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Keep graduation special during COVID-19

By: Ash White, BlackOak Technical Productions | May 19, 2020


Countless nights spent studying, numerous exams and essays completed, years of irreplaceable memories made – graduation day is fast approaching. The day when you will finally walk across the stage and receive that hard-earned diploma … cue a global pandemic. Fortunately for the Class of 2020, today’s technology couldn’t be better suited to ensure this important day is still realized. What’s remarkable about a virtual graduation is that the possibilities are endless, and the experience is entirely customizable to the institution and audience.

While shifting to a virtual platform might seem simple, it is anything but. Much like a physical event, adequate preparation is key to a successful online graduation. We want it to be as effortless as possible for classmates, families and friends to tune in. When selecting a platform, consider if additional software needs to be downloaded by viewers. Keeping the graduation as accessible as possible is imperative considering the audience will have varied technological expertise. Keep in mind that many people are using platforms like Zoom for the first time. Relevant event information should be shared with guests ahead of time so that they don’t miss out. It doesn’t hurt to have a test call so that viewers are more confident when the big day comes.

While the in-person graduation agenda needs to pivot to the online format, that doesn’t mean missing the mark on a professional production. Speeches can be recorded ahead of time with a dynamic backdrop, perfected lighting and high-quality audio. Music can be pre-selected and synced up for introductions and the diploma procession. Entertainment does not necessarily have to be omitted as an ensemble choir can still perform the national anthem, and the high school band can be highlighted with innovative video creation. Incorporating graphic lower thirds for speakers and tailored hold screens during set changes adds a customized finesse and polished look to the event in lieu of a physical program. Behind the scenes, a highly skilled team of producers and technicians will cue in live speakers, videos, sound and graphic effects to seamlessly tie all of these elements together. They can coach speakers through talking into a camera, using microphones effectively, and even what to wear to contrast backgrounds. A rehearsal ensures that everyone involved in the graduation is comfortable with a virtual event format and ready for the big day.

Perhaps you want to take this online graduation to the next level. A hybrid virtual and drive-thru graduation would provide more of a live-event feeling while keeping social distancing practices in mind. In addition to the online feed that many family members and friends can tune into from home, students can decorate their cars and drive through a processional as their name and photos are projected onto a large projection screen. The principal can then read names via a separate video feed.

Creating a virtual event that progresses elegantly and flawlessly creates a lasting digital keepsake. A recording of the graduation can be shared with students and their families and re-watched for years to come. This is a priceless reason to invest in a high-quality production so that this monumental moment can be cherished and revisited at any time.

We are living through extraordinary times and being forced to look at life from new angles. While change can be daunting and uncertain, it also has the ability to bring a fresh outlook on the core purpose of events and a new, more human, use of technology to keep life’s special moments unforgettable.

For a look at BlackOak “University’s” own internal graduation, click here.

About the Author: Ash White is a technical event producer at BlackOak Technical Productions. With a background in hospitality and events, he has been working with clients to adapt to the drastic change the events industry has experienced this year, introducing new trends and providing them with exceptional professional service to keep their businesses moving forward.



Ash White, BlackOak Technical Productions
BlackOak Technical Productions

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