It’s common for a master library application to have some ability to distribute files—and some distribution tools can also function as a library—so why should you use different tools? There are several good reasons, but they all fall under the heading “it’s very difficult to make something that does both jobs well.”
Collection and Distribution are cloud-native processes
In most cases, distribution happens over the internet. This is often true even when access happens at your place of business. Access by mobile devices typically routes through the internet, even for files stored in the same location. As soon as you leave the building—or need to grant outside access—you’re generally using the internet.
Media collection is also typically something that happens over the internet. This could mean that files are emailed or sent by text. But it’s ideal to submit through an online tool that allows for some level of tagging at the point of submission.
Running a secure, internet-accessible library inside your own network is a difficult thing even for good IT departments. Managing users, access controls, and permissions—while defending against hacking and other threats—is a full-time job. Using a cloud service for this work takes this burden off you.
Use the cloud for everything?
Okay, so can’t I use a cloud service as my main library? Maybe. It depends on what you need to store and how you will use it. For simple libraries that are not too large and don’t have a lot of production requirements, a cloud service may be sufficient.
But there are plenty of instances where it makes sense to store raw captures, production files, and sensitive material in an entirely separate place from the distribution copy of the media. Reasons for this include:
A cloud service might be needlessly slow and expensive for an entire library of master video files.
In most cases, the set of media you want to keep is much larger than the set of files you need to distribute. This is typically true even for the production process.
The source media—video and image capture files—are also typically very large and unsuitable for general distribution.
The very structure of cloud services makes them slower for image optimization and project-making, and the optimization tools are typically less capable than those running locally. (Face it, most professional creative works run through Adobe software running on a desktop at some point in the creative process).
Finally, I think it’s best practice to have a master copy of your media library stored on a device in your own possession. Preservation of media should be a multi-pronged process. Having your own full copy of your media library is a prudent step.
Using a separate distribution service also creates a firewall between the user-accessible copy and your primary media archive. Not only does this provide protection against malware or other attacks, but it is also a structural defense against access to files that are not intended for distribution.
Next week we’ll dive into the nuts and bolts of media files and formats. It’s important to have a good grasp of some of these details as you configure your media library.