Interview with Matt Lawson, Media Studio Champion at Gallery Systems

Get an inside look at TMS Media Studio 2023. The much-anticipated upgrade to Gallery Systems’s digital asset management system (DAMS) launched last month. TMS Media Studio delivers features and functionality designed for the cultural heritage sphere, making it a top choice for museums and collections.

Unlike most DAMS, TMS Media Studio isn’t a 3rd-party software. It shares a database with the central collections management system, TMS or TMS Collections, allowing for automatic data-syncing and seamless internal workflows. Avoiding the pitfalls of implementing a 3rd-party DAMS can save time, money, and hassle—from day one into the future.

Gallery Systems recently interviewed Matt Lawson, Media Studio Champion, who helped bring TMS Media Studio 2023 into being. Matt hails from a museum background and brings a fresh, insightful perspective to project management. He shared his thoughts on this exciting DAMS upgrade, the experience of developing the product, and its many foreseen benefits for TMS users.

Thanks for making the time to talk! How did you get involved in championing TMS Media Studio?

I was originally hired at Gallery Systems in 2021 as a QA Analyst. Before that, I worked as a Digital Assets Administrator for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which uses TMS as its collections management system.

We migrated to TMS Media Studio from another DAMS. That gave me a lot of time to get familiar with the ins and out of the application.

When the Media Studio Champion role became available at Gallery Systems, it felt like a no-brainer that I apply for it. And here I am!

Tell us more about the TMS Media Studio development process. What makes Gallery Systems’s approach unique?

Most DAMS cater to many industries, and cultural heritage is just one of many areas for them.

TMS Media Studio is a DAMS dedicated solely to the needs of the cultural heritage sector through being part of the same database as other TMS Suite products. That affords us the ability to focus our time specifically on the needs of DAMS users in this space.

There is a tremendous amount of potential for us here. I am excited to see more features and functionality that we develop to meet needs of museums and institutions with collections.

For you, what’s the most rewarding part of this DAMS initiative?

Working with the media! I have a Fine Arts degree, so I’m naturally interested in the type of data held in TMS Media Studio. The media is the representation of that data—such as an image of an artwork—and I get to work with these types of media assets daily. I am very lucky in that regard.

It’s an absolute joy to be part of the TMS Media Studio development team. We have found a nice groove and I’m so excited about what we are working on what and discussing for the future.

I also really enjoy talking to our clients about their media projects and ideas. It takes me back to my days as a client and how much I loved exchanging ideas with colleagues at other institutions.

Let’s talk about the new features and functionality that debuted in the 2023 version of TMS Media Studio.

The big-ticket item for the TMS Media Studio 2023 release is our new web-based Media Importer application.

Media Importer can bulk load media into the TMS database. It allows users to enter Media record information using an interface, access values for authority-controlled fields, generate thumbnails to aid their cataloging, and search for records in the database to link media assets to upon import, such as Objects, Events, and Exhibitions to name a few.

We’ve also enhanced our capability for audio and video file playback from within the TMS Media Studio interface. Users can now configure audio and video preview files to play back for any type of source file added to the system—regardless of whether the source format is web-compatible. Administrators can configure the duration and quality of the preview files to best fit the needs of their institution.

The default interface for TMS Media Studio has been updated with new data entry forms. These forms are more visually driven than the other TMS Suite applications and were created with consistency in mind. For example, users can easily view, edit, and update the most up-to-date object and media rights information together in the same window.

We’ve also added support to generate previews of slides for PowerPoint files.

Who would benefit most from using TMS Media Studio?

Any museum professional referencing or working with digital assets and media.

That could be a curator who wants to quickly browse through images of their collections, or a graphic designer gathering media assets to use in a publication. Or educators that want to use the Annotation Tool to highlight parts of an image that they then include in a lecture.

I can think of benefits for every museum role or department, really!

So, TMS Media Studio isn’t a third-party DAMS. Why is that an advantage?

For a couple of reasons. First, you can completely forget about creating or maintaining an integration with your collections management system. I cannot tell you how liberating this is after toiling and worrying over DAMS-CMS integrations for years.

With a 3rd-party DAMS, you’re constantly asking yourself: “Is the information up to date? When was the last time the databases were synced? Will upgrading one of these applications break the integration? Can we afford to hire someone to create and maintain our integration?”

All those questions go out the door with TMS Media Studio and you can get on to doing the fun stuff.

Second, there are many contexts within the TMS database where media can be linked. This is no longer just about images of artwork, which is often the primary focus when a 3rd-party DAMS integrates with TMS.

TMS Media Studio can link media to related exhibitions, events, and artist records. Rights and Reproductions documents, loan agreements, and shipping invoices—these can all be added to the database and linked to their related records.

Webinar: Catching up with TMS Media Studio

Take a closer look at TMS Media Studio 2023. Matt Lawson gave a webinar on the DAMS launch and roadmap, exclusively for Gallery Systems clients.

Beyond 2023, what can we anticipate from TMS Media Studio? Any new features in the development pipeline?

Absolutely, we are just getting started! I don’t want to give too much away just yet. I want to have some surprises for you in future releases.

I always get excited when tech companies unveil their brand-new features, don’t you? I want that for TMS Media Studio. But I can say we are researching some new functionality that is directly targeted at the needs of the cultural heritage sector.

Exciting! Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for taking the time to chat! I’m honored, humbled, and so happy to be working on pushing TMS Media Studio forward.

Keep an eye open and an ear on the ground. We have a great thing going here—it’s only going to get better, and we’re going to have a great time doing it.