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Toolkit: Strada

Posted on Apr 12, 2024 by Samara Husbands

Right up our Strada

Michael Cioni gives Nicola Foley the lowdown on Strada, a new AI-enabled cloud platform for creatives 

Employing artificial intelligence to automate, accelerate and improve workflows for creative professionals, freshly minted cloud platform Strada is the brainchild of seasoned entrepreneur Michael Cioni.

A four-time Emmy winner, member of the Motion Picture Academy and associate member of the ASC, he’s worked on more than 150 feature films during his career, as well as founding multiple companies including post house Light Iron. 

Cioni has played a pivotal role in pioneering digital cinema workflows, 4K-8K post-production, mobile post, iPad dailies and HDR.

He has also led groundbreaking initiatives like 8K large format image capture and the first automated camera-to-cloud tech with Frame.io (acquired by Adobe in 2021).

The unifying theme in his career is, he explains, ‘identifying emerging tech and using it to help filmmakers tell their stories’.  

With Strada, his focus has turned to AI: specifically, how we can tap into it as a resource to enhance the creative process.

Acknowledging the concerns in the industry around generative AI, Cioni believes we should be concentrating on leveraging the underrated utility AI – as Strada does – to perform automated tasks that make mundane aspects of workflow faster and easier. 

“Strada is capable of automated cloud sound syncing, language detection and translation, face detection, object recognition and emotion recognition. It does this in the background when you connect it to a third-party cloud,” he points out. “When footage is analysed and tagged based on these aspects, it makes searching for clips, moments or even performances up to 100x faster.”

As an example, users can type in a word that was spoken – say ‘dog’ – and Strada will instantly deliver all the clips that contain ‘dog’, as well as bringing up every clip where a dog can be seen, even clips where it hears a dog barking.

This kind of rapid discovery across thousands of assets means more time spent editing and less time searching.  

“Another powerful innovation is Strada’s cloud rendering,” he adds. “Most content professionals render one clip at a time when they need files converted. With Strada, users can deploy cloud rendering, which means you can render 100 takes simultaneously. For example, if you had three hours of five-minute takes and needed to convert it from ProRes to H.265, Strada could convert all that media and transfer it to an entirely different cloud in under a minute.” 

It’s easy to see how powerful features like these could have a significant impact.

Cioni and the team are keen to make the platform widely accessible, so as many as possible can benefit. “Strada’s mission is to enhance workflows for every budget level and virtually every market segment, from documentary to news, sports, commercials and narrative feature films,” he comments. “I’m passionate about democratisation and accessibility. For that reason, it’s important to me to build a scalable and helpful set of features, regardless of the customer profile. This is accomplished by building a foundation of functionality that reaches workflows regularly adopted by a range of users.”

Working alongside NLEs, DAWs and even photography tools, Cioni sees Strada as a creative companion.

“We’re offering ‘simple edit’, so people can trim and convert assets to be shared without having to bring them into an NLE,” he adds. “We aim to deliver self-hosted clouds. This powerful concept allows a user to take a local drive (could be a laptop hard drive, external drive or even a NAS or SAN) and connect that into a Strada project, where remote collaborators can access media and share it directly from a local disk. This lets users leverage storage options they’ve already invested in, instead of having to move everything to the cloud before it can work.” 

This feature was first published in the April 2024 issue of Definition.

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