Video Production, Voice-Overs, System Control and Design For The University Of Portsmouth Graduation Ceremonies
The University of Portsmouth Graduation Ceremonies for 2018 have seemingly become the busiest ceremonies I have ever worked, both in the lead up to and during the events.
Each year, The University of Portsmouth holds what might be considered as their most prestigious events of the entire year, the graduation ceremonies. These perfectly celebrate student achievement, housed within the Portsmouth Guildhall, possibly the second most iconic building in the city, after the Emirates Spinnaker Tower.
This year, I was tasked with a number of projects in the lead up to, as well as part of each ceremony which started on Saturday, 14 July 2018. I wanted to showcase the work I was involved with, so here's what I've been up to...
Big Screen Portsmouth
As you may be aware, my main job is running the Big Screen Portsmouth in Guildhall Square. The Big Screen has always, since I arrived in Portsmouth in 2011, always provided the live stream of each graduation ceremony on it and for the past 3 years I have scheduled these events.
This year however, was a bit different. The screen had more of a responsibility to deliver content outside of the live stream. This year, the Big Screen displayed a number of adverts and would only switch to the live broadcast once the ceremonies started. In previous years, the Big Screen has alway just been used to stream the broadcast which also contained the adverts and honorary slides.
In doing this, it relieved some pressure from my colleagues who provided the live broadcast stream so they could just focus on the ceremonies themselves, while delivering a fantastic and unique educational experience to students who operated the vision mixers and cameras for each event.
The University of Portsmouth Alumni Video
Before each ceremony, the university plays a video that is dedicated to highlighting the successes of the University, in terms of it's alumni. It plays 5 minutes before the ceremony starts and this year, it helped set the tone, perfectly.
Now, while I wasn't directly involved with the production of the video, I did help by providing feedback as well as creating all (with the exception of the end slide) the on-screen digital graphics, so that they were on brand with the university's new brand guidelines.
Karen Blackett's Chancellor Speech Video
On occasions, our University Chancellor, Karen Blackett wasn't able to attend the ceremonies and so, a specially pre-recorded video would play in the place of where she was meant to conduct her inspirational speech.
Like the Alumni Video as mentioned above, I wasn't involved with the production of this video directly, but, I did provide the digital on-screen graphics as well as outline minor points of feedback for re-edits.
Social Media Wall
In previous years, the university has fronted the cost of an external agency to provide a social media wall, a system that was controlled by a member of staff to pull the best photos and videos of the day from the likes of Twitter and Instagram for display on a live stream. These also went on the Big Screen Portsmouth as well as campus monitors. These usually play in-between all the ceremonies and act as a great interactive filler.
This year, it was mentioned that the university would not be renewing their contract to use an external company's social media wall. So, as a last minute initiative, I took to Adobe AfterEffects and designed an on-brand social media wall template, that could be updated between each ceremony.
This was a really easy, cost-effective solution to having a social media wall. The university had complete control of the content, the branding and helped fill the gaps between each ceremony.
Big Screen Digital Adverts
Before, in-between and after each ceremony, the Big Screen in Guildhall Square displays an loop of adverts. In previous years, these have been replaced by social media walls which dominated the content however, this year with a more controlled social media wall (read above) the university were able to promote a few extra things.
Below is an example of The University of Portsmouth Alumni advert that was shown on the screen. I produced this using Adobe AfterEffects. It displays the core information, with each of the benefits of being an alumni highlighted in the purple box (currently featured empty). The main point of this graphic is to back up the adverts that were printed within the ceremony brochures.
PGT / PGR Adverts
I redesigned two adverts: Postgraduate Research and Postgraduate Taught graphics for the Big Screen. The designs were replicated from the same adverts that feature within the graduation booklets, but in landscape for a screen.
The Postgraduate Research (PGR) advert, which differs slightly from the one shown below, was used only during Saturday's ceremonies while the Postgraduate Taught (PGT) adverts were used for the rest of the week as a way to invite graduates to continue their further study at Portsmouth.
Ceremony slides were created for the tv crew to display inside the Guildhall prior to each graduation ceremony, they were also used on the Big Screen Portsmouth for the same purpose. Additionally, they were used also as thumbnails for the youtube live streams. These were inspired by the front cover designs of the graduation ceremony brochures and were made in three different sizes for each medium they were needed for.
TV Crew Slides
In the unlikely event of an emergency evacuation, additional signage was created to assist the internal guildhall television crew, CCI TV (Creative and Cultural Industries Television). I used the same template used for the Ceremony Slides to design these. Thankfully, they were never used.
Played exclusively on the Big Screen Portsmouth, I was tasked to create all of the honorary graduate slides. These praised, celebrated and welcomed each honorary graduate by means of a slide, like the one below, playing for one hour in the lead up to their ceremony.
One of the biggest changes this year was using the Big Screen to make the announcements that previously were done by means of someone yelling down a megaphone or PA system.
This year, I worked with the graduation team directly to create bespoke videos that would not only display text, after the graduands and guests to enter or leave the Guildhall, but also voice tracked the announcements, and set the Big Screen to the highest possible volume.
The results worked perfectly for the graduation team. Producing 8 different messages allowed for the teams to be able to use crowd control messaging to usher guests to different various points around the Guildhall, or to Ravelin Park.
The messages were in keeping with the graduation branding, as pictured above in the Ceremony Slides section however, they were animated with different text messages.
Youtube Channel Management
Finally, this year I created a brand new Youtube Channel jointly with my colleagues from CCI TV, who were the live stream providers for each ceremony.
In previous years, the live streams have always been broadcast on the CCI TV Channel Youtube. There were concerns that the channel would suffer from copyright claims should any music be included in pre-made videos they didn't produce however ultimately, we felt it made sense for the university to have their own graduation Youtube channel.
We set it up one month in advance. My colleague Stephen Bellinger programmed and set up all of the live events and managed those prior and during their broadcasts. My other colleague, Michael Parsons amazingly uploaded the past three year's worth of videos, so it looked as if the channel wasn't brand new and also, so the channel was easily searchable.
My responsibility here was to trim down each of the live streams to exclude the 30 minutes holding graphics that appeared at the start. This is so that the videos could be easily enjoyed as on-demand content, that's free for each student go back and watch again online.
I also branded the channel so it was in line with the content I had already produced for the ceremonies.
This was a smooth and easy process that has benefitted the university and the CCI TV Channel's Youtube account which can now solely look at showcasing student work.
A Final Dedication
This post is dedicated to the incredible hard work of Gary Bown.
An esteemed colleague, ex-lecturer, personal tutor and friend of mine. His tireless work, stress but overall commitment of all the outdoor and live experience broadcasts just simply wouldn't have happened without him. Gary will be leaving us soon and I will miss him dearly.