How Rutgers University Held a Successful Virtual Commencement

Graduating in Virtual Style

If there was an ideal time to graduate from university, it certainly wasn’t May 31st, 2020. With a pandemic sweeping the world, and lockdowns and safer-at-home orders still in place, the chances of getting a graduating class together for a celebration were non-existent. 

Some would take the current conditions and accept defeat. Indeed, Syracuse University has already predicted that it won’t hold its graduation ceremony until after Thanksgiving this year. At that point, students will have already moved on. 

The other approach, and one that Rutgers University fully embraced, was the virtual graduation ceremony. Nothing was going to keep them from their commencement. And the result was nothing short of inspirational. 

When life gives you social distancing lemons, make virtual lemonade.

Yeah ok, it’s a spin on an overused phrase. But in this case, it’s right on the money. Lockdown created a huge problem for the students and staff at Rutgers University, but they employed forward thinking, innovation, and the latest technology to solve the problem. 

The starting point for success was tapping into the Cinebody crowdsourcing tool to get digital film footage of students from all over the globe celebrating their graduation together. To get the content flowing in, Rutgers put out an email with a rousing call to arms. “Show your scarlet pride and invite your family and friends to support one of your greatest achievements!”




Who could resist an invitation like that? 

Plus, during self-quarantine and isolation people are actively looking for ways to fill their time and connect with the outside world. And with so many people now having access to iPhones that shoot high-quality footage, asking them to film themselves was a no-brainer. 

The flood of content that came in from around the world via Cinebody was overwhelming; over 450 students contributed over 600 clips. And as the hi-res, raw footage uploads in real-time, the Rutgers team had no delays with editing all of the submissions to get everything ready for the live streaming ceremony.

One amazing ceremony. One unforgettable experience.

With everything in place well before the big day, the Rutgers 2020 Commencement Ceremony was well set up for success. And it certainly didn’t disappoint, with an incredible response from all those involved. With an introduction and ending using footage captured through Cinebody, plus live and pre-recorded footage from Lester Holt, Cory Booker, and the Dean of Rutgers University, it was a phenomenal achievement under very challenging circumstances. 

“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.”

As we continue to move towards an uncertain future, even with lockdown restrictions being lifted (for how long nobody knows), this achievement by Rutgers University proves that you do not have to let a crisis run (or even ruin) the show. By embracing virtual college videos, digital filming tools, and the latest technology, you really can pull off the seemingly impossible.