This morning, StratusCore announced the general availability of its cloud-based digital content production platform and suite of tools for the digital content industry. This is designed as a comprehensive offering of on-demand tools, services and community resources that eliminate the complexity and inefficiency often associated with the data-intensive content creation process.
This offers software-as-a-service, meaning that creative artists only need to pay for the tools they need as they need them, with on-demand pay-as-you need access to content creation tools from companies like AutoDesk, The Foundry, NVIDIA and Chaos Group.
Though geared more for visual effects artists than editors, this Cloud-based offering can help workgroups and teams minimize costs while maximizing access to media and project files.
StratusCore website: https://www.stratuscore.com
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Recently, I had an opportunity to talk with Denise Muyco, co-founder and CEO of StratusCore, to learn more about what they were offering and who it was designed for. Here is our interview, conducted via email.
Larry: Where does your suite of tools fit in the process of production and post? Does it replace the tools that we use now – such as Avid/Premiere/Final Cut – or supplement them?
Denise: StratusCore does not replace content creation tools. They are a reseller of many popular, well-known tools (e.g. Maya, Nuke, Cinema 4D, Rhino, Blender,…) in a model that minimizes customer costs and allows for agility to ramp up and down resources quickly with pay-as-you-need pricing for as little as a day. Today StratusCore does not offer Avid as an on-demand editing suite; however, they are working with companies like Avid to integrate their storage solution.
StratusCore goes beyond content creation by also offering cloud-based rendering, storage, file transfer, email by project and security features that track and limit access to content.
StratusCore services also augment the pre-production, production and post-production process first by adding asset management and security features along the content creation continuum. Art Directors and Production Managers can organize all assets in secure, centralized storage, delegate rights to that content, contain all email communications within the production (versus out to Gmail accounts, for instance) and have a clear trail for who has touched content.
Larry: Is this designed more for editors, visual effects teams, or someone else?
Denise: StratusCore is designed for production managers and assistants who want more control and security over their content and budgets. It gives them the ability to control content storage and access to assets, as well as ensure that communications about the project remain inside a secure system instead of on open email networks like Gmail and Hotmail.
Production managers can also use StratusCore to find qualified talent based upon both qualitative profile information, as well as quantified experience with specific software and plug-ins based upon hours used.
StratusCore is also designed for editors, VFX teams and individual artists who want to collaborate and gain access to cloud storage, rendering, file transfer and affordable content creation tools on a pay-as-you-need basis. Artists also have the opportunity to promote themselves via their artist profile.
Larry: When we access your system, are we working in a Windows, Mac or a proprietary environment (in other words, do we need to learn new tools and keyboard shortcuts)?
Denise: StratusCore is accessed via one’s web browser and so is platform agnostic.
Larry: How would you differentiate your product from the cloud-editing system of ForScene?
Denise: ForScene is a proprietary video editing tool. StratusCore enables cloud-based content creation, including 3D, visual effects, VR, etc. using existing popular content creation tools from companies like Autodesk, The Foundry, Maxon, Chaos and more. Artists can license one of these well-known tools for as little as a day or for weeks or months, depending upon need. In a world where content creation goes well beyond video and relies on CGI, VFX and animation, StratusCore is making this type of content creation more accessible to artists and game developers. ForScene could be another solution that fits into the StratusCore platform if there is demand. StratusCore is more of a marketplace where people can choose from among many solutions.
Larry: Filmmakers are paranoid by nature, with security, piracy, and “someone stealing my idea” always near the forefront of their thinking. What are we storing on your servers and how are you keeping it secure from hackers and other malcontents? (And, who on your team can access our data?)
Denise: Security is a cornerstone of StratusCore’s value proposition. Here’s a link to our security white paper that provides detailed answers to your questions.
Larry: And, thinking worst case, if your venture is not successful and you need to terminate this program, who owns the assets on your servers and how would we get them back?
Denise: Our customers always own the assets. StratusCore is working with an independent digital escrow service that replicates all customer assets on a daily basis. If StratusCore goes away, the escrow agency has the customer’s information and specific password that they would provide for that customer to decrypt their encrypted content.
Larry: Another key problem for many is the speed of the “last mile,” the connection from the Internet into our homes and offices. What minimum bandwidth (both up and down) do we need to use this service effectively?
Denise: StratusCore works with sound stages, production offices, post-production studios, co-work facilities, etc. to enable the last mile via a cross-connect, provisioning fiber directly, or using radios. StratusCore services like virtual workstation require this ‘last mile’ speed of at least 1Gb to eliminate latency when doing content creation. Other services require less, but moving data will take longer. StratusCore provides “depot” services via their Powered by StratusCore facilities for very fast, secure file transfer.
Larry: This sounds like Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), meaning that we are renting access to your tools. What happens to our media and project files when we no longer need your service, say at the end of a project?
Denise: Projects and media files are always owned by the customer. Customers can pull their files off the storage at any time and store in a manner they so choose. The data that is moved off is securely wiped (again, please refer the Data Destruction section of the Security white paper).
Larry: You are providing access for “content creation and remote collaboration.” Are we accessing this through a browser, your tools, our tools, screen-sharing or a combination of these?
Denise: People access StratusCore services through a browser.
Larry: The beta testers that you highlight in your press release are all very large companies – Sony, Sony Interactive, Universal, Dreamworks, and Netflix. Does this mean that the price is beyond the reach of smaller production companies and work groups? Should only studios be interested?
Denise: StratusCore works with companies large and small – as well as individual artists. Our pricing makes content production and creation more accessible to companies of all sizes because it eliminates the need for large capital expenditure associated with render farms, petabytes of storage, content creation “kits”, software suite licensing fees, and transferring big files quickly and securely. Firms small and large (after all, they ALL are looking to save) can feel confident investing in different content creation tools without being encumbered with significant license fees per tool that may lay idle for weeks or months on end while a different project requires a different toolset. Smaller groups can easily expand up and shrink down their workforce on an as-need basis for the project, provisioning artists with the tools needed for the job for only the time it is needed.
Larry: In fact, how is this service priced?
Denise: Today our a la carte pricing is as follows. Note that we are currently working on creating additional bundled pricing to offer further discounts for customers who need more than one of our services. We also have contracts with large customer who choose to make multi-year commitments.
Larry: If you could do a one-paragraph commercial for StatusCore, pitched for the non-studio, independent producer, what would it be?
Denise: Finally, a solution that is democratizing the content production and creation process! StratusCore makes accessible what used to require huge CAPEX only available to the ‘big guys’. Have your own render farm at your fingertips. Easily access a variety of normally expensive content creation suites – and only add them when you need them. Create a “pop-up studio” where the production is happening without the need to pay for a long-term lease. StratusCore is paving the way for the next generation of content creators – new storytelling mediums like VR and AR, new ways of working in the burgeoning, freelance economy, and providing the tools and the power for entrepreneurs to create anything from indie content to a blockbuster.