In early June, Brightcove hosted its yearly Hackweek consisting of more than 70 teams from our offices around the world in our first-ever 100% remote event. Due to the social distancing measures required to address the COVID-19 pandemic, teams had to work together without the traditional in-person interactions of past hackweeks, collaborating with peers across multiple time zones, using various communication tools coordinate tasks. Each team worked to create proof-of-concepts for new features or projects that may eventually be incorporated into future projects.
Hackweek is a time where our engineers take a break from daily, non-urgent tasks to work on basically anything they want. It is a chance to explore new ideas, new tools, product features without the rigid commitment of a pipelined project. Additionally, Hacweek is a chance to have more interdisciplinary teams, as team formation is based on the alignment of interests and skills.
The weeks leading up to Hackweek
The process started about a month earlier with each champion (usually the person that came up with the idea) submitting project ideas into a joint spreadsheet. The spreadsheet contains the project description and what skills are needed, but not restricted. Any person can reach out to the champion to join the project they seem fit. A week prior to Hackweek, a 2-minute elevator pitch session culminated into more than 40 projects being presented. As a Hackweek tradition, custom T-shirts are ordered for every participant.
We kicked-off Hackweek with a warm welcome to the participants in an all-hands meeting, followed by the presentation of the guidelines, and prizes announcement. Since our offices are closed, teams put up home office decorations to enter the spirit of Hackweek. Over the course of the week, teams focused their efforts on building exciting projects that tackled almost all parts of Engineering. This year's projects touched on different areas of the organization; however, projects were not strictly limited to the business. Among these areas, we can cite new design efforts, the Brightcove Player, Brightcove Live, Brightcove Beacon, and Brightcove Zencoder. Some of the projects have already made their way to production, such as the new Player Release Notes.
Our online science-fair took place in our internal corporate communications app, Brightcove Engage which itself was conceptualized during a previous Hackweek, for all employees to watch and vote on the most engaging presentations.
And the winners are...
People's Choice was awarded to a project that generates theming inside the Brightcove Beacon app, simplifying the process of styling the app for our customers for our customers.
Craziest Idea was awarded to an app that lets you generate captions for content in different languages, addressing the issue of multilingual subtitles.
Most Business Impact was awarded to an idea that allows the users to select from multiple camera angles of an event.
Best Technical Achievement was awarded to the group that incorporated GPU into the video transcoding process, demonstrating a means to increase transcoding speed.
Most User Centric was awarded to a chatbot that simplifies the creation of live events, providing an intuitive and interactive experience with the product.
Hackweek is a fun time for our Engineers and a very important milestone for the company, providing cross-team and cross-country collaboration, resulting in many projects having a future impact on our business. To name a few, Dynamic Delivery, VideoJS, and the Media Source Extensions in the Brightcove Player all originated from previous Hackweeks. We thank our judges and volunteers from different internal organizations that helped make this Hackweek another successful event.
Last but not least, in this year’s event we were fortunate to have Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a partner, providing direct support to our Engineers on all-things AWS related.