The Cloud

AWS MediaLive + Drones = Hackathon Fun

Hackathons! Weeeeeee!!!!! Am I right? I work in tech and I love it! I do not come from a technical background. Nope. I have decades of business management experience under my belt which helps me navigate...

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Hackathons!  Weeeeeee!!!!!  Am I right?

I work in tech and I love it!  I do not come from a technical background.  Nope.  I have decades of business management experience under my belt which helps me navigate the people landscape of the working world.  And I can crunch a number or two.  But, I’m absolutely loving learning about coding, clouding, and for today’s topic…hackathon-ing.

I’m big on teams.  I’m an advocate for teamwork, team projects and most of all, team building.  I’m also a lifetime student.  Learning is in my top five, favorite things about life.  In a sense, if you mash up team stuff, and learning, then add a generous and heaping sprinkle of fun, you get this thing called a hackathon.   

My first hackathon ever was with Metal Toad last year, back in November of 2019.  The challenge for last year’s hackathon was to utilize AWS Amplify.   Being so new to things like the Cloud and Hackathoning, I went into last year with the fresh eyes of a rookie and no expectations.  

Metal Toad is an AWS Consulting Partner in Managed Services and Cloud Applications.  Sticking to the theme of AWS, this year’s Q2 hackathon challenge was to utilize AWS Media.  

Our team, The Murder Hornets, leveraged the ease of AWS Media Services to build a platform for broadcasting live stream, drone media from anywhere in the world.  “Folks lose drones all of the time.  Memory cards fail all of the time.  If you’re shooting important, once in a lifetime footage, this could be invaluable.”  This magnificent idea was the brain child of our Cloud Engineer, Vaughn Hawk.  

As a consumer, I saw so much value in a product like this and couldn’t help but to jump on board with this team.  The team included a Cloud Engineer (Vaughn Hawk), a Systems Administrator (Tyler Roberts), a Mobile Developer (Ryan Anderson),  and one Project Manager/Product Coordinator (me).  

In a previous life I used to scout landscapes the old fashioned way, on my feet.  I spent so many resources: time, money, and effort trying to find the right spot for special events.  Then the most time consuming part of my research was to explain my location discovery to anyone who was to help me with said special event.  So from personal experience, a product like this sings to my heart and my wallet.  I would have saved on time, money and the effort of having to explain what I discovered.  My life would have been so much easier if all I had to do was share what channel to watch. And best of all, if I lost any footage of my discovery, it would have been backed up to the cloud.  The possibilities are enormous for a product like this from a vast variety of perceptions. 

As I mentioned before this was my second hackathon experience,  I came into this project with a little more ambition than the previous challenge.  I have a better understanding about the AWS Cloud.  I came into this jazzed thinking that all of the wisdom I’ve picked up since the last hackathon was going to put me into a better position.  And I’m sure that right about here, you are anticipating some sort of plot twist?  Sorry to disappoint you.  There’s no twist.  

Now that I’ve had one hackathon under my belt.  This second one felt more intentional and focused for me.  I had amazing teammates!  We had an absolute blast together.  I was able to have even more fun than before because I came equipped with a better understanding about AWS Cloud Applications.  We built a great product that started with just an idea.  And for the grand finale, we were able to perform a live demonstration at an onsite location while holding a virtual demo on Zoom.  

There are some key questions I’d like to answer regarding my experience:

What were the obstacles we encountered?

  • Time was an obstacle.  We experienced an approximate latency of 35 seconds for the live stream.  If we had more time I’m sure we could have shortened the lag to just a few seconds.  

What were our success highlights while working on the project?

We had so many highlights. To keep this short I’ll just list a few:

  • Our team had tons of fun with this one.  (two of my teammates were also my previous teammates from my 1st ever hackathon).
  • AWS Elemental MediaLive was ridiculously easy to set up and use.  Click of a button easy.
  • Setting up an S3 bucket for backup was a breeze as well.

What was your technical approach?

  • Source content - Drone RTMP 
  • AWS Elemental MediaLive
    • Live stream, HLS
    • Backup, Archive
  • Amazon S3
  • VLC for playback testing

What were the top 3 things I learned?

  • AWS Elemental MediaLive is as user friendly as it gets.
  • Drones can fly extremely steadily.
  • Team Murder Hornet’s favorite sample site for testing:  You’re welcome. 

There’s so much more that can be said about my recent hackathon experience.  For now, where I’ll leave it, is that I had the most fun learning about another AWS Service.  Thank you Team Murder Hornets, Metal Toad and AWS.  I can’t wait for the next hackthon!  

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