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CT delivers Middle East’s first virtual graduation

CT delivers Middle East’s first virtual graduation

CT delivers Middle East’s first virtual graduation


With social distancing preventing a typical ceremony taking place, Creative Technology (CT) completed the first-ever virtual graduation ceremony in the Middle East for a Qatar-based university. The company supplied a full virtual solution, content creation and communication system, which was controlled remotely from its Middle East headquarters in Dubai. The ceremony allowed 38 graduates who were located across four countries to come together and celebrate their achievements, and was streamed to over 1,500 people from 35 different countries.

“Our client wanted to ensure that the students got the ceremony they deserved,” explained CT's head of engineering, Tom Stocks. “The event needed to enable all 38 graduates to speak in unison to pledge their oath. Five speakers were pre-recorded ahead of time, and the event was streamed live to the public.”

Giorgio Devecchi, CT project manager, described the process: “Our client designed the stage to look and feel as close to a normal graduation ceremony as possible. Once all designs were approved, CT built the virtual environment, modelling the 3D object of the stage to help produce the content. The content was created using 3D software and Notch to provide a fully customisable virtual environment, which saw various elements appear as augmented reality.

“Having multiple speakers allowed us to mix different solutions between pre-recorded videos and live inputs. We were able to show the speakers from different camera angles while ensuring there was always a view of the graduates, which enabled viewers to watch their reactions and interactions throughout the ceremony.”

CT had a 10-day lead time to put the event together. Given the time frame, the use of pre-recorded assets had a range of benefits. “The primary benefits were control and flexibility,” said Dan Hughes, CT senior project manager. “Firstly, it meant that we could optimise each recording, which supported continuity between the virtual environment and the videos playing back within. Timelining pre-recorded assets into the virtual environment gave us the ability to present the graduation days ahead of the final 'live rehearsal' to stakeholders, giving them the opportunity to give feedback and direction."

A key part of our solution was exporting the Notch content into CT’s disguise GX2C system. “This integration enabled us to use the disguise camera system to build a sequence of different views and simulate the director's cuts for the different cues in the show,” furthered Devecchi. “The camera system integration gave the audience the perspective that the stage elements and the environment were real, enabling them to feel as though they were attending a live show.”

The show was streamed live onto the client’s website and recorded so it could be played back via video on demand. “Our operators were able to program the E2 screen management system and media servers as they would in a normal live event setup from the direction of creatives and showcall. We implemented the ‘live’ aspects of the show via video conferencing, and we were able to encode real-time confidence monitors to return the live feedback to them, so they watch the show as it happened. Along with a video return feed, we could also communicate with the show participants to give them cues. This approach allowed us to integrate participants into the event from anywhere in the world.”

CT integrated its Riedel system, consisting of a Riedel Artist-64 matrix frame controlling six DSP-2312 desktop panels and six Bolero wireless beltpacks, to the video conferencing platform to enable the client, crew and remote staff to communicate from anywhere in the world. “These units were used by the CT crew and clients within the CT virtual studio setup,” confirmed Rob Turner, CT’s integrated networks technical manager.

A Clear-Com HelixNet wired system was also incorporated into the setup, while Luminex 14R switches were used for distribution of all signal and user interface paths. “The entire setup was flawless,” Turner concluded. “We had full coverage of the CT facility handled by a single Bolero antenna and crystal-clear audio from both the Riedel system and the ClearCom Helix units.”

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