Hollywood heavyweights back the Cioni brothers’ Strada, an AI-enabled cloud platform that empowers users to automate, expedite and deliver higher-quality content.
The "traditional" media workhorses - DAWs for audio and NLEs for video - have become incredibly powerful, with seemingly limitless features, some marginally useful and some essential. Either way, to get access to even the smallest item, you have to power up the entire application - and pay for it (with some notable exceptions).
With the arrival of genuinely helpful and often transformative AI and increasingly fast broadband connections, it seems a good time to find a better way to build workflows.
Brothers Michael and Peter Cioni aren't new to starting businesses in the media space. Based in LA, the Cioni brothers are seasoned pioneers in the entertainment technology space, closely associated with some of the industry's most significant tech transformations over the last two decades. They have launched post-production companies, worked on cutting-edge feature films and television series, built content review platforms, spearheaded digital cinema camera development, and pioneered cloud acquisition technologies. With two decades spent on designing workflows throughout their careers, they are well-positioned to take on this challenge, which is only growing bigger with the explosion of AI and cloud-based solutions for the creative professional community.
Recently, Michael Cioni left Frame.io, two years after Adobe acquired it for the eye-watering sum of $1.275bn. Frame's phenomenal growth has been a reliable measure of the cloud's viability for serious post-production. Peter Cioni, meanwhile, quit his position at Netflix to work on Strada.
Strada - Italian for "Street" - is an apt metaphor. A workflow is a journey with a start and a destination. With the new company, the idea is that if you only need a street, you don't need to buy the entire city.
Michael, Strada's CEO, says: "Innovative tools and technologies unlock so many opportunities but are simultaneously difficult to integrate into legacy workflows. Most people find themselves spending too much time preparing to be creative and not enough time actually being creative. Strada is completely re-thinking workflow, with the goal of giving time back to creative professionals so they can focus on telling great stories."
Today's announcement from Strada is that it will become "the world's first AI-enabled cloud platform for content creators.” The idea is that it will “combine a cloud marketplace with an intelligent workflow builder to help creative professionals improve the quality of their content.”
Peter Cioni, CFO at Strada, says: "Many developers of creative tools require their users to have a high degree of proficiency or specialisation. We find creative teams of all sizes don't have the time to become experts in every tool, especially when they only need a handful of features. Strada is building for a future where high-quality features needed in a workflow become available a la carte through our purpose-built cloud marketplace. Once the entire pipeline lives in the cloud, creatives will have more time to focus on being creative.”
What precisely this means in practice, we'll have to wait and see after the launch. But it's easy to see why this is a dramatic move. With genuinely useful Large Language Models (LLMs) and generative Diffusion models arriving into the public consciousness almost at the same time during the last year, we seem to have entered a whole new period in the evolution of media applications.
AI-assisted media processing can achieve what would have seemed impossible even two years ago. It can replace the word "vegetarian" for "vegan" in a voiceover invisibly and match a colour look infinitely more subtlety than a LUT. Imagine what it would be like to combine a chain of these processes into a bespoke workflow optimised for your project.
With Michael and Peter Cioni in the driving seat, Strada already has $1.9 million in pre-seed funding in place, as well as backing from the likes of filmmakers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (“Rabbit Hole,” “This Is Us,” “Crazy, Stupid, Love”), Jason Fotter, co-founder and former CTO of FuseFX, the principals of Ataboy Studios, as well as the investment group behind Donut Media, Endcrawl and Goldieblox. Panavision is also supporting Strada as a strategic partner, with President and CEO, Kim Snyder, joining the Strada Advisory Board. All in all, it's an extremely credible - and much-needed - venture.
I'll be interviewing Michael Cioni on camera at IBC when we will be able to reveal more details. You'll see the interview here, on RedShark, not long afterwards. Meanwhile, check out Michael's YouTube series, Starting a Startup - which documents the sometimes tortuous process of getting a new tech business on the road.
Tags: Post & VFX