, and you can manage your backups with Archiware’s P5 software which can support two servers or a tape library. (Here’s the tape library we’d recommend, as it’s cheaper than high speed online or nearline storage for the long run.)

The archivist (for when you need big storage for big files and bigger archives)

If you’re churning out high volumes of multimedia files on something like this and a high speed Thunderbolt 2 RAID array, then you’ll need to beef up. Maximise your font management capabilities by upgrading to the Enterprise versions of your Universal Type Server and Portfolio asset management solutions. If you’re after something more video-specific, it’s well worth taking a look at axle Video’s solutions.

If you want to be sure all your data is backed up, opt for our manual backup service, Backup24, in which our team ensure your data is backed up to our Tier 2+ data centre. And to handle your NAS needs, the GB Labs Space range offer extremely fast large capacity shared storage for digital content creation.

Take control of content with MatrixCMS

By connecting up your PIM and CMS systems to create a single version of the truth for all work and enabling seamless cloud-based sharing of drafts and revisions, MatrixCMS makes it easier to stay on top of your assets. MatrixCMS provides a centralised store for all digital media, enabling an organisation to collate, manage and distribute their investment across the entire company. Arrange an online demo here (you have to scroll down to the bottom).

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email business@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Our top 5 tips for asset metadata management

Our top 5 tips for asset metadata management

Want to make your digital assets work for you? By managing your assets’ metadata and sticking to standards, you can make locating them far quicker, easier and generally more workflow-efficient, leaving you more time to get on with being creative (or grabbing another coffee). Here we’ve broken down our top 5 ways to manage your metadata and keep on top of your digital assets.

From the moment you create an asset within your software, you need to make sure your associated metadata (document creation date, document page size, colour mode, resolution and more) or metadata from your camera (the date the image was taken, whether or not a flash was used, special aperture or exposure settings etc), is organised, stored and made available effectively. Here are a few of our essential starting points to managing metadata:

1. Work out how you work. Do you search by project, by job number, by client, or by any other metadata? Deciding on which descriptions and keywords are most important to how your team work, and making sure these are always added in the correct standard, will help make sure you’re working more efficiently.

2. Use well-written descriptions. There’s no use writing asset descriptions that only you can decipher – stick to simple but descriptive language that a general audience will be able to understand.

3. Keep consistent! We really can’t stress how important it is to stick to standards. Develop and put in place a procedure for everyone to follow when adding metadata and keywords too, so you’re all reading from the same page. It’s good to have a house style on locations, times, dates, settings and more.

4. Use naming conventions. We wouldn’t recommend adding keywords to the metadata of all your ‘DSC_001.jpg’ files – instead, use a DAM solution like Portfolio to batch rename files, keep your catalogue in shape and apply those naming conventions.

5. Try Digital Asset Management. If you are dealing with a large catalogue of assets, the best tip we can offer is to look into a Digital Asset Management solution. We use Extensis Portfolio to stay on top of our team’s database of images and files, which gives you an easy-to-use visual interface for searching and managing assets. Whether you’re in a small team or large business, there’s a solution from Extensis Portfolio to fit your workflow.

Get in touch for more info on DAM and Extensis Portfolio… give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and tips, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

 

Using Extensis Portfolio to meet growing business needs

Using Extensis Portfolio to meet growing business needs

The customer came to Jigsaw24 needing a storage solution to meet their growing business needs. Our consultants advised them that Apple Xserve RAID and Extensis Portfolio would give their business the efficiency they needed by having digital asset management. With a searchable database to overcome the original problems with lost or dispersed files, and a backup system in place, they now have the reliability they need.

What they needed?

Our customer is an increasingly successful independently-owned publisher, whose computing infrastructure needed to match the growing business. The company is a specialist in photo-realistic art and creating books that are attractive to their readers. The customer came to us looking for a storage solution. A structured filing system had already been put in place, but even with the best efforts of their technicians, this was easily broken. They felt that they could improve efficiency in centralising their file storage on a server-based RAID with secure shared access. The business anticipated further growth so a solution that allowed expansion was needed.

Searchable images and files using DAM

After considering the problem, our consultants recommended Digital Asset Management. By using a searchable database of images and files, the customer could make best use of their investment in storage hardware. Extensis Portfolio was identified as the most cost-effective solution to meet the company’s workflow needs. In the early stage of consultation, Extensis spoke directly with the customer and ran a demonstration so that the benefits of DAM could be seen. From this, they were convinced that the gains of the Extensis solution would far outweigh the investment in new equipment.

3.5TB of server storage in an Apple Xserve RAID was identified as the most suited to providing standard central file storage for the business, as well as for hosting the Extensis Portfolio application. To complement the storage and asset management equipment, a tape library with capacity to backup between 15 and 30 terabytes of files was obtained. Backup software was included to automate and manage the backup of all their files.

Installation without disruption

We did some preliminary work to minimise disruption to the customer. The server was built and OS X Server software was configured ready for the Portfolio installation. A RAID1 (mirrored disks) configuration was chosen to provide good performance and minimal risk of data loss.

The new technology was to be installed alongside existing network equipment in the customer’s rack, which required the addition of rack-mounted power supplies to cover the server in the event of power outage. Extensis Portfolio was installed and the server was configured for file sharing. The backup software was installed and configured with scripts and a schedule. To ensure that the customer was able to get the most from the new installation, the technical staff received training.

Improved efficiency and availability

As a result of the installation, our customer has experienced greater efficiency to their workflow. All of their initial requirements were met and the backup system ensures maximum up-time and availability of computer systems. The use of DAM means that the previous loss or dispersal of files has now been removed.

According to Paul Scott, our systems installation and service engineer, “As well as higher performance when reading files, a RAID1 configuration was selected for its superior reliability. For example, built from hard drives with an estimated life expectancy of four years, a two-disk RAID1 setup might statistically be expected to suffer total failure only once in every 800 years.”

To find out more about how Extensis Portfolio could help your business, visit our Jigsaw24.com Extensis shop, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com.