Expression Media: A Good DAM Product is Back

By | July 9, 2010

I am a big fan of the DAM (Digital Asset Management) products and was thrilled to hear that Phase One bought Microsoft’s Expression Media Product. For the simplest use, a DAM solution can work as an image library to help you organize your pictures. Professionally it is used by photographers and by magazines, newspapers and catalogers. The advantages of the DAM technology includes: ease of use, automated production, and cost savings from the ability to organize and find files quickly.

The most sophisticated use of a DAM solution I have seen was with a cataloger who used it to organize their digital photo shoots. Their photography staff captured 1,200 product shots/month. Their DAM solutions were also used in print production to create catalog pages and for their web page.

The cost and sophistication of that solution is rare compared to the number of consumers taking pictures with cell phones or point and shoot cameras and extends into printing companies that can use them to organize files. It’s not hard to find lists of software and reviews – all you have to do is use a search engine with the keywords “DAM Software Review.”

I have seen and used many, but there is news about one of my favorite DAM tools on the Macintosh called Expression Media. Expression Media has been bouncing around the software community since 2007. It was originally created by London-based iView Multimedia and called iView Medi. iView Multimedia was acquired by Microsoft on June 27, 2006 and it was renamed to Microsoft Expression Media as part of its Microsoft Expression line of products.

According to the user boards, Microsoft offered this in different packages but did not do much development or support of the product. In fact, that last official update had to be recalled because it did not work and, as a result, many people including this author felt the product was going to be discontinued. However, recently Phase One, a Digital Photography Leader, announced that they were buying Microsoft’s Expression Media Product.

What I like best about this product is that it is wicked fast and does not create a thumbnail database library. I have tried many solutions and most require days or weeks to create the library and many create a thumbnail database that can eat up huge amounts of disk space. Expression Media may require 15 minutes to create what others require 15 hours.

The most common complaint by most users is that there is a limit to file size 1.8 Gb and the number of files (128,000). Although there has been significant chatter on the boards, I have not yet heard if the company will continue to update and support the Macintosh version.

What’s your favorite DAM software and has anyone heard more about a Mac version of Expression Media?

Howard Fenton is a Senior Consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers, in-plants, and manufacturers on workflow management, operations, digital services, and customer research.

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