Need the (Metadata) Info

Getting the keywording you need without communicating what those needs are can be very problematic, if not impossible.  As Dr Evil says in the movie Austin Powers: "need the info" - he could have been talking about keywording.

Making your keywording experience a success is a two way process. Metadata companies must bring their expertise and knowledge of keywording standards, processes, vocabularies and so on.  But that expertise is wasted if the client doesn't play their part.

If you begin talking to a keywording company and feel they either aren't prepared to change or modify what they will deliver for you, or they have a one-size-fits-all attidude you may well be best off going elsewhere.  No matter how low the price, if the keywording doesn't fit your needs it's a waste of money.

From the client's side, try your best to give good quality information, and try to avoid constantly changing your mind.  Discuss everything with the keywording provider first so the parameters are clear.

Always get samples done before proceeding and make adjustments to your requirements at that stage.  Don't be afraid to ask for a few sets of samples if things aren't working out properly.  The best keywording providers will work with you on this.

Here are some things you will need to discuss with your keywording provider:

1.  Who you are submitting to, if anyone - Where you images or video are going makes a big difference.  Obviously if submitting to Getty you will need the Getty standard.  If for Alamy or Corbis then the keywording needs to meet their standards.

2.  What your own keywording needs are - A Getty or Alamy standard probably aren't appropriate for your own web site.  Be wary of companies that tell you otherwise without offering an alternative standard.  Spend time understanding exactly what vocabulary and so on will be used in your case.  Lack of flexibility or knowledge are bad signs.

3.  How specialised your images/videos are - If you have a particular and narrow speciality you need to let the company know how specialised the keywording needs to be.  Are Latin names required, technical terms and so on.  It is unlikely that a keywording firm has people with experience in every field of endeavour, so you are likely to have to talk over how those terms will be incorporated in the keywording vocabulary, or will be researched as needed via the internet.

4.  What metadata you will provide - This is often glossed over.  You need to be crystal clear about how much information you can supply, particular regarding proper nouns such as place names, names of objects and people. Never, ever presume that the keywording provider can work out this information by research.  An image of a white bird with long legs and a large wingspan could be any number of species.  Don't leave it to keyworders to guess.  You will be very unhappy with the mistakes that are made, or the lack of detail in the keywords.  With captions, make sure they are written in proper sentences so it is clear what each thing is.  Don't use a bullet-point style where there is room for error.

5.  What model release information you will provide - This is crucial for keywording images or videos of people for the likes of Getty.  Be very clear whether this information is needed, and what the precise details are.

6.  The who what and how, all those annoying little details - How many images/videos there will be, when they need to be finished by, how the keywords should be outputted, FTP details and so on.  Make sure you have a checklist of all the practical housekeeping matters and get each issue resolved at the start.  Don't take this for granted.