How Chorus helps BAFTA tell their stories

When one of the best-known arts organizations needed support for a colossal image archive and fast-paced event photography workflows, here's how Chorus, Third Light's digital asset management solution, rose to the occasion.

collection of BAFTA awards trophies

Photo: BAFTA/Sarah M. Lee

Originally founded by a roster of pre-eminent British directors in 1947 as a society for filmmakers, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has evolved into a non-profit organization that champions film, TV and games from a head office in London and staff in Glasgow, Cardiff, Los Angeles and New York.

It fulfils its mission of "promoting the art form of the moving image" through education and support programs, preserving the organization's rich history and recognizing industry achievements with a year-round calendar of awards ceremonies.

As each ceremony takes place, images of attendees and events generate precious assets and revenue for the photographic unit – so, while it's critical to BAFTA's brand that the last 70-plus years of material is fully protected and accessible to users, the ability to put the latest batch to work as soon as it's created is just as important. They needed a digital asset management tool that could help them centralize a huge volume of scattered assets – while powering the production and distribution of future ones.

We need to be able to deliver to our agencies efficiently on the night - so we need Chorus to give us a fast turnaround.

Claire Rees, Photography Director

"We use Chorus for three things," explains BAFTA's Photography Director, Claire Rees. "Firstly, It's archival: we’ve uploaded around 20,000 retouched digitised assets over the last couple of years, preserving them for the future. This is also why we document all our events, uploading around 4000 images on a large awards night – roughly 20,000 images per year in total.

"Secondly, it's PR: using images to push stories to social media, press, our website and digital platforms, and showcasing our activities to stakeholders or sharing with talent and their managers, who want to post red carpet images on their own social media. There are so many reasons to use these images.

"And finally, it's for commercial use, as a proportion of our photography gets syndicated. We need to be able to deliver to our agencies efficiently on the night - with attached metadata - so we need Chorus to give us a fast turnaround."

the red carpet on awards night

On awards night, photography needs to be turned around almost as soon as it's captured. Photo: BAFTA/Thomas Alexander

The power to produce and share media on the night

"I use Chorus every day," says Photography Co-ordinator Jordan Anderson. "It's the first thing I log into in the morning, as sort of like a ritual, because if anything comes through, I'll have to be on it quickly. But on awards night, we're dealing with thousands and thousands of images. This forms part of a wider workflow stream, so we’re always trying to slim it down and make sure too much doesn’t have to happen on the night itself."

Claire and Jordan's playbook for lightning-fast event photography starts well before the ceremony itself, with Chorus pre-configured to drive each stage. It takes place in a dedicated space with access and metadata configured to fit this specific workflow, meaning Jordan can prepare a set of smooth and secure paths that take files from photographer to client to syndication. "I can do a lot of the work in advance, which is quite useful - particularly when it comes to archiving everything afterwards," he says.

Whoever we bring in to picture edit at an event, we know it'll be really quite simple for them to use.

Jordan Anderson, Photography Co-ordinator

"Before an awards ceremony starts, I'll set up all our folders beforehand and add all the relevant metadata to each one." This means any image uploaded into that folder is automatically assigned that information, too – a smart trick that minimizes the time it takes to make sure files are searchable further down the line. "We’ll know exactly who's covering which area, so I'm able to add the credit and the source. And I can add some of the key wording – for example, if there’s a partner brand involved."

He sets up user accounts for any photographers who don't have them yet – a simple process, as Chorus comes with unlimited user accounts – and gives each contributor permission to access the folder into which he needs them to upload. "I'll also drag that folder into their 'Favorites' list so they can see exactly where everything needs to go. Whoever we bring in to picture edit at an event, we know it'll be really quite simple for them to use."

the BAFTA photographic team on awards night

Meet the photography team, who rely on Chorus to keep their work flowing on the night (Claire pictured bottom row with hands together and Jordan in front of her).

Effective and speedy content preparation

Once the images are safely in the hands of BAFTA's partner agencies, the next step is making sure colleagues have images to share with external partners. With a simple click and drag, Claire and Jordan move these finished assets from their secure workspace into another Chorus space – the organization-wide image library, configured with stricter controls because it's accessible to all employees.

This means that these assets can appear in other teams' spaces – for social media, press, partner relations – but only as versions of an original that can’t be changed or accidentally deleted. We call them 'derivatives', and Chorus can make them with near-infinite combinations of crop, file format and color space. This is most used by the Social Media team as they publish a stream of live updates for arrivals and awards, but Claire and Jordan also use it to make different versions to share with other teams.

I wouldn't be able to do my job without Chorus, not at all.

Claire Rees, Photography Director

Assets distributed more widely – but still safely

Once received, these versions can even be set to appear in a 'published link' – a branded, publicly facing asset bank with control options that make content safely accessible to the wider world. "We often share images directly with talent and their agents," says Claire, "so it's important that whatever we use to do this this looks professional and isn't confusing to use. Published links look a little slicker, we can brand the page – and people have to agree to our terms and conditions before downloading anything. I wouldn't be able to do my job without Chorus, not at all."

a BAFTA published link

BAFTA uses Chorus published links to share content with press, partners and the wider world

Each published link can be branded and themed differently, with tailored addresses assigned if needed. This feature works brilliantly for the Partnership team, who supply a certain amount of content as part of each contract. “They'll quickly drag the chosen images over to their partners’ folders,” says Jordan. "And because those folders are already connected to vanity URLs sent out in advance, the links update with that content instantly. Being able to do so much in advance makes everything so much easier."

Specialist tools in a simple setting

As the point of contact for new users throughout BAFTA, Jordan is a fan of Chorus's user interface, which was designed to be easy to understand and operate right away. "The one thing that I show people all the time is the dual pane view; you can clearly see what you're doing as you move files from one place to another. I've been doing little bits of remote training with people in regional offices, and everyone's picking it up quite easily – but now we're all working from home and I need to troubleshoot, I also find the 'impersonate user' tool useful. I'll go into that, have a look and figure out what the issue is."

"A lot of people like the private space that each user gets," he adds. "It means when they have anything that's confidential, like press releases, they don't have to worry about putting it all together two minutes before it’s due to go live - they can work on it there then just move it into a shared space when it’s needed."

Being able to see the images first and foremost is a really important thing for me. I really love seeing them all displayed.

Claire Rees, Photography Director

"I like Chorus’s simplicity and how easy it is to navigate," says Claire. "Spaces are very useful; we have various ones for different needs, with people given just the access they require – and then our main image library is where we hold the bulk of the archive." This configurability gives her peace of mind that the most valuable assets are under virtual lock and key, while colleagues have the autonomy to work with minimal intervention from her side. "The Social team bring in other images," she explains, "so storing them in a different space means they can do whatever they want in safety – even delete when the time comes – and I don't need to think about them."

As someone whose role centres on the visual, Claire appreciates how Chorus has been built with the needs of media specialists in mind. "Being able to see the images first and foremost is a really important thing for me. I really love seeing them all displayed – and the more I see, the happier I am, because, you know, we do try to make such good images!"

Chorus is the digital asset management solution of choice for many Arts and Heritage organizations who need to capture and tell numerous stories at once. It doesn't just control and centralize your valuable media – it also gives your teams the smart tools to turn it into a steady flow of content, too.

If you'd like to find out more about how we can help you tell your story, we're looking forward to learning more about your needs and showing you the smart solutions Chorus offers – get in touch for a chat or a live demo.

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Author: Edie Mullen

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