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Virtual Graduation Live Streaming: What You Need to Know [2021 Update]

By Emily Krings

32 Min Read

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Emily Krings

Emily is a strategic content writer and story teller. She specializes in helping businesses create blog content that connects with their audience.

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      Schools use live video broadcasting for many things, including remote learning and live streaming of sporting events and theater productions. 

      Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, high schools and universities have been forced to step into a “new normal” while trying to give graduating seniors the commencement ceremonies they’ve worked hard for.

      Dacast and other professional streaming platforms provide the tools schools need to produce high-quality virtual graduation live stream ceremonies.

      Today, we’re going to discuss the ins and outs of how to host a live stream graduation ceremony virtually. We’ll introduce you to the basics of streaming live video online, including the broadcasting platform and equipment you’ll need, technical requirements, and how to promote your live stream graduation.

      We will wrap things up by discussing the role of professional streaming software for hosting a top-notch virtual graduation ceremony. We will also cover 10 of the best streaming solutions for hosting your online ceremony.

      Table of Contents

      • What is Graduation Live Streaming?
      • How Do Virtual Graduations Work?
      • How to Live Stream a Graduation: The Basics
        • Filming a Graduation Ceremony: Equipment Considerations
        • Keep Your Setup Simple
        • How to Promote Your Graduation Live Stream
        • Choosing a Virtual Graduation Platform for Your Graduation
      • Top Streaming Software for Online Broadcasting
      • Conclusion

      What is Graduation Live Streaming?

      live stream virtual graduation
      Virtual graduation allows graduates to celebrate their success from anywhere with the internet. 

      Students work hard for several years to earn their degrees, and a graduation ceremony is used to commemorate this magnificent accomplishment.

      Unfortunately, many 2021 graduates are unable to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas because of COVID-related restrictions. High schools and universities are making significant efforts to transition from entirely in-person ceremonies to blended and virtual graduation.

      A virtual graduation ceremony comes in a few forms, but it is simply a graduation live stream that is broadcast over the internet. This serves as an alternative or supplement to an in-person event. The real-time component makes live streaming the graduation feel more “real” than simply recording the ceremony for later viewing.

      A major perk of graduation live streaming that stands true even when social distancing is not required is that it allows people who wouldn’t have been able to attend the ceremony in person to see it on the screen in real-time. Since many graduates have friends and family around the country or even abroad, this lets them share their big moments with those who they care most about.

      How Do Virtual Graduations Work?

      As we mentioned, virtual graduations work by recording the different parts of the graduation and live streaming them to students and their loved ones.

      Some schools opt to have graduates’ names projected in a fashion similar to the ending credits of a movie. Others announce each name individually with photos of the students. A handful of schools invite students to submit a slide or short videos to be played after their names have been announced.

      In addition to the announcement of the graduates, there are typical addresses given by deans, presidents, trustees, and other speakers. With the proper planning and setup, all of these traditional graduation ceremony elements can be carried into a seamless, live virtual graduation.

      Blended events are events that allow some in-person attendance while still making it available online as a live stream. This is becoming more popular are COVID restrictions are loosening up in some places. It gives attendees the opportunity to choose in-person or remote attendance.

      How to Live Stream a Graduation: The Basics

      how to live stream a graduation
      Planning graduation is a major feat in and of itself, but making it virtual is not overly demanding.

      As long as you have the right equipment and software for professional live streaming, you should be able to broadcast your virtual graduation ceremony with ease.

      Just like an in-person ceremony, there is a lot of preparation involved. You’ll want to plan the sequence of events and organize your speakers. For simplicity’s sake, some parts of your video may be pre-recorded, especially if you have speakers conferenced in from different locations.

      Part of the planning involves deciding which professional live streaming solution you will use. This will determine the range of capabilities you have to customize your live event.

      The streaming solution you choose will depend on how you plan to set up your virtual graduation in terms of the number of cameras you will use, whether or not you’ll use pre-recorded content, etc. It will also depend on how many viewers you anticipate.

      Filming a Graduation Ceremony: Equipment Considerations

      With professional streaming equipment and the right setup, even low-tech users can learn how to stream virtual graduation ceremonies over the internet.

      In fact, the ability to stream live video has changed a great deal in recent years. In part, this is due to ever-faster internet speeds and the availability of high-definition cameras for mainstream users. Today, live online video streaming is not only feasible but also affordable.

      Let’s take a minute to discuss some of the video capture equipment that will help you broadcast a high-quality virtual graduation ceremony.

      Camera

      Video cameras for live streaming are absolutely essential, and they range from simple webcams to expensive professional video cameras.

      To stream a graduation ceremony, webcams will get the job done. They’re both cheaper and easier to use, than the more professional alternative.

      However, you may want to look into the specifics of what you want to do in the way of multiple viewpoints and zoom focus. If you are looking for a more professional-looking live broadcast, a more advanced camera would be necessary.

      Audio Recording

      One of the main challenges when it comes to recording events like a graduation ceremony is the audio streaming component.

      For live streaming purposes, lapel microphones should get the job done. They capture higher quality audio than a camera’s built-in microphone, and they are typically quite affordable.

      When you’re planning your audio setup for an in-person ceremony, you may have to experiment with other audio recording options to avoid picking up any crowd noise. The same applies to a virtual event.

      Equipment Staging

      To successfully stream graduation ceremonies, you’ll also need a location to stage your equipment while you film. This includes not just video cameras and tripods but also a computer or encoding device for live streaming, cables, storage cases, and other gear.

      This should be pretty simple when you are filming with just a few people in the room since you don’t have to worry about the equipment being in the way. However, your equipment isn’t something you want to be rushing to set up at the last minute.

      Encoder

      An encoder is an important tool for live streaming. It converts the camera captures into a format to broadcast over the internet.

      You can choose between a hardware or software encoder. Each comes with a set of pros and cons. We suggest exploring the different options between the two. Encoding software, such as Wirecast or vMix, also lets you do a lot of things to control the appearance of your broadcast. For example, you can switch from one video feed to another, add lower thirds, and insert other graphic embellishments.

      For more information on encoders, please check out our hardware encoder vs. software encoder comparison.

      Keep Your Setup Simple

      If you’re reading this, learning how to do graduation streaming may be your first venture into live streaming video. With that in mind, it makes sense not to try to get too fancy.

      You need to be able to show wide views of the whole graduation ceremony and also close-ups of the speaker and of the graduating students. It would also be a good thing to add text to the video (probably in the lower thirds) showing the students’ names and a little other information for viewers.

      The more complicated the video, the more things can go wrong. So keep it as simple as possible.

      You’ll also want to test out the video streaming setup and process just as you do the graduation ceremony itself. This lets you identify holes in your arrangement and correct them before the event itself.

      How to Promote Your Graduation Live Stream

      virtual graduation live stream
      Allow students to submit a list of loved ones who they’d like you to invite.

      Since virtual graduation is a special event with a limited audience, you’ll use unique promotion methods.

      You’ll want to notify teachers, students, and their families. A great approach to this is to let the graduating students name and provide email addresses for a set number of people who they’d like to invite.

      The email you send to invite viewers to the virtual graduation ceremony should include a link to the website where the video will stream.

      The invitation should be sent out at least a week before the graduation itself, with a final reminder the day before. A countdown timer on the website itself is also a good idea.

      Choosing a Virtual Graduation Platform for Your Ceremony

      Virtual Graduation Platform
      Choose a live streaming solution that has the features you need to reach your goals.

      Finally, you’ll want to consider a live streaming video hosting service for your live stream graduation ceremony. Your online video hosting platform can make or break the quality of your virtual graduation.

      There are lots of different streaming platforms out there, and it pays off to do a little research into features, cost, and tech support.

      When most people think of a streaming platform, they think of YouTube. However, YouTube comes with a plethora of drawbacks, including time constraints and unwanted ads.

      There are several white-label hosting platforms (including Dacast, Brightcove, and JW Player) that specialize in hosting live streaming video. These services offer codes for embedding the video in other sites, which comes in handy if you want to live stream your virtual graduation from your own website.

      Broadcasters can access advanced customization, including integrating comment and chat sections or restrict the content from appearing on a public portal.

      Top Streaming Software for Online Broadcasting

      Streaming Solutions for Virtual Graduations
      Dacast, JW Player, and Wowza are the top three streaming solutions for hosting virtual graduations.

      While there are many video streaming software solutions on the market, you want one that offers the tools you need to host a virtual graduation event online.

      Although graduation is hosted by a school and is related to education, a streaming solution with an emphasis on virtual events is more valuable than one with an emphasis on education. The reason for this is that education-focused streaming solutions are designed to aid in the classroom or for remote learning.

      With that in mind, let’s dive into a few of the top virtual graduation software solutions for live streaming graduations.

      1. Dacast

      Virtual Graduation Platform
      Dacast offers special “events” pricing packages for live streaming graduation and private events.

      Dacast is a powerful live streaming platform that offers grade A security features, top-tier content delivery, white-label video players, customization with video and player APIs, and more.

      It is the perfect solution for broadcasters who want to create a memorable virtual graduation experience for their soon-to-be alumni.

      The great part about Dacast is that it offers advanced features that require little to no know-how. Getting started is quite simple.

      Basic Functionality:

      Dacast offers both live streaming and professional video hosting. You can purchase monthly plans for regular streaming, but we also offer special pricing for one-time events.

      Key Features:

      New!

      Pros:

      Cons:

      • The large range of features can be overwhelming at first 

      Pricing:

      Although we have several set-priced plans, starting from $39/month. Pricing plans include:

      • Starter plan: ideal for newcomers with 1,000 TB of bandwidth and 50 GB of storage per month, at just $39 per month billed annually.
      • Scale plan: includes 24 TB of bandwidth per year, with 1 TB of storage for $188 per month billed annually. These Scale pricing plans add phone support, monetization paywall, an M3U8 online player for live channels, ad insertion, white-label video player, and video API access.
      • Event plan: for organizations who’d rather not sign a contract, and want to purchase bandwidth separately to live stream an event. It offers 6 TB of bandwidth upfront, 50 GB of storage, and costs just $63 per month (or $750/year). Additional data and storage can be added as needed.
      • Custom plan: if your enterprise business has high-volume streaming needs, you can contact Dacast for a custom plan tailored to your needs.

      We also offer custom event pricing for one-time events or short series of events. Please contact us to learn more.

      2. JW Player

      platform video jwplayer
      JW Player offers custom pricing for broadcasters with custom needs.

      JW Player is a video on demand and live streaming hosting solution that launched in 2005. This solution is unique as it was part of the open-source code that contributed to the first video player on YouTube.

      This video hosting platform offers custom pricing for plans with live streaming features, so you can build the package you need to host your virtual graduation.

      Basic Functionality:

      JW Player is primarily a VOD hosting solution, but it has begun offering live streaming services in recent years.

      Key Features:

      • Multi-bitrate streaming
      • CSS skinning
      • Adaptive video player
      • Powerful content delivery
      • Video API access
      • DRM with Enterprise Plans

      Pros:

      • HTML5 video player
      • Easy-to-use platform
      • Advanced customizations for developers

      Cons:

      • No content delivery to China 
      • Best for institutions with a larger budget
      • Limited privacy and security features
      • Support only available with most inclusive plans

      Pricing:

      JW Player has several plans, including a Free plan and a Starter plan. However, in order to access live streaming features, you will need a custom Enterprise plan. Their three pricing plan tiers include:

      • 30-day free trial: Full API and SDK access with a non-commercial license, as well as 25 GB hosting bandwidth and 75 GB streaming.
      • Starter plan: HTML5 video player and video gallery, plus 150 GB hosting bandwidth and 50 GB streaming (50,000 plays) per month. $10/month, billed annually
      • Enterprise plan: Custom-priced and designed for businesses requiring high-volume storage and streaming. Enterprise plans support live streaming, while the lower pricing plans only support on-demand video.

      Contact JW Player for a quote.

      3. Wowza

      Wowza video hosting platform
      Wowza is a streaming solution with great features for customization.

      Wowza is a video hosting platform dating back to 2005. This platform offers hosting for both live and on-demand video content. 

      This solution is great for smaller schools and institutions because they have budget-friendly event plans.

      Basic Functionality:

      Wowza offers solutions for live streaming and VOD hosting.

      Key Features:

      • High-definition streaming
      • Customization with APIs
      • Live streaming and video on demand

      Pros:

      • Top-notch privacy
      • Nearly universally supported on different devices
      • Event live streaming

      Cons:

      • No multicasting (unable to stream to multiple places at once)
      • Single-camera feeds
      • No analytics tools

      Pricing:

      Wowza Streaming Cloud offers 3 distinct pricing plans and services. Within Live Event Pricing, monthly plans include:

      • Basic: $99/month and includes 20 hours of live streaming and 1,000 viewing hours based on a video resolution of 720p
      • One Month Event: $149 one-time purchase and includes 20 hours of live streaming and 1,000 viewing hours also at 720p
      • Plus: $499/month and includes 150 hours of live streaming and 7,000 viewing hours based on a video resolution of 720p

      All of these Live Event plans include full brand control, multi-bitrate streaming, and HD and UHD streaming.

      The Wowza Streaming Engine has its own pricing plan packages. These professional-grade streaming plans are billed annually and include:

      • Basic: $125/month + $145/month for each additional instance and $125/month for each additional prepaid instance
      • One Month Event: $245/month + $155/month for each additional instance and $95/month for each additional prepaid instance
      • Enterprise: Please contact Wowza directly for access to their custom-tailored high volume enterprise solutions

      For broadcasting virtual graduation, the One-Month Event Plan is the best way to go.

      4. IBM Cloud Video

      IBM Online video platform
      IBM Cloud Video is an offering from IBM, which is a tech powerhouse.

      IBM Cloud Video, which is built upon the technology that was formerly known as UStream, is a unified streaming solution. The platform offers many powerful features for virtual event streaming.

      Native features include webcasting, content management, password protection, worldwide delivery, cloud transcoding, and HD streaming. 

      Basic Functionality:

      IBM Cloud Video provides a wide range of tools for live and on-demand video streaming.

      Key Features:

      • A highly comprehensive streaming platform
      • Reliable customer support
      • Content delivery via internal server
      • Suited for larger organizations and large-scale streaming
      • Wide range of powerful features

      Pros:

      • Reliable platform
      • Perfect for large event streaming (like virtual graduations)
      • Great customer support
      • Fully equipped with the features that broadcasters need
      • Hong Kong (China) video hosting

      Cons:

      • Some important features are only accessible at the top-tier plans
      • Additional fees required in order to stream above 720p resolution
      • Poor closed captioning support

      Pricing:

      IBM pricing plans range from $99 to $999 per month and include the following:

      • Silver: $99/month
      • Gold: $499/month
      • Platinum: $999/month
      • Custom: Please contact IBM Cloud video for custom plan pricing.

      5. Kaltura

      kaltura education streaming platform
      Kaltura is a great platform for broadcasters with great customization needs.

      Kaltura is a powerful streaming platform geared towards large educational institutions. Kaltura’s virtual streaming platform powers live and on-demand video streaming through its cloud-based hosting technology. 

      This platform uses an open-source structure, which means that you can integrate quite a few different programs to customize your virtual event hosting experience.

      Since Kaltura is an open-source platform, the feature offerings are endless. Kaltura’s security features include DRM, encryption, and access control tools. They also offer a wide variety of monetization tools. The service is also fully white-label, and an API is available for programmatic interactions.

      Basic Functionality:

      Kaltura is an open-source video streaming solution that is capable of hosting large-scale virtual graduations and other events.

      Key Features:

      • API access
      • Highly customizable
      • Video privacy and security (password protection, encryption, and watermarking)
      • Cloud video streaming
      • Closed captioning tools
      • Video monetization 

      Pros:

      • Access to many features
      • Totally customizable streaming experience
      • Scalable streaming
      • Robust security

      Cons:

      • Slow tech support
      • Highly complex platform
      • Not very easy to use
      • Does not support  China video delivery

      Pricing:

      Pricing for Kaltura is not available on their website. Contracts are priced case-by-case basis through a credit-based system that allows them to pay only for the features and bandwidth that they use.

      6. Livestream

      Vimeo Livestream education streaming solution
      Livestream is a great option for large-scale event streaming.

      Livestream is a premium video streaming platform offering by Vimeo that is geared towards large organizations with great streaming needs.

      This video solution includes powerful content management features for both live streams and on-demand video hosting.

      Basic Functionality:

      Livestream offers support for large-scale VOD and live stream hosting. 

      Key Features:

      • Reliable security features
      • Audience interaction tools (perfect for virtual event hosting)
      • Detailed video analytics
      • Works with YouTube for multi-destination streaming
      • Easy-to-use platform 

      Pros:

      • Unlimited events and viewers
      • Ad-free streaming
      • Insightful viewer analytics
      • Easy to use interface
      • Supports PPV monetization

      Cons:

      • Does not support China video delivery

      Pricing:

      Vimeo Livestream offers three main pricing plans, including:

      1) Vimeo Premium:

      • Premium pricing: $75/month
      • Their Premium plan includes both live streaming and VOD support. This plan is the best option for professional broadcasting on this platform.

      2) Vimeo Enterprise:

      • Enterprise Pricing: Please contact Vimeo for custom pricing information
      • The Enterprise plan includes white-label service, monetization, and video API access. It also includes branding control and added security features.

      3) Vimeo OTT:

      • Starter Pricing: $1/subscriber per month
      • Growth Pricing: starting at $500/month
      • This OTT-specific pricing package comes with the Vimeo.com relationship. These plans include all the basics for starting your web-based OTT channel, as well as growing your OTT business online.

      7. Muvi

      muvi elearning portal
      Muvi specializes in OTT streaming.

      Muvi is an OTT video hosting platform that supports live streaming and VOD. Muvi includes access to API and white-label video players. These two features are ideal for broadcasting at a highly professional level because they give you more control over the appearance of your stream.

      Basic Functionality:

      Muvi supports live and on-demand video streaming. The education-focused platform is also well-suited for audio streaming.

      Key Features:

      • Live and VOD streaming
      • White-label streaming 
      • Branding customization
      • HTML5 video player
      • Video analytics
      • Video CMS

      Pros:

      • Powerful content delivery 
      • No coding required
      • Powerful video CMS
      • Transcoding for high-quality streaming
      • DRM and other security options
      • Mobile and smart TV streaming

      Cons:

      • A bit tricky to use
      • Hard to integrate or connect
      • CMS user interface is complex
      • Does not support China video delivery

      Pricing:

      Muvi prices its plans at the following five levels:

      • Standard plan: $399/month (+ $299/month per app + infra fees), allows 2000 concurrent viewers, 1TB each of bandwidth and storage, and API support.
      • Professional plan: at $1,499 per month (+ $499/month per app + infra fees) increases limits further and adds premium support.
      • Enterprise plan: $3,900 per month (+ $499/month per app + infra fees) adds a dedicated server with auto-scaling.
      • Ultimate plan: $8,900/month (+ $499/month per app + infra fees) doubles the bandwidth and storage of the enterprise plan and adds your own CDN and unlimited API calls.
      • Black plan: this is a custom solution and includes everything in the Ultimate plan plus premium services and project management.

      8. VPlayed

      Vplayed education video platform
      VPlayed is a streaming platform that is owned by Contus.

      VPlayed is a unified streaming solution that is powered by Contus. The education streaming platform supports the hosting and management of live and on-demand content. This platform is very well-liked because it is easy to use and easy to customize.

      Basic Functionality:

      VPlayed is a streaming solution that supports live streaming and VOD.

      Key Features:

      • HTML5 all-device video player
      • Live streaming and VOD
      • Video monetization
      • Video security
      • Tools for security
      • 100% customizable experience

      Pros:

      • Safe streaming platform thanks to reliable security
      • Tools for engagement and interaction
      • Highly customizable
      • Easy to use
      • Puts power in broadcasters’ hands

      Cons:

      • Some complaints about lack of pricing transparency 
      • No demo version
      • Limited analytics

      Pricing:

      VPlayed does not publish pricing on its site. Contact their sales team for more information.

      9. Zype

      Zype Video Platform for Education
      Zype is a high-end streaming solution.

      Zype is a high ticket live streaming solution for institutions with massive streaming needs. It is well-equipped to handle hosting a virtual graduation ceremony for thousands of participants.

      Basic Functionality:

      Zype is a platform for managing, hosting, and delivering high-quality live streams.

      Key Features:

      • Scalable platform
      • Live and on
      • App building support
      • Bulk importing tools
      • Powerful CDN
      • API access

      Pros:

      • Comprehensive video organization 
      • Highly customizable
      • No coding required

      Cons:

      • Mixed reviews about support
      • Very expensive 
      • Limited simulcasting support
      • Limited analytics

      Pricing:

      Zype offers four pricing plans, including:

      • Zype X: $500/month
      • Network: $2500/month
      • Premium: $3500/month
      • Enterprise: $5000/month

      Zype X offers a free trial. For more information on what sets these plans apart, please refer to the Zype pricing page.

      10. Brightcove

      brightcove education streaming solution
      Brightcove is another great option for large-scale streaming.

      Brightcove is one of the oldest online video platforms that offer live streaming and video on demand (VOD) hosting. It is a highly capable solution that supports streaming on a large scale.

      Basic Functionality:

      Brightcove’s basic functionality includes video cloud hosting, the lift video player, server-side ad insertion, live streaming video, OTT flow for internet TV, encoder for cloud transcoding, and tools for monetization.

      Key Features:

      • Live and VOD hosting
      • Access to video analytics
      • Server-side ad insertion
      • High-quality streaming via cloud transcoding and adaptive bitrate streaming
      • Video monetization

      Pros:

      • Insightful analytics
      • Customizable video portals
      • CRM integration

      Cons:

      • Very expensive
      • Monetization limited to custom-priced plans
      • No China video delivery

      Pricing:

      Brightcove offers three pricing plan levels that target higher-end clients. Brightcove’s pricing is no longer posted, but plans include basic video marketing tools and analytics with SD streaming quality for unlimited viewers.

      However, larger users will prefer the Enterprise communications plan, which is custom-priced. Those plans add advanced security tools, HD-quality streaming, and phone support (30-min response time).

      The three pricing tiers include:

      • Starter: includes 50 to 200 videos, up to 100,000 plays, and 2-5 users
      • Professional: unlimited videos, 100,000+ plays, and no overages plays, with +10 users
      • Enterprise: unlimited videos, 100,000+ plays, and no overages plays, with 10+ users, unlimited upload, and analytics-only users

      Conclusion

      If you’re learning how to broadcast virtual graduation, this may be your first venture into live streaming video. Our best advice is to keep it simple, as things can get overwhelming once you complicate things.

      In addition to preparing the tools we discussed before, we recommend running through your virtual ceremony time or two to identify any missing pieces.

      While a successful graduation live stream does take a little bit of equipment and know-how, it’s neither tremendously expensive nor terribly difficult.  A bit of practice and experimenting with live streaming basics should help you compose a professional-quality production. 

      Of course, this entire process is easier with a professional streaming platform. Here at Dacast, we offer a full-featured online video platform with customizable features. 

      Sign up for our risk-free trial to explore our graduation live stream platform and learn about the possibilities for live streaming your virtual graduation ceremony.


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      author avatar

      Emily Krings

      Emily is a strategic content writer and story teller. She specializes in helping businesses create blog content that connects with their audience.

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