18 October 2006

[design] In-House: The Nuts and The Bolts

Being an in-house creative is more than just breaking open QuarkXPress or InDesign and being **brilliant** .

In the case of my new part-time job, it involves a good deal of basic DAM–digital assets management.

The problem at the current posting is that while the designers who preceded me were evidently able individuals (and doubtlessly more adept than myself) the filing system is, to be generous, ad hoc, and, to be blunt, nonexistent as such.

There are a slew of folders that, while descriptively-named, were not organized or named according to any convention or method. Photos, when imported from the digital camera into iPhoto (the platform is a 1.0 GHz PowerMac G4, MDD case) were not always named (there are a metric buttload of files named DSCNxxxx.jpg, where x is a number from 0-9...you digital photgraphers know what I mean here) and when they were named, weren't named according to a consistent pattern.

Disorganization rules on the publications as well. The place is a Quark shop, but they also use MSWord for layout of trifold brochures. Some photos are embedded within them, so not only do we have files all over about .75 Terabyte of disk (two drives in the Mac and three FireWire drives outboard) that are essentially floating about but we also have pictures that we have to go into .docs to find (had to do that once already).

Good times.

My boss is dissatisfied with iPhoto (I don't blame him) and the other DAM photo management tools I've tried out so far have been lacking in some small but important way (it's important, for instance, that when a user deletes a photo from the desktop, if that's where they're putting it, it also doesn't go to the trash).

So, I'm going for basics now. The idea is to have a standard folder structure for storing files and a standard naming convention. I've blocked out the rationale for the folder structure, now I'm searching the hard drives, finding image files and organizing them into OS X Smart Folders. From there I'll see what we have, to begin with, and try to block in the outlines of a naming convention for images. We'll start with small stuff and see what works–and this is a challenge, because the place's stock in trade is something I'm also simultaneously learning to recognize.

The object is to have a file structure that is easy to find one's way around on and simple to maintain, and that's important because while the designer uses the station for graphics production in the main, others in the office have to come along, add items, and find them on thier own. In the future, if I get as good as I want to with things such as AppleScript and Python, I just may craft a custom solution. We'll see how that goes.

I am, by the way, becoming good at Spotlight and Smart Folders. By necessity. But I want to push my own envelope.

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