December 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Has Smule Strum Solved ‘Video Instagram’ Problem with Audio Analysis?

smule strumPeople heart sharing filtered photos on Instagram. They will probably continue to do so, despite the back-and-forth over its recent adjustment to its terms of service terms.

So why don’t they do the same with video? Maybe now that Smule has released Strum, its “most ambitious app” to date, we will.

Like SongBooth and other apps, Strum (free, iOS) transforms video you shoot within the app or shot earlier into a music video of sorts. But by doing actual audio analysis of the audio in your video, and matching that to selectable background music that goes along with each filter, Strum goes the extra mile.

“It’s obvious to most that audio is better with video, but the opposite is also true,” said Prerna Gupta, CEO of Khush at Smule. “Video is better audio. We’re an audio company, and have a unique perspective to bring to the video space. With Strum, we are leveraging years of research in advanced audio processing technologies, to create a video app that we believe addresses a gaping hole in the social video space.”

She added that the audio analysis we mentioned above is in fact the key to Strum’s appeal, which in our brief testing, could become something people share with friends and family, if not strangers too, a la Instagram.

“Photo apps like Instagram have been wildly popular because a good photo filter can take almost any photo and make it look amazing,” said Gupta. “In video, however, a visual filter isn’t enough, because video has two parts – images and audio. The key to Strum is that our filters are not just visual filters. They are combined audio + video filters, using our extensive IP in audio artificial intelligence, to transform the most mundane moments into engaging, funny, and emotionally rich videos you’ll actually want to share with your social graph. It takes our awkwardness in front of the video camera and makes it seem cool.”

Videos are not photos. On the basis of that alone, there are some big differences between Strum and something like Instagram. For starters, it takes time to render or process video. To help with that, Strum limits recordings to 15 seconds, whether you shoot live or import from your library (in the latter case, a built-in clip editor lets you select a chunk out of any of your previous videos). Also, one reason Instagram flourishes as a social network with strangers is due to hashtags, and we didn’t spot an option to add those in the video we uploaded just now.

However, this “Instagram for video with intelligent audio integration” has clear benefits, and perhaps more importantly, it’s fun, well-made, and outputs good stuff. The music option, which turns the audio in your video into music, essentially, is cool. In seconds (or maybe a few minutes), you can share a snazzy-looking and -sounding video snippet with family/friends, the world, or both, via email, text message, Twitter, or Facebook.

One big reason it works, as Gupta argues, is the intelligent audio integration between the background music and the audio in your video.

There is in fact a hole in the market right where a successful “Instagram for video” should be. By getting intelligent about the music/audio part, Smule’s Strum has a great shot at filling (and cornering) it.