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Documentation & User Guides | FotoWare

How FotoWare meets the demands of the world’s most time-critical image publishing industries

A proven track record

FotoWare’s inception was a response to the need for a solution that facilitated the sifting of large amounts of images and getting the best ones published fast. A proven system 25+ years in the making, our customers in the publishing world rely on the speed and automation capabilities FotoWare offers to get their work done through extensive use of metadata and automation to power their workflows.

Efficient solutions to common publishing challenges

Ingestion from any source with extensive automation

Right from the start FotoWare was purpose-built to handle large-scale image workflows. A central aspect in this regard was the ability to conform to a multitude of channels for asset ingestion. We used to summarize the system’s capability for asset ingestion by saying that any system that could deliver files to a file system could deliver files to FotoWare. This means that FotoWare can process picture feeds delivered via FTP and any other channel, so long as the files are written to a drive that can be accessed on the network. Once the files are picked up by FotoWare, they can be automatically routed, re-tagged, color managed, renamed and processed in any way necessary to meet the requirements of the publisher.

While the principles for ingestion still apply and are widely used, industry developments in recent years has also necessitated the ability to integrate with other systems on the programmatic level - i.e. through software integration. Consequently, FotoWare has developed an extensive API to allow integrators to connect whatever system they are using with FotoWare to facilitate asset ingestion and other workflow-related operations. Some have even developed purpose-built apps for uploading and tagging content that is fed into FotoWare.

 

Metadata Automation

Manually adding metadata to pictures in a time-critical image workflow is time consuming becomes practically impossible when dealing with news coverage or sports events where the number of pictures runs into the thousands per day. Photographers should be required to add only a minimum of metadata while the remaining processes should be automated, so that information about the event, its location and other pertinent information are automatically added.

While images delivered via wirefeeds are generally well-described using industry standard metadata standards, locally or crowd-sourced content needs to be handled differently. For such sources, FotoWare can be used to create metadata templates that should be added to all the pictures that are ingested through a certain channel in the system: For pictures sourced from hired photgraphers, the photographer’s name can be pulled from a database, for example through recognition of camera serial numbers from the original picture’s metadata. Event information can also be added automatically, for example by having the photographer add a single event code to pictures before transmission. Using that event code, FotoWare can pull all relevant event information from a database and populate the picture metadata with e.g. the event name, location, a basic set of descriptive keywords and whatever other information is relevant for the event in question. Pictures can also be routed to the correct staff who can oversee the incoming pictures and enrich the metadata as needed before further distribution takes place. This greatly reduces the time spent both by photographers and editors, while making event data easy to maintain in a single location and helping editors know what types of information they can search by.

Metadata is the key to many of the processes in FotoWare, and the more metadata can be added automatically through these processes, the less manual work will need to be done. Also, because metadata is widely used to determine the stage the pictures are at in the workflow, they can often remain in a single repository, reducing network and storage load resulting from moving large amounts of data between storage pools. Instead, the automatically applied metadata allows pictures to be arranged in logical collections and made available to the people that need to attend to them. This, in turn, means that there’s less need to create duplicates, and that the metadata always correctly reflects the stage the picture is at in the workflow.

Standardization

A common challenge for publishers receiving video and image feeds from external suppliers is the inhouse standardization of metadata. External agencies have different methods for categorizing their content using metadata, so there is often a need to standardize, or homogenize, categories and other central metadata inhouse to facilitate searching. Not least is this important if the local FotoWare configuration includes taxonomies for navigation, where the nodes in the taxonomy correspond to a preset tag in a certain field. Such tags can be standardized through automatic mapping of incoming categories to comply with “house rules” when the files enter the system.

FotoWare does this by offering automation of category mapping and the execution of metadata macros (conditional updates and modification of existing metadata) to modify and standardize metadata in pictures from wirefeeds. A set of metadata operations is applied to all the files that come in from a certain wirefeed before the images end up in the editors' repository. At that point they will have a consistent set of categories and other relevant metadata to facilitate content filtering and, not least, searching. Since a wirefeed may sometimes contain non-image files, filters can be applied to automatically route non-image files to a separate location where they can be reviewed and, optionally automatically purged by age, for example.

A suite of powerful tools for editors to get the best picture published on time

Editors require power tools to manage, process and distribute pictures. FotoWare offers the purpose-built FotoStation client for Windows and Mac that provides a focused interface for editors to review pictures, filter, sort and manage, update metadata in batch, compare selections and distribute them - with minimal friction.

Right from the outset, FotoStation was built to be the editor’s tool of choice. Acting as the editor’s visual interface to the FotoWare system, it provides both the tools and the speed required to keep up with industry demands. Batch processing is central to everything a user does in FotoStation, and it there is a wealth of keyboard shortcuts to find, sift and process images at high speed.

FotoWare also offers a choice of two web interfaces for the system - one of which is targeted at professional users with a focus on managing, tagging and processing collections (FotoWare Pro), and another, consumer-oriented UI. These can be deployed alongside FotoStation for different types of users in your organization based on the work that they do.

Workflow notifications

FotoWare is all about getting the right pictures to the right place at the right time. Metadata is they key to tracking the stage pictures are at in the workflow - and in turn have them show to the people who need to attend to them at that point in the process. Additional notifications can be given though the use of “image markers” - visual indicators that show on the thumbnails in FotoStation and in our web interfaces - a call for attention, if you like. Markers can for example be used to indicate that certain metadata is required before the picture can proceed to to the next step in the workflow. They can be used to indicate the agency from which a picture originates. Or notify a user that an important message that requires his attention has been added to a picture. There is virtually no limit to how markers can be utilized - they are set to display based on a metadata condition; when the condition is met, the marker shows, and if not, it disappears.

Another method to actively notify users of workflow events is to use asset webhooks. These are “generic” notifications that the FotoWare system automatically sends out on a wide range of asset events. They can be used to set up a system for notifying editors of new images that require attention, for example. With the help of an integrator these notifications can be used to pass notifications via email, mobile push or any other feasible method.

Bespoke plugins for Adobe Creative Cloud

FotoWare has also developed a suite of apps to make the system more accessible for different types of users at various stages in the production workflow.

The plugins for Adobe Creative Cloud allow Photoshop and Illustrator users to check out content from FotoWare and process them in Adobe. When the job is done, they can be checked back into the system and made available at the next stage in the workflow. Whether manual processing of certain pictures is done inhouse or externally makes no difference, since access to these features is controlled via FotoWare’s user management, which connects to your existing user directory.