The Cioni Brothers Launch Strada, A.I.-enabled Cloud Platform for Creative Workflows
by James Mathers
Cinematographer and Founder of the Digital Cinema Society
(Excerpted from the January 2024 Digital Cinema Society eNewsletter)
They are not easy to keep up with, but as the self-appointed President of the Cioni Brothers Fan Club, I’ve been trying now for many years. I first met Michael Cioni in my very early days as a RED camera user where he was pioneering digital post production at the boutique Hollywood facility known as Plaster City. He was one of the few in town who had a good handle on RED camera workflows. After a few years working there, Michael was joined by his brother, Peter, who had been working as a Wall Street Investment Banker, and together with a small group of colleagues, they formed Light Iron Digital, where I continued to steer projects I shot knowing they would make me look good.
When Light Iron was acquired by Panavision, Peter remained in management there, while Michael moved over to the parent company serving as product director for Panavision’s Millennium DXL 8K camera ecosystem. He then moved on to help pioneer camera-to-cloud workflows at the startup company Frame.io which was soon acquired by Adobe. Meanwhile, Peter moved on to become an executive at Netflix and in mid-2023, just as the industry was starting to be roiled by labor unrest, the brothers decided to quit their jobs to co-found their own start up, Strada.
Strada is a cloud-based platform designed to leverage A.I. to remove the complexities and inefficiencies faced by professional content creators. Strada automates tedious manual tasks, simplifies workflows, and reduces delivery times, allowing the creator to focus on creative storytelling. Users can design custom workflows for their unique postproduction needs, with features such as multi-cloud syncing, multicam playback, automatic transcription and translation, transcoding, and A.I. tagging and analysis, all controlled from a single intuitive interface.
I had a chance to see this new A.I.-enabled media workflow platform at an invitation-only launch event in Burbank, CA on January 29th, (a link follows to stream the recorded event.) I’ve previously participated in Michael’s live technology demos and as he says, he likes to fly without a net. This one was no different as a full two-camera crew, shooting double system with Panavision Millennium DXLs, captured three short narrative scenes in different languages as a live demonstration. The material was instantly uploaded from the cameras via Teradek cubes to Frame.io while the audio was uploaded to DropBox. Having the media housed in completely different cloud infrastructures allowed the Strada team to show one of the significant attributes of their platform. Practically before the crew could re-set for an alternate take, the material had been synced and the multicam coverage with text for subtitles was playing back for the assembled audience.
Michael and Strada’s Lead Engineer, Austin Case, explained the beauty of Strada being able to act as the connective tissue between these different cloud systems. They were able to access, combine, and work with the media without taking the time to download it to a single central storage destination making what could have normally taken hours to prepare, available for playback in only a few moments.
The second take featured a French speaker and demonstrated an additional capability of the system. As quickly as the first take, this scene was ready for multicam playback through the Strada interface, but this time a text translation in English was also available. The third and final scene featured a character in a large dinosaur costume and demonstrated Strada’s ability to visually recognize and tag the costume.
The demos were designed to show Strada’s ability to help deal with the time consuming challenges faced by content creators, what Strada refers to as the 4 T’s: Transfer, Transcribe, Transcode, and Tag/Analyze (dubbed: Tanalyze).
The 4 T’s of Strada:
- Transfer: Out of the box, Strada is compatible with Dropbox, Google Drive, Frame.io, and Lightroom, allowing users to see their media within a single GUI, as well as transfer between destinations.
- Transcribe: Automatically create searchable captions in more than 100 languages.
- Tanalyze: Automatically tag objects, people, locations, and emotions for advanced search.
- Transcode: Export metadata-rich files for editing and distribution.
A finished mini-documentary and a high-end commercial that employed Strada were also shown along with behind-the-scenes interviews with the filmmakers discussing how they interfaced with the platform. The event concluded with Peter, Michael, and Austin taking questions from the audience and hinting at some of their plans for the future. All-in-all, it was an outstanding demo, but the team emphasized that Strada is in its infancy, and they have many more features and capabilities in the pipeline, as well as integrations with more services and NLEs. The Italian word “Strada” translated to English means “road,’ and was chosen because the platform serves to connect many different technologies. I suggest that if you want to see where the road to content creation technology is headed, you keep an eye on the Cioni Brothers; they will no doubt be leading the charge.
You can see the launch presentation in its entirety on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Dy2lgIYyJY
To find out more about Strada visit: https://strada.tech/
You can also see an interview I did with the Cioni Brothers a few months back here: https://vimeo.com/875433718