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Movio Hackathon: Innovate, Create, Collaborate

Another year, another Hackathon at Movio! Twice a year, all #MovioCrew members are invited to think outside the box to produce innovative projects within a 24-hour window, with ideas ranging from quirky and fun to clever and valuable. 

As a company-wide initiative, the aim of a Movio Hackathon is to promote innovation and creativity whilst encouraging a step away from ‘business as usual’. We wanted the #MovioCrew to break down barriers, use new technology and build cool stuff with people they wouldn’t ordinarily work with. Projects included building new product prototypes and testing out fresh technologies for existing products, with plenty of intensive innovation across our teams. To give you a peek into some of the craziness of our latest Hackathon, here’s a rundown of our busy 24 hours.

12.45PM - Before the teams get started, it’s time to introduce their ideas to the rest of the company. KahWen Tan, Program Manager, heads the gathering and encourages someone from each team to briefly describe their project and what they hope to achieve. This is a great opportunity for anyone previously unaware of projects to identify areas they can help out.

1PM - And we’re off! With our Captain America gong sounded, teams head back to their workstations to get started. Snacks and energy snacks are vital at Movio Hackathons and, shortly after the gong, we're busy passing around bowls of fruit, chocolate and animal biscuits to keep everyone fuelled for the afternoon. 

For the August Hackathon, our teams used different software to build their projects, including Python amongst the data science teams and Scala, React and Go across the developers. Although there was an invitiation to explore big data, we also wanted to encourage skill-sharing and variety in teams which meant a lot more creative input from our design and UX teams.

4PM - At this Hackathon, we had a few entries for non-technical projects - including Movio software engineer Isaac’s movie artwork window project. Hidden behind a row of computers, it was only late into the afternoon that we found him embarking on the first of his window works. Using Post-its and a few whiteboard markers, his goal was to re-imagine three iconic movie stills - Titanic, ET and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King - onto our office windows. Isaac worked through the night putting together the images, getting plenty of strange looks for neighbouring companies!

Developer Isaac works on his art

5PM - Over in our regional USA office, the LA team were busy re-enacting Hidden Figures - with Lego. The team gathered together and, although didn’t spend a full 24 hours on the project, certainly got into the swing of creating something from scratch as quickly as possible.

6PM - The first of our Hack Challenges was announced by Product Manager, Ryan Scott. We run two of these at each Hackathon for a bit of fun and to encourage Hackers to take a break from projects. In the first challenge, competitors were to create a Movio mascot out of unformatted lines of code. Our winner created an interactive piece using Go that drew the outline of our beloved office mascot, Gavin the pig.

7PM - It’s an annual practice at Movio Hackathons to order excessive amounts of pizza and garlic bread for dinner to feed up square-eyed entrants. With more vegetarians and vegans than meat eaters amongst the developers, this meal tends to be a little healthier than you’d imagine! It’s also an excuse for the teams to break up and chat to other groups about their challenges and successes so far.

After dinner, the die-hard hackers get stuck into their projects ready for a long night ahead - whilst the rest head home to get some sleep for the morning attack. We put out a few care packages, mattresses and late-night snacks for the ones working through the night, and bid them good luck!

12AM - This year, a number of our Run Club members were involved in the Hackathon, and subsequently decided a midnight run was required! As the clock struck midnight, they put on their running shoes and headed up our local mountain - Mount Eden. The alternative energy-booster to this outdoor activity was the midnight coffee run - which was technically more of a slow crawl.

Run Club conquer Mount Eden

8AM - As the well-rested Movio Crew arrive back in the office for a new day, our seven overnight Hackers were looking dishevelled, exhausted, and surprisingly optimistic.

We go all out on food at the Movio Hackathons, and breakfast is no exception. The overnighters needed a little prompting to rise from their desks, but the breakfast is another great opportunity for them to get away from their screens and figure out a final plan of attack for the remaining hours.

9.30AM - After a long night, our second Hack Challenge is designed to be a lot easier than the first - focusing on silliness over seriousness. And what better way to inject fun into a dreary morning than with a meme generator? This task required entrants to describe their Hackathon experience with a meme. With so many hilarious entrants, it was difficult to pick just one - but the classic robot-falling-over submission was too accurate to pass on.

11AM - This year we had a number of interesting entries, including a Minority Report-inspired tracking system that uses Wi-Fi signals to present personalized movie trailers. With just a few hours to go, the brains behind the project, software engineer Jonathan Chow, could be found strolling around testing his project on compliant cellphone owners and preparing for his energetic final presentation.

1PM - As the gong echoes through the office one final time, Hackers accept it’s the end of another 24-hour Hackathon. The teams gather round for presentations and prizegiving, before heading home early for a much-deserved rest. This year, our winning presentation came from Chief Data Scientist, Dr Bryan Smith, Movio Media Product Owner, Aaron Croft, and two of our software engineers, Utku Demir and Nicolai Moraru. They prototyped a ‘reverse Movio Media’. Rather than enabling users to search for a movie title to find the demographics of the audience, their creation allowed them to enter a desired audience demographic profile and receive back a list of the closest movies. Here’s to another Hackathon!

Keen to join in on the fun? Check out our career page for latest opportunities.

Developers having fun

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