About the team

The Encoding Team (ET), as the name implies, is responsible for all things video- related. We are responsible for transforming the raw source video into different formats, resolutions, and video qualities. In various combinations, these outputs are then served to Showmax customers in an attempt to provide them with the best possible viewing experience.

Preparing video for the African continent is quite challenging. The devices used for our content range from big screen TV's on fibre networks, to basic hand held devices on shaky mobile networks with expensive data, and everything in between. In all cases, it's important for us to tailor the customer's experience depending on their device, delivering high quality video and audio outputs which utilize as little bandwidth as possible.

Over and above the video preparation, we also ensure that the content we deliver is secure and in compliance with all our content provider's requirements. We also track the customer’s experience to be certain that it meets our expectations.

Of course we can’t do all of this alone – the Encoding Team collaborates quite closely with other teams within the Showmax Engineering. Among these are the Frontend teams, Analytics, CDN, and CMS team. We work with the CMS team in particular because Encoding was originally managed by the CMS and some services are still coupled together.

We work very closely with several other teams — especially the CMS team of which we used to be a part. We are also very close to the CDN, Analytics, and Frontend teams in a constant effort to improve Showmax for every single user.

How we work

The Encoding Team promotes an open and honest culture. All opinions are valued and there are n stupid questions. Some of the tooling or technologies are quite specialized so knowledge sharing within the team is encouraged. The team meets daily every afternoon for stand ups as it is distributed between South Africa, Brazil, and The Czech Republic.

Amongst other things, the team works on:
  • The video/audio encoding pipelines processing content to be playable on all supported devices — from smartphones, to smart TVs, to video game consoles.
  • Servers with Unified Streaming Platform packaging and encrypting content so that content is streamable with compliant DRM protection.
  • We study current and next-gen codec implementations like HEVC/HEIC, and AV1 to find the optimal set up for encoding tools to improve quality and speed.
  • We experiment with different content-based encoding approaches such as per-Title and per-Scene encoding.
  • Last but not least, we analyze the effects of all our changes on playback’s quality of experience, and suggest new ways to measure and improve it.

Basically, working with video is our daily bread.