Recognized as one of the premier graphic communication programs in the United States, the Graphic Communication Department at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo, prepares graduates for positions in printing, publishing, digital media, packaging and related professions.
State-of-the-art hardware and software help prime the Department’s graduates to enter the workplace with the skills employers demand. The Department was founded in 1946, and for its first 50 years it relied on traditional media assets, such as film, prints, paste-ups, etc. As digital media was added to the mix, Professor Mike Blum, who heads the Web and Digital Media Concentration, quickly realized two things:
The system Cal Poly chose to manage its assets—and help teach its students about the merits of digital asset management—was Canto Cumulus. Blum cites the program’s “robust feature set” as the deciding factor, but time was certainly the motivating factor.
“We had thousands of photos in the form of conventional slides and prints, yet we had difficulty using the archive effectively because we couldn’t find anything fast enough,” Blum admits. “And, if there’s one thing more challenging to find than a physical photo, it’s a digital rendering of that photo.”
And Cal Poly had plenty of both.
Since the early 1990s, Blum and others at Cal Poly had been scanning the slides in their archive. As digital photography matured, high-resolution digital photos became common. What were once mountains of photos had become towers of CDs. Digital—yes—but no more manageable. The Department needed a single portal through which it could find and access anything it needed—any time the department needed it.
This need drove Blum to consider digital asset management, and his choice of Cumulus proved to be a smart choice almost immediately, as he explains.
“Initially cataloging all of the legacy assets was a major task. But Cumulus made it possible for Cal Poly staff to write custom scripts to automatically associate assets with metadata stored in separate spreadsheet files. This ultimately saved us many hours of work, and it’s a good example of how the flexibility of Cumulus serves as an excellent teaching tool for the students.”
Using Cumulus, classes can work with the Department’s entire asset archive simultaneously. Students can find what they need, and they can experiment with different asset management approaches. All assets are stored on a central file server, and Cumulus keeps track of the access control, storage, metadata, searching, and retrieval, so students can focus on the creative and educational tasks.
“[Students] gain knowledge that will help them throughout their careers, because managing assets will be key to career success for our graduates.”
As a long time Cumulus user, Cal Poly has seen several upgrades to Cumulus. Blum describes each as “smooth” and adds:
“With each upgrade, the Cumulus catalogs were successfully migrated to work seamlessly with the upgraded software or hardware.”
And the Department’s commitment to Cumulus and DAM appears to be as strong as ever.
“We look forward to continuing to add assets to our system in the future, as well as working with new file formats. Canto is great about supporting new formats within Cumulus as they appear.”
Founded in 1946, Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication Department (www.grc.calpoly.edu) is one of the largest and best known in the nation, offering students a Bachelor of Science degree in Graphic Communication with concentrations in printing and imaging management, Web and digital media, design reproduction technology, packaging graphics, and an individual course of study.
With over 33,000 square feet of laboratories, the department houses some of the most modern instructional facilities in graphic arts education.
The department received national accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Collegiate Graphic Communications.
The department also houses the Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly, which conducts research, testing, product evaluations, in-plant training, consulting, seminars, workshops and conferences.