Introduction to the DF Studio Knowledge Base

Updated Thu 1/24/2019

The following list attempts to foreground the key concepts first and then work into some of the more complex features. It’s not necessarily meant to be consumed all in one sitting (or even one day), but represents a good way to become versed in the way DF Studio works without going page-by-page through the documentation.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Jameson with any feedback or questions: or @jameson in Slack

Getting Started

Begin by creating a free trial account, if you haven’t already. Talk to Rush or anyone on #product-support to add enterprise-level features to your demo account once it’s set up. Then you can try out all the different workflows.

These articles will get you acquainted with the basics of using a new account, which will be useful to experiment with as you read about more advanced features.

Key Concepts

Below are some key concepts which should help get you up to speed with the product. Each is followed by a few links to articles that give a good introduction to the main ideas.


These are the core unit for organizing assets (photos/videos/etc.) within a DF Studio account. Each asset is contained in exactly one Project.


Analogous to an “album” in your photos app or a “playlist” in your music app, these gather references to assets that are stored elsewhere in Projects. A Collection may gather assets from across multiple Projects, or may contain a subset of a single Project, etc.


A scheme for organizing Projects and Collections. Folders behave as you’d expect, but the inheritance that results from a hierarchy of nested folders becomes important for things like setting access permissions or configuring custom metadata lookups.


These are like chapters within a Project. Each asset exists in exactly one Setup within a Project, and all assets added to a Project begin in the “Default” Setup until moved to another. Users might choose to divide assets into Setups by subject, shoot date, etc.

Asset Inspector

The right sidebar of the DF Studio interface is usually reserved for the Inspector, a versatile toolkit for taking action on the selected asset (or Project, Collection, etc.), which also provides at-a-glance information about that selection. Its streamlined interface puts a wide range of in-depth tools front-and-center for efficiently working with assets.


One of DF Studio’s key features is the ability to share assets with other DF Studio account holders and especially third parties via a secure email link. This can be for download (or direct import into another DF Studio account), or for other reasons like gathering approvals, comments, or metadata from a Messenger recipient.

Approvals, Edits, and Select Levels

Select Levels represent a DF Studio user’s (or Messenger recipient’s) expressed preference regarding an image. DF Studio supports 1st Select (i.e., favorite), 2nd Select, or Kill (i.e., disapproved). In the context of Approvals, only 1st and Kill are offered. These allow a DF Studio account holder to circulate assets to third parties (via a Messenger) and narrow down to those assets which are approved for further use. (For example, talent or publicists may approve images for use in marketing; photography clients may submit their select levels for images to go through final retouching and publication; etc.)

An Edit refers to a discrete set of select levels for a given set of assets. (For example, in a shoot involving multiple performers, each may have his or her own Edit which represents his/her Approvals/Selects for that shoot.) These may be combined into an aggregated Edit, or viewed separately.

Cold Storage

DF Studio offers customers the ability to move uploaded files to Cold Storage, where files are unavailable for immediate download, but securely stored for a fraction of the storage cost. (It is possible to move all files into Cold Storage, or even delete them, and still work with assets because DF Studio generates compressed preview versions of all assets, which remain in Active Storage even when the originals are relocated.)


DF Studio provides world class tools for configuring and managing metadata for assets. This metadata can be used for searching and organizing assets, or come into play in workflows or external applications downstream in a production pipeline. The latest release of DF Studio included an extensive overhaul in order to accommodate metadata lookups—a suite of tools for administrators to manage a controlled vocabulary of terms to be used in metadata editing.

Assignments/Upload Keys

Similar to the way a Messenger link allows a recipient without a DF Studio account to interact with DF Studio assets, an Upload Key (also called an Assignment Key when generated as part of an Assignment) allows a user without a DF Studio account to upload assets directly into a DF Studio Project. Upload keys can be used within the web browser, or with DFS Speed Link or the other plug-ins.

Custom Apps

DFS Speed Link is a custom application for Mac users to upload directly to their DF Studio projects without using the web browser. DFS Downloader is available for Mac and Windows, and assists with bulk downloads. Various plug-ins for popular image management/editing software are also offered.

DF Studio Features

Everything else falls into the catch-all “documentation” section of our Knowledge Base, so this is a good place to look if you need more info. (Although, with over 100 articles, a search is probably fastest.)

While there are treasures to be found perusing the knowledge base one article at a time, here are a few advanced workflows not already mentioned above.