Diary of an Encoding Engineer

Diary of an Encoding Engineer

Welcome to the next instalment of our blog series, where we chat to people from all areas of IMG ARENA to take a deeper dive into their roles, learn more about what they do and their current projects. For our next instalment we are putting the spotlight on our Encoding Engineer Tina Ngondo to hear the Diary of an Encoding Engineer. Keep reading to find out more.

Tell us about yourself and your role

I have been part of the Endeavor network for 8 years and one of the best things about the organisation is to ability grow my career across various departments. In November last year I joined IMG ARENA as an Encoding Engineer working across sports from UFC to the FA Cup.

We are based in both Stockley Park and Chiswick, with the option to work from home as well. We also work on a rotating shift pattern to accommodate the 24-hour operation, this is great as it is really flexible too.

In my role we acquire various inbound feeds from the master control room at Stockley Park, who route them into our encoders for us to push the streams through our live console, which is then received by our Sportsbook operators. It is an interesting and highly responsible job because there is never a dull moment, and each day is different depending on the properties we handle.

Tell us a bit about your career history, what made you want to go into this type of role?

Through studying Photographic and Electronic Imaging Science at university, this has allowed me to have a varied career. I am a very creative person and so initially wanted to become a 3D animator. At one point I landed a job as a digital studio assistant working on Harry Potter, James Bond and Band of Brothers, which was a really fun job. However, it was highly competitive, and my luck did not really work out, so I ended up working in the master control room for a dubbing facility in Soho.

I then moved to Norway, where I lived for the next 6 years. In Norway I worked across set design for feature films and commercials. This was a great opportunity; I learnt Norwegian, and I had the chance to put my creative interest and skills in to practice.

When I came back from Norway, the first job I got back in the industry was working in a live gallery, as a video playout for an Arabic TV Channel. This was based at IMG in Stockley Park, sharing the same communal areas as the Premier League production, creating great opportunities as you get to know everyone in the building.

Often in the studio when some teams are really overburdened, many freelancers help out and work in other companies with certain projects, so it is possible to get lots of experience and progress quickly. My knowledge of working in post-production and live broadcasting provided me with many transferrable skills suitable for the role as an encoding engineer. However, I also had a lot to learn. To be honest I never really expected to be in a role like this and in fact, most of the encoding team are from diverse backgrounds. We work with really interesting and talented people and leaning on our strengths to pull together as a team.

What is the best part about your role? How would you sum it up in three words?

The nature of live broadcasting is that things can go wrong beyond our control. It sounds silly, but I love that side of it because it is usually a situation where we learn a lot about our dynamics and understand other roles in more depth, for any kind of improvement. It adds a lot of excitement too; we must be quick and ready to jump in and resolve the issues quickly. Each day in this role is different and there is always something new to learn. We are also encouraged to get involved in exciting programming projects, whether you are a developer or not, which I think is great for team building, room for growth and confidence.

Another big bonus of the job of course, is that depending on how busy we are, we even get the opportunity to work on and watch exclusive live matches!

‘High Pressure


Tell us about an exciting project you’re working on at the moment.

There is new digital technology being introduced in the streaming side of things which is exciting, especially as the OTT industry is growing rapidly. So, it is great to be at the forefront of delivering digital content and it is exciting to see how we develop this year, especially with all the new features being developed on the live console!

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to make a career in a similar role?

Attention to detail is extremely important given the fast-paced nature of the role. In addition, I would also say that it’s key that you’re organised and good at multitasking to ensure you can navigate yourself through the job effectively and with confidence.

It is also crucial to be accurate and calm when communicating live issues with other members of the team, to ensure problems are resolved effectively. You really must be on top of what you are doing because it has a trickledown effect, and in this job, you learn that you cannot beat yourself up when something goes wrong.

It’s really helps to understand the fundamental rules for the sports you are likely to be working on, this can also be learnt quickly on the job, however I would suggest doing your research to ensure

Although it can be learned quickly on the job, it also really helps to understand the fundamental rules of each sport you are likely to be working on, so I would definitely suggest doing your research if you’re unsure.

💡 What is your best tip on how to navigate being a female in a male dominate industry?

I have found that the environment in my team is very inclusive. There is very much a family feel, as we work long hours together, and rally around each other to keep moral high when the pressure is on. It’s great that within our team gender doesn’t come into the equation and everyone is treated as equal. We all work together to ensure we deliver the best performance as a team, so there is no room for negativity!

My main piece of advice would be do not be afraid to confront an uncomfortable situation and follow the company’s guidelines on such issues if they occur. There is a lot of support to ensure you enjoy work without issues and are supported in your role.

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