A Successful Virtual College Commencement? Yes, It Can Be Done.

No More Dull Commencements

We may have seen the end of 2020 (keep the applause to a dull roar), but its repercussions will last for years. Maybe even decades. And college commencement ceremonies have definitely been hugely affected by the fallout from COVID-19. 

What was once a truly joyous occasion for all involved, with family and friends celebrating four years of hard work and success, has become just another victim of conference call culture. No cap and gown ceremonies, no packed stadiums, no warm embraces (they’re almost illegal these days) and no sense of occasion. Instead, it’s the usual Brady Bunch style of faces on a screen, talking over each other and giving dull, lifeless, disengaged speeches. Virtual commencement is virtually awful. 

But it doesn’t have to be like that. It can, in fact, be almost as good as the real thing if you harness the power of User-Generated Content (UGC) and an online crowdsourcing platform like Cinebody. 

Get schooled in the art of a crowdsourced commencement

Let’s start by outlining what makes a crowdsourced college commencement successful. In a word, it’s enthusiasm. That can be difficult to muster on a Zoom call, but when you put out a call to arms to students, friends, and family to film what they want, when they want, and how they want, it’s a different story. 

Take Rutgers University. Their commencement was scheduled at the height of lockdown in 2020, but that wasn’t going to stop them. “When we were planning for a virtual ceremony, we aimed to create the kind of enthusiasm and joy experienced during a live event through high-quality footage,” said Cameron Bowman, Creative Director and Video Producer at Rutgers University. We used Cinebody’s platform to gather hundreds of videos submitted by students on deadline so we could create a pride-inspiring commencement event celebrating our graduates, who were dispersed across New Jersey, the United States, and the world because of stay-at-home guidelines.” The end result was a huge success.



The advantages of using a tool like Cinebody are clear, with the main one being easy onboarding. It’s just a link sent to anyone who you want involved in the project; all they need is a smartphone. Beyond that, there’s the trifecta that makes this UGC platform so successful:

  • Call the shots from anywhere. You can direct students using a shot list, ensuring your commencement is full of engaging and cohesive content.

  • Enjoy instant uploads. Once recording stops, 4K footage is automatically aggregated to the cloud. 

  • Review footage on the fly. Your team can review and select footage as it’s uploaded, and can add it to your commencement edit in real-time. It’s that fast. 

If the future is virtual, the answer is UGC.

Unless a miracle happens, the video conferencing tech we have right now is just not the solution for an exciting, engaging, and memorable virtual college commencement. UGC videos are miles ahead when it comes to quality, enthusiasm, and watchability. And universities around the world know it. 

We’re seeing a huge rise in enquiries about online crowdsourcing and the Cinebody tool, and the overwhelming reason is that Zoom-style meetings just aren’t cutting it. What’s more, universities are finding other ways to utilize the software. 

For example, when the Texas A&M “Aggies” wanted to connect their alumni they used UGC in a similar way, overcoming the hurdles of social distancing to unite their members around the world. And the University of Central Florida tapped online crowdsourcing to create “day in the life” videos. 



But the overall message is still loud and clear. The pandemic is going to put an end to in-person graduation ceremonies for the foreseeable future. If you want to create one that really does justice to the time and effort the students have put in, UGC is the way to go.