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 iTV Helps Keep Graduations Safe and Accessible

Graduation season is upon us and the ceremonies at schools across the county will no doubt look very different this year than in the past.

But that doesn’t mean that people won’t be able to participate, thanks in part to the work of the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) and its iTV Cable 16.

The team is helping some schools broadcast their graduations so family members can watch safely.

“Giving everyone the chance to view the graduation is a big deal,” said Alex Brawner, iTV engineer. “It’s nice to be able to contribute to that.”

The team has been livestreaming graduations for several years, but the efforts became even more important as the pandemic caused districts to look for different ways to honor graduates. Another way SDCOE supported those efforts was with graduation yard signs created by Media and Creative Services. In 2020, that team created about 1,000 of the signs, with another 200 expected this year. 

The iTV Cable 16 team worked with nine schools last year to livestream their commencement ceremonies. This year, they expect about the same number. The size of the graduating class can range anywhere from about a dozen students to more than 500, depending on the school.

“It can be a physical challenge to set these livestreams up simply because of the size,” said Bill Britt, media production supervisor. “Sometimes we have to run hundreds of yards of cable.”

Livestreaming graduations not only allows more people to see them but the recording can also be watched afterward.

“It’s very exciting for us because it’s out of the ordinary and we know we’re playing a crucial role in helping these schools share their graduation ceremonies in a manner that’s COVID safe,” Britt said. “Because this is such a critical moment in these graduates’ lives, we want to make sure that we get it right and that we run it flawlessly.”

The process typically starts a few weeks before the ceremony with the team surveying the site where the graduation is going to happen, to determine camera, sound, and networking needs. The day of the event, there are usually two camera operators and an engineer to handle the more technical aspects.

In the past, students have even jumped in to help with the camera work.

Other teams in Integrated Technology Services also support the efforts, including Network Services and Infrastructure and Cloud Services.

“Any video production is a team sport,” Brawner said. 

“It’s not just iTV; it’s a collaboration.”