ceremony brightened by projection and lighting
United Visual Rentals helps make graduation at Rolling Meadows High
School a better experience for families and students
music swells, a hundred flashes light the room and proud parents crane
their necks to see their sons and daughters march down the aisle.
It's graduation day at Rolling Meadows High School in the northwest
suburbs of Chicago, a major milestone in the lives of these young
people. And again this year United Visual rental staff will help Rolling
Meadows personnel work to make the day a special one.
No matter how many graduations have gone before, each ceremony is
unique and no less important than the previous. Planners want this
day to be enjoyable and dignified. That's not always easy when you
have as many as 2,300 graduates and relatives in the gym and another
400 or so in the school theater, open for overflow crowds. "In the
past we've had people running up to the stage to take pictures or
crowding the aisle with video cameras, and that can be very disruptive,"
says Paul McDonough, Rolling Meadows media director. "We also had
a lot of people leaving in the middle. Once their son or daughter
got their diploma they would just get up and leave. We finally decided
that was because they couldn't see what was going on."
solve that problem, the school started experimenting with a big screen
image above the stage. But McDonough says that as they solved one problem,
they created others. Their first try they found they didn't own a projector
bright enough to overcome the lights in the gymnasium. Turning the house
lights off necessitated the use of stage lighting, but here again they
couldn't seem to position lights without washing out the projected image.
They even tried enclosing the space between the projector and the screen
to keep the stage light out. "It was just a disaster," says McDonough
"The cloth was too heavy and it bent the frame and blocked part of the
That's when McDonough turned to United Visual's Bob Clark-the proud parent
of more than one Rolling Meadows graduate. The first thing Clark did was
to provide an ultra-bright Panasonic projector. (He likes the Panasonic
for its brightness, its interchangeable lenses, and its dual-lamp reliability.)
He hung the projector from a lighting truss along with two dozen lights
from United's rental stock, then hoisted it all high above the stage.
With proper positioning of the lights and the right projector, the problems
with the big screen images disappeared.
Live video plus senior pictures
For the past several years, the local cable
TV company has recorded the graduation ceremonies at Rolling Meadows
High School for later broadcast, and they provided Clark a feed so he
could project large screen images of the various speakers. (McDonough
says they record, edit and broadcast the program at no charge to the
school district-nice exposure for the school and an easy way for parents
to record a videotape of the ceremony.) The high school also created
a PowerPoint presentation with the graduates' names and senior photos,
which Clark projected as each crossed the stage to receive a diploma.
McDonough says that added a nice personal touch to the occasion, as
well as providing a close-up view for those sitting in the back or outside
the gymnasium. (Clark ran the signals into the school's video distribution
system, so that people with special needs and the overflow audience
could watch from the theater.)
All of these changes have greatly helped reach the high school's goal
of more dignity and less disruption at this special occasion. Best of
all, McDonough says, most people now stay for the whole ceremony. No
matter where they might sit, they are in touch with what's happening
There's no question who will provide next year's projection and lighting.
"Bob's amazing," says McDonough. "He's already talking about some improvements!
But he's done such a nice job, I don't think we'll have to start planning
until April." Bob Clark has more than one reason to make sure June's
graduation celebration is a visual masterpiece. One of his own children
will be wearing the purple cap and gown again this year.