I was contacted by a client who managed the Commencement Ceremony for a university because the university wanted to up their production game from previous years. They wanted to add LED screens to their outdoor programs for I-mag, and projection and lighting to their indoor programs as well.
The projection and lighting for the indoor venue were fairly straight forward. Being in their basketball arena there were plenty of rigging options and we had complete control over the house lighting so this was a typical project for me. The university had never had anyone create drawings for them so they were delighted when I offered to draw their stage plot as I created my technical CAD files. I even gave them a little rendering so they could get an idea of what the stage would look like with my projection screen, drape and lighting.
We brought in a video fly pack to handle the video production for both venues and placed it in a conference room in the arena. There would be a 2 camera switch in the arena and a 5 camera switch in the football stadium. One of the faculty told me that they were all feeling like they were “going Hollywood.”
The outdoor venue was the real challenge on this project. Structural outdoor rigging comes with many challenges that we don’t face with typical arena rigging. There are weather considerations, ground that is not level and a football field that must be protected.
After I contracted the LED supplier for the main screens, I designed a lightweight goal post and asked one of my trusted rigging partners to engineer it to handle the size and weight of the screens we would be using.
Next, the university asked that I re-design the TerraPlas (field covering) to fit the footprint with new screens and do layouts for each of their programs which consisted of the main Commencement Ceremony and 3 Convocations.
In addition to the rigging, lighting and video, I was asked to manage the closed captioning and assist with webcasting. These were both great learning opportunities because they weren’t things that I had much experience with. Now I am comfortable with both thanks to this opportunity.
I have now been managing this program for 5 years and every year is slightly different. For example, this year the basketball arena was under construction so I had to contract a video truck because the space for our fly pack wasn’t available. I had only worked in a broadcast truck one other time so this too offered a great learning opportunity.
A project like this is a bit of a divergence from my normal programs, but it has been nice to do something a little different every summer. And it always keeps me on my toes.